Before we get into the nitty gritty of why TikTok is so much more than the social media equivalent of an arcade dance mat, I’m going to warn you that signing up to the most downloaded app of 2020* is going to increase your screen time significantly. TikTok is the place where people keep it real, showing up to share everything from their relatable messy homes, cooking and cleaning hacks, and even their medical conditions.
There’s a sense of comradery with TikTok that you won’t find anywhere else, which is why I want you to forget your opinion on social media and influencers for a second and let me fill you in on the uprising you’re missing out on. TikTok is a short-form video sharing app that allows users to record and upload content, with the option of adding numerous songs, sound clips and filters.
Take Gemma Collins for example, aka the 21st Century’s Marilyn Monroe when it comes to iconic quotes. Whether they’re plastered on a hoodie or birthday card, we can all agree that ‘The GC’ has a saying for every occasion. Which is why, if you spend half an hour scrolling through your TikTok feed, you’re sure to find numerous videos of people lip-syncing to Gemma’s most famous one-liners.
Yes, there’s dancing, but unlike Instagram where your feed consists of friends, colleagues, and that girl from school you never spoke to, TikTok’s ‘For you page’ (FYP for short) is just an endless scroll of videos uploaded from users all over the world. As well as randoms, you can also follow your favourite influencers, brands (*cough* @bootsuk *cough*), and of course friends, whose videos all come up on a separate feed called your ‘following’.
The more time you spend on it, the more the algorithm knows what kind of content to serve you. Which is why my FYP is full of relatable comedy about being an anxious 30-something single woman who’s far too invested in 00s nostalgia content.
Because it’s personalised, no two users will see the same videos on their FYP. And the type of videos that appear might change over time, depending on things like the accounts you follow, videos you’ve added to your favourites, and even comments you’ve posted.
Not only is TikTok genuinely the funniest place on the Internet (come for the videos, stay for the comments), it’s also one of the most helpful. The simplicity of uploading, combined with a rabbit hole for a homepage, means you’re served with tips, hints and tricks from people all over the world daily.
Thanks to TikTok I now know to put a towel in the tumble dryer to speed up the drying time of my clothes and my nephew learnt that dandelions repel water if you dip them in a glass. So yes, ‘I saw this on TikTok’ will not only become your new phrase, but as well as inserting itself into every single one of your conversations, TikTok will become your beauty lifeline.
Unlike Instagram and YouTube, TikTok can make literally anyone go viral. Case in point, me, when I unsuspectingly posted a video about the uncanny resemblance between my ASOS tracksuit and the ASDA uniform to 1.4 million people**.
'I saw this on TikTok’ will not only become your new phrase, it will also become your beauty lifeline
While traditional social media has uplifted the certain few, only further cementing the rigorous beauty standards we are held to, TikTok has one billion ‘real’ people from all over the world sharing everything, from their favourite products to their wash-day routines.
TikTok doesn’t discriminate, and that’s why I love it. It doesn’t care about your age, your size, your race, your background, because you’re guaranteed to find someone with the same experience as you.
Traditionally beauty journalism was guilty of focusing primarily on Caucasian women, however thanks to Black TikTok users sharing their curly hair methods, millions of people (236.1 million – at time of press – according to the #curlygirlmethod), have improved their relationship with their hair. Whether that’s finally knowing how to properly care for it or discovering that their ‘frizz’ was in fact a mane of beautiful curls that would only come out once they stopped dry brushing.
It’s not just curls that are embraced on the platform, TikTok’s grey hair movement might just give you the courage to ditch the box dye for good. To date 7.3 million people have used the hashtag ‘grey hair transition’ and as TikTok is a global app, over 180 million have shared their silver manes with the hashtag ‘gray hair’.
If you’re in a situation where you hate your greys, @mrsclarehoops should be your first follow. Her admissions are so refreshingly honest and watching her cut off her last bit of hair dye feels incredibly inspiring.
Talking of honesty, if you want more candid product reviews, start with @mikaylangueira, owner of the best Boston accent I’ve ever heard. Since joining the app in March 2020, Mikayla has amassed an eye-watering 8.8 million followers, most of which first discovered her when she shared the three make-up products she swore by to cover her acne. Here was a woman showing you exactly how she covers her red, swollen spots, with no filter and no ulterior motive. It’s the kind of comradery I haven’t seen since Year 10 B block toilets.
It’s also a breeding ground for upcoming beauty trends. We have TikTok to thank for the return of the ‘shag’ with users attempting to DIY curtain bangs and wispy layers at home. The craze for drawing on under-eye bags will simultaneously make you eye roll and give you the confidence to ditch your concealer. Meanwhile, reverse cat eyeliner (applying and blending your liner on your bottom lash line only) is the easiest smoky eye technique you haven’t tried yet.
For beauty brands however, a side effect of this honest knowledge transfer is an uplift in sales like nothing they’ve ever seen before. Take Maybelline’s Sky High Mascara for example. Over 350 million views of their #skyhighmascara resulted in 26,000 tubes flying off the shelves in the launch week alone. Meanwhile Dr.Jart+ Cicapair Colour Correcting Treatment has become one of their bestselling products in both the UK and North America, after TikTok users shared its impressive redness-covering abilities.
At a time when YouTube tutorials feel like a parody with their conveyor belt of #ad recommendations all demonstrated on wrinkle-free, spot-free early-twenties skin, TikTok has breathed some much-needed new life into an industry which, too often, excluded the many in favour of the few. The kids may have started the TikTok revolution, but it’s us adults who need it the most.
TikTok has breathed much-needed new life into an industry which often excluded the many in favour of the few
“This is a more lived-in take on the trend. Use a NYX Professional Makeup Jumbo Eye Pencil in Lime, £6/600 points (5g), to create an arch along your eye socket. Choose a similar shade of eyeshadow; I like to go a tone brighter here and blend the pencil out with the shadow using a smudge brush,” says MUA Eoin Whelan, who created these looks.
TikTok’s take on no make-up make-up dubbed #cleanlook (14 million views and counting) works for all ages as it’s all about showing your natural healthy skin. Eoin says, “Using a cream blush, apply colour high on the cheeks with a MAC 187S Duo Fibre Face Brush, £28/2,800 points, so the colour looks like it’s coming from within.”
If you want the look to work as well IRL as it does on a screen then keep it natural but noticeable. “Use a Sleek MakeUP Super Precise Lip Liner, £4.99/499 points (1.79g), in a shade that matches your natural lip colour to slightly overdraw the Cupid’s bow only. Then line the rest of the lip at the natural lip line. If it looks too sharp for you, try using your fingertip or a clean cotton bud to gently blur,” says Eoin.
Perfect for waking up tired eyes, this is a surprisingly wearable way to introduce bold colour. Eoin tells us how: “Use a rounded eyeshadow brush to buff the main colour from the Makeup Obsession X Rady Daydream Shadow Palette, £10/1,000 points (20.8g), around the inner corner of the eye then add the accent colour using an angled brush around the tear duct.”
Super nostalgic, the nail art of the early 00s is having a major moment and the beauty is that anything goes. Try freehand swirls and spirals or even hearts. Experiment with press-ons such as Kiss Gel Fantasy Nails, £8/800 points, which you can paint on a surface then pop on once completed.