5 Standout Fall 2020 Beauty Trends From New York Fashion Week

Stephanie Saltzman

Come for the vampiric lip colors, stay for the dramatic face coverings.

The fashion set has moved across the pond to London, but we're taking a moment to appreciate the major Fall 2020 beauty moments from the New York Fashion Week shows — because they really, truly, were major.

This season was full of experimental, artful, inventive hair, makeup and nails. Amidst the many looks we spotted backstage, we noticed some recurring themes that were in fact so pervasive, they became impossible to ignore. 

In a way, New York's Fall 2020 standout beauty trends were particularly, well, trendy — there was a level of ubiquity and cohesiveness that has rarely been seen before, with multiple effects being used across numerous runways, by many different backstage pros. And yet, hairstylists and makeup artists also managed to make each one their own, infusing a personal touch and creativity into each variation and taking them in entirely different directions. It's the stuff dreamy inspiration boards and mesmerizing Instagram feeds are made of. 

Ahead, the top five beauty trends from the New York Fashion Week runways that can't be ignored.

Literally Every Kind of Braid

Braids are a runway beauty staple, but this season's New York shows made them feel exciting again by showing literally every kind of conceivable iteration. Rather than forcing every model into standardized, cookie-cutter sameness, hairstylists across multiple runways created individualized braided styles to suit the models' aesthetics and hair types. 

Hairstylist Jawara used box braids as a scarf-like accessory at Area, while rope-like twisted ponytails and thin tendril braids (at times, peeking out from beneath bucket hats) appeared on the LaQuan Smith runway. A variety of messy fishtails were featured at Rebecca Minkoff, while Jason Wu's show was accented with three-strand braided ponytails and tidy cornrows, depending on model hair type. Dion Lee, too, featured some cornrows, for the models who didn't wear the tiny hairline braids that emphasized striking center parts. Chromat — always a celebration of individuality — played with several sporty braided styles pulled up into high ponytails.

A beauty look from Area's Fall 2020 show. Photo: Imaxtree

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Goth and Grunge and Vampires (Oh My!)

Things took a turn toward the dark side this season, with vampires, goths and grunge serving as inspiration points for many designers and beauty pros. Makeup artist James Kaliardos (for Nars) painted precise, vampire-inspired deep berry lips onto models' lips at Rodarte, as did Pat McGrath (for Pat McGrath Labs) at Anna Sui. (Both looks also featured exaggerated, fluttery lashes; Kaliardos kept models' eyes bare, while McGrath went all-out with glimmery teal shadow.)

At Khaite, Jin Soon Choi painted models' nails black, and then created a "chipped" effect by rubbing off the polish toward the ends with remover for a cool grunge effect. Punk, goth vibes also made an appearance on the Dion Lee runway, where multiple models wore faux piercings across the bridges of their noses or chained from their septums to their ears.

A beauty look from Rodarte's Fall 2020 show. Photo: Imaxtree

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Unexpected Neons

We're always excited to see a bright, electric makeup shade make an appearance backstage, but this season's palette was especially eye-catching. 

Traffic-cone orange was a big trend, with Monse, Self-Portrait and Dion Lee each showing their own versions, either swiped across the eyes or smack-dab in the middle of the forehead. At Chromat, there was again a sporty tinge to the neon makeup, where Fatima Thomas used electric yellow, blue and orange pigment to create a variety of graphic, color-blocked eye looks.

A beauty look from Self-Portrait's Fall 2020 show. Photo: Imaxtree

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Jewels (and Studs, Pearls and Sequins) All Over

Gem-adorned faces and hair have been big on the runways over the past few seasons, and the Fall 2020 shows were no exception. Still, we were surprised to see the new and inventive ways jewels (and studs, pearls and sequins) got incorporated into the beauty looks.

At Area, blinged-out headdresses sparkled on the runway, draped around models' necks like scarves. For Jonathan Cohen, several models had oversized faux pearls sewn into their braids, transforming the hair itself into an accessory. 

As for bejeweled makeup looks? Baja East, Susan Alexandra, Christopher John Rogers and Dion Lee took adornment to the face, with rhinestone-freckled faces, sequin-accented eyes, gem-encrusted brows and studded "piercings" appearing at each one, respectively.

A beauty look from Area's Fall 2020 show. Photo: Imaxtree

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"Don't Look at Me!" Veils, Nets and Face Coverings

Easily the most common — not to mention, most dramatic, alluring and versatile — beauty trend from the Fall 2020 New York runways? Veils! Veils! Veils! 

From simple, taut face coverings to birdcage veils to tulle tufts, a version of this accessory appeared at Christopher John Rogers, Carolina Herrera, Brock Collection, Baja East, Anna Sui, Rodarte, Christian Cowan and Marc Jacobs. That, my friends, is what we call a trend.

Easily our favorite take on this look was the one that appeared at Christopher John Rogers: Amidst all the voluminous Afros, hair-as-sculpture, bedazzled brows, dramatic gowns and bold red lips that graced his runway, the smattering of colorful, sheer tulle several models wore pulled taut to their faces was cheeky, unexpected and almost subtle. (As subtle as colorful, sheer tulle pulled tight across a person's face can be, anyway.)

This was a trend that managed to scream, "Don't look at me!" But also, "Yes, please look at me!" — all at once.

A beauty look from Christopher John Rogers's Fall 2020 show. Photo: Imaxtree

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