How to Be a Barbie Girl in This Barbiecore World
It’s 2023, and it’s a Barbie world. The color pink is, well, everywhere, and the toy doll is in her Renaissance era. On TikTok, it’s called Barbiecore: magenta lipstick, platinum hair, and bubblegum-colored ensembles are all on display with Aqua singing “I'm a Barbie girl” in the background.
We suspect this is largely due to Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated live-action movie starring Margot Robbie (and Ryan Gosling as Ken), coming out this summer. But the fervor surrounding Mattel’s quintessential girlboss has been building up for quite some time.
Since her inception in 1959, Barbie has inspired countless artists, designers, and beauty and fashion trends. Nicki Minaj turned her penchant for Barbie into a huge part of her personal brand, and Trixie Mattel’s drag style is fully inspired by the doll. A blonde Kacey Musgraves arrived at the 2019 Met Gala cosplaying as the Moschino Barbie Doll, and Kim Kardashian wore blindingly Barbie-pink Balenciaga catsuits for her SNL debut in October 2021. In the spring of 2022, Pierpaolo Piccioli went full-on fuchsia for Valentino’s Fall 2022 runway show, with celebrities like Anne Hathaway, Zendaya, and Lizzo dressed from head-to-toe in the bubblegum hue.
Meet the experts:
David Lopez is a celebrity hairstylist and T3 ambassador.
Jo Baker is a makeup artist and co-founder of Bakeup Beauty.
Kim Culmone is the SVP of Design for Barbie and Fashion Dolls at Mattel.
Molly R. Stern is a celebrity makeup artist.
Barbiecore Makeup Tips
But, of course, playing dress-up isn’t reserved just for the runway or red carpet. For Jo Baker, makeup artist and co-founder of Bakeup Beauty, it’s all about leaning into that overload of pink and playfulness. “Create a monochromatic pink lip, pink eyeshadow, and sunkissed skin look, and see if that doesn’t lift your mood,” she says. If you want something subtle, Baker recommends her Bakeup Micro Palm Palette—Pastels, which has an array of soft pastel tones that she says will help conjure up different Barbie moods. Another option is the Pat McGrath Labs Divine Rose Luxe Quad: Eternal Eden. For more of a Malibu Barbie look, she suggests the neon pink eyeshadow shade from Bakeup Micro Palm Palette—Neons for a color wash along your lash line. A flick of Make Up For Ever's Aqua Resist Color Ink 24HR Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in 10 Pink Blaze will also do the trick.
Bakeup Micro Palm Palette in Pastels
$24.00, Bakeup Beauty
Pat McGrath Labs Divine Rose Luxe Quad: Eternal Eden
Make Up For Ever's Aqua Resist Color Ink 24HR Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in 10 Pink Blaze
Makeup artist Molly R. Stern is a fan of Barbie’s sixties lower lash line and pop of color on the lips. “A great liquid pen liner, like KVD Beauty Tattoo Liner Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner, can help recreate the added depth to the lower lash line. To emulate Barbie’s playful lip, Stern says to not be afraid to choose a color brighter than you might usually lean towards. She suggests Eisenberg J.E. Rouge lip color in Caresse for a perfect pop of pink, but if you're more of a gloss person, try Saint Jane’s Luxury Lip Oil in Elixir.
KVD Beauty Tattoo Liner Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Saint Jane Luxury Lip Shine in Elixir
Barbiecore Hair Doesn't Have to Be Blonde
Barbiecore can also be expressed through hair color, whether it’s pink, or blonde, which is gaining steam as of late. Kourtney Kardashian, Ariana Grande, and Dixie D'Amelio have all recently reached for the bleach (or wig, as Jessica Chastain did for the 2023 Met Gala). After the Barbie trailer dropped in early April, Google Trends showed a triple-digit percent increase in Google searches for “blonde hair dye.”
But when Barbie first debuted, she was available in two hair colors: blonde and brunette, with a redhead option introduced a couple of years later in 1961. “In her iconic chevron swimsuit, gold hoop earrings, and red lip, she was reflective of beauty and fashion trends of the time,” says Kim Culmone, SVP of Design for Barbie and Fashion Dolls at Mattel. (Though, we can confirm a red lip and gold hoops will never go out of style.) Later, in the early to mid-1970s, Mattel began to use blonde hair to identify Barbie as the main character in her world, using other hair colors to easily differentiate her from her friends and family. In 1980, the first Black doll to be named Barbie debuted.
When it comes to recreating a Barbie hairstyle at home, David Lopez, celebrity hairstylist and T3 ambassador, finds inspiration from the ‘90s-era Barbie he grew up with, with her long hair and a large flip at the end. “You can use a large curling iron like the 1.5 curling iron barrel from the T3 Wave Trio to smooth the hair and curl the bottoms up for that effortless, bouncy, Barbie flip.”
When Barbie Went Pink
Just as blonde became synonymous with Barbie more than a decade after she was introduced to the world, the color pink took some time, too. According to Culmone, the shift to Barbie Pink started as early as 1972 with the Best Buy Fashion line, then all of the Barbie packaging started to go full tilt in 1976 featuring the new “Bubble” font for the Barbie logo. The style is closely associated with the 1977 Superstar Barbie, which features the doll in a pink satin gown and pink, sparkly boa. “This creative shift contributed to the color’s association with the brand, which is now prominently featured in the doll aisle,” she says.
It made sense; pink is long associated, quite controversially, with femininity, girlishness, and a gentler demeanor. One famous study showed that a certain shade of Barbie-esque pink, called Baker-Miller, had a calming effect on inmates, though replicated studies later showed it to have no effect at all. Some research even points to a link between pink and optimism, with increased optimism levels for women, though we're not sure Science Barbie would approve of their methodology.
But there is a certain something about Barbie’s signature pink, especially in our modern age. It’s bold, loud, and vibrant — not the more muted, Glossier-esque, Millennial pink of yesteryear (2016). This specific hue is fitting for today's post-lockdown, more-is-more mentality. The rise of dopamine dressing, maximalist interior design, and extravagant, bedazzled makeup all line up with the unabashed, unapologetic style that Barbie and her signature shade have always represented.
Like the color pink, Barbie is not without her controversies. Critics say her blue eyes, blonde hair, and unrealistic body proportions have helped perpetuate unattainable, white-centric beauty standards. But Mattel has made it so Barbie is the most inclusive doll line on the market, with dolls with a variety of 35 skin tones, body shapes, freckles, no hair, vitiligo, hearing aids, wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, and most recently, its first doll with Down Syndrome. “Our goal is to create dolls that truly reflect the world around us so more kids see themselves and can find a doll that speaks to them,” says Culmone.
Today, all dolls in the world of Barbie are also called Barbie, which is a representation of the brand’s commitment to inclusivity, but also makes her a vessel for how we might want to see ourselves, and the world around us. “There are a lot of nuanced ways on how people view her and view the brand as a whole in terms of how it impacts beauty standards,” says Lopez. “As a beauty icon, I've always loved that there was nothing too prescriptive; there were always bold colors, bold eyeshadows depending on the year. The hair — it all fit together to reflect the era that Barbie was in, but also feels very timeless."
For Lopez, the Barbie legacy is all about “trying new things and not being afraid to experiment with different versions of yourself.” A good lesson we can all learn from Barbie, at any age.
Products to Help You Reach Peak Barbiecore:
Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Glow Blush in Ecstasy
Jennifer Behr Virginia Bow Barrette in Berry
$140.00, Jennifer Behr
Gucci Beauty Glow & Care Shine Lipstick in 402 Vantine Fuchsia
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Shadow in Kiss From a Rose
$32.00, Ulta Beauty
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Originally Appeared on Allure