January 10, 2024 4 min read

As an alternative makeup brand, we cater towards unconventional makeup styles - one of these subcultures falls under "gothic makeup" or "goth makeup." Although in the 2020s we are a fan of mixing up styles and not strictly sticking to one style (experimentation is at the heart of makeup, after all!) It is always interesting to look into specific subcultures, styles, fashion and where they came from, and how they have developed throughout the years in the alternative scene.

Gothic makeup, with its dark allure and distinctive styles, has long been a symbol of rebellion, individuality, and a fascination with the darker aspects of life. From its roots in the Gothic subculture to its evolution into various subgenres, the history of gothic makeup is a testament to creativity, expression, and the constant redefinition of beauty standards.

Origins of Gothic Makeup:

The origins of Gothic makeup can be traced back to the emergence of the Gothic subculture in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Influenced by gothic literature, music, and fashion, individuals within this subculture sought to express themselves through a unique aesthetic that defied mainstream norms. Makeup became a crucial element in crafting the distinctive Gothic look, characterized by its emphasis on pale skin, dark, dramatic eyes, and often bold, unconventional lip colours.

Classic Goth Makeup:

The classic goth makeup style, often associated with the early days of the subculture, embodies a sense of romanticism and melancholy. Pale foundation or powder was used to achieve an ethereal, ghostly complexion. Dark, smoky eyes became a trademark, achieved through the use of heavy black eyeliner, dark eyeshadows, and sometimes exaggerated winged eyeliner. Lips were often painted in deep, vampy shades like black, burgundy, or deep purple, adding a dramatic contrast to the pale face. This style is also sometimes referred to as "trad goth makeup." 

Victorian Goth Makeup:

Drawing inspiration from the Victorian era's fashion and aesthetics, Victorian goth makeup incorporates elements of historical elegance and refinement. This style often features intricate designs, such as elaborate lace patterns painted around the eyes, creating a hauntingly beautiful look. Soft, muted colours combined with a focus on intricate details differentiate Victorian goth makeup from its more stark and intense counterparts.

Cyber Goth Makeup:

As the Gothic subculture diversified, Cyber Goth emerged as a futuristic and cyberpunk-influenced style. Neon and UV-reactive makeup became prominent, with vibrant, fluorescent colours adorning the eyes, lips, and sometimes even the hair. The use of bold, unconventional makeup paired with cybernetic or futuristic accessories characterized the Cyber Goth aesthetic, creating a striking and attention-grabbing appearance.

Punk Goth Makeup:

Blending elements of punk and gothic styles, Punk Goth makeup exudes an edgy and rebellious vibe. This style often incorporates bold colours, unconventional placements of piercings, studs, or spikes, and a fusion of dark makeup with punk-inspired accessories. Sharp, graphic eyeliner, metallic accents, and a mix of dark and vibrant hues contribute to the distinctive Punk Goth look.

Modern Interpretations and Influences:

In recent years, gothic makeup has evolved further, influenced by a myriad of factors including pop culture, social media, and diverse artistic expressions. Contemporary gothic makeup embraces a more inclusive approach, welcoming a broader spectrum of skin tones and gender identities. Innovative techniques, such as graphic liner designs, avant-garde applications, and the fusion of different styles, have reshaped the boundaries of gothic makeup.

Gothic Makeup in the Mainstream:

The influence of gothic makeup extends beyond the boundaries of the subculture, permeating mainstream fashion, beauty, and entertainment. Runways showcase avant-garde gothic-inspired looks, makeup brands introduce dark and bold collections, and celebrities often adopt elements of gothic makeup for red carpet events, amplifying its reach and influence in popular culture.


Grunge and Gothic Crossover:

The crossover between grunge and gothic aesthetics in the realm of fashion and makeup marked a fascinating fusion of two distinct subcultures. Emerging in the 1990s, this convergence brought together the raw, disheveled appearance of grunge with the dark, moody allure of gothic elements. Makeup during this crossover period often featured a combination of grunge's minimalistic approach—think smudged eyeliner, natural tones, and a deliberately undone look—with gothic influences, such as deeper, darker lip colorus or touches of dramatic eyeshadow. This blending of styles captured a sense of rebelliousness and introspection, creating a unique, edgy look that resonated with those drawn to both the gritty authenticity of grunge and the mystique of gothic aesthetics.


The history of gothic makeup is a testament to the enduring power of self-expression and creativity. From its roots in the Gothic subculture to its diverse contemporary interpretations, gothic makeup continues to captivate and inspire, evolving with the times while retaining its essence of non-conformity and individuality. As trends come and go, gothic makeup stands as an enduring symbol of embracing the shadows and finding beauty in the unconventional.

Gothic makeup is more than just a style; it's a reflection of the ever-evolving human desire to explore the boundaries of self-expression and beauty, inviting us to embrace the darker, more mysterious facets of our existence.



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