I’m much closer to 18 than I am to 30, and yet, I’ve never felt more disconnected from the youth than when my youngest brother showed me a video of himself, squatting and cooing in front of a poorly green screened backdrop of Manhattan. The video, he said, was a “pigeon POV” he made for the popular app TikTok. I downloaded it right away.
After a few days on the app, I’ve noticed that TikTok has several, well, ticks. You’re bound to see a million nearly identical videos—even when they’re not outright replications of something viral, usually the videos are predicated on a template that kind of dictates how it’s going to go. It’s similar to meme formats where the original meme is riffed on until it’s nonsense. And a lot of TikTok is nonsense. Like, why is everything tagged with #LastChristmasMovie? And why are so many videos just girls doing mimetic hand-motion dance moves? I spent a lot of time trying to get it, until Glossier’s Communications Manager Bela explained it like this: “You know how you used to take photos on your Mac, or post videos to your friend’s wall, just because you were bored? There was nothing more to it. It’s like that.”
I’m not here to explain the oddities I found on TikTok to you. Maybe they can’t be explained! I’m just the messenger. But what I have observed and understand are the beauty trends. Lots of them. And they’re different from what’s on Instagram or YouTube, because they’re not necessarily hacks or tutorials. Even the goals are different—looking good doesn’t seem to be their core objective. Got all that? OK, here’s what’s happening on TikTok.
A New Use For Your Straightening Iron
Working with a one-inch section of your hair, open your straightening iron and wrap the hair once around the bottom plate. Then, clamp shut and pull through to the end. You should be left with a ringlet curl, sans twisting your arm (literally). You can play around with the way you wrap your hair to change the direction of the curl. This works, but is it novel enough to warrant the hundreds of copycat videos I saw? Who’s to say.
Manchester Girl Makeup
A joke about makeup preferences in the UK turned full routine. It’s always set to the same song, which opens with “I’m a Manchester girl don’t hate me,” and yet I can’t properly identify the title or singer. Anyway, the look is a ton of foundation, contour, overdrawn eyebrows and nude lips (oft achieved with concealer). Goes well with the Gen Z Love Island obsession and lots of Bioderma.
Product Buildup Check
Take something sharp, like one blade of a scissor. Stretching a section of your hair straight, push the scissor perpendicularly down in little scratching motions. If you use a shampoo heavy in silicones, you’ll see a white flaky dust start to form. If you don’t, this is a bummer.
An interesting feature of TikTok is that hashtags come with their own explainer pages. This one says “Try to apply lipstick with your arm twisted behind your head or with your foot if you can… show us how flexible you are!” Ignoring that, most people who dare take on the lipstick challenge go for it this way: starting with a line down the center of your mouth, apply product to the rest of your lips without using your hands. It’s a lot of press-patting of lips together, and actually kind of… fun? Works best with something liquid and spreadable.
Are these fake dimples really so convincing that I can’t tell whether the teens are fucking with me or not? Unclear. Regardless, here’s how you do it: with an ashy brown eyeliner, draw a tiny vertical line where a dimple would be. Then, using the pad of your finger, smudge it downwards. All I know is that this trend could only ever exist digitally, because in person it looks… like brown eyeliner smudged on your cheek.
Heated Lash Curlers
Finally, something familiar! I’ve been using this trick forever. Basically, you’ll want to take a metal lash curler and hit it with a blast of hot air from a blowdryer. This turns it into almost a mini curling iron for your lashes—the heat makes the curl set and last longer throughout the day. Make sure to give it a few moments to cool down so you don’t burn your eyelid which… many TikTokers don’t do, probably on purpose. Virality is no reason to shrug safety guys!! (To which TikTokers would probably respond: “OK Boomer,“ and I’d say: “We’re in the same generation!” Etc.)
I imagine shaving off your eyebrows is meant to allow for greater flexibility in drawing on your own arches, and also to provide the subject with a mild amount of fame. But this is just speculation, since most of the videos just show the shaving process and not the aftermath. I’m not trying this one out. Nope.
Photo via ITG