When my 18-year-old brother (who's never used a beauty product other than an all-in-one cleanser) announced to my household that he was heading to Ulta to buy a skin-care product he'd seen on TikTok to help with his acne scarring, I knew something was up. If this app was single-handedly inspiring him to develop a curiosity for the wonders of AHAs and BHAs, perhaps it was worth checking out for me. After downloading the app (and scrolling through for much longer than I should have), I realized that while the platform may primarily be a destination for Gen-Z to learn catchy one-minute long dances, it's also a robust community for sharing must-have products without the paid advertisements one sees on Instagram. This relative air of authenticity makes TikTok ripe for viral beauty recommendations.
One-click into the "beauty tips" hashtag (which currently boasts 1 billion views), and I was able to find a range of products being reviewed repeatedly, all with relatively low price-points and advertisement-free, glowing reviews. So of course, I had to put them to the test to see if any of them actually lived up to the hype. A perfect work from home activity, no? I chose to take The Ordinary Peeling Solution, Bio-Oil Multiuse Skin-Care Oil and E.l.f. Lip Exfoliator — none of which cost more than $13, and one of which costs only $4 (!) — for a test drive to see just how reliable these TikTok reviews really are. Read on to see how it all went down.
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is one of the most-loved products I've seen lauded on TikTok, and users claimed that the product visibly smoothened their skin and kept breakouts at bay, but some also pointed out that the strength of the peel didn't react well with their skin.
As someone with sensitive skin, I was hesitant to try the intensive exfoliant. For my experiment with it, I dabbed a few droplets of the blood-red formula directly onto my face and massaged it thoroughly, making sure to avoid sensitive areas like the corners of my nose, where I tend to get eczema flare-ups. There was a slight tingling sensation for a few seconds, but nothing too extreme. (I would recommend watching how your skin reacts; self-care isn't supposed to be painful!) After the 10-minute application was up, I rinsed it off and honestly, I wasn't really sure I noticed any real results or change in my skin, neither positive nor negative. But in the name of science, I stuck with a routine, and after my second and third uses of the formula, it became clear that the peel had indeed made way for the rest of my skin-care routine to penetrate more deeply, making it more effective.
After two weeks, my skin was seriously smooth, and I haven't had a breakout (even pesky hormonal ones), which I'm convinced it's due to this product. I plan on using itto target the root of my long-term skin concerns: texture and congestion.
Exfoliation should always be done in moderation, so it's important to follow the brand's guidelines on using only once to twice a week, and I'd advise doing a patch test on a small part of your skin to make sure it's compatible. Also, because of its AHA and BHA composition, I was sure to follow up with a heavy moisturizer and SPF (my favorite is Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen) to avoid additional skin sensitivity or irritation.
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Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil is a beauty staple that has been around since 2002, and has long been regarded as a miracle worker when it comes to warding off stretch marks. But lately, it's gained popularity among younger generations as an all-over moisturizer, thanks to TikTok. Users claim that the multi-tasking oil can improve the appearance of scars, acne and dehydrated skin. (Although it's important to note that oils do not actually hydrate skin; they are capable of moisturizing and creating a barrier that traps moisture in place.)
Like many others, I've been spending most of my days indoors, and my skin has been dryer than usual. As someone with combination skin, oils tend to frighten me a tad bit, but I took the plunge anyway, in the name of journalism. I squeezed a bit into my hands and massaged the product into my face, which immediately became far shinier than it's ever been. But as the formula began to sink in, I was pleasantly surprised by the effects: Redness became less noticeable in my skin, and it remained that way for hours. I decided to take the product to the test post-shower as well, using it in replace of a body moisturizer, and I was left with the same results — calm, soft skin.
TikTok users swear by E.l.f Lip Exfoliator for warding off chapped lips and flakes. In addition to scrubby exfoliating granules, the formula also includes vitamin E, shea butter and grape seed oil to soothe and soften.
The small bullet contains tiny exfoliating granules and has a pleasant cocoa smell to it, which I liked. I followed the directions, scrubbing the stick onto my lips in slow, circular motions. Upon application, I was a tad disappointed, as I had expected quick-action results, but didn't really notice them at first. With a bit more effort and added pressure, the product did seem to gently exfoliate, but it wasn't quite as thorough as I expected.
If you're looking for a gentle scrub, this could be the one for you, but I tend to prefer a more intensive one, like Sara Happ Lip Scrub. For me, the best part of the product is that it comes in convenient lipstick-like packaging, which makes it a cinch to apply this scrub on the go mess-free. I may still keep it in my purse for quick touch-ups.
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