In 2021, TikTok — the video platform with a track record of catapulting cosmetics to such success that they remain sold out for weeks — was awash with weird, wonderful and downright strange skin care hacks and beauty tips.
A dizzying mix of hair hacks, slimy creatures and theatrical makeup looks, here are some of the year’s most bizarre TikTok beauty fads.
Beauty trends on the app took an often unexpected turn. Credit: Abby Roberts, Ameliaolivia09, Blinkaria
It became clear soon into 2021 that masks weren’t going anywhere.
Noses stayed hidden in many situations: covered in cloth while traveling on public transport and out running errands. Some more than others appeared to have missed this central facial feature: cue the meteoric rise of nose blush.
Dabbing or slathering hot pink blush onto the base of your nose was a makeup trend no one could have predicted. It first began on TikTok as part of the app’s defining E-Girl look — an internet subculture characterized by heavy eyeliner, thick brows and usually a faux heart-shaped freckle.
But this year, nose blush entered the mainstream — the hashtag has more than 850,000 views — as a growing number TikTokers achieved Rudolf-levels of pigment on the tips of their noses.
‘Squid Game’ makeup
A dystopian drama full of gore, sweat and masks may not seem like a natural source of beauty inspiration, but the surprise Netflix hit “Squid Game” — about a contest in which players compete in children’s games with life-or-death stakes — pulled it off.
Of course, the show’s terrifying Red Light, Green Light doll was also a popular Halloween costume choice for stars such as Lisa from Blackpink, who completed the look with drawn-on, larger-than-life eyes and pigtails.
Rather than the dewy, youthful glow once popular on social media, Gen Z began championing carefully constructed eye bags painted in bronzer or eyeshadow.
However, some of them chased a very specific type of eye-bag shape known as “aegyosal” in South Korea. Translating roughly to “cute fat,” aegyosal is a puffy eye bag that K-Beauty website Soko Glam says helps you “look younger and your eyes more cheerful and inviting.”
On TikTok, a popular filter known as “Belle” — which superimposes aegyosal onto users’ faces — also made the rounds, creating buzz for championing an Asian beauty standard, as opposed to a Western one.
From at-home DIY hacks to clever editing software, the app gave beauty a new meaning. Credit: Courtneeypark, Chloewolchock, Audreyvictoria_
Lube as primer
It isn’t unusual for TikTokers to turn to random items in the name of a beauty hack, but lube is perhaps one of the most unexpected ones.
According to YouTuber Grwady, the lube helps create a “smooth, fine texture” to your skin.
Rice water hair hacks
Most people generally discard water after they’ve finished washing their rice. But some savvy social media users have taken to fermenting and bottling the milky liquid instead.
Snail mucin — the slimy, protein-packed secretion that comes from a snail’s mucus glands — has long been a popular ingredient in K-beauty for its radiance-inducing qualities.
But users found a cheaper way of getting their hands on this beautifying goo: straight from the snail.
Some TikTokkers began putting snails directly onto their faces and letting them inch across the surface, before massaging the glistening trail into their skin. Many have realized their giant African snail pets can double up as an at-home beauty treatment, while others rolled up their sleeves and harvested regular garden snails.
Collette’s round mouth is still agape in terror, only now it has been plumped by scarlet red lipstick. The disconnect between context (“Hereditary” is a scary movie) and the altered subject (Collette looks like a digitally dolled-up influencer) was what caused the original meme to spread like wildfire.