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The Allure of Hailey Bieber: How Gen Z Embraced the "Clean Girl" Aesthetic

CEO Tinh Phung
Hailey Bieber has become the new queen of viral beauty trends, captivating the next generation with her minimalist approach to beauty. While the Kardashians once dictated beauty trends and spun up their own beauty businesses,...

Hailey Bieber has become the new queen of viral beauty trends, captivating the next generation with her minimalist approach to beauty. While the Kardashians once dictated beauty trends and spun up their own beauty businesses, Hailey Bieber has taken a different path, teaching Gen Z to look more plain and natural.

Who is Hailey Bieber?

Hailey Bieber, daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin and spouse of pop superstar Justin Bieber, is known for her close friendship with the Jenner sisters and other mega-influencers. Before becoming a musician's wife, she had a successful modeling career, appearing in prestigious magazines and working with top fashion brands. Her Instagram became a fashion bible for young women looking to imitate her stylish looks.

A photo of Hailey Bieber in a gray dress at the Rhode UK launch party.
Hailey Bieber at the Rhode UK launch party in 2023.
Dave Benett/Getty Images for Rhode

However, her pivot to TikTok during the pandemic hinted at something bigger on the horizon. In one TikTok video, she showcased her skincare routine and the trend of "glazed donut" skin, sparking a wave of food-inspired beauty fads. This marked the beginning of her journey towards becoming a beauty influencer and entrepreneur.

The Appeal of Effortless Beauty

Hailey Bieber's appeal lies in her seemingly effortless beauty. She has her own beauty brand, Rhode, which focuses on hydration and minimalistic skincare. Like Glossier, Rhode follows a direct-to-consumer model, bypassing traditional retailers. Bieber's authenticity angle sets her apart from other celebrities turned beauty entrepreneurs. She presents herself as relatable and vulnerable, sharing her experiences with cyberbullying and showing her unfiltered skin.

A photo of several Glossier skincare and makeup products on a table.
Glossier, founded by Emily Weiss in 2014, also began as a minimalist, online-only beauty brand.
John Sciulli/Getty Images for Nasty Gal

The desire for "natural" and "effortless" beauty has always existed, but Hailey Bieber's influence has brought it to the forefront. In a world of highly contoured and heavily made-up looks, the appeal of looking flawless without visible effort is undeniable. However, achieving this aesthetic often requires significant investment in skincare products and professional services.

The Rise of the "Clean Girl" Aesthetic

Hailey Bieber's promotion of minimalist beauty trends, such as the "vanilla girl," "latte girl," and "clean girl" looks, has sparked a broader shift in beauty aesthetics. These trends often feature white skin and a specific hairstyle, resembling Bieber herself. While these trends can be embraced by anyone, their association with Bieber reinforces a standard of beauty that some argue is exclusive.

However, beauty expert Kayla Greaves and others believe that Black women have been embracing similar minimalist looks for years. Notable Black women like Nia Long and Gabrielle Union have long favored a more natural and minimalistic aesthetic. The "clean girl" trend, therefore, isn't inherently exclusive and should be credited to Black women as well.

A paparazzi shot of Sofia Richie wearing a beige shirt with a cream sweater tied around her neck.
Sofia Richie is another popular Gen Z "clean girl" beauty icon, with aesthetic similarities to Bieber.
Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

It's important to note that the rise of the "clean girl" aesthetic and the desire for a more effortless appearance may also be influenced by privilege and wealth. Sofia Richie, another popular Gen Z beauty icon, embodies this aesthetic and is often associated with a sense of quiet luxury. The desire for conventionality and the pious element attached to it reflect society's long-standing preference for a specific type of beauty.

In conclusion, Hailey Bieber's influence on beauty trends goes beyond her viral skincare routines and minimalist brand. She has ushered in a new era of "clean girl" aesthetics, emphasizing natural beauty and simplicity. While this trend may appear exclusive, it is essential to recognize that it has roots in the beauty practices of Black women and celebrates a broader shift towards embracing individuality in the beauty industry.