Life & Culture

Thanks to Saltburn I’ve reignited my obsession with mid-2000s beauty

If the hit film left you nostalgic for the pre-selfie era, give yourself a Noughties matte finish


Boho chic: Alison Oliver as Venetia in Saltburn

Back in 2001, I remember hearing Sophie Ellis Bextor crooning “Murder on the Dancefloor” on breakfast TV just before school.

Boasting shimmering green eyeshadow with the energy of someone at Studio 54, rather than on Lorraine Kelly at 8am, she definitely sold the feel-good vibe of the song. Fast forward nearly 25 years later and I can’t stop playing said tune thanks to its revival after featuring at the end of the film Saltburn.

The film is set in 2006, a few years after the song came out. And while the film itself is pretty dark (you’ll never look at draining bathwater in the same way again) the song is catchy and delightful, with all the sugar-pie charm of a pink vodka lemonade. Both the film and the song took me right back to the mid-Noughties, especially the character of Venetia – the pretty young heiress of Saltburn estate, played by Alison Oliver, whose bleached blonde hair and smudged boho makeup reminded me of the many Sloaney Sienna Miller wannabes I went to university with.

Indeed, the early- to mid-Noughties is a great place for beauty inspiration. As much as I’m loath to accept that a period I vividly remember now being called “retro”, it was a special time – just before the boom in social media and camera phones that would change the beauty landscape forever.

Skin back in the pre-selfie era was low-maintenance and matte – none of this endlessly dewy doughnut/dolphin skin or whatever the kids are calling it now. For achieving it, an easy stick foundation is the perfect go-to.

I personally love ILIA’s new Skin Rewind Complexion Stick (£48), which is my new favourite find. ILIA are a luxury skincare brand, so this formula is packed with all kinds of skin-loving goodness such as such as a ceramide-peptide complex, together with kelp and lavender extracts to reduce wrinkles and firm the complexion. The beauty of this is that it delivers a matte finish, but isn’t heavy or cakey as other stick formulas tend to be. Perfect for scribbling on before the nursery run to cover my sleep-deprived, Crypt Keeper-esque complexion.

Next up is a light dash of bronzer (before contouring became the beauty behemoth it now is). I’m a big fan of MILK Makeup’s Bionic Bronzer, which, dotted along the cheeks and forehead, will give you a touch of sunny-day-at-Glasto allure.

And it wouldn’t be an early/mid 00s look without a frosted pink lip, a shade that lifts the mood like nothing else. Saltburn’s makeup artist Siân Miller used NYX Professional Makeup Filler Instinct Plumping Lip Polish in Sparkling Please (£7) which plumps lips with aplomb – no injections required.

And for some dazzling eye glitter à la Ms Ellis Bextor (that she wears in the brilliant video for “Murder On The Dancefloor”) I’d suggest dabbing on a bit of Submission Beauty Inc Green Glitter (£21), which is eco-friendly and shimmers like a mermaid’s tail.

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