Tomato, strawberry, glazed donut: why is every beauty trend named after a food?

Tomato, strawberry, glazed donut: why is every beauty trend named after a food?

by Robyn Pullen
3 min

Hungry to know what beauty trends will be big in 2024? Chances are, they’ll be inspired by food. In 2023, we saw “blueberry milk” nails, “glazed donut” skincare, and “tomato girl” makeup each take a turn going viral on social media, and the pattern of putting food on our faces is unlikely to stop. So, if you’ve been wondering why it feels like every beauty trend is food-related, me too. Let’s look into it.

According to the CR Fashion Book, our obsession with beauty’s relation to food has been ingrained in culture for thousands of years, and it started because a lot of makeup was actually edible. Cleopatra’s eyeliner contained burnt almonds; Ancient Greek lip-tints were made of berries; and in the Edo Period of Japan, rice powder was used as a loose form of foundation. Basically, food and makeup have always gone hand in hand.

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Nowadays, you’re less likely to find food in makeup because of how long our beauty products are designed to last; preservatives can only do so much, and rubbing berries onto your face will likely end up in a skin condition after they start to mould. However, that doesn’t mean we never use food as a form of beauty. Even modern scientific articles support the idea of many foods as beneficial as beauty products: mayonnaise is a strengthening hair mask, egg yolks promote hair growth, and milk baths are a hydrating way of soothing irritated skin.

Despite this, synthetic materials are the main ingredient in most modern makeup products. So, why has the beauty-food association stuck around? Within the industry itself, you’ll find plenty of brands which market their products inside food-related packaging, like the Too Faced Sweet Peach eye palette which even smells good enough to eat. Why do they do this when you really shouldn’t eat their products?

It’s partly to tap into our monkey brains that associate foods with health. Not only does smelling the scent of peach on an eyeshadow palette remind us of sustenance, an essential for our survival, but it also evokes the idea that the product is “ripe.” It could have a shelf life of twenty-four months, but every time we get a sniff of that fresh, fruity scent, monkey brain will think it’s been picked straight off a bush. 

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It’s this psychology that feeds (no pun intended) into the virality of food-inspired beauty trends. We have it so ingrained within us that fresh, sweet, produce equates healthiness, that just calling a nail trend “blueberry milk nails” draws us to it subconsciously. Whether you want your face to remind people of a juicy strawberry or a ripe tomato, there’s a makeup trend that can help you achieve that. 

Before you start questioning why typically “unhealthy” foods like glazed donuts and lattes are also being adapted into food trends, consider that it’s largely because this whole psychology is reliant on your monkey brain. Monkey brain only makes the connection between “tastes good, is good”, so the formula still works for sweet treats that aren’t one of your five-a-day. 

What I’m excited for is the future of food-inspired beauty trends. Maybe as we get bored of the conventional foods, more trends will venture into the unusual, and personally I’ve been talking about “mouldy bread makeup” for months. Trust me… it’ll grow on you.

Featured image credits: @rhode featuring @gabbriette

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