This time last year, I too was a naysayer. "Turn that tack-tick off," I’d say to other millennials trying to get in on Gen Z’s favourite social media platform. "You’re too old." But as it turns out, in addition to memes that will make you ugly laugh, TikTok is full of genuinely useful life hacks, from delicious recipe ideas to DIY tutorials. With so many teens interested in current trends, it’s no surprise that fashion and beauty hacks are prevalent on the app, too.
As my saved video list got longer and longer with things to try IRL, I figured it was time to pick a few and see whether they work. Who knows — maybe some would be successful enough to incorporate into my everyday routine, like when I tried gua sha or rosewater as a toner for the first time. The worst-case scenario? I’d look like an idiot on the internet, which we all do anyway, especially through the eyes of teenagers.
Growing up with a mum who would consistently tell me that shaving would make the hairs grow back twice as thick and triply evil, this viral technique gave me shivers. But once the algorithm noticed that I’d picked up on the idea and sent more examples of people using a face razor effectively so that their makeup could be applied smoothly while brightening their skin — and with a pack of three only costing £2.99 from Superdrug — my fears were dispelled. Opting for a lilac razor to match my Backstreet Boys tee, I began mowing the peach fuzz, starting at my jawline and very slowly making my way upwards. It took a lot longer than you’d imagine and I definitely missed spots, but my face looked undeniably smoother than it ever had — so much hair and dead skin came off with each stroke. It was a simultaneously fantastic and disgusting experience, though it did leave my skin feeling a little on the sensitive side afterwards, with noticeable bumps and blemishes the following day.
Rating: 4/10. Won’t do again…
Fake Tan Freckles
Freckles are the biggest beauty "trend" on the web. It’s no secret that augmented reality creators often incorporate freckles into their Instagram filters to get more impressions, and there are countless tutorials on TikTok showing you how to achieve a cute constellation of faux pigment cells across your cheeks and nose. With henna, bronzer, and fake tan renditions of the idea gracing my For You page, I opted for fake tan on the basis that it’d be less permanent than henna but would last longer than bronzer.
Having lived my life thus far as a borderline goth, fake tan has never been on my cosmetics radar. Not knowing where to start, I asked my editor, who mentioned that Amanda Harrington is a great brand for self-tan. I went with the palest shade from the range and bought some brushes from the local art shop that looked like they’d create a decent stippling effect. How wrong I was. The tools were simply not up to the job and instead created an uneven pattern across my forehead and nose, which I promptly removed, leaving the remainder to their own devices for the six-hour baking time. Some of the resulting freckles looked legitimate, though one side of my face was heavier with specks than the other. The colour was nice though, so sincere compliments and apologies to Amanda Harrington, whose lovely products weren’t used the way they were intended.
Rating: 5/10. How long are these going to stay on my face?
"Foxy" Facelift Concealer
However toxic it may be, beauty trends and celeb culture have always gone hand in hand, so it’s no wonder that teens are attempting to recreate supermodel Bella Hadid’s beautifully taut visage using makeup. Applying a lighter concealer than you would normally use in small, upward shapes at the corners of the eyes and mouth and around the nose before baking is supposed to lift your features upwards in a cat-like, or foxy, shape. The e.l.f. 16HR Camo Concealer, is a great consistency, but the shade I used was quite obviously too dark and too warm to create this effect, clashing with the freckles and ending up quite patchy around my mouth. It mostly worked around the eyes, and I’d try it again, but I had to redo it because I’d forgotten to put foundation on beforehand. Just call me Bella Hadidn’t.
Rating: 6/10. Need a lighter concealer!
Eyeliner For Hooded Eyes
Winged eyeliner was my go-to look as a teenager, though when the cheap liquid liner produced a smudged line echoing the shape above my eyelid, I’d smear it grungily across as part of the look. If I'd known this trick for hooded eyelids 14 years ago, it might’ve saved me some hassle. The base began with a little eyeshadow and a thin line of e.l.f. Cosmetics Waterproof Gel Eyeliner slightly pointed at the inner corner, adding to the fox effect. For the first line I followed the concealer’s curvature, while the second and third lines created an arrow-like shape that minimized the quantity of liner involved in the cut crease. Writing this in the evening following application in the morning, I’m happy to announce that no smudging has occurred.
Rating: 8/10. Not bad for a first attempt.
Dry Shampoo Trick
Getting dry shampoo to work on dyed black hair is ordinarily a nightmare. Either it doesn’t work, or it kind of does but with a surprise dandruff effect. In this TikTok, Cora tells us we’re using dry shampoo wrong before going into the vigorous but simple method of achieving clean hair on the go. First, you spray the product generously all over your roots and leave it on for 10 minutes. Next, you rub it through your roots thoroughly using your fingertips before brushing it out and going about your day.
Rating: 8/10. Great for emergencies.
In the process of trying these viral beauty tricks, it has become quite clear that these young women are much more talented with cosmetics than I am. While I won’t be putting blades to my face again any time soon, the dry shampoo run-through is a game-changer and I’m bookmarking that video. It's safe to say that TikTok is home to some of the most innovative makeup hacks out there right now, and while Gen Z may have the advantage, some tricks are certainly useful for people of all ages.