American Marketer


TikTok: Rising star of social beauty

May 29, 2020

TikTok global downloads by quarter. Source: SenserTower TikTok global downloads by quarter. Source: SenserTower


By Leila Rochet

What is happening on social media tells a lot about our society and the way consumers communicate.

Just as society and its beauty standards constantly evolve, so too do the trends in social media continue to change.

During the COVID crisis, social media engagement increased by 61 percent, and messaging across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp expanded by more than 40 percent among consumers ages 35 years and under, per Kantar’s study of 25,000 consumers across 30 markets.

The latest phenomenon: the video app TikTok, from the Chinese company Bytedance.

With 40 percent of its users ages 16-25, it is also one of the most addictive social media platforms as 90 percent of those users visit the app more than once daily, per Forbes.

Created in September 2016, this platform has now expanded its

usage beyond Gen Z and reached 2 billion downloads, making it the most downloaded app in March.

TikTok: choice of a new generation. Image credit: TikTok TikTok: choice of a new generation. Image credit: TikTok

Why is TikTok hot?
TikTok is an interactive world of videos, with strong creative content that lets users connect with friends and admirers through likes, comments and hashtags.

Compared to other social media, TikTok is about real-life authenticity, which proposes exhilarating challenges. It is crossing age and social boundaries as a way to express one’s true individuality.

While much of the content uploaded to Instagram and YouTube is polished to perfection, TikTok and its users embrace silliness and fun with high expectation for serious value of some kind.

Escape, bonding and more

During the health crisis, TikTok provided an entertaining escape in times of anxiety as a way to connect with others in a hedonistic way.

Just like Zoom, this is one of the platforms that has seen an acceleration in times when people missed social interaction the most.

While a lot of individuals use the platforms for entertainment, the channel also provides a source for information and a way to take a voice in these difficult times.

The World Health Organization debuted on TikTok in February with a video on "How to Protect Yourself from the Coronavirus." The organization captured 2.2 million followers and 7.5 million likes.

New influencer playground
TikTok is a new space for beauty conversation, with a high level of engagement.

According to Talking Influence, anyone on TikTok can be an influencer: “Their algorithm gives every content creator the potential to go viral, whether they have 50 followers or 500,000 followers. This makes it one of the most accessible platforms for influencer marketing.”

The numbers have skyrocketed. For instance, Abby Roberts (@abburartistery) has 327 million likes and 8.4 million followers.

Power influencers now add this social media channel to their communication portfolio, like @KylieJenner with 79 million likes and 11 million followers.

Challenge signature
The lockdown was also a driver for beauty conversation on social media and, more importantly, on TikTok.

Through the challenges, consumers have created exciting experiments of beauty transformation. The latest craze: #tinyfacechallenge, which surpassed 7 million views.

In a period when consumers need to wear masks, they transform their features and create noses and lips on the upper part of their faces. It is also an interesting way to make fun of the new normal of wearing masks and to escape from the pressure of these difficult times.

The TikTok #tinyfacechallenge has surpassed 7 million views.Image credit: TikTok The TikTok #tinyfacechallenge has surpassed 7 million views.Image credit: TikTok

New tone of beauty and wellness brands
Beauty brands have initiated their presence in this new arena, but still need to tailor messaging and tone specific to this social network. Brands such as ELF and Too Faced have actively created challenges.

Interesting initiatives have been built around #ASMR, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR, defined as content that evokes “light and pleasurable waves of relaxation in the head, neck, spine and throughout the rest of the body.”

Brands including Huda Beauty, Sephora, Milk Makeup, ColourPop, Tarte Cosmetics and Glow Recipe have posted TikTok videos tagged as #ASMR since March. In total, 22.7 billion views around this hashtag.

IN A NUTSHELL, the landscape of beauty continues to evolve and some of the new social interactions initiated during lockdown are certainly here to stay.

This rising star in the social media arena reflects the changes taking place in our society and the amazing influence of Gen Z in the future of beauty.

Please click here to see what is trending on TikTok

Leila Rochet Leila Rochet

Leila Rochet is founder and chief inspiration officer of Cosmetics Inspiration & Creation, a Paris-based trends and consulting firm specializing in beauty innovations. Reach her at