Quick disclaimer: I love social media. Like, I really love it. I could scroll through Instagram for hours and hours and get lost in all of the wonderful beauty content that it has to offer. I love the reviews, I love the flatlays, I love the tutorials, and I love watching other people’s skincare routines. Taking all of this into consideration, it really is hard to believe that I just can’t get to grips with TikTok.
Call me old-fashioned, but when I buy my beauty products, I like to know exactly what I’m getting myself in for. And whereas over the years, Instagram has struck the perfect balance of providing just the right amount of information while still holding attention, TikTok just doesn’t cut it for me. Sure, it makes for addictive scrolling, but as a beauty editor, something about recommending a product with such limited information just doesn’t sit right with me.
Let’s take the so-called “$1 million TikTok product,” or The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, for example. After a couple of TikToks on the product went viral, thousands and thousands of people around the globe rushed to buy the £6 exfoliant, resulting in mass sell-out (and thus big sales). And while it is no doubt a great product, there is something inside me screaming out, “IT ONLY SOLD BECAUSE IT’S RED AND LOOKS LIKE BLOOD.” And here lies my issue. It might look cool on a 15-second-long TikTok, but it’s also an incredibly powerful product that shouldn’t be used without serious consideration.
While TikTok so far mostly remains a social media platform for Gen Z-ers, as it continues to grow in popularity by the day, I sense that at some point the beauty narrative will begin to change. At the moment, beauty fans’ feeds seem to be inundated with affordable “dupes” that provide visually dramatic results. However, I imagine (and like to hope) that as time moves on and a more mature user starts to emerge, we might start getting some in-depth beauty content.
However, until that day comes, I thought it might be best that I start getting to grips with the beauty content TikTok currently has to offer me. While so many spent the long weekend sunning themselves in the garden, I spent mine cooped up inside scrolling my life away. And honestly, what I discovered just seemed to confirm my preconceptions. The majority of the content I was served showed teens playing and experimenting with various beauty products and going viral as a result.
But I wanted to find out what makes a TikTok beauty product successful. Are these products actually any good, or do they simply offer up the most instant visual result? So while a huge number of the trending products on TikTok are exclusive to the U.S. (Tatcha Kissu Lip Mask and Kaja Cheeky Stamp, I’m looking at you), I put the UK-available products to the test in a bid to give the world a beauty editor’s take on things. Keep scrolling to see what I discovered because I have some serious thoughts.
I have already talked about this product a lot, but if you missed it, here’s what you need to know. This peeling solution is an incredibly potent exfoliant, and it only costs £6. It’s also possibly one of the most TikTok-famous beauty products out there. So what’s all of the fuss about? Basically, a huge number of users claim that this affordable chemical exfoliator has improved their acne tenfold. So is it actually worth the hype?
I’m torn. It’s been a real crowd-pleaser in the industry since it launched. It contains an extremely potent blend of alpha hydroxy acids to boost radiance and glow and salicylic acid to help rid pores of build-up. So yes, there is no doubt that for £6, this product is worth a viral video or two. However, I simply can’t get over the idea that so many young people are going out and buying this extremely powerful skincare product without any in-depth understanding of what it is. In fact, this product is so intense that my sensitive skin flares up at the sight of it. Just a few minutes on my face leaves my skin red and sensitised.
With that being said, my boyfriend loves it, and I have it on good authority from other editors and friends that it is a truly wonderful product (providing your skin can hack it). So sure, it looks cool in a video, but I advise you to always do a patch test before use.
I can’t help but feel as though Gen Z really grew up in an EOS lip balm era, which explains why they’re everywhere on TikTok. Whereas my go-to lip balm as a teen was a battered tin of Rosy Lips Vaseline, this is the new cult balm, and TikTok users love them. And although there’s no doubt they look really cute, making them perfect for social media fame, I do also really rate them as balms.
They smell absolutely divine and are packed with shea butter, jojoba oil and vitamin E to offer up all of the nourishment that dry lips need. Plus, I love that they don’t require dipping your finger into a pot and scraping off the excess on the side of the tin.
You can’t watch a makeup video on TikTok without coming across this foundation. In fact, all you have to do it search the L’Oréal Infallible tag, and you will see just how many people are obsessed with it. Truthfully, I didn’t need TikTok to tell me that this foundation has one hell of a cult following, but it’s because of TikTok I finally gave it a go myself.
For someone who likes a natural-looking finish to her foundation, this stuff offers up full, heavy coverage. However, unlike other full-coverage foundations that I have tried, this stuff isn’t cakey and suffocating. In fact, it leaves skin looking naturally glowing and almost air-brushed. I don’t know why I didn’t believe the results were as good as everyone says they are on TikTok. Maybe I’m too stubborn.
Honestly, just when I think I’m coming 'round to the idea of TikTok, I watch a viral video that stops me in my tracks and makes me want to turn my phone off forever. I really, really rate this Garnier Micellar Water. Always have, always will. Over the past couple of years, I’ve actually stopped relying on micellar waters and instead use cleansing balms to remove my makeup, but out of all the micellar products out there, I would definitely say this one is the best. It removes makeup seamlessly and doesn’t dry out or leave a film over the skin. It’s cheap too.
So when I saw that this product was going viral on TikTok, I was pleased. Sure, it’s not the prettiest of products, but if it means the beauty community on TikTok is using the platform to wax lyrical about fantastic products that aren’t pretty, that sounds like good news to me. However, when I discovered the reasons why this product was going viral, my beauty dreams were crushed.
Someone discovered that if you blow into a flannel or towel or cotton pad after pouring on some micellar water, you can create some sort of foam river. Funny the first time you see it? Absolutely. Worth wasting perfectly great product for? I’m not so sure.
I really can’t put into words how pleased I am that this mascara has made a comeback as a result of its TikTok success. If you like super-long, defined lashes and you haven’t tried this mascara, I urge you to give it a go. If you ask me, it’s the incredible lengthening abilities that make this particular mascara such a TikTok phenomenon. After just a few coats, lashes look visibly longer and more voluminous.
Plus, it’s not just great for the camera. It lasts all day long, even with my oily lids. Oh, and it doesn’t flake, either. If I could marry this mascara, I definitely would.
Another beauty-industry favourite, this primer is often regarded as one of the very best out there. Unsurprisingly, as a result of its incredible airbrushing, pore-filling abilities, it’s a total hit on TikTok. For those who really love a full-faced, high-coverage finish to their base, this primer is definitely worth your time. Simply apply over prepped skin and watch on as it blurs and perfects skin texture to create a perfectly smooth and even base for your foundation. Trust me—this is a good one.
One thing I have learned in my TikTok education is that TikTok-ers love a pipette. It seems to create a much more dramatic application in front of the camera. Whereas The Ordinary Peeling Solution gets dropped directly onto the face for maximum effect, when it comes to tan, I don’t advise letting drops of it trickle down your face if you want an even application.
These tan drops are becoming increasingly popular on TikTok for delivering a natural-looking but deeply bronzed glow. Simply add a few drops into your moisturiser, and come morning, you’ll be looking healthily glowing. Yes, they look great on TikTok, but they are also (in my humble opinion) some of the best tanning drops around.
Out of all of the TikTok-famous beauty products, this is the one I related to the least. I have never been a big fan of the plumped-lip look, and whenever I have tried plumping glosses before, they’ve left my sensitive skin red, sore and tingling. Needless to say that when I saw that this super-volumising lip gloss was being heralded as the most plumping formula around, I wasn’t overly excited to give it a go.
Upon first application, the slight tingling sensation mentioned in the on-site description is definitely prominent. In fact, I must say that my overly dry, sensitive lips felt it a little uncomfortable. However, after a few minutes my lips did look visibly fuller, and I actually quite liked the finish. Will it be a handbag essential? Unlikely. But I do see and appreciate the appeal.
Every beauty buff on TikTok appears to own at least one Beautyblender. And truthfully, I totally understand why. Not only does applying makeup with a damp Beautyblender look great on camera, but it also appears to give a fuller coverage than, say, your fingers or a brush.
To be honest, I didn’t have to go out of my way to try the Beautyblender. I’ve been a fan for years. It makes for seamless application and gives your base a dewy glow while it works. Let me just tell you that when the L’Oréal Infallible Foundation is applied with a damp Beautyblender, you can expect total makeup gold.