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Makeup brutalism: how an Instagram account specialising in ‘ugly makeup’ created a new makeup trend

By Alma Fabiani

Oct 27, 2020

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From tutorials on how to perfect a smoky eye to suitable makeup looks for every occasion you could think of, one thing is clear, the makeup industry has submerged the internet with a certain approach to creativity that somehow doesn’t surprise anyone anymore. This led the new generation to become bored of seeing the same makeup content on social media, and rightfully so. So where does the future of the beauty industry lie? And what is the new makeup trend that will break the internet? 

Surprisingly, ‘ugly makeup’ or ‘makeup brutalism’ might just be it. Screen Shot spoke to Eszter Magyar, also known as @makeupbrutalism on Instagram, about ‘ugly makeup’, her interpretation of makeup brutalism and how it might just be the next big thing.

 

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G O L D | • • • • #makeup #makeupartist #makeupart #makeupbrutalism #uglymakeuprevolution #controversial #lipstick #lipart #contemporaryart #diastemacrew

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What exactly is makeup brutalism?

Makeup brutalism is basically the contrary to mainstream makeup trends that are found online—such as the ‘natural glow’ or ‘chic cat eye’. Although the same kind of style was first visited by people like Alexander McQueen for his fall 2009 show in Paris, where makeup artist Peter Philips gave models bleached brows and oversized, smeared lips, Eszter Magyar kickstarted and added a name to the trend through her Instagram account @makeupbrutalism.

Magyar’s Instagram page gained in 2018 the title of ‘most hated beauty account of the year’. For her, makeup brutalism aims to create an anti-aesthetic revolution by encouraging more people to move against beauty norms. Born in Budapest and now based in London after living in Berlin for a few years, makeup activist Magyar is on a mission to disrupt the beauty industry.

How did she first start? Speaking to Screen Shot, Magyar explained that “Makeup brutalism started way before the account itself. It was a pretty organic process, me, who was bored with perfection, sat down at home and played with makeup and after a few years, here we are. I am a person who is naturally attracted to different and impactful creations. I was always questioned about everything. People told me that I don’t look gay enough to be a lesbian or I don’t look old enough to be a professional. I don’t even look Hungarian enough to my country—my features are more German or Swedish-looking, they say. I was left outside all my own categories all the time, so I guess that was the base of my observant behaviour which lead a makeup habit to become my career.”

Magyar’s own sense of not ‘fitting in’ is highly recognisable in her makeup looks. Makeup brutalism is about taking what the beauty industry considers ‘the norm’ and pulling it apart to create something rough, sometimes disturbing, but real.

 

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“[Makeup brutalism] comes from the architectural style Brutalism, which I adored from a very early age. I realised that people who don’t know the reasons behind that particular style often easily consider it ugly. I am a little bit of a philosophical type, I love to look behind the evident. For me, all these additional things are adding so much to the image, to the value. For most people, brutalism is ugly and hateful, as makeup brutalism turned out for a lot of people too. I don’t remember how I came up with this word, but it turned out as a perfect hit!” Disliking something because you don’t understand it, or have never stumbled upon it before certainly sounds like a recurring pattern.

But Magyar doesn’t seem to be preoccupied with people’s perception of her work. With more than 109,000 followers on her main Instagram account @makeupbrutalism, the makeup artist also has three other Instagram accounts. Among them is @uglymakeuprevolution, which currently has 43,400 followers. The main difference between those accounts is that while the former only represents Magyar’s creative vision when it comes to makeup, the latter belongs to “everyone who wants to be part of it,” as she told me. By starting her experimentations by herself and then sharing her approach to beauty on social media, Magyar unknowingly created the makeup brutalism movement; a new and refreshing creative vision.

Ugly makeup as a political manifesto

What about ‘ugly makeup’? Is there such a thing as ugly makeup, you might wonder. Apparently so, only, Magyar is using the term in a provocative way, while others might use it literally. “The usage of the word ‘ugly’ is pure gaslighting—to catch people’s attention. You don’t have to take it literally, but all the looks are irregular indeed, exciting and liberating.”

But to Magyar, celebrating ‘ugly makeup’ does not only mean provoking Instagram users. While we now know the clearly-defined steps that makeup artists, fashion designers, musicians, and many other creatives have to take in order to ‘make it’, @makeupbrutalism is almost the antithesis of it.

Magyar steered clear from makeup tutorials and sponsorships. Her feed is not full of over-the-top positivity and girl boss attitude. Where most influential Instagram users would present the rest of the world with a perfectly-curated profile, @makeupbrutalism shares with followers such a novel approach to beauty in general that it makes it unbearable to some. And Magyar does it for the sake of creativity, not for the likes or the attention. “I had no purpose with this account, it was just experimenting. I was not driven to have that big of a following or never dreamed of getting that much attention.”

Disregarding the mainstream definition of what is considered beautiful, Magyar’s ‘makeup activism’ celebrates the ugly and disturbing, making a name for makeup brutalism in an industry that constantly looks for perfection.

 

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In my recent interviews everyone asked me about my future plans. I don’t know if this is a coincidence or people can feel it but I was thinking about this a lot lately. My main goal atm is to lead makeupbrutalism to the offline world. I would like to see it as a book, as workshops and mostly as real life “art” (💡) Why? Because what if one day this platform will be over ? I would lose all the hard work of the last years, I would lose my “legacy” ( wow such a big word .. but you know what I mean ) , my identity – I don’t know who I would handle that. The truth is that as makeupbrutalism my reality is virtual. • • • • It is time for change that • • • • • #makeup #makeupbrutalism #esztermagyar #uglymakeuprevolution #makeupactivist #artist #conceptualart #conceptualartist #lashes #lashesextension #falselashes #falsies #makeupartistsupport #makeupartistfesture #makeupartistfeaturepage #skin #skincare #makeuponfleek #avantgarde #avantgardemakeup #conceptart #merchendise #unisex #myrealityisvirtual #makeupactivist #dazedbeauty #makeupcoyote #theartistedit

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What is beauty anyway? And does it even exist?

When speaking to Magyar, I mentioned Kylie Jenner’s monopole on the beauty industry as well as on influencer marketing. I asked her what she thought about today’s beauty industry and whether she was aiming to revolutionise it. “What is beauty anyway?” she answered. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say, but then again, what happens when literally everyone has constant access to other people’s false representation of themselves?

“There are so many definitions out there by so many great thinkers. Kant, Aristotle, etc… There are so many answers, layers and directions that at the end, we can choose who’s definition we find the most attractive. I don’t want to choose someone who felt the need to change herself entirely just to be acceptable. It’s pretty ironic that someone who was so easily impressionable has such a huge impact. That’s not the message I go for. Trends are something natural—they are always here around us, telling us how we should look—but the fun part is, what a flaw is today may just be the biggest and most desirable trend tomorrow. So what’s the point? If something changes so quickly—does it even exist?”

For someone with such a strong influence on their social media audience, Magyar’s nonchalance comes as a surprise. When beauty and wellness sectors started to realise the importance and power of influencers, they took advantage of the promotional opportunity that arose with the rise of authoritative voices. By commissioning these influencers to promote specific beauty products, they gave their customers a false sense of control, which in turn propelled the makeup industry to new heights. However, we are now wondering if this is actually changing to reverse?

No makeup brutalism for Kylie

And no Kylie Cosmetics for the makeup revolutionist Magyar. When asked whether she feels like an influencer in a niche market, she answered: “I don’t think I’m an influencer in the way the Jenners and the Kardashians are. And to be honest, I have a bad taste in my mouth after this word. I don’t even like to be called one, I feel it’s offensive.”

What about pressure then? Leading a liberated approach to the art of makeup must come with some pressure—or even hate. This is the sad reality of social media after all. “The only sort of pressure I felt was reflected in my behaviour and how I react to others. First, my mindset was to be nice with everyone, but I then realised it would be like putting a filter on my personality, so I just decided not to be nice to people I don’t want to be nice to. It was liberating honestly. It is my way of self-expression—I don’t owe anyone anything.”

 

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What’s next for Magyar then, if not fame and more followers? “I want to find the way to lead @makeupbrutalism in the offline world; as art, as a workshop series, as a book.” Otherwise? “I’m a makeup artist, and that is a big surprise for most of the people,” so her life is as busy as it gets.

Anyone who dared to share their creative vision with Instagram and received the title of ‘most hated beauty account of the year’ would probably have gone down another path by now—not Magyar. When it comes to makeup and beauty, her visionary ambitions have not yet been completely explored. Makeup brutalism, along with ugly makeup, is the new trend bound to revolutionise the beauty industry, whether you want it to or not, and to take it further—this movement may hold a meaning that is far more important to society than that of a trend itself.