Douyin makeup is a social media trend that has caught the beauty world by storm, but can I achieve it?

I’ve seen this makeup style on my timeline on Instagram as well as on Youtube. The results look so ethereal that I’ve often wondered if I could replicated on myself. If I could, how would it look? Would I like it on myself? I decided to get those answers.

The makeup style, named after the Chinese version of TikTok, brings a lot of East Asian makeup styles, such as the styles found in C-drama and K-dramas, together in one internet sensation. Teen Vogue described the style like this:

“[Douyin makeup] typically uses shimmery eyeshadow, pigmented pink blush and blurred lips…the Douyin makeup look itself is fairly simplistic and a successor to popular beauty trends we’re already familiar with that highlights a skin-first, minimalistic style.

The trend has often been compared or confused for K-beauty since both have the signature “aegyo-sal,” the Korean word describing the defined chubby eye bags you have seen on influencers and Korean actors. Teen Vogue also states that both beauty styles “emphasize a luminous, natural look.”

As one TikTok user explained in a video, there are subtle but key differences that separate the two looks,” the site continues. “For example, Korean beauty only uses a light, barely there minimal color on the eyes whereas Douyin uses a lot of glitter on the lids. Similarly, Douyin makeup really emphasizes the lashes by styling them in clusters, making them more dramatic than Korean lashes. This is called manhua, which is also a Chinese style of makeup.”

Breaking down Douyin makeup

Dear Peachie, Jessica Vu and Sham Hae are all YouTubers who have mastered the Douyin look.
Dear Peachie, Jessica Vu and Sham Hae are all YouTubers who have mastered the Douyin look. (YouTube)

The tenets of Douyin makeup are:

  • matte or slightly dewy (healthy) skin
  • natural-looking, full eyebrows
  • pink blush that reaches the eyes and goes across the face
  • focus on highlighted eye bags for youthful look
  • diffused lipstick
  • clumpy, lengthy lashes (the goal is for the lashes to look fluffy and sculptured)

Overall, the effect is supposed to give the wearer a youthful, effervescent, happy look. I would add “artificial” to that description, because the look is definitely one no one is truly born with. This is no “no makeup makeup” look, no matter how flawless the actors or YouTubers might look.

There are plenty of YouTubers you can look to for tutorials, but some I looked at were Jessica Vu, Dear Peachie, and most importantly for me as a Black woman, Sham Hae, a Black French Youtuber who successfully recreates the various East Asian makeup styles going viral on the internet.

With these and several other videos watched and some tips under my belt, I set out to recreate the look on myself. Here are the results:

Attempt 1-realizing this look is actually a lot more complicated than it seems

Before we get into what my first attempt looked like, let’s talk about how I usually wear my makeup.

I’ve gotten things down to a science. I have created at 15-minute makeup routine that includes a full face–foundation, concealer, blush, contour (sometimes, or reverse contouring with concealer), eyeliner and lipstick. I don’t usually wear eyebrow products. I also don’t usually wear mascara because it often falls in my eyes. I used to wear eyeshadow a lot, and I still have a sizable amount of eyeshadow that I still dip into from time to time, but I also quit wearing eyeshadow regularly because I felt it wasn’t always visible underneath my glasses. I especially don’t wear glitter eyeshadow because, like with mascara, the stuff falls in my eyes.  Also, out side of carving in my cheeks wither with contour or concealer (to achieve reverse contouring), I don’t contour other areas of my face, like my nose. I have not been someone who has thought their nose was too big or whatever, and on a racial side, I am proud of my Black nose.

My usual makeup routine
My usual makeup routine

As you can see from the graphic, I usually go for a light pin-up look with my makeup: a graphic cat-eye (which becomes toned down because of the glasses), natural, seamless blush, and a bold (usually red) lip. I’ve also been known to wear purple, red-orange or even black lipstick (black lipstick is rare for me, but I think I pull it off pretty well).

So, the first attempt of achieving Douyin makeup was, for most part, cool. However, because of my 15-minute routine, I realized putting on a Douyin face takes much, much longer, especially if you don’t have the hand memory for the style yet.

The longest thing to get halfway right were the eye bags. I still don’t know if I fully achieved it, but I realized that perhaps one of my hang ups is because I already have eye bags. They aren’t cute eye bags; they are tired eye bags. I can’t remember if I had these bags before the trauma of 2021 (my dad passing away), or if they are hereditary elements of my face and have just come in because I got older, or if it’s because of the horrible sleep I’m trying to correct. It could be all of the above or a mix of several of these elements. But suffice it to say, I have eye bags, and they aren’t very aesthetic. At certain points in the makeup, it seemed like I was creating a double eye bag situation by carving in one set of bags when I already have some on my face.

The blush application was something I’m already familiar with since it’s similar to how 1920s makeup utilizes blush. I sometimes do go for that in my makeup looks, so I liked that part of the application. What I didn’t like, though, were the thin eye-liner wings. Granted, I’m accustomed to a thicker wing, but the small wispy wing just seemed like it didn’t frame my eyes as well as I would like. The wings also got lost behind my glasses.

With this said, I think my first attempt at the look came out okay.

The first attempt at Douyin makeup was okay...but I thought I could do better.
The first attempt at Douyin makeup was okay…but I thought I could do better.

Attempt 2: A bit better

I tried again the next night, just to see if I could do better. The second time, I added a new technique I saw in a video–nose contouring. Again, I generally don’t contour my nose, but I was interested to see just how much of a difference it would make with the overall look.

Overall, I think the look is better the second time, but the most startling thing is seeing how nose contouring did change my face shape a little bit. Looking at the side-by-sides, it’s a little uncomfortable seeing the difference. We’ll see if I get into nose contouring, even in a reduced capacity, in the future–I think for right now, though, I’m going to stick to my normal nose.

Can you see the difference in my nose? Also, just note the difference in my face overall--different makeup applications really do change things.
Can you see the difference in my nose? Also, just note the difference in my face overall–different makeup applications really do change things.

Another thing I added was a more concentrated under-eye corner shadow. I think I might have done this in the first attempt, but I know I upped the ante in this second attempt. I was very interested to see what that would do since this same technique is something Marilyn Monroe’s makeup artist would do for her eyes. The reason for this effect is to make it look like your top eyelashes are so heavy and full they are casting a shadow on your face. It’s a very easy way to add some femininity and flirtatiousness to your look.

In both attempts, I feel my lips didn’t come out as diffused as they could have. I did my best to just keep the lipstick in the center of my lips and just feather it out by rubbing my lips together. But perhaps it’s because I keep using red lipstick that my lips don’t look as diffused as they could; other lighter, pinker colors might look more diffused with the least amount of effort. However, finding a good, light pink or blush lip color for Black skin tones can potentially be a challenge, especially if you’re using all East Asian makeup. But finding a good pink or nude color isn’t my issue; my issue is just that I love the color red on the lips.

Overall, I think the look came out pretty good.

The second attempt at Douyin makeup
The second attempt at Douyin makeup

Attempt 3: The final version–making the trend fit my face

I was going to leave the second attempt as my final attempt. But after a few days of hemming and hawing, I felt like I could still do better.

So this final time, I decided to remind myself that I don’t have to follow the rules–rules are made to be broken, or at least bent, and I needed to bend some of these rules for my face.

So my attack plan included:

More contour on my face–I wanted to still follow the “little to no contour” rule as much as possible since that seems like a big part of the look. But there’s also the fact that Douyin makeup also relies a lot on blending. This means that I can actually contour my face, as long as I blend it out to look seamless. Another video I watched also showed someone contouring the perimeter of their face in order to get the Douyin face shape, so I felt like I could at least do that. I still didn’t contour my cheekbones, which is something I usually do in my regular makeup routine. But if I ever did this look again, I would do that as well, because as someone with big cheeks, I feel like my cheekbones need the definition.

A little larger eye liner–A lot of Douyin videos show a small wing. Even the thickest wing I’ve seen is still not as thick as I usually apply eye liner. My reasoning for applying liner so thickly is because I want to frame my eyes, especially since I wear glasses. I feel like between my glasses and fat cheeks, my facial features can get lost, so I want to create areas of impact, and one of my favorite areas to create that impact is with my eyes. By wearing smaller liner, I felt like my face was unfinished, so I decided to punch up the liner a touch to make me feel more comfortable.

Actually diffuse the lips–Another video I watched showed someone putting eyeshadow on their lips and wearing gloss over top. That actually created the diffused lip look I wanted, so I did that as well. I really like how that turned out and my wear my lips like that on occasion in the future, particularly on days I don’t feel like wearing the whole shebang of red lipstick.

Bolder blush–my blush applications in the first two attempts never seemed punchy enough, so I decided to really go for it this time. I actually apply my makeup without wearing my glasses, and while you might think that’s weird since I need my glasses to see, it’s actually an advantage for me. I still have to get close to the mirror (I’m nearsighted), but for areas I want to be bold, I make sure to apply the makeup so that I can see it without my glasses. If I can see it with my poor eyesight, I know others with better eyesight will be able to see it. So that’s how I applied my blush specifically. I kept piling it on so that I could see. I also think this method allows me to be less inhibited, and I realized that I was being too cautious with my blush in the first two attempts.

My third and final attempt at Douyin makeup.
My third and final attempt at Douyin makeup.

Here’s the full breakdown of how I achieved the look, including the products I used:

Foundation and concealer: Florasis Floral Essences Balancing Fitting Foundation in N70 Ocher, Kaja Beauty Don’t Settle concealer in Candied Ginger and Chai Pudding

Contour: Fenty Beauty Match Stix bundle (Caramel, Truffle)

Shimmery eyeshadow: Kaja Beauty Eye Bento Bouncy Eyeshadow Trio in Glowing Guava, Florasis Floral Engraving Phoenix Makeup Palette in Gold Brown

Eye liner: Nyx Cosmetics Epic Ink liner in Black

Blush: Kaja Beauty Cutie Bento Cheek and Lip Trio–Discontinued, Danessa Myricks Beauty Dewy Cheek and Lip palette in Flirty

Lips: Kaja Beauty Eye Bento Bouncy Eyeshadow Trio in Glowing Guava, Kaja Beauty Gloss Shot lip gloss

Mascara: Sephora/generic brand

My final attempt with Douyin makeup.
My final attempt with Douyin makeup.

Final thoughts

After reflecting on the process, the outcome, and the results in my pictures, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Douyin look…is just not for me.

It could be user error–maybe I need to practice more or use different eye products, particularly when it comes to creating the eye bags (I used concealer and lighter nude eye shadows, some of which shown the first look were from Beauty Bakerie, whom I’ve written about in my book, The Book of Awesome Black Americans). However, I feel like certain aspects of the look don’t frame my face the way I’d like. For instance, the eyes; I like my eyes to be a focus via eye liner. I don’t love how thin the Douyin eyeliner has to be because for me, the thin liner makes my makeup look half-done. But that’s because I’m used to defining my eyes with thick liner and I’m also competing with my glasses.

To that point, I wonder how glasses-friendly this look is in general. With so much shimmer and eye bag makeup, how much of those details can be seen behind glasses? I know one trend in East Asia are large, round glasses with thin wire rims, and these glasses provide a lot of real estate for eyeshadows and thin liners to be seen. Technically, I have big glasses, but my frames aren’t made to disappear into the face unlike the round trendy glasses. My glasses are, in a sense, face jewelry since they are meant to be visible due to their black rims. Therefore, I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping my eye looks rather simple with the liner being the boldest part.

There are elements of the style that I do like, though. As I wrote above, I am all for applying 1920s-style blush and even wearing a diffused lip. I don’t always want to have a strong pin-up lip, and sometimes I just throw on a bit of lipstick or tinted lip gloss and call it a day. Sometimes I even wear flesh-colored lipstick when I might want to wear something on my lips, but don’t feel like being flashy. I also like the trick of making your eye lashes look heavier with that corner contour. I might use that again.

But there are elements I will probably rarely pull out again, such as wearing mascara (which did get in my eyes), wearing shimmer (even though it was pretty) and contouring my nose (which was a weird experience).

Overall, I think there are a lot of elements that I’d probably need practice with. However, this isn’t a look that I’m not sure completely fits my face as well as it does other people. It’s a cute look, but it’s not a look that screams “me” in my spirit.

I will say this though–something very important I learned is that when it comes to makeup trends, it is all about fitting the trend to fit your face. There is a face shape and face type that many people see when it comes to Douyin. Does that mean you can’t wear that makeup if you feel the rules don’t fit your face, but you really love the makeup style? No! You can wear the makeup style, but you’ve just got to fit the style to your face.

For instance, my big cheeks–the Douyin makeup trend doesn’t necessarily promote carving out your cheeks. But I feel I need some carved-out cheekbones because otherwise, you can’t see my cheekbones. So if I did this makeup style again, I’d most definitely carve out my cheekbones. The Douyin trend also doesn’t glamorize heavy eye liner. But do I think heavier eye liner looks good on me? Yes! So I’m going to bend the rules a bit and create a heavier line–maybe not as heavy as I would normally do it, but heavy enough to where I feel like my eyes have the impact I want. None of this means I’m not doing Douyin makeup; I’m just bending the rules to my will. That’s what trends are about–making them your own.

What do you think, though? Do you think the look fits me? Or, what are your favorite Douyin makeup tips? Give your opinions and comments below.

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