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Is TikTok the next big thing in online beauty?

The increasingly popular social media video app is becoming the Gen Z equivalent of Instagram and YouTube for online beauty content.

As the 6th most downloaded international app of 2018 and with half a billion daily active users worldwide, it’s pretty safe to say that TikTok has taken over the internet.

Even though you might not understand exactly what it is, you’ve most likely seen the impact that it’s had on pop culture. I’m sure you know it as the birthplace of Old Town Road, the record-breaking track that Lil Nas X debuted on the app in February.

Primarily used to create and share 15-second comedic music clips, TikTok is a melting pot of viral videos, but it has another, potentially more lucrative market: the beauty industry.

Proving very popular among beauty influencers who are using the app to promote their content, it’s also beginning to change beauty standards for Gen Z, encouraging us to step out from behind the FaceTune comfort blanket and acknowledge how fake and harmful the world of the influencer actually is.

In the wake of Instagram’s decision to test a ‘like ban’ in several countries – and the Facebook study showing that engagement rates with influencers are at an all time low – the future’s looking pretty bleak for the photoshopped bloggers trying to endorse skinny teas and diet supplements as #goals.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting rather tired of the ultra-curated world of the influencer. Don’t get me started on how bad it is for our mental health.

The tides are turning, though. More and more of us are getting our aesthetic inspo and style tips from TikTok, a much more inclusive platform that doesn’t rely on generic content for popularity and instead offers an open space for all kinds of experimentation.

‘The TikTok community is super supportive. Everyone creates their own kind of thing and the creators are helping each other grow, making collabs and things like that. It’s not like Instagram, where everyone is more singular, kind of just posting pictures and occasionally videos,’ says 17-year-old user Priscilla.

From a tech perspective, TikTok certainly knows its audience and seems to have gone out of its way to be as user friendly as possible.

The ‘for you’ feed makes it incredibly easy to discover specific content and the app does not adhere to the same ‘clicks and views’ focused algorithms that other platforms do, making it much more authentic and explaining why it’s perhaps quite so appealing to the beauty community.

I digress. We already know that thanks to Euphoria’s amazingly innovative makeup looks, Gen Z are starting to take more risks than ever with how they look and it’s definitely catching on.

Big brands such as Glossier and Fenty are continuing to embrace self-acceptance and diversity on social media and gone are the days of homogeneous beauty trends; 2019 is the year of expressing yourself.

Highlighting this movement is the rise of VSCO and ‘e-girls,’ which reflect Gen Z’s desire to ditch fads such as ombré or contouring for much more creative looks.

Hordes of teens have begun to test out new styles, dyeing their hair shades of baby pink, neon orange and electric blue, following in the footsteps of Billie Eilish who recently coloured her roots slime green and divided her fan’s opinions in the process.

Overlining your lips is old news, it’s now time to accompany anime-inspired blush and a whole-lotta-highlight with tiny black hearts on both of your cheeks to achieve the ultimate ‘e-girl’ aesthetic.

‘Scene girls and emo girls were a counter to the preppy, Juicy Couture look of the [noughties],’ says Buzzfeed reporter Lauren Strapagiel. ‘In the same way, e-girls may be a counter to the polished, FaceTuned Instagram influencer.’

Oh, and if you’re interested in something a little different, why not go au naturel and become a ‘VSCO girl’ complete with giant scrunchies and extra-comfy clothing?

It’s not a didactic community though. Nothing’s being photoshopped and no one’s telling VSCO and ‘e-girls’ to dress a certain way, nor are they trying to sell the aesthetic to them based on their own motives: it’s totally down to the individual.

‘I don’t have just one style,’ says Maddy, another user. ‘I just wear whatever makes me feel good. And people on TikTok seem to encourage each other a lot in that, and in whatever they do. It takes little creatives who are really talented and gives them the recognition they deserve, whether they’re an artist, a makeup artist or just someone who likes making videos on the platform.’

At its core, it’s also highly accessible and provides everyone with alternative options to otherwise expensive products. Overflowing with DIY makeup tips and how-to videos, the app is great if you want a homemade hack for that facemask you can’t afford. TikTok is a safe haven of creativity and self-expression that we seriously stan.

So, what do you think? Is TikTok set to usurp Instagram as the number one online beauty destination? Let us know in the comments.