TikTok has ushered in a new era of bite-sized beauty tutorials. From this crease-free foundation hack to the “fox eye” concealer trick (I won’t even touch the black hole that is the @skincarebyhyram account), users have access to vetted tutorials compacted to just three minutes or less. In these nanoscopic bits of content, TikTok also succeeds where Instagram seems to swing and miss—influencers on the platform don’t confine themselves to a specific aesthetic. Where prominent Instagram feeds tend to feature strict color schemes and staged flatlays, TikTok beauty content leans more raw, unfiltered, and naturally dichotomous (just like real people are).
One of the best examples of this is the #softgirlchallenge. In these videos, you’ll see people transform their makeup from grungy and edgy to fresh and dewy, layering on baby pink blush and faux freckles. (That’s the “Soft Girl” look.) At first glance, the #softgirlchallenge is just some nice couch candy for beauty lovers. But when you dig a little deeper, it’s actually a reminder that a certain aesthetic shouldn’t lead to assumptions about someone’s personality, and that you can play with your look whenever and however you want. Your beauty look is just that—a look.
While Soft Girl makeup resonates with me personally, the fact that I like pink blush shouldn’t lead to assumptions about who I am. Yes, I wear Glossier Cloud Paint almost every day—but I also worked in the NFL for two years before becoming a beauty editor. I love the Rolling Stones, but I also cry at rom-coms. Human beings naturally don’t fit into just one box, and that’s what the #softgirlchallenge is all about. With that reminder in your back pocket, it’s time to play with this look. All are welcome, whether you’re a self-identified Soft Girl or just switching things up for the day, week, or month. Ahead, find my step-by-step guide to creating an everyday soft girl makeup look.
Prep Your Skin
Start by prepping your skin however you normally would. If you have oily skin, you might reach for a mattifying primer. If you’re dry, you’ll probably want to slather on a rich moisturizer. As someone with combination skin, I personally find that topping off my morning skincare routine with an illuminating sunscreen is the perfect base for makeup. I use Supergoop Glow Screen ($36), which is formulated to hydrate, grip makeup, and—most importantly—protect the skin from the sun.
Apply Your Foundation of Choice
We’re still just building a base for Soft Girl makeup here, so you can really choose any foundation that makes you feel confident (or you can skip it altogether). Soft Girl makeup is more about the makeup “accessories” like blush and faux freckles, so there’s no need to over-analyze when it comes to your foundation. If you like full-coverage, go full-coverage. If you like to show your natural skin texture, go with a sheer formula or skip foundation altogether. When I’m going for a Soft Girl makeup look, I personally reach for the Ilia Beauty Super Serum Skin Tint ($46). It helps even out my dark circles and neutralize my rosiness while miraculously feeling like you aren’t wearing anything at all.
Conceal Dark Circles With a Peach-to-Red Color Corrector
A key characteristic of the Soft Girl makeup trend is youthful, bright-eyed, awake-looking eyes. If you have dark circles under your eyes like I do (which is genetic and no fault of your own, by the way), you might choose to brighten them up a bit for this look. The hollows of my eyes are a deep violet, so I’ve found that a peach-toned, color-correcting concealer is more effective at brightening the area than just reaching for a concealer that’s a few shades lighter than my foundation. Darker skin tones will find more success with coral-to-red toned color correctors, which are included in the color range for my favorite color-correcting concealer: Charlotte Tilbury Magic Vanish Color Corrector ($32).
Swirl on Some Baby Pink Blush
Blush is the crux of the Soft Girl makeup look. When you search the #softgirlmakeup hashtag on TikTok, you’ll see hundreds of variations on the trend, from the type of everyday look I’m creating here to more whimsical interpretations that feature heart-shaped stamped blush or actual clouds painted on with Glossier Cloud Paint. You do you! Because I lack the artistic skills to paint on puffy clouds or cartoonish hearts, I’m just swiping on some Cloud Paint in the shade Puff. When applying, I concentrate about a pea-sized drop onto the apples of my cheeks, blending upwards and outwards to create a lifted effect. I prefer to apply with my hands, as the warmth from my fingers helps melt the product into my skin. I sweep any leftover product onto my lids. If you want your blush to stand out more, you can layer a powder blush over your liquid. There are truly no rules here.
If you are going for more of a whimsical look, try stamping on blush hearts with the Kaja Cheeky Stamp Blendable Blush ($24) or stippling on clouds with the tip of your Beautyblender dipped in liquid blush.
Highlight the High Points of Your Face
To help create that soft, sweet aesthetic, a little liquid highlight goes a long way. I dab this formula onto my cheekbones, my eyelids, Cupid’s bow, inner corners of the eyes, and the tip of my nose to make my skin pop. This particular (glitter-free) formula from Armani Beauty makes it look like good light is hitting your face at every angle, rather than looking like a goopy highlight. The texture has a nice slip to it, which makes it a breeze to blend.
Fan Out Your Lashes
Second only to blush, fluttering lashes are an important staple of this look. Look for a mascara with an hourglass-shaped wand to grip, lift, and coat your lashes. I recommend Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara ($25) if your lashes are naturally long but could use a boost in the volume department, or Glossier Lash Slick ($16) if you’re not into the fluffy lash look and prefer more elongated, individualized lashes.
Swipe on a Pinky-Nude Lip
Lip shades traditionally marketed as nude have a history of only suiting white skin, although that is slowly changing. Remember that nude encompasses all skin tones, and your perfect nude is whatever product you feel best matches your unique skin. For me, it’s Dior Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm in 001 Pink ($34).
Add Some Hair Accessories
To finish things off, add some fun hair accessories. Pull your hair back into a knotted headband, clip your bangs away with a pearl-encrusted barrette, or add a velvet bow to your high pony. There are hundreds of ways to try the #softgirlmakeup trend, and no approach is wrong or right.
Add Some Freckles
As a final touch, you’ll find that many #softgirlmakeup tutorials call for drawing on freckles (or enhancing your own) with an eyebrow pencil to play up that youthful, carefree aesthetic. Like all of these steps, you can skip this if drawing on freckles isn’t your thing. I naturally have freckles scattered across my forehead and the bridge of my nose, and I love them just the way they are—so I don’t touch them.