achieving the clean beauty look


photo: ahmad ebadi on unsplash

TikTok is dominating the direction of trends these days, and the “Clean Girl Aesthetic” is no exception. What exactly is a “Clean Girl” you might be asking, and the answer is someone who radiates simplicity through her dress, makeup and hair. She is someone who looks put together but in an effortless way. The defining characteristics of this aesthetic are natural makeup, muted-colored outfits, slicked-back hair and minimalist jewelry. The overall look comes off as looking very chic and uncomplicated, yet very polished. Clean in this sense does not have the same meaning as you might think. It is more so about looking put-together, not so much about being hygienic.  My question is this: Is it worth it to go through all these steps just to look “clean” or polished? Does “clean” have to have one meaning? Something that appears quite simple actually has many different elements, so here is a rundown of each of the components to this aesthetic. 



Prep And Prime! 

The makeup for this look is a stepped-up version of a “no-makeup” makeup look, so think very natural and glowy. To start this look, a good moisturizer is essential to get the glow that makes this look so effortless. First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream is a fan favorite, and it is clear why. It will leave your skin feeling ultra-smooth, just after one application thanks to its formulation. Once your skin is prepped, it is ready to prime, so that you can get a seamless application of foundation without it looking cakey. The best primer varies by skin type, so not all primers will work the same on everyone. It is essential to choose the right primer for your skin type. For dry skin, try NYX Cosmetic’s Bare With Me Jelly Primer, as its water-based formula will quench dry skin and keep it hydrated throughout the whole day. For combination skin, Milk Makeup’s Hydro Grip Primer is great because it leaves a radiant finish while providing a base for the foundation to stay flawless for up to 12 hours. For oily skin, the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer is a great option because of its oil-free formula, and it will control any unwanted shine. 

Your Skin But Better

To keep the skin looking natural, it is important to choose a foundation that is not too heavy. For this look, foundations like Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint, CoverGirl’s Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation, or Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter are all options to achieve a natural-looking base. The goal here is to have a flawless base that still looks like skin, so your foundation must have just the right amount of coverage. Blend with a beauty sponge to seamlessly blend everything. A lightweight concealer is also essential to this look because it will not only mask any blemishes but can be used to highlight certain areas of the face, making for an illuminated and healthy-looking complexion. Apply under the eyes in an upward line to give the illusion that the eyes are being lifted.  Rare Beauty’s Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer will help to achieve that “Your-Skin But Better” look. 

Cheek It Out! 

 Cream products will be your best friend in creating this look because they are very buildable and more natural-looking. They ultimately will achieve the level of glow that we are looking for. As for contour, my personal favorite is Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind Concealer because it is such a blendable formula. Both a concealer and a cream contour, this product can double as both with the right shades. Simply choose a darker shade to contour with, or a lighter shade to conceal. A natural flush is essential to nailing the “Clean Girl” makeup look. Rare Beauty’s Soft Pinch Liquid Blush is a perfect option to achieve the blushed skin that makes up this aesthetic. Another great option is Elf Cosmetic’s Putty Blush, as it gives a natural glow and it comes in a variety of shades. Opt for more red-toned blush shades, as this look will give the most natural-looking flush. Cream blush formulations are normally very pigmented, so a little goes a long way. Also, make sure to apply the blush in an upward shape to lift the cheekbones. To achieve the ultimate level of glow, it is important to find a quality highlighter to brighten up the cheekbones, nose, and cupid’s bow. A cream formulation will give just the right amount of glow without being too overpowering. Watt’s Up! Champagne Cream Highlighter is Benefit Cosmetics’ best-selling highlighter and that is for a reason. It gives the perfect amount of gleam to bring this look all together.  My favorite combination when it comes to my face makeup is to layer Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer over my cream products to get the most sun-kissed-looking cheeks. This bronzer is so pretty because it has gold shimmer, which adds to the glow we are looking for. It is important to avoid putting cream formulas over powder formulas, however, as this could lead to blending problems and it can even begin to lift the powder up, which would lead to a patchy mess.

Finishing Touches

  Another aspect of this look is the fluffy brows, which can be achieved by filling in sparse areas with an eyebrow pencil. Draw in hairlike strokes and simply brush the brow hairs in an upward direction to attain the fluff. Then, set with a clear brow gel and highlight underneath the brow bone to accentuate the lift. Anastasia Beverley Hills is known for its brow products, so the perfect pairing to achieve fluffy brows is the Brow Definer Triangular Brow Pencil plus the Strong Hold Clear Brow Gel. For mascara, my two favorites are the Tarte Maneater Mascara and the Maybelline Sky High Mascara. Both add insane length to the lashes and will not budge throughout the day. Finally, finish off the look with a glossy lip. You can either go simple here and stick to a colorless gloss or go for a pop of color. Glossier’s Lip Gloss has been a favorite of mine for a while, and it gives the most amount of shine out of any other lip glosses that I have tried. It comes in a clear shade, sparkly shade, red shade and gold shade. 


The most iconic part of this aesthetic is the slicked-back hair. Mousse, hairspray, gel or hair oil will assist in slicking the hair back. Whether it be in a claw clip, low bun or ponytail, this hairstyle is an identifier of the Clean Girl Aesthetic. Amazon has packs of claw clips that are inexpensive, and they are probably one of my favorite Amazon purchases. Claw clips are so versatile and there are countless ways you can style your hair with them. I especially opt to put my hair up in one when it is on the verge of needing a wash, which is ironic considering this is a “Clean Girl Aesthetic.” Olaplex hair oil has become especially popular on TikTok, as it helps to achieve the slicked-back look while conditioning the hair. People have dubbed this style the “Olaplex Bun,” and it is a way to repair hair while looking refined. Something about a slicked-back hairstyle gives off a vibe that you have your life together, and sometimes I put my hair up for a little confidence boost. By slicking the hair back, it also gives an illusion that the face is being lifted, as well. This combined with a natural makeup look makes for a very chic appearance that looks like you put in little effort, but it just somehow looks very composed. 



To continue to go for chic vibes, the outfit must match the hair and makeup. Muted colors shine here, as simple is best, according to this trend. Neutral pieces styled together seem very effortless, and there is nothing complicated here. No bright colors, no bold patterns, just subdued colors and quality fabrics. The key here is that we do not want to fuss, it must look easy and effortless. Turtleneck sweaters in creams, tans and blacks are very popular within this trend. Leather pants and neutral-colored trousers accompany these sweaters. Bodysuits are also popular with a variety of pants options to create a silhouette that has more movement on the bottom. It is almost as if this trend takes inspiration from a model off duty, someone who exudes simplicity.  Matching sets, especially sweat sets, are also appealing because they look put-together, but in reality, they are so easy because there is little effort needed to style them. Long overcoats and cropped puffer coats seem to pull everything together. Shoes can range from simple and clean white sneakers to chunky black boots, but the key is that they must look elegant and uncomplicated. 

@alexxcollClean girl outfit inspo 💁🏼‍♀️♬ som original – 💌



Minimalist jewelry is also a must for this look. Start with medium-sized gold hoops. These look amazing with the hair pulled back. Something about the gold just screams this aesthetic. Dainty gold chained necklaces complement this look, as well, and will complete any outfit. Again, the key is to keep everything very simple. Gold is very classy and with a minimalistic touch, it is the perfect accessory to complete this look. 


The Final Verdict 

For me personally, this is not something I can do every day. I think it is something fun to do every once in a while, but for me, it is a little restrictive. Sometimes I want to wear my hair down in big fluffy curls and put on my funkiest pants. I like my pops of color and my silver jewelry. I can never seem to stick to one aesthetic, but this one makes me feel very chic and polished, so it is something that I will come back to every once in a while. I even see myself incorporating certain elements of this aesthetic into my everyday dress. I wear my hair in claw clips very often, but not always with a simple, neutral outfit. I will do natural makeup with bold prints, or neutral outfits with my hair wild and free. Sometimes I do not want to look simple, and sometimes I want to dress over-the-top. I can also never seem to keep my white shoes clean and have single-handedly destroyed every pair I have ever owned. To answer my question from before, I believe that the term “clean” can be perceived in different ways. I think anyone can look polished and put together, even when wearing bright colors and with their hair down. “Clean” does not just have to encompass everything I have previously described, and dressing in simple, minimalist ways is not the only way to look put-together. Although this look has its positives, in my book, it seems a little unrealistic to look this effortless all the time.  Maybe I’m not a “Clean-Girl” at heart,  and that is OK because nobody needs to look perfectly polished all the time, but I can certainly try.