People Are Obsessed With These Bizarre Beauty Videos On TikTok — Here's Why


As I closed my eyes and began to drift into spa mode during my last facial, my aesthetician asked me if I was planning to film the procedure. She nodded at the ring light set up across from the bed. I shook my head no and she noted she was glad; she didn’t care for the bright light shining in her face while she worked.

While I don’t broadcast my skin care procedures on social media, I may be in the minority, especially for a beauty industry insider. Skin care videos have billions of views on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, and one practice of late is particularly buzzy.

“Dermaplaning is popping up in video after video on the feed,” according to Sara McCord, a viral marketing strategist who specializes in teaching brands how to trend on TikTok. “The product is hot — and shoppable.”

For those of you unfamiliar with dermaplaning, it’s a practice done with a straight-edge razor blade to remove dead skin cells and so-called peach fuzz from your face. People claim it makes their skin softer, smoother and even clearer by gently exfoliating — and in many cases, dermatologists say, the benefits are real, as long as proper safety precautions are taken.

A skin care creator named Meagan Carnoney, who’s famous for dermaplaning content, recently launched a hair-identifying spray that’s shoppable on TikTok, and the trend really exploded.

Dr. Raafat Girgis, the medical director at Moment of Clarity Mental Health Center in Orange County, California, told HuffPost, “While we enjoy strange and even disgusting skin videos, like pimple popping, we also like to see instant success.” He noted that if you’re angling to improve your own skin, “you’ll find ways to support that,” and the videos perform that function. “In these videos, dermaplaning makes your skin appear smoother and look healthier.”

“The videos themselves are sensory,” McCord said. “They begin with a dramatic visual hook — the white hair identified [on the] face. Then viewers then experience the blade changing the face to its natural skin tone.”

McCord went on to explain that from a content perspective, dermaplaning videos “hit on numerous proven viral content lanes on TikTok at the same time: skin care, Get Ready With Me (GRWM), and dramatic transformation over the course of the video.” But the extreme popularity of this trend, according to McCord, is not only because the product offers instant gratification, it’s because users can snap it up just as quickly. They feature a “life-changing product available on TikTok shop.”

@therealtiktokdoc

Discover the magic of Dermaplaning! 🌟 … 🍑 Removes fine hairs for a super smooth base, enhancing your makeup look. … 🌿 Boosts absorption of skincare products, making your routine more effective. … 🌟 Reveals a brighter complexion by removing dead skin cells, reducing the appearance of fine lines and scars. … Get ready to glow with confidence! ✨👩🦰💫” … Dermaplan#Dermaplaning #Microneedling #brownsanatomy

♬ original sound – TheRealTikTokDoc

Girgis said dermaplaning doesn’t have as much “thrill” factor in comparison to acne videos, the kind featured by Dr. Pimple Popper, or Sandra Lee, a dermatologist who has millions of followers across TikTok, YouTube and broadcast TV. She extracts everything from sebaceous filament to lash mites in her content.

“While the tips for improvement [with dermaplaning] are more theatrical and maybe educational, they do not match the stimulation one gets when watching something that is revolting,” Girgis told HuffPost, pointing to a 2021 study published in the scientific journal Behavioural Brain Research. “The study was gender-specific to females and used imaging tools such as MRIs and self-reporting questionnaires. The findings showed there were two groups, those that enjoyed the videos and those who found them disgusting. Both groups who showed brain activity experienced feelings of pleasure.”

We all know that pleasure can be part of the thrill, and Girgis picked up on a “voyeur” aspect to the routine of dermaplaning. In particular, he noted that GRWM videos, the kind influencer Alix Earle has down to a science, “like watching any type of intimate behavior,” can be sexually stimulating.

Board-certified celebrity dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick agrees that the intimacy of watching others’ skin care routines has appeal. “I think the videos of pimple popping and procedures generate a lot of interest because it allows people to see procedures that are often done in a private setting and may be considered personal.” She continued, “It’s visually satisfying as you see something visibly changing on the skin. For some people it can be genuine curiosity to learn more about something. For others it’s simply enjoyable to watch.”

Girgis went on to say, “There is a sense of euphoria when watching. You may be horrified but love it at the same time. Watching can create the pleasure that one gets from other stimulants.”

The reason this content is so powerful also has to do with the level of visual and viral strategizing content creators put into shooting their videos. “Creators who’ve perfected the angle, lighting and pacing to share other facial aesthetic transformations can immediately drop this trend into their routine.” Again, stepping into someone’s personal routine is an intimate act. But you must remember the technical alchemy happening behind the scenes. Intimacy exists, but at the same time, it’s being manipulated. McCord also emphasizes that the popularity hinges on this common user behavior on TikTok: a “desire to participate in a monetized trend.”

There’s nothing wrong with buying something you see advertised to you — especially if you think it can provide a valuable service. If you don’t want to wait, we can’t blame you either, although Garshick cautioned, “There is so much on TikTok that it is important to always check with a board-certified dermatologist to determine what is legitimate and what can and should be done for an individual’s specific needs.”

It might be useful to consider what’s driving your pleasure principle in watching these videos. Consider, too, who profits from tickling your fancy — including influencers, brands and the beauty industry at large.



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