Life & Style

Baby lips to bronzing drops: The evolution of generational beauty trends

The evolution of generational beauty trends

TikTok influencers are Gen Alpha’s newest big sister, and these creators are recommending a lot more than Bath & Body Works hand sanitizers.

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In 2014, Youtuber Bethany Mota had accumulated millions of subscribers, and my eighth grade self was obsessively loyal to her makeup and beauty product suggestions. I would scrape up dollar bills and take the public bus to Target in hopes that the Maybelline Baby Lips in Electric Rose had yet to sell out. To much dismay, the six-dollar tinted chapstick was usually wiped clean off the shelves, as all the other tweens had beaten me to the chase. 

Today, a similar group of tweens are at the starting line. They are ready to race into Sephora and snag the next viral product that their favorite influencer is promoting. However, the rules of the game have changed since 2014. Instead of YouTube, TikTok has become the go-to for product recommendations, and influencers are no longer promoting beauty products under $10.

Brand deals and monetization from views put influencers into the top 1%, adding at least two dollar signs to their “favorite products.” The low prices of trending products are long over. 

The days of products like Maybelline Baby Lips priced at $5.49 and Bath & Body Works hand sanitizer priced at $1.95 are long gone. The new and improved products such as the Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm is priced at $24 for a single product and the viral Drunk Elephant Sunshine Drops is a whopping $38.

Playing with makeup and beauty products is a core memory of girlhood. Digging through an older sister or cousin’s makeup bag for the sparkliest eye-shadow of the loot is an experience that the majority of Gen Z can relate to in some capacity. Yet, it seems like the next generation, Gen Alpha, wants to take these experiences further than an at-home makeover. 

Over the past few weeks, Gen Alpha has developed a reputation for delinquent behavior at higher-end beauty stores such as Sephora and Ulta. Between abusing the sample products and being disrespectful to the employees, it seems that these teens will stop at nothing to get their hands on the newest trending product, even if the ingredients are harmful to developing skin. 

“Acids and retinols are certainly not appropriate for pre-pubescent skin. We’re gonna keep repeating that as much as we need to repeat it,” founder of Drunk Elephant Tiffany Masterson said in an interview with Ad Age

Drunk Elephant is just one of many high-end cosmetic brands that Gen Alpha is spending their allowance money on. Others include Summer Fridays, Tower28 and Rhode Skin.

In this digital age, younger generations no longer look up to their older sisters and moms for makeup advice. Instead, TikTok influencers are taking over. According to a study from the Pew Research Center, almost 60% of teens ages 13-17 use TikTok daily. This daily content ranges from funny skits to product recommendation videos from popular beauty and lifestyle creators with millions of followers such as Alix Earle and Meredith Duxbury. This content that such creators are producing remains influential, and sometimes, these recommendations even trump dermatologist suggestions. 

Board-certified dermatologist, Joshua Zeichner believes that even his medical qualifications have difficulty beating a viral skin-care product with a hot pink cap and a punchy name. 

“When it comes down to me versus TikTok, TikTok wins,” Zeichner said during an interview with Glamour Magazine.