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TikTok Beauty Trends: The Good, The Bad, & The Do Not Try

by Meaghan Lehrer


• By Meaghan Lehrer

While TikTok had already been rising in popularity prior to the lockdown we faced in 2020, its massive influence on the skincare world became very apparent in the last year. In fact, a recent report from NPD found that 40% of regular skin-care users in the U.S. are using more products now than they were a year ago, with cleansers, exfoliators, and scrubs in high demand. But much like there’s a whole lot of misinformation on the internet for whatever topic you decide to search, social media can also run rampant with “beauty hacks” and DIYs better left for the pros. Read on for our guide to the do’s and do-nots of TikTok beauty trends.  

The Good


Slugging is the process of sealing your skin with a petrolatum-based salve like Vaseline at night to aid with hydration. Although popular in the K-beauty world prior to TikTok, it’s become a viral trend. Those who suffer from super dry skin can greatly benefit from incorporating this as the last step in their nighttime skincare routine. Petrolatum, the ingredient found in thicker creams and ointments like Aquaphor, Vaseline, and CeraVe, is occlusive and very effective at sealing in hydration. However, anyone with oily or acne-prone skin can find themselves in a heap of trouble if they try this method. Overall, it can exacerbate irritation and breakouts in those skin types. If you do have oily skin and find yourself with a dry patch, you can try a more targeted approach by applying Vaseline directly to the affected area.

Using Chemical Exfoliants

While physical exfoliants do get rid of blackheads, they’re often too abrasive and can lead to irritated skin. The alternative? Chemical exfoliants. Because these products don’t involve any excessive rubbing, they’re generally considered safer to use. Not to mention they are highly effective. Most chemical exfoliants are classified into two types: AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHA (beta-hydroxy acids). These acids slough away dead skin cells and stimulate cell turnover which promotes the growth of healthy skin cells. However, chemical exfoliants do have a downside: they can burn your skin if you aren’t careful. Your best bet is to start with a mild exfoliant and go from there. As far as how often to use a chemical exfoliant, it really depends on your skin type. Start with once a week or once every other week to gauge your skin’s tolerance. 

Double Cleansing

While we struggled to keep our skin clear of acne in our teens, Millennials such as myself were told to steer clear of anything oil-based. So the idea of using an oil cleanser seemed like a recipe for waking up with a connect-the-dots style acne formation on your forehead. Turns out: it’s a very helpful method for getting that much-desired glow. Double cleansing is pretty self-explanatory: it’s the process of washing your face first with an oil-based cleanser, then with a water-based cleanser. This method prevents buildup of sebum and bacteria, which helps fight off any potential breakouts. Here’s how to do it: first, apply an oil cleanser of your choice to dry skin and massage for a minute before rinsing. After the cleansing oil has been rinsed off, use your water-based cleanser as normal. This two-step cleansing process will help remove any bacteria, dirt, and makeup residue from your pores, allowing your other products to work more effectively. We love!

The Bad

Homemade Skincare

Homemade skincare has been around for long before TikTok, but it’s making a trendy resurgence on the app. Homemade face scrub recipes often call for coffee grounds or baking soda, which are both bad news for skin. Baking soda can disrupt the pH of your skin, leading to soreness, redness, and tightness. coffee grounds are far too harsh to be rubbing into your pores — it can tear the skin and even stain it! Additionally, steer clear of any homemade masks or scrubs involving raw ginger or lemon, which can both cause burns and long-term irritation. And although adorable, the new trend of DIY-ing your own toner using flowers trimmed from your garden is a no-go. While they won’t necessarily hurt you, the blend will rot quickly and could cause irritation depending on what dirt, pesticides, or wildlife has touched the plants. The natural extracts you find in store-bought toners are bio-engineered to be safe and long-lasting. 

Sunscreen Contouring

Using (or not using) sunscreen strategically to create a contoured effect is blowing up all over TikTok, and while it may result in a “snatched” face, it’s not worth the risk. The bottom line is: leaving parts of your face unprotected in the sun will only lead to damage. Even if you’re young and think sun damage won’t appear on your face for several years, you will eventually see the results of spending hours in the sun without proper SPF protection. So if premature aging, sun spots, and skin cancer aren’t your #skincare goals, apply sunscreen the proper way. 

The Do Not Try

DIY Dermatology

For whatever reason, DIY mole and skin tag removal has become a popular trend in the last year, probably from all the skin over-analyzing we’ve done in quarantine. Dermatologists have reported seeing patients come in after having removed their unwanted skin imperfections with everything from scissors to toenail clippers. One majorly important reason not to do this is how this DIY removal can lead to infection and uncontrollable bleeding. If that doesn’t phase you — remember that you might be removing something potentially cancerous, which should be caught and checked by a dermatologist to keep skin cancer from developing. When it comes to slicing something off of your skin, please leave it to the professionals

At-Home Lash Lifts

Even if your favorite salon or lash artist hasn’t been able to take clients during the pandemic, it’s still not a good idea to DIY a lash lift. These at-home lash lift kits are downright dangerous, and the chance of getting toxic ingredients in your eyes is far too high to take the risk. Think of it this way: you’re essentially perming your eyelashes. The formulas for that include ammonia, formaldehyde, and lead, none of which you want to get in your precious eyes. One wrong move can lead to burns, corneal ulcers, and long-term damage to skin and eyes. If you want to DIY something badly, try an at-home fake tan — or something that won’t potentially leave you blind.

@evarankiintrying an at home lash lift kit…wait for the end results hehe ##lashlift♬ Slow Dancing in The Dark (imasgrohn Remix) – Joji