Are you ready for the TikTok Beauty Challenge?

Not just for funny dances and sing-alongs, TikTok is revolutionising the way people shop for beauty so is it worth setting up an account to boost your business too? Vitality Editor Becci Vallis investigates the rise and rise of the social media platform.

If you hadn’t heard of TikTok pre-pandemic, we wouldn’t be surprised but by now, as we reach the end of 2021, even if you’re not a fully-fledged convert, we imagine you’re well aware of the app. Launching in 2016, this year it was predicted that there would be 13 million users in the UK with that figure rising to 16.8 million by 2024. And that’s just in Blighty. Available in 155 markets and 75 languages, the reach is global and in Q1 2021 TikTok became the most downloaded app placing it ahead of Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest on the popularity charts.

But why are we telling you this? Quite simply because beauty is a big pull for the platform. Alongside choreographed dances, lip synching and pranks, beauty videos are changing not just what consumers are spending their hard-earned cash on, but how brands are interacting with their audience. Take Isle of Paradise’s new Pro-Glow Spray Tan Mister product. Inspired by a viral TikTok trend that saw people pouring their refill pouches into mister bottles to recreate a professional spray bottle, it sparked founder, Jules Von Hep to go ahead and create the real deal. “The original TikTok video has over 2M views and subsequentially resulted in our refill pouches selling out in just 48 hours so our customers really were onto something,” says Jules. “We knew right away we could make something incredible, specifically for self-tanning and from concept to creation, the Continual Sprayer has taken just short of six months compared to the normal 12 months to execute. It’s so important for us to listen to what consumers are looking for when it comes to their tanning routine and social media has played a huge role in opening up that direct communication with our community.”

By monitoring what’s trending on the platform and the hashtags that are charting, brands can tap into what consumers want without having to spend a fortune on market research and focus groups. But it’s not just new products that can be spawned from TikTok, existing products are quickly becoming cult owing to influencers who have huge followings raving about their favourites. Take CeraVe, the affordable skincare brand. After ‘skinfluencer’ Hyram (@skincarebyhyram) raved about his favourite products from the brand to his 6.8 million followers, there was a nationwide shortage of their Renewing SA Cleanser. Deciem’s brand The Ordinary experienced a similar phenomenon when TikToker Kaelyn White (@Kaelynwhitee) showed off how effective its AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution had been on her acne. Sparking over 52k unit sales directly in just two weeks, the brand’s hashtag #theordinary has now gained almost 400 million views without the use of paid endorsements.

It’s led to companies rethinking their marketing approach and everyone from Fenty to elf cosmetics to Lush, Too Faced, Maybelline, and ghd to put forward ‘challenges’ for avid TikTok users to take on. A way to engage the audience, ghd has decided to integrate a holiday season hashtag this year - #wishuponastar that provides a seasonal theme and campaign song to go with their challenge. Calling on their fans to film themselves revealing a Cinderella-style hair transformation using ghd products and tools, it not only creates brand affinity, it pushes their product range too. Already there have been over 2.9 billion views on the platform.


Data from app monitoring firm App Annie indicates that the average time per user spent on the app is higher for TikTok than other platforms indicating high levels of engagement. It’s also pretty addictive with studies finding that most users will open TikTok 13 times in just 24 hours. With easy-to-watch, bitesize video clips, it’s an easy way to get inspiration, be entertained and also educated. “I find it such a positive, fun platform and it really is steered towards an education viewpoint,” says Chloe Swift, global educator for ghd and TikTok user. “It’s perfect for us hairstylists to educate our craft with short and snappy videos and to grab the attention of the audience.”

It’s also why during the pandemic when millions were furloughed and interaction with social groups narrowed that the app provided some light relief and downloads skyrocketed. “I’d joined TikTok three years ago but hadn’t really used it much, thinking that it was more for teenagers but I started using it a bit in lockdown when I decided to make use of the opportunity social media was offering us,” explains BABTAC member and founder of Perfect Waxing, Andreea Ungureanu.

Her first viral video on leg waxing was a success. With over 2.9M views, 3000 shares and 200k likes, her account went from 400 followers to 15k in a matter of days. “The video isn’t perfect, has no filter and was very real. So often we become obsessed with perfection and post pictures with how good the results are post treatment but I think people are losing interest over this. They want to see the before and after but also the process – how to achieve those results” she continues.

Allowing the audience to see the texture of products, how they apply, how they last or whether a volumising mousse really does work and all in real-time, it gives consumers the inside track and has far more information available than a billboard and far less bias than an advert. There’s an authenticity that the app offers that isn’t available elsewhere. That’s why those that seem to be winning are those taking a raw, unfiltered, unedited approach and allowing their creativity to shine through. “There were lots of times I was scared of posting those sort of videos and pictures on social media but many of my clients told me they chose my services because they’ve seen the pictures of me where they have been in similar situations and that assures them they’ll be in good hands,” continues Andreea. “As beauty professionals we often forget that customers come to us because they want help with their skin/hair/eyebrows so instead of being obsessed with posting perfect pictures we should meet our audience where their pain points are.”

With regards to direct selling and shopping, it isn’t quite level pegging with Instagram and YouTube yet as people can’t place direct affiliate links onto their videos so it can be difficult to track direct sales, although they have teamed up with Shopify to allow its vendors to sell on the platform via shoppable video ads proving that it has scalable commerce capabilities.


Providing an access all areas space can be beneficial for business, footfall and growing your audience but TikTok has had bad press, especially when it comes to beauty and wellness, for spawning some more negative beauty trends. At the start of the year, laminated eyebrows and pore strips had the highest engagement levels but since then there’s been ‘slugging’ - popular in South Korea but a fad that went viral owing to TikTok. Covering your face in a thick layer of moisturiser or Vaseline and leaving it overnight to hydrate the skin, the idea is that you wake up with plumper skin but while it could work for the occasional bout of dryness, the occlusive barrier that Vaseline creates is a surefire way to bring on breakouts. Microneedling is another beauty treatment that’s highly researched on the platform but as every beauty therapist knows, get those tiny needles in the wrong hands or use them with the wrong techniques and it can lead to infections or worse.

This is where you as a qualified, verified and insured BABTAC expert can come in and take centre stage. Proving to your audience that you have the skills and knowledge to educate them, rather than wannabe’s, you can highlight just exactly what TikTok trends to try at home and which ones to leave firmly in the clinic. And of course, TikTok isn’t for everyone. For a start it means dedicating even more time to something out of your normal day to day business, you also need to weigh up who you want to attract – if it’s a more general following that’s fine but if it’s a very specific clientele be mindful as to whether they’ll be using the platform – as it stands it’s currently used more by women than men and around 50% of TikTok’s global audience are under the age of 35. That said, there is a TikTok audience out there in their thirties and forties who have money to spend and are looking to be educated, so don’t rule it out on that account. It’s also worth knowing that if your clients aren’t on TikTok they can still look at the content you’ve created as you can save the videos and post them across your other social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

The real beauty is that absolutely anyone or any product or service has the opportunity to go viral due to the apps unique algorithm which rewards creative content rather than the number of followers someone has which means that even for mobile therapists or small businesses it gives them a chance to take a piece of the TikTok pie.


Everything you need to know to ensure your videos get the public vote…


The draw of TikTok is its short, concise and snappy videos so keep yours between 10 and 30 seconds to keep your audience engaged.


Make use of the TikTok song library. When you use popular or trending songs, they will link to your video which will result in it getting more views.


“I post four to five times a week but if I have extra time, I’ll post daily. Consistency is key,” advises Andreea.


Hashtags are the holy grail of TikTok as this is how people will find your content. Things like #skincare have had over 8 billion views and counting. Always use the same hashtags and posting ‘fyp’ will help push your video to the top of peoples ‘For your page’ recommendations for people who don’t follow you yet.


People love to watch and learn so create how-to’s and tutorials using your expertise. Add a voiceover and/or text boxes to explain what you’re doing at each step for added value.


Connecting with your followers is important. Ask them (as well as your in person clients) what sort of content and videos they’d like to see and listen to their feedback. That way you can make sure people actually want to watch your videos.


You can’t add your business logo to your profile so think about filming your videos in front of your logo to help promote it. It also means people will start to recognise it if they see it often enough.


Think about the platforms where you have most followers and post your TikTok videos there too. Lots of people who aren’t on TikTok still end up watching videos and it will help steer people to your profile too.


By making your account ‘pro’ you can look at analytics and discover what sort of content is working for you and what isn’t.


Don’t worry about expensive equipment or flashy lighting, recording on your mobile phone is fine as long as it’s clear so think about natural lighting and a clean space. Doing this will also make you appear more approachable and help show off your personality rather distracting the viewer with fancy frills and editing.