Main content

How to Create a ‘Soft Grunge’ Makeup Look

Makeup trends are known for their cyclical nature, and the quintessential 90s grunge aesthetic is having a modern moment, re-imagined for the 2020s as ‘soft grunge’. We love soft grunge makeup because, unlike recent makeup trends like ‘clean girl makeup’ or ‘glass skin’, it doesn’t subscribe to the idea of perfection. Instead, this look embraces a more carefree approach to makeup application, ditching the polished complexion for something with a little more edge. Lancôme makeup professionals are having a love affair with soft grunge makeup looks, so we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you recreate this aesthetic at home.

Valentine's Day Makeup

What is soft grunge makeup?

Originally popularised in the 90s, grunge makeup is characterised by an earthy, moodier colour palette of blacks, browns and burgundies. Think smoked out eyeshadow, smudged eyeliner, matte skin, lashings of mascara and dark lips. Soft grunge makeup, the contemporary counterpart to 90s grunge, uses the same principles, only it’s a little more refined – which is largely thanks to the advancements made in the production of cosmetics.

Lara Srokowski, Beauty Director for Lancôme Australia, explains the modern twist on the original makeup trend:

Tips for creating soft grunge makeup

To achieve the carefree, ‘messy’ soft grunge aesthetic, you’ll need a few must-have products in your makeup toolkit. We suggest investing in matte finish foundation, a smoky eyeshadow palette, a berry or neutral lip shade, and a longwearing eyeliner and mascara. The benefit of the modernised soft grunge look is that it has more everyday wearability, since you can adjust the level of intensity by swapping out darker hues for more subtle shades. In the below tutorial, we’ll take you through five core elements of soft grunge makeup looks so you can replicate this iconic trend for any occasion.

Makeup for valentines day look

1. Go for a matte base

In all its iterations, grunge makeup equals matte complexions, deviating from the dewy makeup glow that has permeated recent beauty trends. Of course, this doesn’t mean masking your face with a thick layer of foundation. Instead, you can aim for a natural matte canvas that doesn’t disguise your unique features and skin texture. This is where the unbridled nature of the soft grunge makeup look really comes into play.

  1. Ensure your skin is prepped and primed before applying foundation.
  2. Using either your fingers, a foundation brush or beauty blender, apply the Teint Idôle Ultra Wear Foundation. This is a breathable foundation with a natural matte finish that offers up to 24-hour wear. It’s also suitable for all skin types, tones and ages, making the matte look achievable for everyone.
  3. If you feel that you need a little more coverage in certain areas, apply concealer such as Teint Idôle Ultra Wear All Over Concealer with the pad of your finger, pressing gently into the skin.

2. Keep your blush subtle

When it comes to soft grunge makeup, the emphasis is on the eyes and lips, meaning the cheeks can be understated. Opt for muted pink blush or bronzed tones that give the skin dimension without pulling focus.

  1. Take a small amount of product on your preferred fluffy brush.
  2. Apply to the high points of your cheek bones for subtle definition.

3. Embrace smoked-out eyeshadow

Smoky eyeshadow is the cornerstone of any soft grunge eye makeup look. We know that eyeshadow application can be intimidating, but smoked-out eyeshadow leans into that ‘lived-in’ quality of soft grunge makeup. It’s time to relinquish the idea of perfectly applied eyeshadow with our guide to smoky eye makeup below.

  1. Apply an eyeshadow primer or concealer over your eyelid to ensure smooth application and longevity of your eyeshadow.
  2. Using an eyeshadow brush, apply a neutral shade over the lid.
  3. Next, take deeper shade and press onto the lid, careful not to stray outside of the crease.
  4. Take the darkest shade from your Hypnôse Eyeshadow Palette and apply on your upper and lower lash line using an angled brush.
  5. To complete your grunge eyeshadow, use a soft fluffy brush to blend out your shades to create a blurred or ‘smoked’ gradient effect.

4. Smudge your eyeliner

This is where you’ll really solidify your soft grunge look. Depending on your eyeliner formula preference, you might opt for a dramatic wing using the Idôle Liner. If you want a truly smudged out effect, we suggest a crayon or pencil eyeliner that you can easily blend out.

  1. Apply your Crayon Khôl eyeliner along the length of upper and lower lash lines (where you applied your eyeshadow).
  2. Using an eyeshadow brush with short, dense bristles, gently smudge out your eyeliner for a diffused look.
  3. Finish with a coat of Hypnôse Volumising & Non-Clumping Mascara to intensify your grunge eyeliner look.

5. Reach for berry or neutral lip colours

Your choice of lip colour will be the final point that ties your soft grunge makeup together. And much like your foundation, your lipstick can be matte or semi-matte if you want to pay true homage to the soft grunge look. In keeping with this edgy theme, we suggest either a barely-there nude (especially if you’ve created a dramatic smoky eye) or a moody berry colour like L’Absolu Rouge Drama Ink Liquid Lipstick in ‘Nuit Pourpre’.

  1. Ensure your lips are exfoliated and hydrated.
  2. Line your lips with your desired lip liner, ideally a shade or two darker than your lipstick colour to channel the 90s grunge aesthetic.
  3. Apply your lipstick. You can also use your fingers to slightly diffuse your lipstick and liner to give it the well-kissed, imperfect grunge effect.

Wanting to embrace soft grunge looks all-year round? Learn how to make your makeup sweat proof in summer and beyond.


Orientation message
For the best experience, please turn your device