For some of us (myself included), the 2016 beauty aesthetic never left. I would like to consider it beauty’s very own Renaissance period, with some of the most skilful artists emerging from this era.
It was pre-TikTok times, when YouTube was brimming with long-form tutorials on how to execute some of the most complex eye looks, dedicated how-tos that guide you for everything from brows to lip-lining, and more. Tips and hacks were a big thing, too. Back then, you might even find yourself following along with your favourite YouTubers (like NikkieTutorials, Bretman Rock, and Jackie Aina), trialling it out for yourself at the end of the day. That’s right, the pre-shower makeup has long existed before it was a trending hashtag on social media apps.
It was a labour of love and a showcase of artistry. Everything about it screams meticulousness. This makeup routine won’t have you out the door in under 15 minutes. Instead, the 2016 makeup aesthetic will have you sitting in front of the mirror for quite some time, with a whole array of brushes at the ready to help you precisely lay down and blend out liquids and powders.
But what exactly does 2016 makeup encompass? Keep reading for the 4-1-1 on this re-emerging trend.
Anatomy of a 2016 Makeup Look
Brows on Fleek
Yes, that’s actually a term that was thrown around a lot. It just means that the brows are shaped to perfection, filled in, with no hair out of place. You will then follow that up with a concealer step that was meant to carve it up, ensuring a clean and crisp edge to emphasise the precision. To amp it up even further, you can also sprinkle on some highlights on the brow bone.
There was no other brow product that reigned supreme: it was only the Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade ($35) that made the cut. And who could fault them? It has a wide array of shades to match everyone’s hair colour and undertones, and to this day the brand remains a favourite for professionals and the average makeup user.
Full Coverage, and Full Coverage Only
Embrace your imperfection? There won’t be any left since the only complexion products that were on heavy rotation are either buildable or maximum coverage—all of them matte.
The piece de resistance was (but I’d argue it still is) Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup SPF 10 Foundation ($82). The lightweight nature of the foundation elevates the wearability of the full coverage beat, and the formula is a formidable one, even in tropical weather.
Pores were erased with silicone-rich primers like Smashbox’s Photo Finish Foundation Primer or Benefit Porefessional ($61), leaving the skin porcelain perfect. For those with oily skin, you would have whipped out the trusty Make Up For Ever Pore Minimiser Step 1 Face Primer ($63).
If you need colour correction, a staple was Stila One-Step Correct ($62). A more targeted correction would have called for the Bobbi Brown Skin Corrector ($64). As the last step, you would then seal everything in with a setting spray to ensure its longevity.
A Bright Under Eye
There was no way that anyone would have left the house without a snatched under-eye area. This was achieved by none other than the combination of Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer ($47 and in a shade that could be one or two lighter than what you typically use) and the discontinued CoverFX Perfect Setting Powder. But the combination wasn’t all—there was a method of application that helped to add dimension to the face.
You are meant to draw the infamous upside-down triangle. After blending it away, you will then follow it up with a baking step. To do that, simply dust on a layer of the loose setting powder on areas where you want to eradicate creases and texture, leave it to “bake” for five to 10 minutes and dust it away to reveal a brightened and smooth under-eye.
Now to restore some balance to the visage, it’s time to pull out the contour palettes. Yes, palettes. The alternative was a stick. A bronzer was highly optional, but a contour powder was a must.
Crowd favourites were the ubiquitous Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit ($80) and the KVD Beauty Shade + Light Refillable Face Contour Palette ($74). With these, everybody had contoured cheeks that could literally cut.
To achieve this feat of chiaroscuro, it involved the iconic NARS Ita Kabuki Brush ($60) or something of a similar build. To apply, you would make a puckering face, to locate the hollows of your cheekbones. That’s where you will lay down the powder.
Blending this dark shade was also crucial, as you don’t want it to muddy up your complexion work.
That Reflective Highlight
The phrase “glowing to the gods” was very commonly tossed around in 2016. And nothing brought that term to life more than the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (now under Smashbox’s wing), and more specifically, in the shade Champagne Pop. Perhaps we had Jaclyn Hill—who collaborated with Becca to come up with that specific shade—to thank for the craze because everybody had to have a slice of Champagne Pop. But she wasn’t alone.
Almost everyone had the same reaction to high-shine illuminating powders: jaw slack, gasp audible, eyebrows raised. And isn’t that all it takes to make an item go viral?
Placement-wise, you’re going to want to place it on the high points of your face. A wash on your cheekbones is a must, a smidge on the inner corners of the eyes emphasises the eye colour, and a light dusting over your cupid’s bow perfects every lip look.
A Cut Crease Eye Look
If there’s one thing that can make or break your 2016 makeup look, it’s the eyeshadow. At its peak, you would see the launch of exciting colour stories, and it takes a true artist to be able to blend the shades to their will. The ultimate task would be a cut crease, and the warm tones of sunset were very a la mode. But for the experts, the limit does not exist. Any colour was fair game.
The hottest items were huge palettes (we’re talking 35 colours) and an eyeshadow primer. Armed with that, you will begin the delicate dance of blending and building colours, swapping eye brushes, and carefully carving out the negative space for the spotlight shade that catches the light with every movement.
The cherry on top are the false eyelashes—even for those with already luscious natural lashes.
Ultra Matte Matte Lips
Even when you’re not all about the full 2016 glam, you’re probably rocking a matte lip colour, because glosses were very much not part of the beauty conversation back then. Just like the complexion, everything needed to be full-on colour and have at least 12 hours of lasting power; ideally, they would last the full 24.
Kylie Jenner was all the rage, and from her vanity table came the lip kits, comprising matching lip liners and liquid lipstick. For accessibility, we donned Huda Beauty’s Liquid Matte Ultra-Comfort Transfer-Proof Lipstick ($38 and now reformulated for better comfort) and the Lip Contour 2.0 Lip Liner ($35).
For added definition, concealer and a fine-tipped brush would be your best friend. It also doubles as a clean-up step. The result? An immaculate pout that would be ready for a close-up.
This story originally appeared on GRAZIA Malaysia