There's a time and a place for cut-crease eyeshadow, a super-sculpted contour, and some bold red lipstick (and for some people, that time and place is always and forever—which, hey, can you teach me?!). But for the rest of us who love a full face of makeup but also want something slightly more toned down every now and then, allow me to introduce you to the subtler stepsister of full-glam makeup: soft glam makeup. Soft glam is still glam at its core, but it's done in a way that feels lighter, airier, and, duh, softer—think: full-face with the volume turned down a bit.
And to help fill you in on the soft glam makeup trend, I turned to celebrity makeup artist Emma Willis to answer all of your biggest questions, along with some our my favorite examples to help you DIY it on yourself.
What is soft glam makeup?
You already know what full-glam makeup looks like: Carved-out brows (aka the IG brow), graphic eyeliner, multicolored eyeshadow, lots of glitter, and blinding highlighter. But when we talk about soft glam makeup, we're talking about glowing skin, brushed-through brows, diffused eyeshadow, and a natural, neutral lip. See the difference? As Willis puts it, soft glam makeup is "effortless, diffused, and almost ethereal—basically, a more polished but natural you."
How do you do soft glam makeup?
Harsh lines are the antithesis of soft, diffused makeup, so the key to soft glam makeup is lots of blending, swirling, and buffing—but you also gotta have the right tools and formulas. Willis always keeps a bunch of medium-to-large buffing brushes (some dense and others soft and fluffy) at the ready to perfectly melt everything together. Want some more tips and product recs? Keep scrolling for nine ways to wear soft glam makeup and everything you need to pull it off yourself.
9 Soft Glam Makeup Looks To Try Right Now
Soft Glam Blended Contour
Put down the heavy baking powder and intense contour kits, because Willis's biggest tip for nailing a soft glam base is to buff a little cream bronzer around the edges of your face with a fluffy kabuki brush. This hint of bronze will help warm up your face, define your features, and add a realistic little glow, all while maintaining a diffused, filtered effect.Continue reading below ↓
Natural Soft Glam Makeup
You don't have to go bare face for a soft glam makeup look, and you don't have to settle for just a tinted moisturizer, either. A full-coverage foundation can still work for a softer look—just keep the coverage where you need it and add back any freckles that were lost along the way with a freckle-dotting pen.Continue reading below ↓
Subtle Soft Glam Highlight
If you like a little glow to your skin, create a natural highlight (read: resist the urge to dip yourself in glitter) by building your look with layers of creamy complexion products. Willis's tip: Apply your creams, like cream blush, bronzer, and highlighter, with your fingers to help melt the products into your skin for a softer, more seamless finish.Continue reading below ↓
Monochromatic Soft Glam
Good news for all of you who never did learn how to apply those vibrant, glittery eyeshadows in your palette: Soft glam makeup is more about muted tones, neutral shades, and matte finishes. If your soul crumbles at the thought of no color, just think monochromatic over dramatic. Keep all your colors in the same family for a soft look, not a strong one.Continue reading below ↓
Fluffy, Soft Glam Brows
Fill in any bare spots if you need, but for the most part, keep your brows looking naturally full by brushing through them with a spoolie. The secret to getting your brushed-up brows to stay, well, up? Soap on your brows. Yep, that regular bar of soap you have works like a brow gel to keep your hairs soft and separated without the stiffness and crunch.Continue reading below ↓
Diffused Soft Glam Eyeliner
The soft-glam version of a super-glam cat eye? Diffused winged liner. Switch out your liquid liner with a dark shade from your eyeshadow palette paired with an angled eyeliner brush or a pencil eyeliner and a small dense brush to smudge it out. With these techniques, you still get the definition and shape but with a smokier finish.Continue reading below ↓
Soft, Fluttery Lashes
Another way to define your eyes for a more ethereal look? Skip the liner and keep the focus on your eyelashes. Instead of using any stark eyeshadows, Willis prefers to play up the mascara on the lashes for soft glam eye makeup.Continue reading below ↓
Slightly Defined Glam Lips
I know we've been using the word "diffused" a lot, but as long as you keep your lips natural, neutral, and in the same color family as your eyes and cheeks, you can opt for a more defined lip shape with lip liner.
Glossy Soft Glam LipsContinue reading below ↓
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.