The TikTok teens are at it again. This time they’re … drawing on eye bags? According to the New York Times, Gen-Zers are switching out their nude concealers for brown makeup products as they try to accentuate their dark under eyes, rather than hide them. The trend is rooted in the idea that dark circles should be normalized, since they’re something everyone deals with. Although this sounds lovely in theory, it’s more complicated in reality — especially for people who have spent years (and countless amounts of money) trying to cover up their own under-eye areas. Below, several Cut editors discuss.
Alexia LaFata, SEO editor: Cannot believe dark under-eye circles are now a trend. Literally all I do is try to hide mine.
Izzy Grinspan, deputy style editor: One of my childhood friends had an extremely chic mom who always had visible dark circles. They made her look interesting and mysterious, like she’d been up all night with her handsome young lover. So I’ve always thought they were kind of sexy.
Irin Carmon, senior correspondent: This is well timed for those of us up all night for uncool reasons, like babies going through sleep regression.
Lauren Leibowitz, editor: Can the TikTok teens do wrinkles next? “Rebelling against beauty standards.”
Stella Bugbee, editor at large: I love the dark circles trend!
Amanda Arnold, staff writer: I only get eye bags, no darkness :(
Alexia: I don’t like the trend, as someone who has extremely dark circles. I don’t know why I don’t like it. I think it’s because it’s strange to watch such specific parts of the female body go in and out of style. Now something of mine is allegedly “in style,” and I just know how fleeting it will be.
Izzy: Right, and the people showing off the trend on TikTok all conform to conventional beauty notions in every other way.
Kathleen Hou, beauty director: Only people who have one chic line of darkness are into this. Not if your whole undereye is dark, like mine.
Alexia: Yeah, mine are not at all chic. They are punched-in-the-face dark.
Kathleen: I’m all for normalizing things, but these people don’t have dark eye circles to begin with!
Lauren: Call me when they start drawing on zits.
Izzy: There was a runway show in Milan a few years ago where the beauty look was deliberate acne!
Lauren: Oh no!
Izzy: There’s also the whole acne-positivity movement, which feels like a good thing but, again, often seems to apply only to people who conform to every other beauty standard. It all kind of reminds me of this old story about how women are only allowed to have three wrinkles.
Stella: THREE WRINKLES!!! I forgot about this post.
I think the dark circles are more about a rejection of wellness culture, and I like it from that perspective. Like “heroin chic” in the ’90s.
Alexia: Are the teens doing it because of wellness rejection? I feel like they just think it looks cool.
Izzy: The Times article floats the idea that people are really, really tired right now, and this is a way of expressing it.
Lauren: And yet, no “sleep less” tutorials …
Kathleen: This is the editorial way of showing fatigue.
Stella: I don’t think they KNOW it’s a rejection of wellness culture, but it is. It’s a rejection of the sunny Instagram “Everything is fine, I’m perfect and drinking smoothies” thing.
Kathleen: But couldn’t they just show their regular skin, then? Without makeup? This feels like romanticizing dark circles.
Alexia: The dark circles they’re drawing on are NOTHING, though! In reality, the teens would never want circles like mine.
Kathleen: I love the idea of rejecting perfect sunny wellness culture. I just don’t think it’s this.
Alexia: Yeah, I just feel in my bones it isn’t that.
Kathleen: I think that’s more apparent in all of the real talk on TikTok about mental health awareness and therapy. Dark eye circles are mostly just a very French beauty thing.
Alexia: Even if this is an attempt to normalize dark circles, it comes up short to me. It’s like those plus-size brands that only go up to a size 16 and think that’s enough.
Lauren: Is it important that the circles have to be fake? And is faking “imperfection” the same as faking perfection?
Kathleen: I guess TikTok is all fake! As we learned from trying that green TikTok cream.
Alexia: LOL, everything’s fake.
Kathleen: There are actually way more TikToks about how to hide your dark circles than there are about making fake ones. And the woman whose fake dark circles went viral said she was kind of doing it as a joke.
Izzy: So maybe everything is fake … including this trend.