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Experts Unpack 4 of TikTok's Viral Beauty and Wellness Trends of the Moment

Makeup artists, dermatologists and more cut through the noise to help determine what is — and maybe isn't — worth trying.
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A year and some change ago, I got on TikTok. It was no big deal, at first. Just a few weeks into the first spate of stay-at-home orders, I started by bookmarking a few videos of progressively more elaborate Rube Goldberg machines. I had absolutely no intention of becoming a geriatric millennial humiliating herself in an attempt to pander to youths online. (Roughly 60% of TikTok users are Generation Z.)

But as the pandemic continued to intensify, so too did my TikTok screen time. Soon, my developing algorithm began presenting me with clips that had legitimate applications in my everyday life, beyond those of Rube Goldberg. TikTok is far from perfect, but I was pleased to have found a mostly enjoyable, constructive corner of Al Gore's internet to call my own.

Being someone who works at least adjacent to the fashion, beauty and wellness industries, it didn't take long for that algorithmic corn maze to point me in the direction of fashion and beauty content. But Fashion TikTok, which is at least partially comprised of styling challenges not unlike ones once ubiquitous on Tumblr — felt more familiar than Beauty or Wellness TikTok did. Suddenly, I was being influenced to cut my own curtain bangs and hike up my eyebrows with a bar of soap.

After some conversations with a few of my fellow TikTok voyeur friends, I came to understand I wasn't the only one being hypnotized by hair-care routines that promised to give me the '90s bounce of a Cher Horowitz blowout. There were four "trends," in particular, that we kept finding on our respective For You pages. So we did what any editor with access to email and a vague will to investigate would do: Call in some experts. 

STRATEGIC BLUSH PLACEMENT

In April, TikTok user Megan Lavallie posted a now-viral video that details how to apply blush for different face shapes. In the clip, Lavallie demonstrates just how visibly blush can change the shape of your face, with the potential to lift or to shorten, to add fullness, to enhance cheekbones. None of this is new makeup news, and yet, I was overcome!

I wasn't the only one, apparently: To date, that video has racked up more than 8 million views. It also throttled me into a vanity crisis in which I decided that my current method of blush application made me resemble Wendy, of Wendy's, the restaurant.

Tobi Henney, a bicoastal makeup artist who originally hails from Sydney, explains that to the layman, this video is actually quite revolutionary. "Blush is one of the elements of makeup I don't think people overly think about before applying," explains Henney, who previously served as the L'Oréal Paris Makeup Director in her native Australia. "It's typically thought you can just throw on the cheeks and you're 'good to go.' I guess this demo really demonstrates how much of a difference blush can make when strategically placed."

To replicate Lavallie's technique at home, Henney recommends examining your face shape and seeing what you want out of your blush. ("I love making your blush create a longer face for round faces," she says. "This also helps to apply blush to lift your face upward.") As for the product itself, she prefers a cream blush that can be applied with your fingers or a makeup brush and thus can be more easily manipulated.

CHLOROPHYLL SUPPLEMENTS

For the uninitiated, chlorophyll is the natural compound in green plants that gives them their color and helps them absorb energy from the sun. And at some point, TikTok has determined that chlorophyll is just as Herculean in humans as it is in plants. At press time, the #chlorophyll hashtag has racked up more than 277 million views.

Trista Best, a registered dietitian and environmental health specialist, told NBC News that the property is "full of antioxidants," which "act in therapeutic ways to benefit the body, especially the immune system." Some TikTok users — and scientific researchers —are extolling benefits that extend far beyond immunity, saying chlorophyll can help with acne, large pores and signs of aging.

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Apparently, all of this fodder has created a chlorophyll scarcity within retailers. "Even though I'm Gen-Z, I'm not on TikTok," says Kate Glavan, a recent graduate of New York Gallatin's School of Individualized Study and the co-host of the "What the F*ck Is Sea Moss? Podcast." "That means I found out about the grand chlorophyll shortage when I unusually had to trek to six different health stores to secure my regular bottle."

Glavan says she's been taking chlorophyll for more than a year now, and enjoys how it starts her morning routine. Though with any supplement, she cautions, it's often hard to isolate its effects on your health. "Maybe you slept well the previous day or are experiencing less stress which improved your overall digestion... or maybe it was the chlorophyll," she suggests. "Don't expect any product to cure-all — that's my advice!"

HYDROCOLLOID MEGA-PATCHES

A growing interest in giant, medical-grade hydrocolloid patches is allowing creators to show off their sebum in a whole new way. Though they're intended to be used for actual wounds, Band-Aid's All-Purpose Adhesive Bandages have started selling out, according to my own field research from a visit to one (1) out-of-stock Duane Reade months ago. Dermatologists can understand why.

"Hydrocolloid bandages are occlusive, waterproof dressings that contain a hydrocolloid matrix made of polymers, which work to trap moisture and draw out excess fluid like oil and debris," explains Dr. Tiffany Libby, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. "Traditionally, I use these in my clinic to help speed up wound healing for certain surgical wounds."

The rules are simple: Apply it on dry, clean skin directly on the pimple and leave it on for no more than 12 hours. The result will be an opaque strip of gunk that, she says, becomes fun to highlight on visual platforms like TikTok. (Plus, they can help universally, regardless of skin type or color, so they're simple for anyone to easily incorporate into their acne-treating routine.) Their clinical benefits seem to far outweigh any drawbacks. Just don't apply them to dirty skin, which traps in oil and dirt and can potentially make acne worse.

"They're a great complementary treatment to traditional drying acne-treating regimens," says Dr. Libby. "I like them specifically for wearing underneath makeup and masks and to protect against inadvertent picking, which can lead to scarring and discoloration."

CUTESY BUTTERFLY CLIPS

You love a butterfly clip. I love a butterfly clip. I love a buttery clip so much, in fact, that I regret to confess that I spent $20, minus tax and shipping, on a single, one-inch claw clip in a color the supplier calls "meringue." We all love a butterfly clip.

"Let's face it," says Tim Aylward, hairstylist and groomer based in New York City. "People love being infantilized, and why wouldn't they? The world is in flames around us at any given time. It feels good to let someone else take the wheel for a while, and just be a helpless little baby."

The alternative, as Aylward says, is having to engage in an ever-troubling conflict-infused world. Thus, the butterfly clip is reborn.

"It's an innocuous cutesy charm that's vacant enough to be interpreted as anything from a kitschy childhood throwback to a 'Lolita'-inspired fashion statement," he adds. "Logically, it would take hold on a platform like TikTok where cutesy and nostalgia rule above all."

When I ask Aylward about his preferred way to style them, he suggests twisting hair away from the face and locking it in with the clips, a style most notably embraced by one Lizzie McGuire. As for the implementation: Spray a bit of hairspray on your fingers before twisting hair away to help hold the style in place. His overall aesthetic recommendation is a bit more nuanced: "Pair them with some JNCO denim, puka-shell necklaces, a Blink-182 crop top — and don't forget your belt chain."

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