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Truthfully, we wouldn’t think twice about whether or not our beauty aesthetics were considered “millennial” or “Gen Z” were it not for the fact that we’re home 24-7 these days and the Internet seems to be fascinated by this topic. So, we did some sleuthing and here are some of the key (generalized) differences between the two generations’ beauty preferences. And we want to know: Are you team side part or team middle part?

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Victoria Bellafiore for PureWow

1. Side Parts

Aka the debate that started it all. If you’re scratching your head right now and wondering what you missed, let us bring you up to speed.

Last summer, @Lady-Gleep, a Gen Z TikTok user, made a declaration about how there isn’t “a single person who looks better with a side part than they do a middle part.” Gleep went on to claim that “the middle part is far more supreme” and asked anyone who usually wears their hair to one side (typically millennials) to try parting it down the middle (apparently a Gen Z thing).

While it’s true that side parts reigned supreme for many millennials throughout the mid to late 2000s (Reese Witherspoon’s iconic post-divorce side bangs and the cast of Laguna Beach come to mind), we would also like to point out that most of the Kardashian Klan, who are staunchly in the millennial camp, have been wearing center parts for years now so do with that what you will.

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2. Blended Balayage

Whereas Gen Z is often seen making colorful statements with their hair, many millennials have been rocking some version of subtle, blended balayage for years—albeit under all sorts of names like “strandlights,” “baby lights” and, of course, the beloved ombré for the past decade.

A popular trend that’s cropping up among Gen Z recently: the money piece, which are thick, chunky highlights that frame your face. Double the points if they’re also painted a vibrant shade that contrasts with the rest of your hair a la Charli here.

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Victoria Bellafiore for PureWow

3. Neutral Smokey Eyes

If you owned a Tamagotchi, know who B*Witched is and/or had an AIM screen name, you are a millennial who likely also grew up wearing a smokey eye for much of your tween and adult life.

One needs no further proof that this generation loved a smokey eye than the fact that Urban Decay’s cult classic Naked Palette was an untouchable hit for years. We’re talking over 30 million palettes sold between 2010 and 2019, before it was (sobs) discontinued.

In place of the neutral brown, taupe, and charcoal grey shades millennials wore (4eVeR), Gen Z is opting for bright pops of electric shadows and neon eyeliners drawn on in graphic or geometric shapes, sparkly star stickers and tattoo-like decals. It’s all about fun and experimentation (which we concede is especially uplifting and effective during Covid when the lower half of our faces are covered by masks).

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Victoria Bellafiore for PureWow

4. Contouring

Ah, who can forget the contouring craze that took over all of our Instagram feeds in 2015? Whereas good ol’ fashioned millennial contouring involved ample amounts of flesh-toned powders blended out to sculpt, slim and snatch facial features, the blush contouring trend that’s sweeping across TikTok swaps contouring palettes with blush and is placed heavily on the cheeks, temples and down the bridge of your nose to give a sun-kissed effect. (We’re going to go out on a limb here and say why not wear a bit of both?)

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5. One and Done Lips

Millennials came of age when Lancome Juicy Tubes were on their first run and lipsticks like “Ruby Woo” and “Black Honey” cornered the market. And whether it’s a tinted balm, a shiny gloss or a full coverage lipstick, most millennials would agree that when it comes to their lips, they want a simple, one-swipe product that gets the job done.

Gen Z, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to mind using multiple products at once to get their lips lined, filled and plumped to their desired shape (which is usually extra pillowy and plush).

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Victoria Bellafiore for PureWow

Millennials and Gen Z Both Love: Bold Brows and Dewy Skin

Two beauty looks that both millennials and Gen Z seem to agree on are glowing skin and thick, feathered brows. It’s the trademark of a Glossier girl, which is fitting since the brand was founded by a millennial and is beloved by both generations.

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