Leave Food-Inspired Beauty Trends Alone

There’s nothing wrong with strawberry makeup and blueberry-milk nails.

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In defense of food-inspired beauty trends.

As a beauty-obsessed person who spends (wastes) hours a day on TikTok, I’m privy to plenty of emerging beauty trends, many of which become a staple in my everyday life. (As I’m writing this, I’m rocking a slicked-back quiet luxury bun, Sofia Richie-Grainge style.) One particularly fascinating trend that’s emerged in my feed is the proliferation of food-named beauty. Whether it’s glazed donut nails, glazed donut skin, strawberry makeup, latte makeup, or cherry mocha nails, my TikTok feed is full of relatively straightforward beauty concepts being rebranded as something, well, delicious. In 2023, they’re not pale blue nails — they’re blueberry milk nails!

You know something’s a BFD when Hailey Bieber gets in on it. The Gen Z beauty icon has consistently found a way to capitalize on food beauty trends, taking her affinity for glazed donut nails and strawberry makeup straight to the bank. Nearly every Rhode product has “glaze” or “glazing” in the name. Hailey even did a donut collaboration with Krispy Kreme to promote her limited edition strawberry-flavored peptide lip treatment, and continues to churn out new SKUS of her hero product in new food flavors that continually sell out (you better believe I’m eyeing this food-inspired lip set for the holidays).

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Bieber notwithstanding, the foodification of beauty has led to tons of backlash online. Think pieces are desperately begging beauty influencers to “stop calling our faces food.” Richie-Grainge’s blueberry milk nails didn’t quite take off in the same way that glazed donut nails did — they even became the subject of their own backlash on TikTok, with one creator posting a popular video that analyzes the controversy around blueberry milk nails through the prism of contemporary individuality and modern capitalism. Whew!

Love it or hate it, I’m pretty sure that describing makeup and hair as food is here to stay. #StrawberryMakeup and #LatteMakeup each have hundreds of millions of views on TikTok, and trend experts predict going into 2024 we’ll see an uptick in apricot and peach-based beauty trends and more growth in cherry-inspired makeup.

I think FoodBeauty is a fascinating trend — one that speaks to consumer culture, our engagement with social media trends as a means of expressing identity, Hailey Bieber’s uncanny skill for monetizing the word “glazed,” and perhaps most importantly: millennials’ and Gen Z’s obsession with snacks. According to the Wall Street Journal and my mouth, Millennial and Gen Z consumers, generally in their teens to early 40s, on average eat about 10% more snacks daily compared with other generations. It makes sense that FoodBeauty has become a legitimate trend with the snack generation.

But is it even a trend? Food and beauty are inextricably intertwined. People born in the ’90s remember that Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers was the most iconic (albeit not actually that moisturizing) lip balm in middle school. Jessica Simpson had an entire line of straight-up edible body products. (IYKYK). Whether we’re using food as a beauty product itself (like Cardi B’s hair mask that I would 100% use as a salad dressing) or making beauty products resemble food (like an eyeshadow palette that looks like a Pop-Tart), turning food into beauty and vice versa is timeless.

Which is why the recent foodification of beauty makes sense. Beauty stimulates our senses — it has a smell, a taste, a feel, and a ritualistic comfort. As does food: Food activates all five of our senses in the same way makeup does, and using the universal experience of food to describe the multi-sensory, tactile experience that is beauty feels so right.

FoodBeauty also speaks to a whimsical desire to romanticize our daily routines. If an influencer does a “matte brown contour” tutorial, I’m less likely to care or identify with the concept. It’s unimaginative, it’s clinical, it has no sense of play or fun. If the same influencer posts a “latte girl makeup” tutorial, I’m immediately hooked. Lattes are evocative and immediately conjure up imagery I can see, feel, taste, and touch.

FoodBeauty is also simple in the best possible way. I’m sick of makeup trends being named after esoteric concepts. I’m tired of pretending I know what “soft glam” and “dolphin skin” are! We all know what strawberries are. We all know what glazed donuts are. I’m pretty sure I know what blueberry milk is. Food offers imagery and a crystal-clear mood board that everyone can immediately picture and replicate. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s playful — all things makeup should be. In an overcomplicated, polarized world, food might just be the last great unifier we have left.

FoodBeauty is also appetizing. Barely a minute goes by without me thinking about food. My days are usually broken up into food-based activities: buying food, eating food, thinking about what food I’m going to eat, cooking food, and watching videos of food. Food shouldn’t just be relegated to the kitchen and in my bed at 3 a.m. while binging Naked Attraction. Food should be everywhere, including in my beauty routine.

Lastly, FoodBeauty is creative. Beauty copywriting and beauty branding can feel so stale and tired. I’m literally exhausted by the words “matte” and “dewy” — when did they become the only two adjectives used to describe a product’s payoff? I’m so thankful and thrilled by the food-inspired terms gaining traction in product names. Words like “glazed,” “creamy,” “jelly,” and “juicy” are evocative, creative, playful, and honestly, more descriptive than their straightforward counterparts. Plus, they’re effective marketing tools. Who wants to buy a boring primer when you can buy e.l.f.’s Jelly Pop primer? Who needs a regular degular tinted lip balm when you can have Tower 28’s Juicebalm? Give me a creative and innovative food-named beauty product and I promise you, I will buy it.

Clearly, I love FoodBeauty, but if I’m being honest, I’m ready for even more. Which is why I offer up these potential new food-based makeup trends to the TikTok gods.

Sardine Face

Think a skin care-forward, minimal makeup look that leaves your face a little bit oily, slightly shimmery, and very glowy — like a freshly opened tin of sardines!

Toast Body

An all-over matte bronze look (body and face) that leaves you looking like a perfectly toasted piece of bread.

Seltzer Eyes

Accessorize your bold eye makeup with small pearls or rhinestones, like seltzer bubbles. Shoutout to Donni Davy, who’s the queen of the seltzer eye.

Fried Chicken Highlights

What does “bronde” even mean? It’s a meaningless and joyless portmanteau. You know what I understand? Fried chicken highlights. It’s evocative, it’s delicious, and I can instantly picture exactly what it looks like.

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