Kidcore could be seen as the rebellious younger sibling of minimalism and the pared-back “clean beauty” you’ve probably also seen all over TikTok (think just a touch of lip balm and an Olaplex bun). “Kidcore is ‘just kidding, you don’t have to grow up,'” Davy says. “It’s fashion, makeup, and hairstyles that bring you joy, despite how ‘too old for that,’ you are. I think it’s about joy being cool.”
Despite the “innocence” associated with the look, kidcore creators don’t aim for fetishization. One shouldn’t confuse kidcore with the popular Lolita aesthetic, which is a style that originated in Harajuku, Japan, and often associated with frilly, doll-like, or Victorian era clothing. “I think kidcore is being compared to Lolita because it has that same childlike styling, but the intentions behind the two are different,” Sullivan explains. “We might get the two confused because some of the aesthetics from Tumblr in 2012 are starting to make a comeback, including Lolita.”
TikTok creator Kaiiya says that “people get Lolita fashion mixed up with the book Lolita, written by Vladimir Nabokov. The book and the fashion have nothing to do with each other.” While kidcore’s exaggerated strokes of eye makeup and lipstick could, under some interpretations, veer into Lolita fashion territory, that is not a focus of the makeup trend.
Why is kidcore popular now?
Creator and influencer Temple Jones describes kidcore “as an aesthetic and as a mindset [that] reminds you to keep your youthful heart on your sleeve.” It’s a way to honor your inner child and find a way to be creative with no judgements or second guessing.
“For many, kidcore means bright highly saturated colors and tacky styles from the ‘90s, but to me it is really just whatever that makes you feel happy with a slight sense of nostalgia,” says makeup artist Serena Adelaide.
For makeup artist Abby Ruhman, kidcore is personal. She has alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. “Being a woman who is completely bald has really taught me to play more with my eye makeup and inspires me to express my femininity in a way that’s approachable, fun, colorful and bold,” she says. “I hope my tutorials and videos online inspire others to remember their child-like excitement around makeup and push their own creative boundaries and not take it too seriously.”
How do I do kidcore makeup?
Kidcore might seem intimidating — but there’s an easy way to try it out. Sullivan recommends starting with blush, adding it to the center of your face. “I’d start with a blush you really like, and use a brush or your fingers to gently tap it onto the apples of your cheeks and with whatever is leftover, tap on the bridge of your nose,” she says. “This could definitely be an everyday look and you can amp it up with bright, primary colors around the eyes and lips.”