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What Is TikTok’s ‘Crying Makeup Trend’? Sad Is The New Pretty For Gen-Zers!

TikTok is a place for bizarre trends, and GenZ has the superpowers to find sense in anything and everything. These days, “Crying Makeup Trend” on TikTok is garnering mass approval as Gen-Zers think that a “sad-looking girl” is actually pretty. So what is this trend about, and how did it find its way on social media? Read on to learn everything about it.

What Is The “Crying Makeup Trend?

While those red watery eyes and red nose do look intense, who knew it would become a beauty trend for Gen-Zers? Last week, Boston-based content creator & makeup artist Zoe Kim Kenealy posted a now-viral TikTok directed at “unstable girlies,” creating a “sorrowful look” through makeup. The clip then was viewed almost 3 million times.

Since then, #CryingMakeup is trending, with almost 5.1 million views. Wondering what’s it about? Kim started this trend by creating redness around her eyes, cheeks and nose, and making her eyes look teary with a glittery eye shadow. In the end, she smudged her lip with color and gloss, adding some glitter gel to give a teary look, and voila! “Sad” turned into pretty.

After her clip, people began sharing their “crying makeup” videos, boasting about how perfect and beautiful the “sorrowful” look appeared. Many girls opted to smudge the makeup around their eyes, applying glitter eyeliner on the lower lid. Well, TikTokers are still experimenting with this look, and there’s a lot of content out there on the video-sharing platform.

How To Get The Look?

In her video tutorial, Zoe revealed that if you’re not in the mood to cry, you can create one while looking pretty at the same time. Here are the steps to get your “sad girl” look:

  • Start by focusing on the blurry lips. Like Zoe says, “We want that puffy soft lip right?”. For this, she suggested using the “Soft Spoken Velvet Creme from EM Cosmetics, and then blurring the edges with a brush. Well, you may use any similar-looking shade from any brand.
  • Next, you got to apply a neutral lip liner on top (consider using NYX’s Nude Suede Shoes that come for $8).
  • Top it off with Item Beauty’s Lip Quip ($14) lip oil, to get an “ultra-glossy” wet look.
  • Use a cream blush over your eyes, under them, on your cheeks and across the nose. For this Zeo used the Fenty Double Cheeked Up Freestyle Cream Blush Duo ($34), but any cream blush will do as long as it’s multi-use—”It’s really a monochromatic moment,” she says.
  • Now, it’s time to use some liquid glitter on the bottom of the lash line. For this, Zoe used the K-beauty brand AMTS’s glitter (shade 02).
  • Now, use the  About Face Vinyl Effect Eye Gloss ($14). She said, you use this to shine the eyelids, cheeks and cupid’s bow. Finish the look by curling up your lashes.

Sad Is The New Pretty…

Boston-based makeup artist, Zoe Kim Kenealy, who is 26 and has around 119,000 TikTok followers, revealed in an interview with The Guardian that she was truly inspired by two east Asian makeup trends Douyin and Ulzzang. And guess what, both are as real as they come. The two genres involve “ample amounts of blush, glitter and highlighting the under-eye area for an overall cherubic effect”.

She continued, “It’s inspired by the twinkle in your eye you get after you cry,” said Kenealy. She stresses the look is just an aesthetic, not dishonesty. People – mostly men – have been commenting ‘Amber Heard’ on my video,” referring to the hordes of Johnny Depp TikTok fans who believe his ex-wife fake-cried on the stand about his alleged abuse. “It’s a makeup look I wouldn’t necessarily wear outside. It’s not meant to deceive anyone.”

The trend was best explained by Fredrika Thelandersson, a postdoctoral researcher in media and communications studies at Sweden’s Lund University. The “21st Century Media and Female Mental Health” author, who studies online girl cultures and communities, stated: “In the current landscape, celebrities and brands want to have authenticity, to appear real. One way to do this is to disclose a diagnosis or reveal a trauma. It’s literally profitable to show some kind of vulnerability.”

She explained that dissociation is a symptom of PTSD and is now being picked up as an aesthetic. “This says a lot about how people are not doing so well right now and need support, and social media becomes the place where they can find what they wouldn’t get from a traditional healthcare system,” she added.

However, when asked what if people are faking sadness, Fredrika replied, “Maybe it is performing sad feelings, but there is a communal aspect when you realize that other people feel the same way, and that’s a sort of belonging,” Thelandersson said. “You can make fun of that as much as you want, but it’s still kind of hopeful in a way.” Well, for TikTokers it’s nothing serious.

As for Zoe’s video, there were mixed reactions from TikTok users. One wrote, “I definitely do not look good when [I] cry y’all lucky tho.” Another wrote, “My signature makeup since 2012! I want to look like I’m pretty crying all the time.” One user gushed, adding, “As opposed to the miserable crying I usually do lmao.” “No really I feel so pretty after sobbing and coughing my lungs out,” agreed another.

If you think closely, this TikTok trend is actually two-fold: In a way, we all are sad, thanks to Gen-Z’s openness surrounding mental health and radical vulnerability. Recently, many celebrities have shared such looks on Instagram. For instance, Billie Eilish and Selena Gomez openly shared their mental health struggles through their TikTok users. In another way, it can be understood as a funky way to create art. Well, contemporary artists do that to create a sad look.

Even though there is much irony in this trend, I’d rather like to call this trend a way of “Creating art”.  While our favourite celebrities crying selfies look like they’re really getting emotional, this trend will help us praise the vulnerable effect without actually experiencing it. I’d rather suggest, Can’t we do this look for Halloween? What do you think?

I am Mallika Singh, a lawyer and writer by profession. Writing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I am a keen observer and an ardent reader. When not at work, you can find me at the stable. Horse riding is another passion that keeps me going.


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