5 things we've learned from skincare Tiktok

It can feel impossible to keep up with the changing trends on skincare TikTok, where it seems like a new product goes viral every day.

While we recommend a simple skincare routine that makes you feel good, sometimes it’s just plain ole fun to try something new — like sleeping masks, skincare-infused makeup, or money-saving dupes. 

Here are a few hot TikTok skincare trends we’ve seen blow up, and whether or not they’re worth all the digital hype.

Trend No. 1: Keeping your skin barrier happy 

This is a trend we can proudly stand behind. Your skin goes through so much — environmental stressors, pollution, sun exposure, daily makeup use, and so on. A protected and healthy skin barrier is so important to keep skin comfortable, hydrated, and not stripped or sensitive. 

When your skin barrier is damaged, you’ll be faced with dryness, flakiness, redness, inflammation and sensitivity. Often, you can wreck your skin barrier with a combination of both lifestyle and skin care choices. 

For example, using chemical or physical exfoliants too often, too much UV damage, high levels of stress, or using stripping cleanser or products that contain alcohol can all contribute to a damaged skin barrier. 

A damaged skin barrier also sees higher levels of trans-epidermal water loss, making it hard for the good ingredients in your skincare — like ceramides, humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, and emollients like jojoba oil or squalane. 


@4complexion #damagedskinbarrier #irritatedskin #skincare #skincare101 #acnetips #skincaretiktok #skincaretips #skintips #ceramides #healthyskin #niacinamide ♬ original sound - 4complexion


Our verdict? We think this TikTok skincare trend is 100% legit. It’s helping people understand that skin is a vital organ, and needs gentle, consistent love and care to thrive (and glow)!

Trend No. 2: Exfoliation 101 

You’ve probably seen all sorts of information floating around on TikTok about exfoliation. TikTokers rave about Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, or the often sold-out Glow Recipe watermelon-scented line of chemical exfoliation products with AHAs. 

First things first, let’s dive into the difference between chemical exfoliation and physical exfoliation: 

Chemical exfoliation 

This is the process of using acids and enzymes to gradually dissolve dead skin cells over time, working from the inside-out. You’ll see alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) as two of the most common chemical exfoliators. These can take the form of toners, essences, serums, peels, sleeping masks, and more.  

Physical exfoliation 

This exfoliation process works from the outside, where you use face scrubs or a washcloth to manually scrub away dead skin cells. This can be harsh on the skin, as the granules used in face scrubs can irritate and cause redness, especially for sensitive skin. Pay close attention to the ingredient list if you use a physical exfoliator or mask with exfoliating beads. 

When you’re shopping for an exfoliant, you’ll often see these on the ingredient list: 

  • AHAs and BHAs 
  • Glycolic acid 
  • Lactic acid 
  • Jojoba beads 
  • Salicylic acid (a form of BHA) 

Our verdict? We’re pro-exfoliation in moderation, and because of TikTok, we’ve seen tons more education around how NOT to exfoliate

@dermdoctor How to Exfoliate like a Pro @paulaschoiceskincare #paulaschoice #ad #dermdoctor #skincare #exfoliation #skincareroutine #dermatologist ♬ AntiHero - CaiNo

Here are some general rules of thumb: 

  • Don’t exfoliate more than 1-2x per week. This will damage your skin barrier. 
  • Don’t use acids in conjunction with retinol or retinoids. This might irritate your skin, causing dryness, flakiness, and sensitivity. 
  • If you’re using a physical exfoliator, scrub gently, and avoid face scrubs with plastic microbeads 

Trend No. 3: Slugging obvi 

Everywhere you look, slugging is the it girl of TikTok right now. We even wrote a complete guide to slugging because it’s quickly become a fan-favorite way to end your nightly skin care routine. 

The TLDR; of slugging is simple — after moisturizing, add a pea-sized amount of an occlusive product like Vaseline or Aquaphor to lock in the hydrating ingredients in your skincare. It should also be the last step in your routine at night. Some on TikTok rave that slugging has been a savior at stopping skin flakiness.

Here are a few things to note about slugging: 

  • Nope, it’s not adding more oil to your face. Slugging merely locks in the hydrating ingredients in your skincare to minimize trans-epidermal water loss. 
  • All you need is a pea-sized amount to fully benefit from slugging. 
  • If you have acne-prone skin or oily skin, slugging may not be for you! Slugging benefits people with dry skin, and can help people who have damaged their skin barrier. 


@edwardzo TikTok made me try it: Slugging (w/ @cetaphilusa’s new healing ointment) 🐌 #skincare101 #skintok #slugging #skinbarrier #cetaphil #cetaphilpartner ♬ original sound - EdwardZO


Our verdict? We’re huge fans of minimalist skincare, but for some skin types, slugging (aka a “moisture sandwich”) is a real win. We say, ask your derm, and do what makes you — and your skin — happy. 

Trend No. 4: Body care 

We know the importance of pampering and protecting your facial skin…but what about the rest? Body care is gaining traction in the skincare world, especially when it comes to body lotions and sunscreens. 

On TikTok, you’ll see dozens of videos showing off new products, all designed for smooth, healthy skin. Skin care brands like Naturium are branching out into body lotions, like the Bio-Lipid Restoring Body Lotion, which, according to Naturium, helps repair the skin barrier. (Again, everything on TikTok comes back to a healthy skin barrier!)

Another key element to body care? SPF, always. 

Our verdict? It’s about time we cared for the rest of our skin with the same gusto as our faces! Just don’t forget sunscreen. 


@specsandblazers Best lotions for winter! #bodylotion #targetfinds #winterskincare #softskin ♬ Jayyy.goat Challenge - Jaden Hannon

Trend No. 5: All things essence and serums 

Essences, ampoules, and serums are integral to the 10-step Korean skincare routine, and it’s no surprise they’ve taken off on TikTok. For the uninitiated, the difference between ampoules, serums, and essences takes some time to wrap your head around. 

Here are the main reasons to use each product — and which step in your routine TikTok recommends you put them in: 

Essence: Essences are extremely popular in Korean skincare. You might also see them called emulsions, lotions, or milks on K-beauty TikTok. These products are thin and almost watery, designed to be applied after toner and hydrate the skin before applying serums. 

Serum: Serums are designed to tackle specific skin issues like dark spots or brightening. They might contain active ingredients like topical antioxidants (Vitamins E, A, or C), peptides, and humectants like hyaluronic acid or niacinamide. Some folks say you can apply essence before toner or toner before essence, so the order is up for interpretation.  

Ampoule: Ampoules are essentially a serum with an even stronger concentration of active ingredients. Use ampoules when you want to target a specific skin concern. They aren’t meant to be used daily, but as needed when your skin needs a boost. 


@_skincarewithroyce Welcome back to Skincare 101! 🙂 Here is a short summary about Essences! #skincare #skincare101 #skincarebasics #essence #essenceskincare ♬ Notion - The Rare Occasions

Our verdict? If you like a multi-step routine, that’s great for you. Still, we recommend a foundation of three products. This powerful trio should include: 

  • A gentle cleanser 
  • An antioxidant-packed serum, and 
  • A lightweight, ultra-hydrating moisturizer

From there, you can experiment with ingredients and supplemental (even trendy) products you see all over TikTok based on your skin’s unique needs. For example, if you want to tackle texture and hyperpigmentation, maybe a chemical exfoliator would be a good addition to your routine. If you’re dry and scaly, try slugging one night before bed. 

While skincare TikTok is always changing and recommending new products, consistency and compatibility with your skin are the keys to a successful routine.

Try the Covey routine


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