Here's how to actually master grunge make-up

grunge makeup
Grunge: How to nail 2023's biggest beauty trend Hearst Owned

Maybe it's the Wednesday Addams effect, maybe it's the overarching sense of anarchy thanks to the strikes, or maybe it's more proof that a beauty trend only becomes truly iconic once it's been around the around the block. Yep, we're talking about the return of grunge make-up.

The punk-meets-goth aesthetic is everywhere right now from red carpets to runways, not to mention TikTok's obsession that has seen #grunge notch up 7 billion views. The key details? Think smudged liner, lived-in lipstick and devil-may-care smokey eyes that scream sulky siren.

Looking to execute the ’90s redux in 2023? Here the experts reveal how to nail grunge make-up.

What is grunge style make-up?

If you were too young for it first time around (or perhaps having so much fun that you can't remember it first time around), then here's a recap on exactly what grunge makeup entails.

Peaking in the 9o's, 'grunge make-up is defined by smudged eyeliner, matte skin, heavy mascara and dark lips - with modern formulas these trends are more easy to recreate than ever,' explains Director of Artistry at Milk Makeup, Sara Wren.

Now, like all make-up trends that go through a renaissance, grunge make-up has had a little update. There was Gigi's grey lipstick (major), followed by charcoal bold winged eyeshadow seen at Versace, and a lesson in smoked out liner perfection spotted backstage at Dior.

'We’re seeing a lot more grungey eye looks and eyeliner this season. I think it is even more anti-conformist [second time around] in that instead of the entire look it is just one key element such as a lined eye or dark lip, set against a more modern matte complexion', says Jane Richardson, Global Artistry Director for NARS.

What is soft grunge make-up?

'Grunge make-up in the 90's was about doing it all. These days for a more chic and approachable look I recommend choosing 1-2 pieces of this trend for a soft grunge look,' explains Wren. So, focusing on either an eye or a lip with matte skin, rather than going all out.

How do you do grunge aesthetic make-up?

' I love starting with matte skin,' says Wren. 'Pore Eclipse Mattifying Primer is my go-to for all skin types that want to create that soft matte cloud skin finish without looking dry or textured. The formula smoothes skin while controlling oil and locking on makeup all day.'

'For the eyes I love pairing Infinity Longwear Eye Liner in Outer Space (a very deep black) and KUSH Mascara. The eyeliner has a built in smudger and creamy formula perfect for those smudged out, worn in eye looks. Top with 3-4 coats of KUSH Mascara for high volume lashes without any fallout.'

'For a grunge inspired lip look I recommend applying straight from the stick onto lips and using your finger to smudge the pigment to create a “kissed off”, grunge effect,' she adds.

The good news with grunge lips is that you have so many options in terms of colours. Think black matte, oxblood red or vampy berry. And, unlike eyes, it's quicker to create and much easier to fix if your look starts to go a bit haywire. 'A deep smudged berry lip is also a quick way to partake in soft grunge without really committing' believes Wren.

How to create grunge eyes

Jane Richardson, Global Artistry Director for NARS, explains how to nail grunge eyes with a step by step guide and explains that 'layering is key as the subtle textural changes help to give it a more ‘lived in’ feel.'

  1. Start with the High Pigment Longwear Eyeliner Pencil in Via Veneto to create the shape before applying a black powder shadow.

  2. A gel liner over the top helped to deepen the intensity further and a liquid liner (try Climax Liquid Liner) at the roots ensured that depth of colour remains.

  3. Back stage at Erdem, Richard placed Egyptian Magic over the top, but she caveats 'obviously wearing a balm over won’t work in real life BUT that textural layering will do something quite cool- so start buffing out the edges with a small, tight brush (try NARS #25 smudge brush) and you will see it start to break down. Work lightly only on the edges and then let the warmth of your skin do the rest.'

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