Cold Makeup Is TikTok’s Winter Beauty Obsession

Photography by Getty Images

We break down #beautytok’s “I’m cold” makeup look, and how to achieve it on a variety of skin tones.

Lauren Knowles

Date November 17, 2022

Is blush the star of TikTok’s 2022 beauty trends? Summer’s “sunburn blush” turned winter’s frostbitten “I’m cold” makeup look tells us it just may be. The beauty embodiment of Jack Frost nipping at your nose, this viral makeup trend suggests having just escaped frigid temperatures with its telltale rosy cheeks.

With several first snow sightings across Canada this week, we could naturally achieve this look after only a few moments spent outside — but we can also create the illusion of having done so with makeup from the good old indoors. No subzero winter treks required here, this faux-frost routine is about capturing the essence of a winter chill with all the fun and no fuss.

@zoekimkenealy #greenscreen I think this is my favorite TikTok I’ve ever made even tho I felt so basic going outside and taking selfies with my Starbucks it was also the highlight of my day hehe it’s Makeup for serotonin feels and hallmark movie time! It’s the im cold it’s winter and the holidays and fall makeup look tutorial. #wintermakeup #fallmakeuplook #coldmakeup #maccosmetics #benefitcosmetics #makeupforever #wintermakeuplook ♬ august – Taylor Swift

“There are ways you can do your makeup to make people feel things,” shares TikTok’s trendsetting makeup artist @zoekimkenealy, in her viral “I’m cold” makeup tutorial on the app. “Forty five degrees, it’s the holidays, we’re drinking cocoa — that kind of cold,” is the feeling in question that sparked the cold makeup movement.

Gathering inspiration from snowy selfies fresh off of Pinterest (or Emily Ratajkowski’s camera roll) #beautytok participants followed suit with their own cold makeup recreations. Some of the most delightful versions were set to the tune of trending TikTok holiday sounds, like remixes of Ariana Grande’s “Santa Tell Me” and a festive Gossip Girl voiceover mashup backed by Wham!’s “Last Christmas” to really lock in the yuletide mood. With one tap of the #coldmakeup hashtag, you can find 19.7 million views worth of cold makeup interpretations, all rosy cheeks warmed up with blush, wintry pink lips and strokes of subtle highlighter, evocative of just-melted snowflakes.

To replicate the trend, begin by applying translucent powder to your usual makeup base for a blurred canvas to work with. The pièce de résistance? Blush, of course. The shade of blush used matters not — instead, the key is your product placement and a generous application. Drape the blush liberally all over the cheeks, on the tip of your nose, and just above the lip.

@bonitravo trying im cold makeup but w/ my skin tone (ib: @zoekimkenealy) #blackgirlmakeup #imcoldmakeup ♬ original sound – 𝑵𝑨𝑻𝑪𝑺𝑳𝑼𝑽𝑹❦

The “Black girl” and “brown girl” versions of this TikTok trend serve as helpful reference points for how to achieve this chilled effect on darker, more melanated skin tones by using different shades. Baby pink and orange blushes layered on lighter skin tones do the trick, while bright pink and berry tones pop on melanin-rich cheeks.

“I’m not built for winter but at least my makeup looks cute,” says makeup artist and 2022 Sephora Squad member Sumaya Yusuf in her glitzy take on the trend for deeper complexions. “I’m not black but I’m brown and girl I wanted to do this so bad but thanks to you I now have an idea how to,” comments an inspired fan.

@ysumaya I’m not built for the winter but at least my makeup looks cute ❄️ my take on the “I’m cold” makeup trend that I LOVE 💙 ib: @zoekimkenealy #wintermakeuplook #makeuptutorial #imcoldmakeup ♬ original sound – ci

Next, eyes are swept lightly with a neutral eyeshadow, brows are minimally brushed, and lips are blotted with a semi-matte shade of your choosing  — but a neutral rouge closest to your natural lip colour is recommended. Keep the final look matte or add tinsel-like touches of highlighter to the inner corner of the eye, eyelids and nose for a little holiday flair. Lipgloss is optional but glamorous always.

So, cold makeup is the latest beautytok fixation to come out of the app’s obsession with makeup pretty much anything a makeup moment (see: crying makeup). In support of these ever-changing trends, it appears this generation of social media users will try almost anything once in the name of beauty. And in this case, it turns out to be très cute.

After all, it’s not uncommon these days to paint a full face of makeup if only to wear it working from home, so long as it helps liven up an otherwise mundane day indoors. Not to mention the power of makeup to make you feel something, be it confident… or cold. If it conjures up joyous feelings of the first brush of warmth upon returning home after a chilly excursion out in the snow sans the snow, we’ll give it a shot.