Since its rise in popularity, the trend has received quite a lot of pushback, and rightfully so. First, the phrase “clean girl” can feel exclusive, as it implies a “dirty” girl on the flip-side—that if you prefer heavier coverage or a full face beat, you are somehow less “clean.” It doesn’t exactly help that the accompanying string of videos feature users with naturally clear, hydrated skin; they may only use a thin layer of tinted moisturizer, because they don’t typically need anything else to mask breakouts or hyperpigmentation in the first place.
Let us declare upfront: You can break out or have uneven texture and still achieve glowing, dewy makeup; skin concerns like acne, ruddiness, and texture do not by any means make you “dirty.”
There has also been a lack of representation, way beyond skin type: In most of the “clean girl” videos, users are white, thin, and affluent, which implies that one can only hop on the trend if they meet these insurmountable standards. This could not be more false, especially because Latina women have been wearing gold hoops and slicked-back hair for ages without nearly the same commercial recognition. “We’ve been doing our hair like this all the time,” user Lupita (@guada.lupita) says in a TikTok video. “When I was a teenager, [people] would call us dirty, because you wouldn’t do your hair and have it in a slick bun, ponytail, or braid with hoops. Now it’s called ‘clean girl,’ when it used to be called the 'dirty look?'”
As a response, Latina women have taken ownership of the trend and created their own popular hashtag, #latinagirlaesthetic. Other counter movements have emerged, too, led by those who rightfully refuse to adhere to these impossible prerequisites. For example, the hashtag #cleanmakeupforblackgirls has over 1 million views, and you can find plenty of videos depicting the “clean girl look” for those with acne-prone skin.
The bottom line? Anyone can rock the clean girl aesthetic, regardless of skin tone, body type, or budget, and it’s not a new trend by any means—so it’s important to give credit where credit is due.