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Move Over Clean Girl! Maximalist Makeup Is Having a Moment


When it comes to makeup, we are of the school of thought that sometimes more is more, so it’s no surprise that we are fully welcoming maximalist makeup. While we love a good clean girl makeup look, some moments call for being bold, trying something new, and, most importantly, having fun with your look.

This isn’t the first time maximalist makeup is having a moment, and it won’t be the last. Who could forget the neon trickle-down effect caused by the expressive eyeshadow on Euphoria? The pendulum always swings back again, and after a few summers of playing it safe with quiet luxury, we’re seeing makeup enthusiasts enjoy the creativity of breaking a few rules. 

If you’re into this trend as much as we are, keep reading for expert tips and inspiration for your own maximalist makeup.

About the Expert:
Khera Alexander is a beauty writer and makeup artist. Her clients include brands like Amazon, Sensitiva, VICE Canada, Refinery29, Kobo, and more.

What Is Maximalist Makeup?

Maximalist makeup looks were once reserved for the glossy pages of magazine editorials, but now with colorful eyeliner more accessible than ever and makeup artists like Danessa Myricks leading the way, beauty lovers are pushing the limits of their creativity. 

Beauty expert Khera Alexander defines “maximalist makeup as beauty without boundaries. It's playful, colorful, expressive, creative, and experimental, and this trend really challenges people's perception of what is "wearable" or ”everyday" makeup. These looks are entirely up to the makeup wearer and can be inspired by art, nature, fashion, pop culture, a content creator, music, photography, and so much more.” 

Maximalist makeup doesn’t have to mean being gaudy or flamboyant, though we do love a mob wife aesthetic. Khera explains, “It can be as small or as grand as the person would like, ranging from bold eye looks to major cheek and eye moments to every feature of the face being accentuated.” 

How to Get a Maximalist Makeup Look

There’s no one definition of maximalist makeup, so feel free to adapt trending looks as you see fit. However, there are a few boxes to check off to qualify your next look as maximalist makeup. 

If you’re not ready to go all in on the maximalist trend, start and see how you can go about making it work for you and your lifestyle. “For example, Khera shares, “If you love bright eyeshadow but are unsure if it will work for you, try wearing colorful mascara or eyeliner first. If you love the look of bright matte lipstick but have never worn a bright color before, try a lip oil or gloss first, and so on. Scaling the look back and building it up to something that is comfortable for you is key.”

Start With Your Complexion

While you might be excited about trying a new bold eyeshadow, playing up your blush, or wearing a new popping lipstick, don’t forget to start with the basics. Whether you prefer a matte foundation or a more radiant finish, your maximalist makeup will have the execution it deserves against a perfected complexion. Choose your ideal foundation, brighten the under eyes, and add warmth and dimension to your complexion so that your maximalist makeup can look polished and complete. 

Bring On the Drama

This isn’t the time to play small. One of the best ways to incorporate maximalist makeup into your look is to play up the eyes with a colorful eyeshadow or graphic makeup. Khera recommends thinking of this trend as a creative outlet. “It's more about finding ways to express yourself and less about following strict rules. Experiment with colors, shapes, textures, lines, and finishes.”

Always Add Accessories

If you think glitter or rhinestones are “too extra,” think again. Maximalist makeup thrives with just a touch of sparkle to show you’re really that girl. Khera suggests thinking about fun “elements you may want to include that can add personality and drama to your look, like gems and accessories.” If you’re feeling flirty, take note of the coquette trend and play with bows and other feminine accessories. 

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

There are no rules in beauty, and there’s no mistake that a Q-tip with makeup remover can’t fix. We totally agree with Khera’s advice to “detach yourself from the outcome or need to get it right and just enjoy the process.”

Research Inspo For Your Look

Inspiration can come from anywhere, from fashion runways to your friends on social media. Khera recommends finding inspiration and making it your own. “Maybe there is a makeup artist, creator, or artist who experiments with maximalist makeup,” she explains. “Try pulling from there as a guide and see what kind of look you come up with.”

If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than our roundup of gorgeous maximalist makeup looks for every skin tone and style.

Maximalist Makeup Inspo

1. Glitter Smoky Eye

This punk meets glam look is the perfect way to tap into your dark and edgy side. The gray glitter shadow base created with HALF MAGIC GlitterPill in Pretty Puddle is a gorgeous and unexpected standout against the smoky black winged liner. The eyes alone are a headturner, but what makes this look truly maximalist is the complement of the black lip liner and in-your-face silver studs.

2. Graphic Eyeliner

Just because it’s line art, doesn’t mean it has to be subtle. This content creator made a statement with bright yellow eyeliner at the crease of her lids, juxtaposed with bold blue bursts of eyeshadow. As if that weren’t fun enough, adding the same tones to the lips completes the look and bright orange blush adds a nice flush. To create this look for yourself, opt for a liquid blush, as they tend to have bolder pigments and higher color payoff.

3. Multicolor Pastel Shadow

Who says you have to blend your eyeshadow shades? Maximalist beauty breaks the rules and we love this multicolor eyeshadow moment. The pastel lids look gorgeous along with the bold burgundy lipstick and warm, radiant complexion. Multi-use pigments like the DANESSA MYRICKS Colorfix Pastels are perfect for adding bold color to the eyes, lips or cheeks.

4. Bold Pink Flush

It’s hard to tell where the eyeshadow ends and the blush begins in this ultra feminine pink look. Both silver and gold tones are used to highlight the inner corners of the eyes before blending into a pink shimmer shadow. We’ve all noticed that blush is back in a big way, and this look takes it up a notch with bright pink blush that goes from the apples of the cheeks to the temples. Complete the look with a shiny pink gloss like the NYX Shine Loud High Shine Lip Color in Lead Everything.

5. Two-Toned Mascara

Why choose one colored mascara when you can have two? This vibrant makeup look doesn’t shy away from color or shine. With blue mascara on the top lashes and pink mascara on the waterline, the results are captivating. To get the most color payoff out of your mascara, be sure to use a primer that will make your lashes pop. The BOOST JUICE Dual-Ended Lash Primer & Colored Mascara is the best of both worlds. 

6. Alien Superstar Lips

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This look is out of this world, pun intended. The silvery haze eyeshadow with the black and silver lipstick is for those who don’t mind standing out in a crowd. The perfect finish to a look like this is volumized lashes. If you can achieve this look with your natural lashes, we’re jealous. But for everyone else, check out these VIOLET VOSS falsies for some added volume.

Interested in more makeup tips? Check out the 12 Gorgeous Red Lip Looks and discover Y2K Makeup Looks That Are Making a Comeback. Want in on all the IPSY fun? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started with your own IPSY beauty subscription. Already an IPSY member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.

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About the author
Kindra Moné
Kindra Moné is a writer and content creator who works with brands and magazines to create culturally relevant fashion and beauty content. She is also the founder of The Moné Edit: a community and podcast at the intersection of style and wellness.
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Article Last Updated June 25, 2024 12:00 AM