Though TikTok is perhaps best known for producing viral dances and making Donald Trump mad, the app has quietly morphed into a next-generation QVC, unearthing useful doodads and oddball gadgets you didn’t know you needed. A product that goes viral on TikTok can sell out for months at a time, and the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has racked up 645.1 million views (and probably as many dollars in sales).
No products sell faster on TikTok than beauty products, whether it’s a DIY eyebrow lamination kit, men’s shaving powder, or a shower jelly that costs exactly $1. And because the app is dominated by teens, many of these things are easy on the wallet (or the allowance, as it were). To find out what lives up to the hype, we spent hours exchanging hundreds of DMs with TikTok influencers, asking just one question: What’s the best beauty product you’ve bought because of TikTok?
This scrub, formulated to tackle keratosis pilaris (also known as chicken skin), is all over TikTok — even though, at $28, it’s one of the pricier items on the list. TikToker Kayla likes that the glycolic and lactic acid help loosen skin that congests hair follicles and pores. “I use it for so many things! I fight hyperpigmentation everywhere (underarms, knees, elbows, strawberry legs), so it’s nice to have a product that I can get multiple uses out of.” Gisele, Andrea, Shannon, and Candace swear by it, too.
TikTok tipped Priscilla Alaniz — and millions of other people — off to Magic Shaving Powder, an under-$10 depilatory that’s been around since 1964 and gotten a new audience thanks to the app. “I’d seen it several times at the store but never paid attention to it,” she says. “My hair is very thick, so the typical ‘female’ products weren’t cutting it for now. But this leaves my skin smooth, and it exfoliates.” It’s worth noting that this is not a shaving cream — like other depilatories, this contains a chemical that literally strips the hair from your skin.
The cleverness of Venus’s waterless razor is obvious (it’s waterless!), but that hasn’t stopped the product from going viral on TikTok. Lexie Magnus, whose video about the razor has more than 100,000 likes, says it really is “the best invention ever.” She likes that it can be used on the go, and has even shaved in the car: Just “open the door and pour water over the blades,” she says. Each razor’s handle holds enough gel for two uses, and, Lexie notes, “it doesn’t run out as quickly as you’d think, so squeeze a good amount of it out to avoid razor burn.”
A lot of the beauty products hyped on TikTok don’t actually work, as many #fail videos show. This goopy cleanser is an exception. After seeing the jelly on the app, Careen was intrigued, if skeptical. “I thought the quality would be horrible because it’s a dollar,” she says, but the formula turned out to be great. And a little goes a long way, she says: “You think you’d have to use a lot, but you don’t — it suds up.” The jelly is exactly one buck at Dollar Tree, according to commenters, but it’ll cost you a little more than that online. Either way, it’s cheaper than Lush’s Conga, another TikTok famous “shower jelly.”
To supercharge the AHA scrubbing — without harming your skin — TikToker Kaelyn uses an exfoliating glove, which is a favorite product among #showertok, a popular hashtag that’s exactly what it sounds like. The appeal, Kaelyn explains, is that “you can literally see the dead skin coming off,” adding that it leaves your skin baby soft. “I love exfoliation, because KP is a buildup of keratin on the skin, and these cloths make the scrubs really effective,” she says.
Kayla follows up her AHA with this gritty sugar scrub. “I used to be a huge coffee-scrub fan — who doesn’t love that smell? — but I learned about microtears, and it didn’t take long for me to switch to something more gentle,” she says, and this one came recommended by fellow TikTokers. (The #TreeHut tag has more than 6 million views.) The brand has frequent “scent drops,” but from the comments on Leek’s popular post, coconut lime and mango are favorites.
“My face is so oily, you could point a flashlight on it and the shine would light up a room,” says Kaivalya “Kiki” Gorla, whose TikTok featuring Revlon’s Oil-Absorbing Volcanic Roller has 100,000-plus likes. “While some oil is picked up by those absorption sheets, the rest can get pushed into your pores,” she explains, plus they’re single-use. This little invention appears to soak up every last drop of oil, and it’s reusable. “All you have to do is wash it with soap and water, so it’s better for the environment,” Kiki adds.
With salons closed this spring, at-home #browlamination clips spiked on TikTok. This microblading alternative, which is actually marketed as a lash-lift kit, chemically straightens each brow hair and sets them in a shape you create with a clean mascara wand, giving the illusion of fullness in a noninvasive way. TikToker Ash watched a few videos “and just winged it,” she says. The treatment can last up to a month, so Ash suggests practicing shaping your brows with body lotion first; once you start, you have to move pretty fast. She was impressed with the results: “I have a lot of really thick brow hair, and it lasted for three weeks.”
Another popular brow product (that’s actually not a brow product) is Just for Men Beard and Mustache Dye, which astute TikTokers discovered works on more than five o’clock shadows. After Hannah showed off her new darker, fuller brows, courtesy of Just for Men, the trick made the rounds on TikTok. “Don’t use the brush that comes with it. Use a pointed eye-shadow brush instead,” she advises. “It helps you stay inside the lines.” But even if you mess up, Hannah points out that semi-permanent dye will fade over a few weeks.
There’s no shortage of zit stickers on the market, but Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patches are perhaps the most TikTok famous. When they showed up on beauty blogger Sabrina Molu’s “For You” page, she was wasn’t convinced, having already been disappointed by another TikTok recommendation, Nexcare’s acne-absorbing covers. But the thousands of comments promised her that Hero’s patches would be great — and the comments didn’t lie, she reports. “They’re cheaper than other brands and they’re thin enough that I can put them along my nose or on my hairline without killing when I take them off,” she says.
Lemonhead glitter has been worn by everyone from Beyoncé to the cast of HBO’s Euphoria; no surprise that it’s also a favorite of TikTokers, too. Dasha first discovered it on the app — #lemonheadla has more than 6 million views — and now she swears by it. “Lemonhead LA comes off more easily than regular glitter, which I had to remove from my face with duct tape,” she says. Dasha recommends the icy lavender Houdini glitter on bare eyelids.
“Oh my gosh, absolutely, yes, yes, and yes,” says TikToker Isabella about e.l.f. Cosmetics Camo Concealer in her video about the best Target beauty buys, which has 400,000 likes. According to TikTokers, it’s a worthy dupe for Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer, which, at $27, costs more than four times e.l.f.’s formula. And it lives up to the hype: Kallie, a performing-arts student, says the stuff works beautifully “to cover up my dark under-eyes and any problem areas.”
Kallie says she’s “still not over the hype of Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer,” a product that’s been all over TikTok. Beauty influencers love the drugstore formula, promising that it’s as good as Benefit’s beloved Hoola bronzer, yet costs half the price. According to one TikTok commenter, it “wouldn’t be a must-have bronzer video without Physician’s Formula.” Another agrees, saying, “These bronzers have been a holy grail for me for a while.”
Although Glossier has the millennial mascara market cornered, Gen Z appears to favor drugstore staple L’Oréal. “Mascara is a must, and I’m a die-hard fan of the L’Oréal Voluminous Original Mascara,” says 18-year-old influencer Amelie. (One astute TikToker points out that it’s a solid dupe for Too Faced Better Than mascara because L’Oréal actually owns Too Faced.) Maham’s commenters heaped on the praise: “Phew! I thought I was weird for thinking L’Oréal mascara made my eyelashes look better than the high-end ones I’ve tried, like Diorshow,” says one fan. “That is the best mascara I have owned, and I’ve never looked back,” adds another. (It’s also a top pick of many makeup artists we’ve spoken to in the past, for what it’s worth.)
TikToker Veronika says the weirdest and best product she’s bought after seeing it on the app was this shampoo brush. Scalp health is a surprisingly big thing on the app — the hashtag has more than 16 million views — and this $7 find is a favorite. It “massages your scalp while you’re washing your hair,” she says, adding that “it’s almost like going to the salon for a blowout.”
This hair dryer has gone widely viral on the internet (in fact, it’s the most reviewed beauty product on Amazon), and TikTok is no exception. TikToker Kate says she learned how to use the tool to style her hair, after coming across videos on her “For You” page, and it “changed her entire life.” Her own video about the gadget has almost 100,000 likes, and the #revlonhairdryerbrush hashtag has 15 million views.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
— to nymag.com