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It's fair to say that the way we wear makeup has changed a lot since the start of the pandemic. As face masks became part of everyday life, bold Instagram looks suddenly fell out of favour as easy, natural trends such as skin work and no-makeup makeup usurped ultra glossy lips, sharp contours and defined brows. But right now, the biggest beauty movement is officially 'soft glam'.
Over the past month, Google Trends shows an increase in demand for ways to achieve the look, while on Pinterest there have been 22x more searches for 'soft makeup looks' recently. TikTok is driving the look as the next big thing, too. The #softglammakeup hashtag has garnered 30.9 million views and counting and proves the look works for all skin tones, textures and beauty budgets.
So how exactly do you achieve it? We asked the queen of soft glam, Huda Kattan, to give us a crash course — and it's actually pretty easy.
What is soft glam makeup?
"Soft glam is subjective," says Huda, "but for me, it's all about looking glamorous without the makeup wearing you." In other words, it's a little more subtle than the 10-step makeup looks you've spotted all over Instagram involving powder contouring, baking and mega lashes.
The trend consists of natural, fleshy tones that suit all skin colours, rather than statement shades. "I love wearing nudes, pinks, browns and earthier, natural tones for soft glam, but it's also about having gorgeous, glowing skin to complement the look. Think of it as an effortless yet polished version of you." Take inspiration from TikTok's @anchoringangela and Instagram's Schanelle Quiza.
How should you prep your skin for soft glam makeup?
As with any natural beauty look, Huda says that skin prep is the single most important part. "Having a good base means flawless makeup," she says. Help enhance the trend's soft focus, almost blurred finish, with a gentle exfoliator such as WISHFUL Yo Glow Enzyme Scrub, $60, which features AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) to buff away dead, dry skin and unclog pores, making skin look and feel smoother. Huda explains that she has been on a real journey with her skin, including acne and uneven texture, but loves to use Honey Whip Peptide Moisturiser, $66, before foundation. "This firms and lifts skin, and hydrates without a greasy or heavy feel, so it's the perfect base for all makeup looks," says Huda. The star ingredient is manuka honey, which she says smooths and softens skin.
Next step, primer. You could make like Bobbi Brown (who skips this step entirely) but Huda believes a primer is important for staying power, especially when it comes to more natural looks like this. She loves Water Jelly Hydrating Primer, $51. Also try TikTok favourite e.l.f's Poreless Putty Primer, $17, which lends skin an airbrushed effect under makeup, making large pores and spots less visible. It also acts like Velcro underneath foundation, helping it stick around for longer.
How do you do soft glam makeup?
For soft glam, Huda suggests ditching full coverage foundation for a lightweight skin tint, which will enhance your skin rather than cover it up. She uses GloWISH Multidew Skin Tint, $57, as a base. "This provides enough coverage to hide any blemishes or redness, leaving a gorgeous natural, healthy-looking glow." Also try Ciaté London's Dewy Skin Glass Glow Tint, $45, which makes skin gleam and Fenty Beauty's Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint, $46, available in 25 shades. For more of a seamless finish, apply with a damp makeup sponge or a soft but dense buffing brush, like By Beauty Bay's Rose Gold Glam In The Buff Foundation Buffing Brush, $13.75. Huda's top tip for ultimate staying power? "Wet your sponge with setting spray and then apply your foundation. It's a game-changer."
Next step: the subtle contour. Unlike solid powder versions, this involves a light cream, which Huda says shapes features without going in too heavy. "This helps define the bone structure but brings warmth into the face and adds a subtle glow," she says. "I love using Tantour Contour & Bronzer Cream, $32.20, for this."
If you're a contouring beginner, a simple stick product is your best bet. Try NudeStix Nudies Matte Blush & Bronze, $49. Simply swipe the product underneath your cheekbones (or your forehead and nose, depending on which features you'd like to shape) and use the brush on the opposite end to buff into skin. Adding a pop of blush on the apples of your cheeks is optional but if you do, go for a powder version to enhance the soft focus finish. R29 loves Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Divine Blush, $79, and Max Factor Creme Puff Blush, $11.95, which boasts a slight shimmer for added glow.
Eyes and brows
"Defined and fluffy brows are an absolute must," says Huda. "Using the #Bombrows Microshade Brow Pencil, $26, I would create natural hair strokes that will give a full and fluffy look."
"Diffused eye makeup is also a part of this look," says Huda. Switch out your liquid eyeliner for your eyeshadow palette and, using a fluffy eyeshadow brush like e.l.f's Fluffy Eye Blender Brush, $10, apply a neutral brown shade all over the lid, like TikToker @flawlessbytenisha. Adding a pop of shimmer like @tahiyahali is up to you. "This provides a more subtle yet sultry glam look," says Huda, "but I would never keep my liquid liner too far out of reach if I wanted to give my eyes a bolder feel."
Depending on how glam you want to go, Huda suggests finishing eyes with soft, fluttery lashes to help bring the look together. "For a soft glam look I would usually just use the Legit Lashes Mascara, $41, to lengthen and curl my lashes as it truly is an amazing mascara that looks like falsies." You could add more subtle false lashes if you like. Try Eylure, $10.99.
Lastly, lips. Keep things nude here. "I would go for either a matte look using Power Bullet Matte Lipstick, $38, or go for a sheen," says Huda, with a comfortable cream-based lip product. "You can even just use a light gloss for a sheen like the Silk Balm, $32, which also helps plump lips for a fuller look," she says.