Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
When it comes to smart beauty hacks, TikTok is unrivalled. Where else would you learn how to achieve seamless winged eyeliner using sellotape and eyeshadow or how to ace a smoky eye in 30 seconds? Sure, there's some questionable advice (no, you can't stretch your wrinkles out), but every so often, a tip goes viral for changing the game.
This week, it's all about flawless makeup. Just when you thought TikTok's beauty tricks couldn't get any more unusual, makeup enthusiasts started mixing their foundation with lube (yes, you read that correctly) claiming it makes a better primer than actual primer. In fact, the hashtag #lubeprimer has amassed an enormous 516.3 million views so far, with makeup artists and beauty novices alike jumping on the hype. TikToker @itsrady's video is the app's top liked, having garnered 6.5 million pairs of eyes. Since then, countless others have emulated the trend including beauty content creator Sean Anthony with an impressive 2.5 million views.
In the clips, TikTokers are mostly using Durex's Play Water Based Feel Lubricant Gel, £4.79, either applying it to their skin before following with a layer of foundation, or mixing it in with their makeup just as you would do a usual primer. They say it makes their skin glow and helps their makeup stick around for longer, actually performing better than the primers inside their beauty stash. The reviews are impressive to say the least, but what do the skincare experts think? Leading TikTok skincare enthusiast Hyram Yarbro took to the app to break it down. "Using lube as a makeup primer: is it even good for your skin?" he asked. "First, I was shocked because I was like, what are the ingredients, are they gonna destroy your skin? But I was thinking about it, and if it's going to be shoved up where the sun doesn't shine, the ingredients probably aren't too shabby." Nicely put.
Having researched the Durex lube, Hyram added, "I looked at the ingredients list and found that it has propylene glycol, sodium hydroxide, benzoic acid and hydroxyethyl cellulose: ingredients you find in most skincare products. So is it bad for your skin, not really. Can you use it? Yeah. Should you use it? That's a whole other question..." If Hyram isn't concerned, neither am I. In the name of Beauty In A Tik (and as someone with very oily skin) I had to give it a go. I thought, 'could there be method to the madness?'. Most lubricants are water-based and, as Hyram suggested, if you scan the ingredients list, you'll see that some contain moisturising ingredients often found in skincare. I picked up the Roam Refreshing Gel Lubricant, £15, which includes glycerin (great for dry skin) and aloe vera (soothing and beneficial for inflammation) and suddenly it made sense. As I applied a couple of drops to my face, it felt just like a 'normal' primer — smooth and a tiny bit tacky to help the makeup adhere properly.
The product absorbed quickly, but didn't work very well with my skincare underneath, which included sunscreen (an important step, even in the winter). It started to flake a lot, but I proceeded to apply my favourite Gucci Beauty foundation on top. It continued to ball up on my skin, but I couldn't feel too disappointed. Lube isn't really meant to be used in this way. I got to work on blending and the flaky bits finally disappeared, though they made a mess on my clothes. My skin did look very glowy (which I put down to the dewy feel of the lube and the highlighter in my blush) but I was most interested to see how long the makeup would last on my excessively oily skin.
As you can see in the below TikTok video, after a couple hours of wear, my skin looked exactly the same (a win!) but I did notice some slipping towards the end of the day. That's pretty normal, though. So does lube make a good primer like everyone on TikTok says it does? In my opinion, you'd do better to stick to something that's been formulated for use under makeup, like the e.l.f Mint Melt Face Primer, £8, or the Milk Makeup Hydrogrip Primer, £14.50, both of which are adored by beauty obsessives and makeup artists.
If I could give you one top tip, however, it would be to skip primer altogether. Most makeup artists I've interviewed hardly ever use the product, complaining that it creates a barrier between makeup and skin, which means it often doesn't mesh as well as it should. There's nothing wrong with skin texture! I also don't think it's necessary to layer so many products on skin, as it can cause clogged pores, especially if you're acne-prone.
Kardashian-Jenner makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic and OG beauty influencer Bobbi Brown once told me that they much prefer to use a hydrating moisturiser, instead. Try the Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream, £22.40, (a favourite of Mario's) or the Jones Road Miracle Cream, £34, which Bobbi uses. Personally, I think the Allies of Skin Peptides & Antioxidants Firming Daily Treatment, £105, is incredible under makeup, but if you're on a budget, try the No7 Essential Moisture Day Cream, £9.95. Lastly, if you'd rather something that contains SPF so that you don't have to pack on too many products, try The Body Shop's Vitamin C Glow-Protect Lotion SPF30, £15, which is great for all skin types and skin tones.
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.