Beauty TikTok pushes consumerism


Graciela Tiu '23

Graciela Tiu ‘23 lays out her makeup while watching an Alix Earle TikTok video.

With TikTok beauty influencers gaining in popularity, filming product reviews, going on sponsored brand trips or trying new makeup techniques, users are constantly being exposed to new trends. Scrolling through the beauty side of TikTok leads many users, especially teens and young adults, to buy new products and internalize unrealistic beauty standards. 

“I notice that I do tend to buy more products especially when I’m scrolling through TikTok. I especially like to buy products when a famous influencer has it,” Sophia Garcia ‘24 said.

Users can often be influenced by their feeds because of the social validation they feel when following new trends.

“I feel like it’s cool and trendy and it’s a lot of conversation topics about trending makeup products and skin/hair care, not even just makeup,” Karolyn Barsamian ‘23 said.

Influencers have an especially big impact on TikTok users’ consumption habits.

“Alix Earle, one of the biggest TikTokers now, would talk about the products that she uses for her makeup and it all sold out,” Garcia said.

Many beauty influencers benefit financially from these product-oriented videos, utilizing brand sponsorships or linking platforms like an Amazon Storefront, which gives them a commission when they recommend certain Amazon products to their followers. Because of this, the beauty and makeup community on TikTok can be especially alluring to content creators.

“I feel like a lot of the popular TikTokers and celebrities are going into the beauty and makeup aspect of TikTok since that is what our social media is centered around,” Barsamian said.

Some people enjoy watching certain influencers’ content, especially GRWMs (Get Ready With Me’s) for fun and entertainment.

“I really enjoy following influencers and seeing relatable content. I tend to follow beauty influencers around my age doing GRWM’s. When I do feel influenced to buy products, it’s because I’ve seen genuine results,” Isabel Parker ‘23 said.

Others see the negative aspects of beauty influencers and notice how they’ve brought along scandals and drama. A recent example of this involved popular makeup influencer Mikayla Nogueira and a mascara review she did. Viewers noticed how she used false eyelashes in the video promotion when claiming not to, which has turned into a big scandal and controversy.

“When you’re an influencer, there’s so much you can do for the world and so much you can do to spread positivity. There are thousands of influencers out there that do the opposite,” Garcia said.

Tologs also feel a push for unrealistic beauty standards when scrolling through their feeds.

“When influencers promote a certain product to look a certain way, their followers believe they need to look a certain way and can only achieve it with a certain product,” Parker said. “Trends such as the “clean girl look” or “debloating” drinks add to the further beauty standard of being petite and having perfect skin.”

These trends can also cause viewers to compare themselves to others, eliciting negative feelings in them and creating a sense of insecurity when trying products at home. 

“I can say for myself that I’ll see really gorgeous people using these makeup brands. I’ll put them on and see that I don’t look the same, and it’ll make me feel a little self-conscious. I guess that’s part of the toxicity of social media,” Garcia said.

Barsamian also notices inequity with the lack of representation of people of color and those coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

“I feel like a lot of the popular makeup and beauty influencers look pretty similar to each other and they’re mainly white. Also, a lot of the products that these girls post about are pretty expensive, and it puts pressure on girls who can’t afford it and can make them feel bad about it,” Barsamian said.

Despite its shortcomings, Tologs notice the benefits of the influential nature of TikTok.

“I think it’s a good thing because the influencers are informing girls about different makeup products,” Barsamian said. “If you want to expand the makeup you have or if you’re just starting off, TikTok helps you get more information about makeup and products.”

Through all of the highs and lows, many users find a sense of belonging within the beauty side of TikTok.

“I think sharing products with one another makes it feel kind of like a community,” Garcia said.