TikTok’s ‘Cold Girl’ Makeup Got My Skin So Many Compliments

Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
I am a perpetually cold girl. My hands and feet are actually blocks of ice (much to the annoyance of my boyfriend, who I always ask to warm them on), and I carry a sweater everywhere just in case I get chilly. So when 'cold girl makeup' started to trend on TikTok, I was convinced the app's makeup artists and beauty enthusiasts had looked to little old me for inspiration.
Contrary to the image it conjures up, cold girl makeup isn't about chapped lips or blue fingernails. It's actually a lot cuter than that. Think about how your skin looks after a walk in the cold. Whether you spend a lot of time outdoors or pop to the store for a snack, it's likely you'll return home with wind-dappled cheeks, especially in winter. And when you're a little sniffly, a slightly red nose and upper lip are a given. If it's really cold and the snow is coming down in sheets, think about the snowflakes that settle on your lashes and you've got cold girl makeup down to a tee.
@imjessicazhang #stitch with @ysumaya 3 steps to the cold girl “i’m cold🥹” makeup look — all products used are in my websiteeee #coldgirl #makeuptutorial #makeuphacks ♬ original sound - Jessica Zhang
So who's wearing it? Well, the real question is: who isn't? TikToker @gjuanita recently went viral with 1.1 million views for their take on what they call "I'm cold" makeup, while @nidalkabashii, @imjessicazhang, and @imsimplysteph all followed suit, racking up millions of pairs of eyes, too. The phrase 'cold girl makeup' currently has 75.6 million views (and counting) on TikTok.
According to @imjessicazhang, the look is easy: it consists of a simple base (whether you prefer foundation, a skin tint, or concealer), and a heavy helping of blush. In a tutorial, Zhang dusts blush all over their cheeks, focusing on the apples, temples, and even the under-eyes. Then it's a swipe of blush underneath the lower lip, a little on the Cupid's bow, and lots on the tip of the nose. Zhang then takes a red lipstick (which looks like Glossier Generation G Lipstick in Zip) and very gently presses this into the center of their lip and just above, where the top lip dips.
Sure enough, it does look like Zhang took a brisk walk in the chill air. The blush lends skin a fresh and invigorated feel, which usually happens when the blood rushes to your face in the cold and it appears a little flushed. A sprinkle of highlighter in the inner corners of the eyes and just underneath the lower lash line to resemble frost is the finishing touch. I never thought I'd say that being a bit chilly is actually cute but if TikTok is anything to go by, the finished result makes skin look healthy and rosy.
As you know by now, I'm always up for a makeup challenge. My skin is going through something right now, so I opted for a lightweight complexion product (Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint) to blanket any blemishes without appearing heavy. This imparts a nice, dewy glow to the skin. Next, I picked up Jones Road The Best Blush In Berry. A little of this goes a very long way but because the name of the game is blush overload, I went to town with it, blending it all over my cheeks and up to my under-eyes. Once I'd achieved a convincing flush, I used the remainder of the powder left on the brush and dusted it over the tip of my nose.
To achieve the sniffly effect, I used the same blush on a much smaller brush and lightly blended this onto my Cupid's bow and underneath my lower lip. I certainly looked chilly. In fact, it looked a little bit like I was recovering from a cold. No one wants to look sick, I know, but I persisted nonetheless.
My lips are always pretty dry, more so in the autumn and winter. I needed something moisturizing and so I settled on Violette_FR Bisou Balm in Sucette, which is a beautiful, buildable lipstick meets velvety balm. If you have less to spend, Revlon ColorStay Matte Lite Crayon in Lifted is a close shade match. Making like Zhang, I daubed the lipstick into the center of my lips and just above for a frosty, just-bitten effect, then tapped some pearlescent highlighter in the corners of my eyes and just underneath to dial up the iciness, plus a little mascara.
To my surprise, I was really into the final result. The heaped-on blush made me look bright and refreshed — exactly how I feel after a long walk. It was such a cute and pretty makeup look that it earned me a handful of compliments throughout the day, once on Zoom and twice IRL. "Fresh", "healthy" and "youthful" were the words used to describe my skin, which can often look sallow and dull in cold weather.
But is cold girl makeup inclusive? As seen on TikTok, anyone can wear blush and it's about nailing your shade. TikToker @hanifahbusairi layers Made By Mitchell Blursh Liquid Blusher in two colors (orange and pink) to create a coral wash that looks beautiful on their skin. TikTokers @ayanahyman and @itsjustfatimah also prove that taking the time to layer and blend is the key to making it work.
Since trying this trend, I've actually dialed up the blush every day (just not as heavy), concentrating a little to the tip of my nose for a cutesy effect. I'm a winter baby, after all, so leaning into cold girl makeup is my vibe now.
This story was originally published on Refinery29UK.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

More from Makeup

R29 Original Series