Everyone Is Talking About This TikTok Makeup Hack — But Experts Are Sceptical

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It seems like every other day, there is a new TikTok beauty phenomenon that we need to get our heads around. From the ABCs of blush, to ideal concealer placement and the concept of training your hair, the video platform is a treasure trove of new ideas for those wanting to elevate their beauty knowledge. And this week, you can't log into the app without seeing a video discussing the concept of 'high and low visual weight' facial features.
If BeauyTok is a part of your algorithm, you will have seen creators dissecting the differences between high and low visual weight features and analysing how make-up applications should differ depending on which category you fall into. But what does it all mean? Does it actually work? And more importantly, should we care?
To get a further understanding of the topic, we decided to speak to a few experts, tapping makeup artist Holly Harnwell and Revlon's National Education Manager, Nica Marcello to offer their insight on the TikTok trend.

What is high visual weight vs low visual weight?

If you've watched any of the videos online, you'll know that the concept of high visual weight and low visual weight is all about understanding your face shape and structure.
"High visual weight refers to a person who has more prominent features. Think of Angelina Jolie," Harnwell tells Refinery29 Australia. "She has big eyes, high cheekbones and big lips. These features really stand out on her face." On TikTok, high visual weight is described as people with small faces and large features.
Low visual weight on the other hand pertains to those with features that are less pronounced. "A good example would be Hailey Bieber," Harnwell explains. "She's still just as beautiful, yet her features are just a bit more soft. Her eyes, nose, cheeks and lips aren’t super prominent compared to the rest of her face."
Nica Marcello elaborated on the topic, "It is influenced by three key factors: the distinctiveness of your bone structure, the prominence of your facial features, and the overall volume of these features."
@jamzlt Replying to @🇸 ✨ Miᥣᥣᥱᥒiᥲᥣ ¦ Pottᥱrhᥱᥲd ⚯͛ are you a high or low visual weight? ✨ #fyp ♬ original sound - Jam Zoleta - @jamzlt on IG 🤍

How can you determine if your features have high visual weight or low visual weight?

Creators on TikTok have a few key ideas for assessing whether your features have high or low visual weight. The first, and easiest way is to determine if you have a "small face with large features," or a "larger face with smaller features."
Beyond this, other ideas include assessing how high your cheekbones sit, checking to see if the "Bold Glamour" filter looks good on you (although of course this is subjective) and also doing the Photo Contrast Test. The photo test involves inverting the contrast settings on a photo of yourself. If your facial features appear more prominent when the contrast is turned up to 100, then you have high visual weight, where as if your features appear more prominent at -100 then you reportedly have a low visual weight.

What does that actually mean for your makeup application?

The consensus is that people with higher visual weight are able to carry off wearing bold makeup, while people with a lower visual weight benefit from subtler makeup looks. As Harnwell explains, "Generally, people with bigger features or high visual weight can wear more makeup without it looking too heavy."
She continued, "People with large eyes tend to carry heavier eye makeup better compared to people with smaller eyes. If you have large eyes, you can do a glam eye look with black liner on the inner rim and lashes, and it will most likely enhance your eyes and really make them stand out. However, if you were to do the same on a small eye, it may close them off."

How should you apply makeup for high visual weight?

Go glam or go home. According to TikTok, high visual weight individuals should focus on enhancing the bold features they already have. Think winged linger or a bright lip, for example. "Choose either the eyes or the lips as the focal point, but not both," Marcello offers. "If you go for bold eyeshadow, consider a neutral lip colour, and vice versa. This prevents overwhelming the face."

How should you apply makeup for low visual weight?

By contrast, TikTok and our experts say that those with a low visual weight should opt for more natural make-up looks. "Think clean girl vibes with softer colours on the eyes, a pink or peachy blush and nude lip," Harnwell explains. "This isn’t to say that they can’t wear glam makeup; I’d just opt for a softer glam such as browns rather than blacks, or choose natural-looking lashes as opposed to full glam lashes so they don’t take over the face and take away from the rest of your features. You want all of your softer features to be enhanced evenly."

Finally, does it actually matter?

At the end of the day, we are all individuals and we should be applying our makeup in whichever way brings us joy. If you fall into the low-visual weight category but love a winged liner, go for it! If you have larger facial features and are deemed high visual weight, but prefer a more understated makeup look, that's fine too!
Even Harnwell has her doubts about this trend. "I don’t think this trend is accurate," she explains. "As it really depends on what features you're working with." Some days you might want to enhance your eyes, while other days you might prefer to enhance your cheekbones or lips.
While trends that offer insight and advice are welcome, at the end of the day, determining the way you do (or don't do) your makeup should be completely up to you.
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