Does Beauty TikTok Have the Power To Cause More Harm Than Good?
I feel like most people either love or hate TikTok. Personally, I have had to find a balance with this app to avoid diving into a black hole for hours every night with the continuous and entertaining algorithm. Whether it was getting trapped mindlessly scrolling through cooking tutorials, or researching every new beauty trend possible to help my hair and skin, it was bad. However, I really do think beauty TikTok has the power to teach, inspire, and empower people everywhere IF used correctly.
- Beauty TikTok is extremely useful and informational, but without regulations it can be a dangerous tool for young and impressionable individuals.
- A study showed that TikTok has heightened the “comparison game,” and has adolescents everywhere feeling more insecure with their own self image.
- Health professionals warn that viral dupe beauty trends have the power to cause permanent damage to people’s skin, hair, and body.
Beauty TikTok in a nutshell
Beauty TikTok contains every tutorial on makeup, hair, skin, product reviews, and clothes that you could ever imagine. Many influencers have found their way to fame through their beauty TikTok content and have even gone on to start very popular companies. People like Hyram and Addison Rae are perfect examples of TikTok creators turned beauty brand owners. In my opinion, TikTok is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to learn basic information about all things beauty.
However, the debate regarding these videos questions whether beauty TikTok has the power to cause more harm than good. Yes, it can be a learning tool… but what about all those young and impressionable girls and boys scrolling through their ‘For You' page and seeing what beauty TikTok tells them they should look like. For example, the new trend of taping your face to get the most chiseled features, or weight loss transformation videos that don’t talk about how or if it was healthily obtained.
This is scary, especially since around 63% of all TikTok users are below the age of thirty, and the FYP algorithm is virtually uncontrollable. Studies all over are starting to come out and explain how these types of videos are severely damaging young people’s mental health.
Creators have repeatedly voiced concern that TikTok is biased with the content they choose to keep or take down. Many influencers talk about how their videos, whether in bikinis or regular clothes, are flagged or removed for “violating TikTok rules,” but other thin, white influencers never seem to be banned. Lizzo has also spoken out about this.
This content inequality limits the type of people users see on beauty TikTok. The app, therefore, presents a certain look, and a desire to obtain that can even lead to eating disorders or health-related issues.
Scientists from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health conducted a research study where they asked adolescents their opinion of this controversial app. Some people found TikTok to be a safe place where they could bond with people over mental health issues they have also gone through. But some people also pointed out that TikTok was the worst type of social media for their comparison issue.
Many adolescents stated that they began comparing their faces and bodies to all of the influencers on TikTok, which caused extreme depression and insecurity. People even talked about how they would compare other people’s families they saw on TikTok to their own, and feel bad about themselves when that lifestyle wasn't attainable.
Luckily for our generation, there are many campaigns against the culture of social media. A great example is “The Live Life Unfiltered Campaign" inspiring a movement against the unrealistic beauty standards that social media portrays. They provide an outlet and resource for people struggling with feeling less than the influencers on the internet, and openly discuss why most of what you see isn’t the truth.
Dupe beauty trends
According to an article published in Marie Claire magazine, a lot of these beauty influencers and promoters on TikTok are not professionals of any sort. This can be a great thing because it gives people a platform to showcase their creativity or talents, and to teach others. However, this can become dangerous when non-professionals are teaching about potentially harmful makeup dupes, and products that can seriously damage parts of your body.
For example, during the explosion of TikTok in 2020, there was a beauty trend of only putting sunscreen on certain parts of your face to achieve a “natural and perfect” contour. However, this trend dissipated quickly when followers started to share their horror stories of how it caused them permanent scarring or even temporary loss of vision. Not to mention leaving the rest of your face exposed to sun damage in the name of achieving a certain "look".
To go into even more depth, plastic surgeons and dermatologists have written numerous articles on the dangerous trends TikTok has created. They have warned that this can be a dangerous platform for impressionable adolescents that may not have a lot of supervision in their life. Since anyone has the power to post, people can essentially share any tutorial they want regardless of safety.
Another example of a dangerous beauty trend that blew up on TikTok was a DIY chemical peel made out of aspirin, lemon, and baking soda. Dermatologists were rushing to app trying to stop this trend before it led to permanent and irreversible skin damage.
I really believe that TikTok has the power to be an amazing source of learning content for almost every topic you can think of. However, I feel like right now TikTok is causing more harm than good, especially to young kids exposed to thousands of videos every day. Maybe there needs to be more advisory and control over the content the algorithm suggests. I also think that implementing more social media education for adolescents from a young age can be beneficial for helping people understand that they shouldn’t believe or trust every post they see.
Written by Emma Carlson