There’s a new term making the rounds that Gen Z has helped go viral on TikTok dubbed ‘quiet quitting’. Formerly linked to the workplace where employees only put in the minimum effort required to do their job, it’s beginning to be used in different contexts, including the world of beauty.

“Quiet quitting is quitting the shackles of beauty trends,” begins Sofia Guellaty, the Founder and Creative Director of MILLE World, an online lifestyle, culture and fashion portal. You only need to swipe through any social media channel, and you’ll come across new launches, hacks and trends daily and it’s all become a bit much. “It can get overwhelming to keep up with them all,” says celebrity makeup artist Vimi Joshi.

It is not beauty as a whole that that the movement is focusing on. “They are quitting on a trend that encompasses everything, including beauty. They want to be more of who they are. They want to be more beautiful from within, so they take more care of themselves,” explains Guellaty. This means that the quiet quitters are looking to find more time for themselves, one way of doing this is to block out the noise of an ever-changing market that even beauty professionals find hard to keep up with at times.

Taking a step back

The pandemic had a large part to play in this. Shelves packed with foundations, powders, liners and lipsticks were largely left untouched as we were locked down at home. “We know since Covid [that] mental health, pampering and taking care of oneself is important. But we also noticed that it’s not about following trends. The biggest trend they want to follow is finding their own voice and being themselves,” says Guellaty.

Embracing one’s natural beauty has meant taking a step back, and the emergence of a movement that, even two years down the line, is still evolving. “We are seeing the resurgence of simplicity and women reverting back to their “Go To, Must Have” products, especially when it comes to changing their lipstick,” says Joshi. “They are paring back to their signature lip color, whether it be nude or bright. Less is more for the new beauty philosophy,”  states Vimi Joshi.

This is also being seen in skincare. At the beginning of the pandemic, the focus shifted to the skin. With more time on our hands, many turned to experimenting with new formulas and active ingredients, as highlighted and encouraged by social media. “While skincare had a moment during the peak of Covid, everybody went overboard with their skincare in lockdown by using highly potent products,” says skincare specialist Joewsef Maalouf, also known as SkinFits on his social media channels.

Lessons learnt behind closed doors

This was problematic for many reasons. People with no education in skincare were pushing ‘trendy’ products that, when misused, could do more harm than good. Many suffered from skin irritation, and some even damaged their skin barrier leading to more issues. “While initially, this was not a great thing, it unknowingly triggered a new positive, and minimal movement in skincare focused on barrier repair. The lockdown period had a lot of people learning about the benefits of skincare and how not to overdo it,” says Maalouf.

In some ways, it was lucky that this movement happened during the lockdown. Mistakes were made, but lessons were learnt behind closed doors. Now, it appears consumers are not only embracing pared back makeup routines, but that they are also embracing pared back skincare routines, too. “Gone are the days of the ’10-step routine’ and the ‘overactive skincare’. Brands have taken notice of this customer behavior, and we’re now seeing a wave of launches focused on a minimal routine with gentle barrier restoring skincare,” explains Maalouf.

Another trend is the rise of individualization within beauty. Guellaty uses the HBO series Euphoria as an example, where the characters opted for extravagant looks or bare-faced beauty, in turn setting trends, not following them. “It’s about freedom,” she says. Unlike quiet quitting on the job front, quiet quitting in beauty is ushering in a new positive mindset for consumers. “Either they stop abiding by social views and embrace their natural beauty and be skin positive and be whoever they want to be. Or they define their own trends, and they do what they want,” Guellaty concludes.