The beauty products that went viral and cashed in
Do they really live up to the hype?
By Ruby Cotton
Content Producer / October 28 2021
Oh, how (the Internet) times are a-changin’. Sure, we’re still sleuthing the web to discover the next ‘big thing’ but it’s the way in which we are doing this, and the height some things (and people) are propelled to superstardom that look a little different.
Fast-forward to the present day, and the 2008 equivalent of Scooter Braun discovering a young Justin Bieber via YouTube is now inside our phones, featuring snappy video transitions, dance moves and inside jokes.
We’re of course talking about TikTok. And the star in question? Well, there’s plenty. But it’s no longer just a prepubescent boy strumming his guitar that gains global attention. The biggest names earning cult-status are also in the form of budget-friendly beauty products that promise to make your pores vanish and your lashes reach new heights.
Seeing these products in action via the Chinese-born platform has seen supermarket shelves cleared and products we once didn’t bat an eyelid at repeatedly sell out. The phenomenon has been so popular, in fact, that entire stores dedicated to viral TikTok products have opened up. One of them, Viral Trends NY, is run by a 15-year-old student who told a local news outlet that "everything in this store is super high demand and you really can't find it anywhere else except on eBay fully marked up."
And while some viral TikTok beauty trends have been fleeting and some, well, dangerous, we’ve compiled our top favourites that really do live up to the hype, in case you manage to spot one in the wild.
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
In an anecdote that truly represents the power of the influencer, this budget-friendly, pharmacy favourite gained viral-status in early 2020 after receiving praise from dermatologists and skin care experts, specifically TikTok sensation (and our cover star) Hyram.
After Hyram featured this CeraVe product in his TikTok series where he deconstructs skin care products – discussing their ingredients and how exactly you should be using them – CeraVe saw their online presence skyrocket. They experienced over a 1000 per cent increase in clicks for the brand’s products. And no, we didn’t accidentally add a zero.
$15.99 at Chemist Warehouse
Revlon Volcanic Roller
Setting powders and blotting papers were officially made redundant once this beauty product hit viral status. Rumoured to be concocted out of oil-banishing witchcraft, Revlon’s affordable mattifying volcanic stone rollerball instantly sold out after beauty influencer @looksbylexington shared the see-it-to-believe-it results to her Instagram and TikTok.
$8.99 at Chemist Warehouse
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
Otherwise known as “vampire blood” (due to it quite literally looking like you are bleeding all over your face – stunning, we know), this red peeling solution was a TikTok sensation. Unfortunately for us down under, Australia’s high UV paired with the high level of acidity in this peel means the product doesn’t meet regulation, and therefore it isn’t stocked on our shelves.
The product was so highly sought after that there were multiple Reddit threads dedicated to the best way to snaffle this product illegally into Australia. Word of warning, unless you want to risk a chemical burn, don’t do it. Even if the “vampire blood” content is tempting.
Being off limits to Aussies, however, didn’t stop the product from going off worldwide. In 2020, The Ordinary received over 407 per cent more hits online, directly to the exfoliating product in question. Plus, off the back of beauty influencer Kaelyn White’s before and after video on TikTok, The Ordinary (which sits under umbrella beauty company DECIEM) sold 100,000 bottles of the serum in just a few weeks.
Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumiser Hot Air Brush
In the month of November 2020, Revlon’s hot brush tool saw a 170 per cent growth in Google searches. This was thanks to TikTok users praising this salon-quality heat styler for delivering the perfect bouncy blowout in just minutes. Want to see it in action? Loren Izabel's video is a favourite.
$131 via Amazon
Maybelline Sky High Waterproof Mascara
People lost the plot over this supermarket favourite after the before and afters on TikTok proved just how much height, volume and thickness could be achieved from a few coats. It sold out four times online (and for a time was only available via click and collect).
This particular viral product is a testament to the power of paid partnerships, as the video that kicked it all off was actually created by TikTok beauty influencer @jessica.c.eid in partnership with Maybelline. A flurry of similar ones were created in response to put the mascara to the test, one of which garnered 64.9 million views alone.
$21.49 at Chemist Warehouse
L’Oreal Paris Makeup Infallible 24HR Fresh Wear Liquid Longwear Foundation
Spend 30 seconds scrolling the #lorealinfalliable hashtag on TikTok and you’ll be sold on this full coverage foundation, that somehow seems to suit every person and every skin type known to man.
Described by user @atherealrose as smelling like “fresh linen drying in a field of wild roses and fresh strawberries”, the foundation’s viral hashtag is attached to thousands of close-up videos of women saying “oh my God” as they are mesmerised by this lightweight, acne-concealing makeup from L’Oréal.
$22.39 at Chemist Warehouse
Cloud by Ariana Grande
Although Ariana Grande has a cool 224 million followers on Instagram herself, it wasn’t her fans that saw the search interest for ‘Cloud by Ariana’ (her signature fragrance) increase by 213 per cent in November 2020. In fact, the spike in search queries came from the beauty-obsessed TikTok community who revealed the $49 fragrance to be a dupe for the high-end $300-a-bottle perfume, Baccarat Rouge.
The perfume that is best known on TikTok as smelling like “you’re rich”.
$49.99 at Chemist Warehouse
Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
Already winning the title of Paula’s Choice’s international bestseller, this gentle yet powerful exfoliant also gained TikTok’s stamp of approval, after several very favourable wraps from TikTok beauty experts Hyram and our fave, @whatisonvface.
The hype from these creators saw a 100 per cent increase in clicks for Paula’s Choice over the last year, and the science-backed, no-bullshit approach to skin care the brand is known for continues to capture the attention of the online beauty world.
$38 at Paula's Choice
Milk Makeup Hydro Gel Primer
Everything Milk Makeup touches turns to viral status, and their long-wearing, niacinamide-rich primer is no exception. Shot to viral fame for its ultra-grippy formula that will lock your makeup into place for the day (and potentially all eternity), try and scroll TikTok without running into this translucent formula, we dare you.
$49 at Sephora