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How to Achieve the Ultimate Clean Girl Aesthetic

This trend focuses on minimalism, natural beauty, and effortless elegance.

Decades are often defined by their beauty trends. You had finger-wave hair with 1920s flappers, red-lipped Rosie the Riveters in the '40s, and thin eyebrows making their mark with Y2K. But right now, the focus has turned to skincare routines and no-makeup makeup looks, thanks in large part to the rise of the "clean girl" aesthetic. With the help of celebs like Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber, this popular trend has taken off across social media. Not sure how to master it yourself? Read on to learn more about the clean girl aesthetic, and all the different ways you can achieve this look.

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What Is the Clean Girl Aesthetic?

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Before you can achieve the clean girl aesthetic, you must know exactly what that means.

"The clean girl aesthetic is a beauty and fashion trend focused on looking polished, minimal, and effortlessly flawless," says Thomas Jeneby, MD, a plastic and cosmetic surgeon based in San Antonio, Texas. "It's characterized by glowing skin, natural makeup, sleek hairstyles, and a wardrobe of neutral, well-fitted basics."

The style first "emerged as a subset of the broader clean beauty movement, which is characterized by a minimalist approach to skincare, makeup, and overall lifestyle," according to Courtney Larvadain, co-founder and chief marketing officer of the skincare brand Regeily.

"This movement gained prominence around the mid-2010s as consumers began to prioritize natural, non-toxic, and eco-friendly beauty products," Larvadain explains. "Platforms like Instagram and YouTube played a significant role in popularizing it, as influencers and beauty bloggers showcased their simplified beauty routines, featuring products with clean ingredients and sustainable packaging."

But the specificity of the clean girl aesthetic really began to take off more recently through TikTok, "aligning with the global shift towards more mindful and simplified lifestyles during the pandemic," beauty and lifestyle influencer Rosi Ross says.

Many trace its origins back to a July 2021 TikTok video from @xolizahbeauty.

"You know those girls that always look clean?" the video asks. "Their skin is always glowing, their lips are always glossed, and they never, ever look like they're wearing too much makeup."

Since then, the clean girl aesthetic has only continued to take off on TikTok, as beauty influencers and everyday users share their routines and tips for achieving the look through the app.

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How to Achieve the Clean Girl Aesthetic

Now that you know the history of the clean girl aesthetic, you're ready to get in on the trend.

As Ross explains, this look "emphasizes glowing skin, minimal makeup, well-groomed hair, and understated yet chic outfits." The goal is for you to "appear effortlessly put-together and fresh-faced, often with a focus on wellness and self-care."

With that in mind, here are seven expert-backed tips that can help you achieve the ultimate clean girl aesthetic.

1. Start following a skincare routine.

woman washing her clean face with facial foam and water. Attractive female in bathrobe washing face for healthy beauty treatments and skin care then looking at the mirror in bathroom.

To achieve the clean girl aesthetic, you must first start by "maintaining a consistent skincare routine," according to Shimon Bobb, editor of beauty content platform The Youthist.

"The clean girl aesthetic is built on the foundation of having skin that is healthy and shiny. The greatest way to ensure that your skin looks its best without heavy makeup is to have a proper skincare routine," Bobb explains, noting that using products like serums and face oils can help you "obtain a radiant complexion."

Valerie Aparovich, biochemist and certified cosmetologist-esthetician at OnSkin, recommends incorporating a vitamin C serum into your routine to get a glowing finish to your skin.

"Vitamin C revitalizes and brightens the skin, eliminating dullness and promoting a healthy glow," she shares. "It also helps lighten post-acne marks and fade hyperpigmentation, resulting in a more even complexion."

2. Make moisture a key focus.

Woman caring of her beautiful skin on the face standing near mirror in the bathroom. Mexican woman applying moisturizer on her face at home. Multiethnic girl holding little green jar of bio skin cream

Dry skin can quickly take you out of clean girl territory, so it's also important to ensure that your skin gets enough moisture, according to Aparovich.

"A quality moisturizer is the key to beautiful skin. It strengthens the skin's barrier, preventing dryness, tightness, and irritation," she says. "It also softens and plumps the skin while promoting a radiant complexion."

Aparovich recommends looking for lightweight, gel-based moisturizers that include ingredients like hyaluronic acid, collagen, and vitamin E.

You should consider investing in a hydrating face mist as well, as this is a "quick and easy way to refresh the skin and boost its water content throughout the day, helping it maintain a lustrous look and enhance its luminosity," she adds.

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3. Don't forget to regularly exfoliate your skin.

Cosmetologist washing and cleaning client face before procedure of ultrasound face cleaning. Preparations before ultrasonic face cleaning procedure on female face

With this trend, you want to make sure your base is completely clean before you even think about adding on any cosmetic products. This will require regularly exfoliating your skin, according to Aparovich.

"Gentle exfoliation once a week will help polish and smooth the skin," she says.

Jeneby also recommends regular treatments like chemical peels and microdermabrasion, as he says they can "make a significant difference" to your skin's base.

"For instance, microdermabrasion helps remove the outer layer of dead skin cells, resulting in a smoother, more radiant complexion," he explains.

4. Switch to minimalistic makeup products.

girl using tinted moisturizer on face

Minimalistic makeup is another key part of the clean girl aesthetic.

"Keeping makeup subtle with neutral tones helps achieve that clean and polished look," Jeneby notes.

What about specific products?

"Use lightweight foundations or tinted moisturizers for a dewy finish," he advises. "Highlighter on the high points of the face, like the cheekbones and the bridge of the nose, can also help create a natural glow."

5. Keep your brows and lips more natural.

Eyebrows close up. Beautiful girl applies brow gel to her eyebrow. Close up portrait of young caucasian woman doing her eyebrow natural make up. Professional eyebrow make up concept

How you do your brows and lips can also make or break your clean girl look.

"Keep brows groomed and natural, using brow gel to shape and define without overfilling," Ross suggests.

As for lips? "Choose lip glosses or balms that add a hint of color and shine, avoiding heavy lipsticks," she says.

In fact, something as small as adding red lipstick can easily take you out of the clean girl aesthetic, says Tiffany Rose Dean, celebrity fashion stylist turned beauty mogul, and founder and CEO of Hollywood Hair Bar.

"With this aesthetic, taking care of your skin is the new makeup," Dean explains. "It is very minimalistic when it comes to using beauty products."

RELATED: 10 Easy Ways to Get Glowing Skin Without Makeup.

6. Make sure your hair always looks sleek and shiny.

clean girl woman with slicked back hair

The clean girl aesthetic goes beyond just your skincare and makeup. How you do your hair is also important.

"Sleek and simple hairstyles are key," Jeneby shares. "Slicked-back hair with a low bun or a neat ponytail can complement the clean aesthetic."

Don't forget about hair maintenance as well.

"Using products that add shine and reduce frizz can enhance the sleek look, while regular trims and hair care treatments keep hair looking healthy and well-groomed," he adds.

7. Opt for neutral and timeless clothing choices.

Portrait of smiling girl in white collar shirt, working in cafe, managing restaurant, looking confident and stylish.

Those following the clean girl aesthetic also dress a certain way. For one thing, they tend to choose clothing in neutral tones, such as whites, beiges, and pastels, according to Ross.

"These colors enhance the clean, minimalist vibe," she points out.

Timeless staples can help you better achieve this look as well.

"Invest in classic pieces such as white shirts, tailored trousers, and simple gold jewelry like gold hoops," Ross recommends. "These items are versatile and exude understated elegance."

To put it simply, Jeneby cautions that you want to "avoid overly trendy items that can look cluttered or gaudy" if you're trying to master the clean girl aesthetic.

Controversies Surrounding the Clean Girl Trend

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The clean girl aesthetic hasn't come about without controversy, however.

"Despite its popularity, the clean girl aesthetic has faced criticism for promoting a very narrow standard of beauty that may not be attainable or inclusive for everyone," Ross tells Best Life. "Critics argue that it often emphasizes Eurocentric features and excludes those with different skin textures, hair types, and natural appearances."

Others have argued that many elements of the clean girl trend are "often attributed to or associated with white women" when they actually have been used by brown and Black women for much longer.

Outside of that, the clean girl aesthetic has also been criticized for promoting an effortless look that actually takes a lot of effort, time, and money to achieve.

"Additionally, the pressure to appear effortlessly perfect can be unrealistic and contribute to self-esteem issues," Ross notes.

Clean Girl Aesthetic vs. Mob Wife: Quickly Changing Beauty Trends

blonde girl in an expensive silver fox fur coat sitting on a leather sofa. Fur coat fashion. Luxury lifestyle. Copy space.

Social media has allowed the trend cycle to speed up exponentially, creating a phenomenon of micro-trends and counteractive trends that exist at the same time. For example, the clean girl aesthetic barely had a chance to make its mark before the "mob wife" trend rose up as a rival.

"In contrast to the clean girl aesthetic, the mob wife trend represents a departure from minimalism towards a more glamorous, high-maintenance aesthetic," Larvadain explains. "While the clean girl trend emphasizes simplicity and natural beauty, the mob wife trend embraces bold makeup, lavish hairstyles, and opulent fashion choices."

The mob wife aesthetic popped up early in 2024.

"Clean girl is out, mob wife era is in," Kayla Triveri declared in a Jan. 6 video posted to her TikTok @ktrivz.

"Mob wife" evokes a sense of bold glamour. According to Triveri, the trend includes things like cheetah print, fur coats, sparkles, and big hair.

"This shift reflects the cyclical nature of beauty trends and the ever-evolving preferences of consumers in the beauty industry," Larvadain says.

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Wrapping Up

That's it for our expert-backed guide on how to achieve the ultimate clean girl aesthetic. But be sure to check back with us soon for more beauty tips that can make all the difference when it comes to looking your best and staying on trend.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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