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TikTok’s Foundation-In-Water Hack Is Weird But It Blew Me Away

Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
I've come across some questionable beauty hacks since we dreamed up Beauty In A Tik last March. There's using lube as makeup primer (a thumbs down from me), enlisting micellar water as a treatment for oily hair (don't waste your money) and applying foundation with a jade roller (it works in theory but IRL it's tricky).
This week's hack might just trump them all, though.
Summer has been good to us thus far so it makes sense that TikTokers are willing to try anything and everything to keep their makeup on throughout the day, whether it's just a slick of concealer or something with more coverage. That's exactly why the foundation-in-water hack has racked up millions of views in the past few weeks.
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It's difficult to tell who came up with the trick, seeing as so many TikTokers are now giving it a go, but it's thought that @bodywhy_official is the mastermind behind it. In a video which has earned 4.3 million views, the TikToker squeezes foundation into a beaker of water. As you'd expect, the makeup sinks to the bottom before a quick swirl suspends it in the liquid. That's the moment when they proceed to apply the foundation to their face using a spatula. Once blended, the result is pretty seamless – but that's not the impressive part. @bodywhy_official then pours an entire glass of water over their foundation to demonstrate that the makeup is now waterproof and transfer-resistant.
It wasn't long before other TikTokers got in on the hack. "Every fibre in my being is rejecting this right now," says @stxph.h in a video with millions of views. Nevertheless she continues. "MUAs have been doing this trick to add moisture to the skin without excess oil, making the skin look dewy, radiant and long lasting," she captioned her video. The results are impressive to say the least: seamless makeup and no separating or slipping after hours of wear. TikTokers @helinndoski and @mangomoniica have also gone viral for showing how their foundation is now transfer-proof, each pressing a paper towel to their face to demonstrate the staying power.
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@helinndoski Foundation in WATER?!! Ib: @Rachel Rigler #makeuphack #makeuptips #makeup ♬ original sound - Helin
Before I tell you how I fared, I wanted a makeup artist's take on this hack. Is there any method at all to the madness?
"Although lots of people have tried this viral hack, I think it's just a gimmick," says Saffron Hughes, resident makeup artist at FalseEyelashes.co.uk. "The very first original video of it was an advert for a specific foundation to show how it was waterproof, not a hack that can be used with any foundation." So is it even a hack? Kind of, hints Saffron. "Doing this essentially removes the excess oil from the foundation, which allows the foundation to appear 'transfer-proof'. But in reality it's just less oily."
If you're an R29 regular, you'll know that my all-time favourite foundation is Gucci Beauty's Natural Finish Fluid Foundation, £46. It's on the expensive side and squandering so much as a drop is upsetting. Would pumping it into a glass of water be a waste of both time and money? If TikTok is anything to go by, no. As someone with very oily skin, I had to try it.
I filled up a glass of water and added a few pumps of foundation. It doesn't contain any oils and sank straight to the bottom of the glass. I panicked. How was I going to fish the product out? I remembered that TikTokers give their concoction of watered-down foundation a stir so I did just that but it simply curdled the product. By the time I'd reached for my foundation brush, the makeup had settled at the bottom of the glass again. I dipped in the end of my brush, thinking it'd be difficult to get any out. Surprisingly, the product clung to the brush like a magnet and I was able to swipe it onto my skin really easily.
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When I got to blending, I didn't notice any difference in terms of resistance or texture. The foundation applied just as smoothly as it does when I pump it on the back of my hand and brush it onto my skin like normal. The only distinction was in the finish. My makeup felt a little more matte, rather than dewy, on my skin. For that reason, I skipped the layer of face powder that I almost always apply after foundation.
After initial application
Perhaps I'm not as dedicated to the cause as the OG TikToker (I didn't dunk my head under the tap). But I did make a beeline for the kitchen towel. Highly sceptical, I set the tissue down on my cheeks first and gave it a good press. I expected it to be faintly stained with makeup but...nothing. Convinced this was just a fluke, I tried the same thing on my forehead, which gets the greasiest, this time pressing a bit harder. Still nothing. I think my face in the video says it all!
Hand on heart, my makeup didn't budge an inch after six hours of wear. Maybe it's because this foundation is really great but surely the hack had to count for something? I put it down to the water diluting the foundation ever so slightly, making it a little lighter in texture. I think it absorbed into my skin a lot better because of this. For special occasions, when I really want my makeup to look good and last for hours on end, I spray my makeup brush with face mist before blending. I find this delivers similar results. Perhaps it is the addition of water that does it.
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One thing TikTok's beauty enthusiasts don't seem to do in their videos is really put the foundation-in-water hack through its paces. So I decided to do some exercise outdoors at the end of the day. It was warm and a little drizzly — the perfect weather to test in. As I expected, the hack didn't stand up to its waterproof, transfer-proof claims. After exercising I very lightly dabbed my face with a flannel and the makeup started to lift off pretty quickly. Still, I didn't expect it to stick around forever. No base makeup is truly resistant to transferring, especially when skin can get oily and sweaty very easily.
After exercise
I wanted to hate this hack. It's a real chore and, where most TikTokers are concerned, quite wasteful. (One pump of foundation is usually enough for me; I've spotted as many as five or six on the app.) But I will admit that my makeup wore beautifully for the best part of the day, and the rest of the proof is on the kitchen towel.
That said, it's not something I'd do every day, especially as it can get messy and it's so easy to lose good foundation in the glass. Saffron thinks the same. "This can be complicated and wasteful, both in terms of water and foundation," she says, particularly if you're using much more than you would usually. "Instead, consider purchasing a water-based or oil-free foundation," says Saffron.
If you'd rather not go to lengths like this to lock in your foundation or concealer this summer, Saffron recommends a primer with jelly or gel-like consistency, which will provide a tacky base for your makeup to stick to. "I'd also advise spritzing a layer of setting spray after applying your skincare and primer," says Saffron. "Doing this before applying your makeup will help with its longevity." When you're applying foundation, Saffron suggests pressing or lightly stamping the product into your skin, rather than swiping or dragging.
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I'd suggest investing in a good translucent face powder, too. I like Maybelline Fit Me Matte & Poreless Powder In Translucent, £5.99, and e.l.f. High Definition Powder Sheer, £6.50, which both melt into makeup without a trace and mop up oil before it can separate your makeup. Last of all, finish everything off with a veil of setting spray. Right now, I love Urban Decay All Nighter Make Up Setting Spray Vitamin C, £27, for double the staying power.
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