Pin It
28A033CC-CE66-4B4A-B886-2ADC3FB40015

No TikTok, my dark circles are not a beauty trend


TextGunseli Yalcinkaya

Teens on TikTok are drawing on under-eye bags with make-up and racking up millions of hits

It’s Christmas Eve 2016 and I’ve just been fired from my barista job in Bristol. The owner sits me on a bench and tells me that, among my many faults (I regularly put the salad in the wrong order, apparently), are the dark circles under my eyes. “It’s not presentable,” he says, adding, “you should put some make-up on, you look exhausted”.

Fast-forward a couple of years and I’m in the cramped kitchen of my east London office. The accountant, a middle-aged woman who we’ll call Jo*, appears around the corner, stopping dead in her tracks. “Have you been in a car accident?” she asks me in a tone resembling a cold call about PPI insurance. “No,” I answer, suspiciously, “why?”

“Your eyes are bruised,” she responds, before vanishing into a flurry of Nespresso and oat milk.

Minor intrusions like this are commonplace if, like me, your eyebags are dark and hereditary (thanks, mum). Growing up as a Turkish child in suburban Bedford, I was always conscious of the pronounced shadows under my eyes – a common complaint among people of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent. The insecurity continued into my teens, where I’d spend hours obsessing over lashings of concealer, which I’d smear onto my face like thick plaster. My teachers would call my parents into school to ask if I was getting enough sleep, while friends nicknamed me ‘panda’ – a bizarre pet name, but it stuck nonetheless.

As I’ve grown older, the pressure to appear conventionally attractive has waned, and I’ve grown to embrace my under-eyes. Besides, there’s something rather authentic about looking worn-out and exhausted. I mean, it’s 2021 (who doesn’t have eyebags?). Since entering my 20s, other people’s bags have begun to catch up with my own, and I’m no longer the freakish child with the terminally tired eyes. In fact, dark under-eyes are now apparently so common that, like the much maligned freckle before it, they’re becoming a hot commodity – especially now they’re trending on TikTok.

@abbyroberts

eye bag trend but make it ✨glam✨

♬ original sound - Slowedsoundgyal😜

Since late December, the make-up community on TikTok have shared videos that show them creating dark circles and under-eye bags with lipstick, eye shadow, and other beauty products. The videos, according to the users, are meant to encourage viewers to embrace their natural skin and feel confident in their insecurities.

It started with Sara Carstens, an influencer with 73 million followers, who posted a TikTok of herself using lipstick to apply eye bags. The post has been viewed more than 6.8 million times and has attracted over a million likes, but also received “a lot of hate” from those who accused her of making fun of others’ insecurities.

Carstens later made a follow-up video explaining that her intention was not to “make fun” of people with dark circles, but to “normalise” them. She then continued to explain that she has eye bags herself, and that they’re a “big insecurity” for her. She added: “Next time you come across someone embracing or enhancing your insecurities, maybe feel flattered instead!”

“Eye bags and dark circles shouldn’t go in and out of trend,” she added. ”The intention behind the video was simply to normalise them and embrace insecurities! I myself know what it’s like to be bullied for insecurities, such as for my ‘big sticking-out ears’ – but just like my dark circles, I’ve decided to show everyone how beautiful they can be.”

@daniellemarcan

@sarathefreeelf and @abbyroberts made me do it

♬ Greek Tragedy (Oliver Nelson TikTok Remix) - The Wombats

Similar to Instagram’s #UnibrowMovement hashtag, Carstens’ comments, though seemingly well-intentioned, highlight the double standards in the beauty community: Middle Eastern and South Asian women have been finding ways to hide their ‘undesirable’ bags for years, but when a conventionally attractive (and white) person decides to flaunt hers, it becomes something desirable. For many women, dark under-eyes are a source of embarrassment, not a trend to be used and forgotten. Unlike a TikTok trend, our eyebags are here to stay.

“My eyebags are not your trend,” said one commenter. “I did not spend 18 years trying to cover these up for them to become trendy,” quipped another. A quick look at the #dark circles hashtag on TikTok will, ironically, bring up a mix of white girls adding them on and women of colour telling you how to hide them.

Then again, accentuating under-eye shadows isn’t a new phenomenon, especially among less conventional beauty circles – last year, Grimes revealed that she enhances her bags with red eyeshadow to make herself look “more demonic”.

While I won’t be enhancing my bags any time soon, there’s no point in policing other peoples’ make-up choices either. Besides, I can’t help but feel deeply amused by the idea of bored teens purposefully trying to make themselves look more burnt-out and haggard than they actually are (just wait a couple of years imo). I wonder if the trend would still exist if we weren’t all trapped in our homes with nothing to do other than fane sleep deprivation. If their bags are fake, mine are designer, baby!

Read Next
Goop Labs
Gwyneth Paltrow’s kombucha and kimchi COVID advice criticised by NHS Beauty news
valentino voce viva lady gaga fragrance campaign
Valentino Beauty’s newest fragrance helps celebrate your voice and strength Product of the Week
folx health lgbtq trans healthcare hormones
FOLX Health is rewriting the script for LGBTQ+ healthcare Beauty Feature
cara delevingne model haircut hair shag trend
Cara Delevingne’s new shag haircut brings the hair trend into 2021 Beauty news
kris jenner skin skincare brand beauty
Step aside Kim & Kylie: Kris Jenner wants her own beauty brand Beauty news
skin skincare skinimalism trend regime
Why skinimalism, skincare’s fave new trend, is anti-capitalism repackaged Beauty Feature
furmaan ahmed non-binary photographer set designer artist
Furmaan Ahmed’s surreal atmospheric world is an escape from mundane reality Art Director
mona leanne makeup artist product review highlighter
This make-up must-have will give any look an ethereal iridescence Product of the Week
george jasper stone digital artist cgi
George Jasper Stone’s digital utopias meld the natural and unnatural artist
retinol skin glowing skincare
12 of the best retinols for glowing, rejuvenated skin products
Huda Beauty – Article Cover
How to win yourself a Huda Beauty Mercury Retrograde palette Beauty news
the c-list cancer beauty platform self-care
The C-List is the new platform making beauty safe for cancer patients Beauty Feature
lil uzi vert pink diamond forehead implant
Lil Uzi Vert on why he got his $24m pink diamond forehead implant Beauty news
goop vibrator sex toy sexual wellness
Goop just dropped its first vibrator Beauty news
ephemeral made to fade temporary tattoo ink
Ephemeral’s made-to-fade tattoos will change the industry forever Beauty Feature
TikTok Republicans
Seeing red: TikTokers are transforming into their Republican alter egos Beauty news