Decoding the Allure of Soft Goth Beauty and How You Can Achieve It

Decoding the Allure of Soft Goth Beauty and How You Can Achieve It


The softer iteration of goth beauty is on the rise. For this story, we delve into what it really means and how can anyone achieve it

It’s quite undeniable that the lingering decadence of the goth subculture made a resurgence in the fashion and beauty sphere this year. Take Donatella Versace’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection for example. On the runway, models were adorned with bold plum lips, smokey purple eyeshadows, and heavy eyeliners. Meanwhile, in the Filipino fashion scene, ghost brows, graphic eye looks, and statement mauve lips dominated Kaye Morales’ Unchained 2023 collection. 

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More grunge than punk, the aesthetic has met its modern interpretation with Kourtney Kardashian and Megan Fox integrating its elements as their new signature. Netflix series like Wednesday solidified its renaissance with hair and makeup designer Tara Mcdonald popularizing the soft goth glam. “It is the mysteriousness, the artistry, and [the] effort that goes with it, and the sexiness of it,” makeup artist Violet Ocampo opened up when asked what makes the style alluring. It’s easy to oversimplify the aesthetic. However, it can be translated into different iterations to complement any liking. 

A look into gothic beauty 

Goth beauty encompasses a diverse subculture. In fact, a delve into its archives will unveil different makeup formats ranging from maximalist post-punk looks to the recent soft goth glam. “It can be very versatile as long as it’s mainly focused on the eyes and lips. You can play with any shapes and add stick-on.” Makeup artist Marlyn Ocampo emphasized that despite the misconceptions built around the aesthetic, goth beauty still encapsulates a form of self-expression that can be fun. Meanwhile, her sister and fellow artist Violet Ocampo punctuated that the style is personal. “Goth for me is glamour and artistry. Also, in whatever way you look at it, it is unique from person to person.” 

Similar to scent layering, goth beauty can complement any makeup format, too. “It can absolutely be incorporated into many styles as long as it is accurate and has the essentials of goth makeup,” Marlyn confirmed. Violet, on the other hand, provided pointers. “A good example is goth + glam—there is actually a subculture that is glam goth. For the athletic goths, there is health goth. And soft goth, which for me is grunge/goth style toned down. It’s really flexible, yes.” 

Introducing soft goth glam

A goth beauty category that is currently on the rise is soft goth glam. As mentioned previously, Tim Burton’s Netflix dark comedy series Wednesday ushered in the aesthetic. However, the category also made its mark as the perfect modern segue for patrons of the ‘90s subtle grunge.“Soft goth is a muted version of the makeup, usually a smokey eye,” Marlyn shared. “It can be soft and sometimes it is literally the 2016 “snatched” makeup, but with much darker eyeshadow and lips.” 

Violet continued, “Simply, soft goth is goth toned down. For me, it is a way for people to be more comfortable in wearing goth makeup.” The artist also shared a beauty tip for fans of the series. “To achieve that, you have to have blended black or gray eyes, blended black to mauve lips, and a bit of gray contour. That’s it.” 

Achieving soft goth glam

Soft goth glam can be incorporated into more looks than one. A nod to icons Jennifer Tilly, Drew Barrymore, Winona Ryder, and now Jenna Ortega, the category focuses on a more minimal approach to goth beauty. Hints of black and gray are seen on the lids while statement plums or neutral-toned hues render on the lips. However, like the origins of goth makeup, its softer iteration is all about the collective energy it radiates to. It is still a form of expression that should bring joy to playing with makeup. 

Below, we listed standout soft goth glam looks for your beauty mood board. 

The Classic ‘90s

Stars like Drew Barrymore and Winona Ryder made a case for subtle grunge aesthetics in the ‘90s. Defined by a clean base, on-fleek brows, and moody lipsticks, the category first introduced a minimal approach to goth beauty prior to its comeback. To achieve the look, define the brows with a trusted pencil or gel formula. For the lips, opt for creamy hues such as burgundy or brick brown for a full ‘90s feel. 

Neutral-Toned Lips 

Introducing a more glamorous take on the aesthetic, Kourtney Kardashian incorporated a gothic color palette with her beauty signature. Symmetries of grays, nudes, violets, and blacks are smoked out on her lids while a neutral-toned lipstick balances out the entire look. It can be intimidating at first, but cool-toned hues can be easily introduced to any makeup format. A deep brown eyeshadow is ideal for starters, but if you are feeling a bit experimental, reach for mauves. 

Just-Bitten Lip Look 

In a previously-released article, hair and makeup designer Tara Mcdonald exclusively shared with MEGA that she wanted to create a fresh goth look for Jenna Ortega. “I wanted a ‘just bitten’ look for Wednesday’s lips. We used a lip liner and lip balm on Jenna.” The artist also unveiled the trick for achieving a more natural finish. “Mix your favorite lip liner—we used Mac Nightmoth—and a balm together. To do this, you draw a little on the back of your hand and add a little balm. Mix together with a lip brush, [and] dab the mixture on your lips either with the brush or your finger! [We used Dr. Paw Paw clear balm] as it’s the perfect consistency for this application.”

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