How TikTok’s skincare craze impacts mental health and beauty standards

In previous articles, we’ve covered the gamut of TikTok diets, exercise routines as well as dubious trends like NyQuil chicken and bone-smashing.

However, it’s safe to say that nothing gets TikTok as obsessed as skincare.

Some of the top videos on the app fall under the #skincare hashtag and have gathered more than 25 million views. The amount of information about skincare products – from retinol to hyaluronic acid to Vitamin C – can be overwhelming at times.

TikTok’s preoccupation with achieving the perfect skin is far bigger than any one single trend. 

Still, in user’s ongoing quests to perfect their skincare routines, some questionable trends – and scores of claims and misinformation about dermatology – appear.

As young people experiment with skin products, they position themselves as experts in the field, posting videos to instruct others on how to take care of their skin.

In one video with nearly 4 million likes, TikToker Tanicha Rose lists the six products she uses for her skincare routine with the confidence of a trained professional.

“If you use hyaluronic acid, you’ll hydrate your skin,” Rose says. “If you use niacinamide, you’ll control your oil. If you use vitamin C, you’ll brighten your skin. If you use chemical exfoliants, you’ll get rid of hyper-pigmentation. If you use moisturizer, you’ll strengthen your skin barrier. If you use sunscreen, you’ll prevent sun damage.”

Another video authoritatively claims the correct order of morning skincare – cleanser and toner first, followed by serum, eye cream, moisturizer and face oil.

There are turmeric face masks, beauty pop face masks, skincare routines with sixteen ingredients warring with “skinimalism” routines that tout only three ingredients. Then there is slugging, facial flooding, crafting “cloud skin” and cleansing brushes.

Meanwhile, other videos tout the “skincare breakfast” trend, which involves people tailoring their diet to contain foods that, in theory, make their skin better.

In some of the more questionable corners of skincare TikTok, people have even tried eating a spoonful of Vaseline every day to improve their skin health – though, of course, no scientific evidence exists that this has any benefit.

Still, even more videos begin emerging that outline the regrets of following TikTok skincare trends. With so many different products being touted, some are bound to irritate the skin or not live up to their claims.

Dermatologists and other medical experts are now competing with the fountain of skincare content on TikTok, including the influencers who may arguably hold more sway over young patients than themselves. 

It should be noted that heading to a dermatologist or doctor remains the appropriate choice to cut through all the noise. The vast majority of skincare products touted on the site, after all, may not hold any benefit to your specific skin health needs.

Beyond some of the concerns over the use of questionable products and trends, TikTok’s skincare craze may also have long-term implications for people’s mental health and well-being. 

The platform is known for its skin-smoothing filters that remove all blemishes and enhance features. Anecdotally speaking, it seems everyone is constantly climbing toward reaching aesthetic perfection, whether it be through skincare or fashion or beauty.

“Despite the overwhelming amount of skincare trends, one thing to know is that perfect skin doesn’t exist,” wrote Niki McGloster in a Refinery29 piece earlier this year. “What’s beautiful is that TikTok makes skincare products and information more accessible and helps to build a community around others who may struggle or be looking for the same fixes. But it’s not healthy to spiral into crisis mode and venture down a TikTok trend rabbit hole over every little bump or mark.”

TikTok can, in many ways, be a resource for skincare information, just as any other health topic. However, users can always work on separating dermatologist-backed advice from the wild claims.

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