Is TikTok The Next Frontier for Beauty Discovery

Photo credit: Art by Michael Stillwell

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If you’ve been on the internet in the last two years—and it’s safe to assume that you have—then you have to witness the transcendence of TikTok. The video-forward social media platform, initially adopted by Gen Z, has become inescapable, along with its glut of content. As on Instagram, beauty videos reign (#BeautyTok has 6.9 billion views), with a razor-sharp algorithm and a viral machine that serves viewers a constant stream of bite-size snippets. And while you might want to steer clear of the dubious wellness content, the beauty feeds are truly mesmerizing.

What makes TikTok beauty so addictive? According to Charlotte Palermino, the co-founder and CEO of Dieux Skin, who has over 300,000 followers, the formula is simple: zero in on a product and use a trending sound—the algorithm does your work for you. “On TikTok, if something goes viral, people buy it,” she says. “It’s very consumption-focused.”But are the viral products worth buying? Simply put, yes—though they may not be new.

A good example is the explosive demand for Dior Lip Glow Oil, a shiny, natural lip color enhancer that had been available for a while before TikTokers picked it up. Palermino attributes the success of such products to their ability to register the all important wow factor in a few seconds.”If something is surprising, it will go viral. Or if it has a crazy before and after.” Ricky Wilson, Dior Celebrity Makeup Artist, emphasizes that a product must be universal as well as transformative.”It has to be suitable for a spectrum of people. If not, the TikTokers will eat it up with a bad review.”

What does TikTok mean to beauty brands? Bobbi Brown, who left her nameake company in 2016 and launched Jones Road Beauty in 2020, can attest to the platform’s power. Brown describes Jones Road’s recent popularity (it started on TikTok in January 2022) as a happy accident. “I wasn’t trying to go viral when my TikTok on makeup tips for 50-plus-year-olds drove 6 million views. I was just answering customers’ questions,” Brown says. “There’s a strong and very vocal 50-plus audience on TikTok,” she adds, noting that the platform helps the brand frame its launches. People “want to know what a new product does and how it’s going to make their lives easier.”

If you journey down the TikTok rabbit hole, you will find, if nothing else, endless amusement. Carla Rockmore, the style pro best known for her swirling Carolina Herrera confections and giving in dressing for bursts of dopamine, scrolls lessons TikTok more for inspiration than for the products themselves. Of TikToker Mikayla Nogueira, she says, “I don’t watch her for the tutorials—I don’t have patience for all that makeup—but for the energy and joy in what she does.” As Palermino says, content on the platform is shifting aesthetic trends. “Beauty on TikTok is a limitless field of creativity.” All you have to do is give in to the power of your “For You” page.

This story appears in the April 2022 issue of Town & Country.

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