Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
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Mastered the art of the smoky eye? Congratulations — it's fair to say you've completed one of the trickiest levels in makeup. If you consume most of your beauty content via YouTube or Instagram, you'll know that makeup enthusiasts and pro artists will have you reaching for multiple blending brushes, a handful of eyeshadow shades and lots of patience to achieve the timeless trend. Even as a beauty editor, nailing a smoky eye that doesn't make me look like I haven't slept for weeks is no mean feat. Happily, we can always count on TikTok to dream up a much speedier, smarter way of doing things.
When it comes to makeup hacks, the app can be hit and miss. There's using lube as makeup primer (wouldn't recommend), switching to purple blush (surprisingly pretty) and eyebrow mapping (it'll transform your beauty routine). But this week, not much has reached viral status quite like the sponge eyeshadow trick. The easy technique has been copied so many times, it's difficult to tell which beauty obsessive thought of it first. The likes of @glamwithsuzan, @cbeauty_m and @thebeautyradar have all given it a go, with thousands of views.
The method consists of using a mini makeup sponge instead of a brush to create an eye look in a matter of seconds. TikTokers can be seen dipping the sponge into different shades of eyeshadow (the pointed end is usually a light hue or something shimmery, while the larger end of the sponge tends to be a darker shade). The next step is simply tapping the sponge onto the eyelid and the result is a multidimensional, smoky eye — no blending and zero fallout. Could this simple trick take the chore out of fashioning a glam eyeshadow look? TikTok creators make it appear easy and for that reason I was sceptical. How could a tiny sponge replace the tens of brushes usually used to achieve YouTube's favourite (and arguably most fussy) makeup trend?
I started with By Beauty Bay Mini Makeup Sponges, $12.50 for 4, and Charlotte Tilbury's Luxury Eyeshadow Palette in Pillowtalk, $80. When applying foundation or cream-based products like blush and bronzer, the sponge should be damp, but that was my first rookie error — this doesn't work with powder! The sponge failed to pick up much pigment and made my eyeshadow palette all soggy so I went back to the drawing board with a dry sponge. This time, I dipped the pointed end of the sponge into the lightest, glittery hue and packed on the darkest colour towards the other end, so that they were sitting next to each other on the sponge. The great thing about using a mini makeup blender compared to a normal-sized version is that you can print it onto your closed eyelid quite easily. This means it also works for those with hooded eyes.
As I did so, I manoeuvred the sponge slightly, dabbing and pressing so that the pigment transferred onto my eyelid successfully. When I moved the sponge, I was shocked. It worked! The result was a near-perfect smoky eye that only required a little blending at the outer edges to polish the shape, and I did this quickly with my forefinger. I didn't need to do much to achieve a flawless finish but you can go back in with a touch of eyeshadow to build up the colour intensity if you want more of a dramatic look. A slick of Maybelline's new Colossal Curl Bounce Mascara, $9.99, on my top and bottom lashes and the look was complete. It took seconds.
I'm not the only one sold on TikTok's clever smoky eye hack. As soon as I uploaded my video to the app, the views and likes came flooding in. First of all, because it's so simple. Secondly, you can use any colour combination that takes you. If you're after an affordable palette with multiple shades and pigment that stays put, try Morphe's 35T Sweetest Tea Artistry Palette, £26, which features 35 colours ranging from classic nude and gold to trending pink and lilac. Also try NYX Professional Makeup Ultimate Eyeshadow Palette in Phoenix, $37.95, if you want something more vibrant or Vieve's The Muse Palette, $85.14, which features more muted tones that mesh well.
If a TikTok hack isn't worth your time (applying foundation using a jade roller, I'm looking at you) I'll always be honest. Equally, I know a genius trick when I see one — and this is impressive. In fact, I don't ever want to take off my seamless eye makeup. This is my face now.