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An expert weighs in on Rae’s metabolism drops, TikTok’s viral wellness fad


TextDaniel Rodgers

Popularised by Gen Z via the social platform, the supplement promises to ‘support and enhance your natural metabolism’ – despite not being approved by the FDA

Up until recently, TikTok has been somewhat of a safe haven for teenagers and young adults. Over the past week, however, one product has dominated the ‘for you’ page (TikTok’s equivalent of a newsfeed), Rae’s ‘Metabolism Drops’. 

Captioned with the likes of “let’s get skinny!” and “#weightlosschallenge”, hundreds of influencer style videos have been uploaded to the platform with teens showcasing Rae’s little dropper bottles in all their ‘The Ordinary’ glory. For now, the product is only available in the US, retailing for $14.99 at Target, but is currently on a three-month backorder due to popularity.

According to the brand’s website, these ingestible drops should “support and enhance your natural metabolism” – a vague statement which, at least for the young women of TikTok, is being interpreted to equal appetite suppressant and weight loss stimulant. And these users appear to report benefits so eerily similar that they would almost seem copy-written, “I didn’t crave sweets”, “I felt way less bloated after meals” and “it’s made me feel more energised”. Whether the proliferation of Rae Drops is an organic TikTok trend or part of an influencer marketing strategy is unclear. (EDIT: A Rae representative later reached out to explain this was organic, not marketed). Either way, these kind of marketing techniques do feel more insipid on a platform where the user profile is considerably younger (60 per cent of the app’s monthly users are 16-24 year olds).

@healthyeatingjourneyy

Day 47 #healthyfoods #rae #metabolism #water #fyp #foryou

♬ Make You Mine - PUBLIC

Founded by former Target executives Angela Tebbe and Eric Carl, Rae sells an expansive range of ‘wellness solutions’ including libido boosters, sleep aids and de-stress capsules. The brand is, apparently, “committed to supporting women with evidence-based holistic wellness solutions that promote self-love and help them radiate from within”. However, at the footer of every page on Rae’s website, you’ll find an asterisked “these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration”. 

It’s a huge “red flag”, says nutritional therapist Lucy Sommer. Rae is heavily marketed as an honest and transparent ‘evidence-based brand’, yet “nowhere on their website is there any evidence”. The brand fails to mention anything about the quality or sourcing of ingredients and as for these drops, there is zero evidence provided to scientifically support their metabolism-enhancing claims. 

@life.as.emma

There not gonna make u loose weight really fast (DISCLAIMER) recommend it if ur dieting‼️ #rae #metabolism #health #fyp #healthtips

♬ Blueberry Faygo - Lil Mosey

So, let’s get into it. The drops have three ingredients: raspberry ketones, taurine and caffeine, although caffeine is omitted from the product page on Rae’s website (probably for fear of its association to laxatives – see Jameela Jamil). And not one of these ingredients has been proven to make the metabolic process more efficient, Sommer tells us. Now, we’ve heard of Raspberry Ketones before - they gained huge popularity a few years back among claims that they could trick your body into ketosis (a natural fat burning process). Yet once again, “there have been no studies to prove this works on humans”.

Obviously, caffeine can stimulate your bowels but at just 5mg it might not even do that – after all there are about 40mg in a cup of coffee. The brand also claims that their drops are made from ‘pure’ formulations, which is odd because raspberry ketones are 100 per cent synthetic. Perhaps Rae thought they came from actual raspberries?

In the words of Sommer, “there is no research into the safety of this supplement and that’s worrying” – not to mention the damaging implications these kind of products have on our perception of self, and the body positive movement. “Sadly girls (and boys) are socially conditioned to start dieting either during puberty or before”. And when the vast majority of these young adults are school age, it makes for a worrying contribution to a platform which is already experiencing a rise in disordered eating content - ‘what I ate today’, ‘body check’ and even ‘eating disorder check’.

“There is no research into the safety of this supplement and that’s worrying” – Lucy Sommer, nutritional therapist 

As a social platform, TikTok is built on a call and response format where dance routines, memes, and lip syncs are shared, repeated and reposted. It is, for the most part, fun and ultimately innocuous but because of the app’s democratic algorithm (where content is not prioritised by follower count), trends are raised to viral popularity very quickly. While this contributes to the platform’s strong sense of community, in the wrong hands, it can rapidly become cultish.

With its serif typeface, pastel tones and informal copy, Rae’s metabolism drops have been consciously positioned alongside the social design of wellness. Generally speaking, it represents a sidestep from corporate health branding by bringing these companies closer to the principles of a lifestyle brand. With this, though, comes a certain kind of vagueness, one which can skew actual science for self-care credentials. The Goop effect. In Sommer’s words, Rae “has completely manipulated these terms in a way that makes you think the product should be a part of your everyday self-care routine”. 

@diannaingersoll

watch this do absolutely nothing #rae #raemetabolism #BeatTheZombieFunk #gummygame #fyp

♬ Blueberry Faygo - Lil Mosey

It’s proof that our issues with body image have mutated into something much more complex. Under the guise of self-love, we are being sold biological and spiritual upgrades, including parts of ourselves that we never knew needed an update. For the youth of today, it’s no longer just about being skinny – it’s about wellness, bio-hacks and self-optimisation. 

According to one reddit user, these drops have (quietly) been recalled from Target and the product has since been removed from the retailer’s website. A statement released by the brand explains this is not due to safety concerns, but rather, because it “became concerned (about) teenage girls misusing the product alongside conversations about weight loss.”

To be aligned with #thinspo and #weightloss is a bad look for any ‘wellness’ brand and underscores the dangers in these performative acts of self-care. And as the issue snowballs, Rae must take a duty of care to provide genuine transparency to its customers – an overdue measure to prevent both future misuse, and abuse. 

EDIT: Rae Wellness co-founder Angie Tebbe contacted Dazed Beauty with the following statement:We became aware of a disturbing trend on Tik Tok where teenage girls were misusing our Metabolism Drops. While there is no risk in taking this product as directed, we proactively paused the sale of these drops because this kind of conversation was antithetical to our values. The wellbeing of all women and the promotion of positive body images are essential to the foundation of this brand.”

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