Traditional Chinese Makeup Aesthetic in Modern Day

Trends come and go. Every few years, people think they’ve found a new way of doing things. Bootcut jeans are back after so many people shunning them for being so dated. The MULLET of all things has also made a comeback with Gen Z sporting the hairdo (redubbed Wolf Hair) all over TikTok. Today’s modern makeup trends have surprising similarities to those in history, specifically traditional Chinese makeup or the stage makeup of the Peking Opera.

If you are unfamiliar with the Peking Opera, you might be more familiar with the term Beijing Opera? It is one of the most famous and documented modes of traditional Chinese entertainment and is, in fact, one of the world’s three ancient dramas, alongside Greek tragic-comedy and Indian Sanskrit Dramas. 

Surely, you’ve seen versions of the iconic makeup they use on stage which exaggerate their features and create illusions of innocence, age, and villainy among others to help audiences understand the characters. They use colors to symbolize how much of a certain trait is present in the character, copious amounts of black makeup will most likely mean they are the wisest, and white the most wicked. While the significance of colors in the Peking Opera have most likely not translated into the modern day makeup aesthetics, there are some ways they look akin.

Spock Eyebrows

A popular trend among makeup fans these days are the upturned eyebrows or Spock eyebrows, where some people will actually, not just conceal the tips of their brows to create the illusion of a straight upward tilt, but actually shave the ends off for an edgier look.

Flushed Cheeks

Another look is the prominence and placement of blush so high on the cheekbones, it seamlessly blends with the edges of your eyeshadow. In fact, there have been many beautiful looks on Instagram and Tiktok where the eyeshadow IS actually the blush, just intensified to add more color on the lids.

Fox Eye

The fox-eye trend has gained more and more popularity with no signs of stopping, and you can actually see that kind of application on the faces of the players – the Peking Opera actors were called ‘players’ as they played the characters. The exaggerated outer wing and the extension of the inner eyeline that created such a dynamic look onstage is applied with a lighter hand today to create an alluring look that Bella Hadid favors.

Plump Pouts

The rounded lips that are causing lip liner shortages around the world (not really, but you get it) is actually similar to the lipstick styles seen onstage that were inspired by the ancient Chinese beauty trend of cherry-like lips. A plump rounded mouth was the desired look on some characters to portray a more coquettish appearance.

While today’s makeup aesthetics may not have necessarily been directly derived from the traditional Chinese Opera, it’s still fun to see and notice how trends evolve and diffuse. Which of these trends have you fallen in love with and do you see any other similarities we may have missed? 

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