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Prepare Yourself For The Return Of Indie Sleaze & Tumblr Makeup

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There is nothing that elicits a visceral reaction in me like the era of 'indie sleaze' and Tumblr makeup. It's making a comeback.

Tumblr makeup.
updated on:
May 19, 2023

I don't know what it was about this past year, but everybody seemed to be missing the year 2014. The 1975, the Arctic Monkeys, grunge-y, glittery makeup. It's all a walk down memory lane. I was in high school from the years 2010 and 2014, AKA prime Tumblr era. There really was nothing like it.

With the rise of short-form video content, makeup trends have been coming and going faster than ever. It seems like just a few years ago, Y2K was all the rage. It actually makes sense the next thing people are nostalgic for are the 2010s. I'm already seeing trends of people wanting to go back to a full glam makeup look circa 2017. I mean, it was 6 years ago already!

This post is all about tumblr makeup.

I don't know what it is about nostalgia that seems to come around maybe every 10 years. It's been almost 10 years since I graduated high school and I can feel it happening to me for sure. I think as you get further into your 20s, you start to see everything with rose-colored glasses since you're so much farther away from that time. I remember not really loving high school, and when you're in it, you're not really thinking about what's going on around you, you're just trying to get through it.

Let me remind you of what was happening at that time: One Direction obsession was in full swing, Taylor Swift released Red and 1989, Tumblr/Facebook was everybody's favorite social media (Instagram has just come on the scene when I started high school), The 1975 were touring all over, everyone thought the world was going to end in 2012, Gossip Girl was huge, American Apparel ads dominated billboards, Lorde was starting to come onto the scene etc.

Tumblr was honestly such an interesting platform at the time. It really felt like a way for moody teenagers to get out their angst online. Looking back, I definitely think from my personal experience it shaped how I viewed the world at times. You think when you're 15/16 you're very mature and you know everything, but it's crazy to think how much a young person can be influenced at that age.

All of the artsy images totally influenced pop culture and greatly popularized the grunge/indie look. A lot of Tumblr and fashion bloggers were inspired by a wave of vintage inspiration and "hipster" style.

The Tumblr makeup look was grunge-y and had an it-girl who partied a little too hard and woke up with glitter on her face the next day type vibe. It was interesting to see how the bubblegum pink pop it-girl from the 2000s evolved into the mysterious Alexa Chung, Sky Ferreira Coachella type. It's almost like they seemed less accessible even though their images were everywhere.

Today, we're going to discuss the hallmarks of the Tumblr makeup look so you can best be prepared when it (inevitably) comes back around.

What is Tumblr makeup?

tumblr makeup

Tumblr makeup is a style of makeup that was popular during ~ 2010-2015 that is characterized by dark, grunge-like eyeshadow (sometimes with dark glitter) and simple skin and lips. Of course, there are many different versions of makeup that people feel are reminiscent of the Tumblr era, but it was mostly focused on heavy makeup around the eyes and relatively simple, muted colors everywhere else.

What is the difference between indie sleaze and Tumblr makeup?

Many people feel that another word to describe Tumblr makeup is 'indie sleaze'. Indie sleaze is a comparable word to 'hipster', describing the aesthetic popularized at the time as "American Apparel ads, flash photography, Urban Outfitters, Ed Banger records, Nylon magazine, and Myspace". One figure that always comes up in pictures for Tumblr makeup is Taylor Momsen. Remember how she was Cindy Lou Who in The Grinch and went on to make a total grunge transformation in Gossip Girl? Well, she kept that same energy after the show and joined a band called The Pretty Reckless. She took her character's indie sleaze aesthetic to the next level.

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How can I recreate Tumblr makeup?

tumblr makeup

Tumblr makeup is pretty easy to achieve actually. Part of the appeal is the "messy", undone style of it. Here is a cute video I found kind of reminiscing on the Tumblr aesthetic as a whole. It includes a cute makeup tutorial as well:

Tumblr makeup of course is interpreted differently by each individual person, but I personally remember darker eyes and a whole lot of glitter for some reason!

Smoky eye palette

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"Love this!"

A black smoky eye palette with lots of shimmer options is a must for the Tumblr look. Plus this one is only $6!

Purple eye glitter

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"I love how it's easy to apply. I love the color so much!!!"

I feel like purple and black were common colors at the time to wear for makeup.

Dark gray eye glitter

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"Love to use the black when I do a smokey eye."

Tumblr makeup was all about the eyes. If you can only buy one product to give you the indie sleaze look, this is definitely it!!!

If you like this post you may enjoy this post: Americana Aesthetic Amazon Finds For A Gingham Print Summer

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How can I recreate a Tumblr outfit?

tumblr makeup

Tumblr outfits were usually within a black/white color palette. Doc Martens were popular, as well as denim jackets and tennis skirts. Black and white stripes with fish nets were also very in style. Hair color in the shades teal and purple were also very common. Band tees and chokers were everywhere!

Arctic Monkeys shirt

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The chokehold the Arctic Monkeys had on us during this time period...we all wanted to be so alternative! Being a kid and idolizing indie and alternative music is just the classic story.


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"These are better than I expected! Super cute and very comfortable! Love to get another pair if they had different colors!"

These and Doc Martens were everywhere! I'm convinced Doc Martens' stock went through the roof from 2010-2015.

Fishnet tights

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"I love fishnets - these are very comfy and have a lot of stretch to them."

Going along with the gothic/grunge theme, we all wanted the confidence to rock some fishnet tights. If they had holes in them, even better!

Tennis skirt

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"This is an awesome skirt!"

American Apparel was paying the rent with the sales of this tennis skirt alone. Their rise and subsequent downfall was a source of intrigue for many years to come.

Purple hair dye

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"I love Manic Panic! I've bought lots of shades and always love the results. I used half of the bottle on my hair & it turned out great. Never a bad/chemical smell and good coverage."

Lavender and teal hair was just another way for us teenagers to show our rebellion. Be warned: if you dye your hair blue, when you wash it out it will turn green...I know from experience.

What music was popular at the time?

I found this playlist that gives me all the feels of the Tumblr era. I feel like that time was characterized by two separate feelings: alternative, grunge, and Tumblrcore or the One Direction, Taylor Swift, 5SOS fandom days.

Here's the Tumblr playlist:

Do any of these songs take you back? It's so crazy that teenagers are romanticizing the era but our generation is totally guilty of doing the same exact thing with the 2000s. There's something about the time period you grow up during that leaves a fondness and a nostalgia in you forever!


Sometimes there are days when I would give anything to live a day in 2013 again, but then like all things I think some trends are best left in the past. But it's fun to reminisce! How old were you guys when Tumblr makeup and 'indie sleaze' reigned supreme? I still can't believe I was a high schooler back then!

This post was all about indie sleaze makeup.

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