Five years from now when we consider the sweeping influence of TikTok-led aesthetic trends on the beauty industry (often positioned precariously at their intersection), failing to acknowledge the importance of aesthetics would be nothing short of a crime. Equipped with their social media savviness, market influence, and access to industry-wide knowledge that generations past could only dream of, Gen Z users of the social media platform have undoubtedly led the charge toward a new era of unbridled aestheticism rivaling major artistic movements of the past, including the highly influential aesthetic movement that took place in Great Britain from 1860 to 1900. A study of modern-day aesthetics in beauty and that of art reveals similar patterns and behaviors among their audiences. That’s the power of trends: They may not always withstand the test of time, but their influence lives on in the best ways.
If we’re taking a look at the influence of niche aesthetics on today’s beauty trends, identifying similarities between aesthetic movements reveals so much more than what lingers on the surface. According to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the original aesthetic movement focused “instead on producing art that was beautiful rather than having a deeper meaning—art for art’s sake.” As an escape from ugliness and materialism, could we be going through a second social media–driven aesthetic movement? If the sentiment sounds familiar, it could be because we’ve witnessed a rise in aestheticism with Gen Z proudly at its helm.
Instead of discussing the individuals leading the movement, let’s break it down by studying its roots. Niche beauty aesthetics, like their fashion counterparts, draw from discourse and shared experiences among audiences. TikTok aesthetics have taken on a life of their own beyond the confines of its application coding. With that being said, I’m using this as an opportunity to take a deep dive into the Gen Z–powered take on aestheticism in today’s most recognizable beauty trends. To fully appreciate the countless ways these increasingly niche aesthetics have influenced the beauty industry’s response, we must first take a close look at what the data is showing us.