How Trends Have Changed: 2016 vs. 2021

How Trends Have Changed: 2016 vs. 2021

Five years ago, the Instagram aesthetic was in full swing and foundation was matte and full coverage, versus today’s more natural/dewy look. The year was 2016, when Instagram took makeup trends to a whole new level with new trends emerging from the app almost every month. However, half a decade has gone by and it is not surprising to see new looks emerge on social media. 

Let us jog your memory a bit. In 2016, makeup trends were all about flashy, smokey eyes, clean cut creases, heavy contouring, matte foundations and thick matte liquid lips. Quite different from the looks we see today, which are more natural in comparison, with bushy brows, glossy lips, glowing/dewy skin and rosy cheeks. 

Present day, one of the most popular social media platforms is TikTok. One trend in particular that has gone viral is the 2016 vs. 2021 Makeup Challenge. Creators do half of their face using techniques popularized in 2016 and half using techniques that are popular now. One of the reasons this challenge has gone viral is because people can really see the change that makeup on social media has gone through. Here are some trends from both 2016 and present day, along with some tips and some of our favorite Rude Cosmetics products so you too can participate in this challenge.

2016 vs. 2021 PREP + PRIME

In 2016, skincare was not as popular as it is now; not everyone online was showing their extensive skincare prep for makeup. This led many average consumers to believe that primer and foundation was all they needed for a flawless base. 5 years ago, matte was all the rage and pore filling primers were at the top of the primer game. Primers like the POREnographic Mattifying or Pore Eraser Primers were very popular.

2020, a global pandemic hit, and everyone went into quarantine. Prompting everyone to want to get that quarantine “glow up”. With better skin, came a new way of doing makeup. Nowadays, moisturizer before you prime is a must. People have also switched from Mattifying and Pore filling primers, to more hydrating primers. Some even started using primer oils to achieve a more dewy look. Some of our favorite products are the POREnographic Hydrating Primer, Shimmering Primer, and the Wishes Do Come True Primer Oil.

2016 vs. 2021 FACE MAKEUP

In 2016, rocking full glam and looking like you were constantly going clubbing was the norm. Foundation was caked on, contour was very apparent and concealer was everywhere. 2016, was a strange time for foundation as it was applied very thick and everyone was rocking a yellow undertone foundation. One of our favorite full coverage foundations is the Rude Cosmetics Double Trouble Foundation and Concealer. This full coverage matte finish foundation is perfect for achieving that 2016 aesthetic. Highlight and Contour was also very extravagant at this time. Concealer at least two shades lighter than your foundation was used to highlight all over the face. Placed in large triangle shapes under the eyes, and also on the T-zone. Concealers, two shades darker than your foundation, were also used to contour. Some products we recommend to achieve this look is our RUDE Sculpting Concealer, Magic Duo Highlight and Contour, or the Reflex Waterproof Concealer.

Once blended out, it was all set with a lot of setting powder, and then we would bake. That’s right, everyone was baking their faces. A technique invented by drag queens and popularized by the Kardashian/Jenner sisters, baking is the process of applying loose powder under the eyes, and along your cheekbones for a brighter and more sculpted look. To achieve this look you will need a loose setting powder like the Ultra High Definition Studio Finishing Mineral Powder or the Puff the Magic Powder


With the internet and social media growing, this allowed for everyone to become more educated on makeup and the importance of using products that are suitable for your skin type. Nowadays, a dewy/natural base is more popular than a completely matte face. And yes you can achieve this look even if you have oily skin. Instead of applying foundation in a thick layer, start by applying a few dots all over the face, concentrating the most product in the areas that you need the most coverage. Alternatively, you can skip foundation altogether and simply spot conceal with a concealer that is your skin shade. Highlight and contour is something that has also changed a lot in the past 5 years. Concealer is no longer 2 shades lighter than your foundation, but now it is your skin shade and it is only applied in tiny amounts under the eyes, and a little to highlight the nose. With the more natural look being popular now, cream contour is not as popular but instead powder contour and bronzer has taken over. Some products we recommend are the NoFilter 3D Face Palette, Go For The Bronze Bronzer, and the Sculpting Contour Trio

In 2021, Baking is no longer as popular as it was 5 years ago. Although loose setting powders are still used in everyday makeup, they are no longer used excessively. A light dusting of powder is only used on the areas of the face that need it most; for example, if you get oily on your T-zone, only apply a thin layer of powder to your T-zone. Additionally, if you need to set your under eyes to prevent creasing, a light layer is best as you’d want to prevent wearing heavy makeup under the eyes. We recommend using a light finely milled powder to set your concealer, like the Under Eye Setting Mineral Powder, this powder will give you a silky smooth finish with no added texture to the under eyes.

Although blush was not very popular in 2016, in 2021 blush is now one of the most popular makeup products. Sun kissed, rosy cheeks are in as it gives a more natural look to your face and it is very adorable. There are many products on the market for blush now even some blush tints, but our favorites are cream and powder blushes. Some of our faves are the Blush Crush Palettes Level Up and Match Three. With so many different shades, you are sure to find the perfect rosy look for your complexion.

2016 vs. 2021 EYE MAKEUP

Eye makeup was also very dramatic back then and often featured a cut crease or an exaggerated winged liner. Start by using a concealer to prep the lids, yes, eye primers existed but it was like they didn’t in 2016. Concealer was the way to go no matter how creased it got. We still used it. The go to makeup look was the cut crease. Often achieved using dark smokey eyeshadows and pairing it with a winged liner. For a more detailed tutorial on how to create the perfect cut crease look, be sure to check out our Makeup Tutorial Series: Cut Crease blog! 

Let’s talk eyebrows in 2016. During this time, the “Instagram” brow became popular. This eyebrow style was often achieved using brow pomade that was darker than your natural brow hair color. The way to achieve this look was to draw your eyebrows thick and dark in color towards the ends with a fade in the beginning. Finally you will need to clean them up a bit with some concealer to really make them pop. One of our favorite products to use is the PeepShow Brow & Eyeliner Cream, this highly pigmented, smudge free gel is perfect to sculpt, color, and define your eyebrows.

2016 eye makeup was much more dramatic compared to the simple eye makeup looks we see today. Although complex looks still exist, we mostly see them online and not walking down the street. One of the more popular eye looks right now is the fox eyeliner trend, which consists of a simple thin eyeliner that is meant to give the illusion of a more elongated eye shape. This eyeliner can be worn in it’s own with some mascara or you can add some flasies for a little bit of drama. Our favorite Eyeliner is the Police Eyeliner Up Eyeliner Pen, the pen applicator and fine tip allow you to be in complete control of your lines to help you create the perfect fox eye. 


Although 2016 gave us so many great new techniques of doing makeup, I am sure we can all agree that some have definitely changed for the better. The 2016 trend is for people who love to accentuate particular parts of their faces like cheekbones, eyes, node bridge, and lips. Trends nowadays are for people who prefer a more natural look. 

Let us know if you try this trend! Follow us on Instagram at

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