In the past year, right under our noses, something strange has happened in the beauty community. What used to be dominated by long editorial articles or half-hour YouTube videos has been replaced by fifteen-second hacks on TikTok. And honestly, we aren’t mad about it. There’s something hugely addictive about scrolling through and watching beauty tip after beauty tip. But with so many out there, it’s also impossible not to wonder if any of them are actually any good. Well, I’ve been testing out some of the most popular, and here’s my verdict.
Using brow pencil as lip liner
Brow pencils tend to be stiffer in consistency and sheerer in pigmentation than lip liners. This actually makes them excellent at subtly reshaping the lips. Choose a mid-toned taupe color and focus in on the areas you want to subtly emphasize—either side of the cupid’s bow and around the corners of the mouth work great. Apply a nude lip gloss on top to help blend it in.
The backwards foundation routine
This hack involves applying your base products in a frankly bizarre-sounding order: powder, then setting spray, then primer, then foundation. Strangely enough, it does work—creating an incredibly long-lasting base. The problem is, it’s just a little too much for me to be doing on a daily basis. The finish is surprisingly un-cakey, but certainly full-coverage, so it won’t work for those who prefer a “no-makeup makeup” kind of look.
Using concealer as lash primer
Lash primers are essentially designed to add bulk before mascara to give an extra boost of volume and length to lashes. So it stands to reasons that the same job can be done with any thick, paste-like makeup product. Many TikTokers have advocated for using concealer under mascara to do the priming work. And while it is technically effective, I find the whole process too prone to messiness. The concealer wand is prone to uneven distribution; plus, the pigmentation can end up mixing with your mascara and creating a dingy, gray finish.
Shaving your face for a smoother base application
Ever noticed the peach fuzz on your face and thought about how it’s ruining your base makeup? Well, no, me neither—but apparently some people have, and TikTok has come up with a solution. Shaving your face can not only remove any soft and fine hairs but also gently exfoliate the skin to give the smoothest makeup canvas ever. Is it worth trying? Well, kind of. The effect is impressive—but it’ll lead to a whole world of hair-removal upkeep that I’m just not sure is a feasible lifestyle choice for the likes of me.
Focusing mascara on the eyelash tips
If you, like me, spent your adolescence reading the beauty pages of magazines, you’ll likely have been indoctrinated at a young age into the rules of applying mascara “root to tip.” You may even have heard about the “wriggling the wand at the roots” rule. Well, TikTok has offered a different method. You first apply mascara just to the tips of your lashes, then allow to dry. Next, apply a second coat from the mid-lengths to the ends. Finally, apply your regular layer of mascara to the entire lash. While this does create impressive volume and length, for me, it gives an overly clumpy finish. But if you want an incredibly out-there, OTT lash, this could be the hack for you.
Using eyeshadow as lip gloss
If you want to go for a monochromatic makeup look, TikTok claims you can mix a shimmery eyeshadow with a clear gloss to create a beautifully sheeny lip. This is a hack with which I can get on board. It massively opens up a whole makeup collection, offering tons more lip options with just a singular gloss. The only problem is reapplication on the go—but since we’re not going anywhere, it’s perfect for now.
Creating faux freckles using fake tan
Faux freckles are one of those makeup trends that just seem near-impossible to get right. On paper, they sound great—who doesn’t look cuter with a sprinkling of freckles across the nose? But in reality, faux freckles tend to look just that: faux. And using fake tan rather than a dedicated freckle product just didn’t manage to change that for me. Sorry!
Using dish soap to clean your makeup brushes
I’ve long been of the belief that makeup brush cleaners are one of the biggest scams on the market. Sure, some of them probably work—but why would you need something so dedicated for such a non-specific item? All you need is something that effectively cuts through grease, removes pigment, and disinfects—and dish soap does all three. I stand behind this hack.
Saving your makeup sponges
On a similar note, who hasn’t faced this conundrum in the lifetime of a makeup sponge? While a beauty blender can apply makeup in the most perfect, seamless way, it just doesn’t have the lifespan most of us would desire. TikTok offers a revolutionary method for extending a beauty sponge’s longevity—simply trimming off the stained, damaged part. While this does breathe a new lease of life into a sponge, I’m concerned it may end up with someone using it after it’s no longer safe and sanitary.
The fox eye
As previously discussed, the fox eye is the TikTok trend designed to help you fake the look of an eye lift using makeup. And, amazingly, it works! By applying liner and shadow in a slightly different placement, you too can look like you have a forehead full of Botox. Thank you, internet!
Using lash glue to reshape your makeup brushes
This hack is another work of absolute genius—but only if you’re using a cheap makeup brush. Simply pinch the tip into shape with a little bit of lash glue on your fingers, and enjoy a much more precise and stiff brush for detailed application. So smart!
Chamomile tea bag compress for cystic acne
One thing we all have in common is that feeling of existential despair when a deep, painful pimple starts to throb. Many cite a cold compress as the ideal way to take it down quickly—with a refrigerated tea bag at the top of the list. Now, sorry to be a naysayer, but I’ve never had any luck with this style of acne treatment. In fact, if I feel the terrifying pulse of a new zit, the only thing that’s ever offered me any success has been an overnight sulfur treatment. The Dr. Dennis Gross Colloidal Silver Mask is a great option, but the De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment offers a similar effect for an unbelievably low price.
Using mascara as liquid liner
Some TikTokers cite mascara as a great alternative to liquid liner thanks to its extreme pigmentation and ultra blackness. While this can work, I don’t think of it as a hack, per say, because it’s simply more difficult than actually doing things the normal way. Many mascaras have a thick, wet formulation, and some even have added fibers that make spreading the product a nightmare. If you’re in a pinch and desperately need to replace your liner with mascara, then go ahead, but don’t expect to find it any easier or more satisfactory!
Blurring the cupid’s bow to fake bigger lips
Many cite crisp lip liner as the perfect way to enhance a pout without the need for fillers, but TikTok disagrees. Blurring the edges of the lips can give more of a subtle enhancement than overlining, while still quietly suggesting that the lips’ edges may be more generous than they actually are. I absolutely love this look—a smudgy lip is the last word in effortless cool, and if it gives the look of 1ml of Juvederm, then that’s an added bonus.
Mixing loose powder to boost foundation coverage
TikTok has offered an ideal solution for those who have a favorite foundation that they want to beef up in the coverage stakes. You can simply mix your foundation of choice with a translucent powder to give it more intense pigmentation without altering the formula. On paper, this is a cool idea—allowing you to get multiple base looks out of one bottle of foundation. But to me, it all just seems like a pain in the ass. Why waste a perfectly good sheer foundation when you could just buy a second, higher-coverage foundation? In other words: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Using hair gel on your brows
A final recommendation that’s an oldie but a goodie. Perhaps you first heard of this from TikTok, but it’s long been a staple of many a makeup artist. Brow gels tend to be incredibly costly considering the minuscule tubes—so going for a bumper tube of hair gel and a spoolie is cost-effective and brilliant at setting unruly brows in place. TikTok recommends the Schwarzkopf Got2Be Spiking Glue, and I’m inclined to agree. The holding powder is absolutely crazy, and the price is unbelievable.