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10 Makeup Trends to Try in 2021, from Lip Stain to Skinimalism

Photo by Leon Bennett / Stringer/Getty Images

A year ago, we predicted the makeup trends we thought would be big in 2020. Then, of course, things have changed. You’d think makeup would seemingly be the last thing on our minds, and in many ways it was, but keeping to a beauty routine has helped many of us feel “normal” during times that are anything but. Still, the way we wear makeup has undoubtedly changed dramatically.

“I definitely see a change in makeup in several ways,” says makeup artist Mary Irwin. “Half our faces are covered when we’re in public, and everyone I know is breaking out.” That change means we’ve largely shifted our focus upward. “Eyes are everything right now,” says Irwin. “They’re the only thing exposed when you leave the house, so why not play them up?”

If there’s one thing we learned in 2020, it’s that taking some time for the little things—even beauty trends—is more valuable than we ever could have known. “Self-care is more important than ever,” says Irwin, who says, “I know that I’m much more invested in my skincare regimen than I was a year ago.” With that, let’s dive into the new makeup trends to look forward to for a new year—because we all need things to look forward to, right?

About the Expert:

Mary Irwin is New York City-based celebrity makeup artist.

Consider these makeup trends your 2021 style guide:

1. Colorful eyeshadow

Close-up of Dua Lipa rocking a blue eyeshadow makeup look
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images

‘90s-inspired pastel colors were already on their way back last year thanks to celebs like Dua Lipa, above, but with the increased focus on above-the-mask makeup, expect the trend to continue (and then some). “Color on the eye is having a major moment—and anything goes,” says Irwin. “A green, bejeweled smoky eye? Yes! Royal purple? Completely. Neon blue? 100 percent.” Not sold on a full lid? Try a pop of color in the inner corner, or even on the lash line.

2. Matchy-matchy makeup

Close-up of Cynthia Erivo rocking a purle eyeshadow makeup look and purple dress
Photo by Amy Sussman / Staff/Getty Images

One way to take your colorful eye makeup to the next level? Coordinate the shade to your outfit, like Cynthia Erivo demonstrates in pretty purple here. The effect feels both fashion-forward, and Home Edit-level intentional.

3. Skinimalism

Close-up of Alicia Keys with a no-makeup makeup look and gold hoop earrings
Photo by Rich Fury / Staff/Getty Images

As much as we love intricate techniques and bright colors, the reality is that more often than not we’re probably leaning toward low-key makeup these days (in fact, searches for “natural everyday makeup” spiked 180% on Pinterest year over year). Look to the beautiful Alicia Keys for inspiration, who has championed the barely there look for years. “Not feeling a dramatic face? Go with a no-makeup look, or take it up a step with dolphin skin, which is basically no-makeup makeup, but with a glowy highlighter,” suggests Irwin.

4. Red lipstick

Close-up of Selena Gomez rocking a neutral eye makeup look paired with bold red lips
Photo by Tibrina Hobson / Stringer/Getty Images

The classic bold lip color may not be the most practical with face masks, but, as Selena Gomez proves, a red lip is still the best for making maximum impact with minimal effort. It’s our go-to for feeling put-together for a Zoom meeting or FaceTime date—even if we’ve got sweatpants on.

5. Lip stain

Close-up of Yara Shahidi rocking a neutral makeup look
Photo by Leon Bennett / Stringer/Getty Images

If you don’t have the energy for bold lipstick right now, you can still have fun with your lip color by way of a matte lip stain, à la Yara Shahidi. “Stained lips are a great way to not get lipstick all over the inside of your mask,” explains Irwin. Plus, she adds, “They stay on for ages, and many of them have hydrating benefits.” If you’re unsure which color to go with (makeup testers are a thing of the past, after all), “Almost everyone looks great with a berry lip,” advises the makeup artist.

6. Major lashes

Close-up of a smiling Addison Rae with neutral makeup and fluttery eyelashes
Photo by Jon Kopaloff / Stringer/Getty Images

Fluttery eyelashes—either from mascara or falsies—are a great way to do a dramatic eye with or without additional eye makeup. “I’m seeing tons of graphic eyes, color, and lashes,” says Irwin. Addison Rae nails it with her super-long, feathered lashes.

7. A flash of highlighter

Close-up of a glowing Christian Serratos
Photo by Jesse Grant / Stringer/Getty Images

We may have swapped girls’ night out with...every single night in, but we’ll never quit highlighter. Try blending some with your moisturizer in the morning for a bit of extra glow, or go in on your cheekbones and forehead like Christian Serratos, who gives new definition to “lit from within.”

8. Bright blush

Close-up of Laura Harrier looking glam with a berry makeup look
Photo by Jerritt Clark / Stringer/Getty Images

For too long, blush has sat on the sidelines, letting eyes and lips take center stage. But looks like Laura Harrier’s saturated berry, which reaches all the way up to the temple, are unexpected and eye-catching, not to mention gorgeous. Another fun way to try the trend is the popular Japanese style Igari blush, which connects across the bridge of the nose.

9. Simple cat-eye

Close-up of Lily Aldridge rocking a winged eyeliner makeup look
Photo by Larry Busacca / Staff/Getty Images

Drawing attention to the eye is as easy as drawing on a bit of exaggerated eyeliner. “The cat eye isn’t going anywhere,” says Irwin. Case in point: Lily Aldridge’s understated yet elegant look. If you haven’t perfected the technique yet, there’s no time like the present: Grab your liquid eyeliner, consult our winged liner tutorial, and remember makeup remover exists if you make a mistake!

10. Neutral monochrome makeup

Close-up of Lily Collins with a monochromatic makeup look
Photo by Dave Kotinsky / Stringer/Getty Images

Keeping it simple doesn’t always mean no-makeup makeup. Take a cue from Lily Collins and keep to a neutral palette to accentuate your eyes, cheeks, and lips. Once you master the right formula for your skin tone, you’ll be able to recreate the look again and again.

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About the author
Lindy Segal
Lindy is a contributor at IPSY, a beauty and lifestyle writer, and Real Housewives aficionado. She was an editor at People and Glamour, and her freelance work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Who What Wear, and Cosmopolitan, among other publications.
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Article Last Updated February 8, 2021 12:00 AM