First came beauty editors, sharing insider tips and tricks through the pages of a glossy magazine. Then came makeup gurus, explaining how to master the perfect smoky eye from the comfort of their bedroom. Now, a new type of beauty expert has emerged amongst the viral space with even more clout than both its predecessors combined.
Enter: TikTok skinfluencers. The next-gen beauty influencers teaching us how to take care of our skin from their mobile device… in 60 seconds or less.
With hashtags raking up billions of views and product recommendations flying off shelves at record rates, skincare TikTok is infiltrating our feeds, and as a result our beauty shelves, faster and more universally than we’ve ever seen before. This explosion is in part due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic— with lots of time on our hands and limited access to professional services, consumers are looking for affordable skincare treatments we can do at home.
Drugstore brands like The Ordinary and Cerave have seen particular success thanks to TikTok endorsements this year. In February, as the Western world phased into lockdown, The Ordinary sold over 100,000 bottles of the 30% AHA + 2% BHA Peeling Solution in just two weeks after it went viral on the app. Similarly, L’Oréal reported over 40% growth in its Active Cosmetics Division for Q1 2020 sales because of its brands like Cerave— the OG product range to blow up on TikTok with skinfluencer support.
Basically, 2020 has created the perfect storm for skincare TikTok to flourish, thus turning beauty creators into unsung social media heroes throughout quarantine.
One such hero that’s swept our feeds in recent months is New York City-based content creator Ben Neiley.
Known for integrating science-led skincare advice with timely TikTok trends, Ben has quickly become one of the most valuable skinfluencers on the platform. His snappy and educational videos provide nearly 550K followers with the evidence-based facts they need to know in order to make informed purchasing decisions. Amongst product recommendations and ingredient explainers, Ben weaves information about politics, social justice, and human rights throughout his content. It’s this authenticity that’s made Ben one of the fastest-growing skincare creators on the platform despite the global health crisis.
We caught up with the rising star on his personal skincare journey, the pressures of his new-found viral fame, and his top product picks that he could never live without.
Born and raised in Colorado, Ben struggled with his skin for years growing up. “In high school I had extremely severe acne and tried a wide variety of over-the-counter products as well as prescription treatments,” he told Centennial Beauty. “I found myself constantly frustrated by the volume of products available that made incredible claims but didn’t actually help my skin – and in many cases made it worse.”
It was this frustration that first inspired the 23-year-old to explore skincare, particularly, the “how and why” behind products and ingredients that worked. While studying both marketing and history at NYU, Ben began working in the beauty industry in 2017, foraying into content creation earlier this year.
“Back in March I noticed that skincare was starting to have a moment on TikTok,” he says. “And thought the platform provided a great opportunity to share my interest with the world! So, I decided to give it a go, and the rest is history!”
Since posting his first video, the viral star has amassed a cult following that turn to him for advice, support, and inspo. “I’ve always been really interested in content creation,” Ben explains. “I love sharing my product recommendations, tips, and other knowledge with the world. When I think about the content I create I often think to myself, ‘Ben, what’s the kind of knowledge and information you wish someone had been sharing when you were struggling with your skin?’ – and I try to be that person for my viewers.”
This strategy has clearly worked for Ben, as he’s recently been able to transition into content creation full-time.
“I try my hardest to be really genuine with my viewers, and I think that resonates with them,” he says of building his platform so quickly. “I’m very open about my own lived experience with having bad acne and the fact that I still struggle with breakouts, scarring, etc. – which I think helps because I’ve never been the person who just got lucky with perfect skin. I’m also really picky about the brands I work with – I have really high standards for what I put on my skin, and I keep those same standards for what I share with my viewers! Their trust in me is something I never take lightly, so I work really diligently to make sure the products I recommend will hopefully deliver amazing results for them!”
It’s these high standards that keep Ben motivated and constantly striving to do better. “I always want my content to be my absolute best,” he explains of the pressure he feels to consistently produce high-quality content for his growing audience. “I never want to let my viewers down. What started as a hobby has turned into a serious venture with a significant platform, and there’s a lot of responsibility that comes along with it. I take it very seriously – as any content creator should – but it’s definitely a lot of pressure.”
All things considered, the pros of viral stardom have greatly outweighed the cons according to the 23-year-old, despite internet trolls and occasional criticism (which he takes “as objectively and openly as I can.”) On the best part of his newfound career, Ben says, “Connecting with my viewers. I see their messages and comments about how my advice and/or product recommendations have helped them on their skincare journey, and it always makes my day. It’s amazing to be able to connect with so many people, and hearing the ways I’ve been able to help people makes it all worth it.”
A constant source of inspiration to his audience, there are a handful of creators Ben looks to for guidance himself. “I love watching Liah Yoo’s videos so much – she is so calming and knowledgeable, and I trust her opinion so much. Plus, she started one of my favorite brands – Krave Beauty!”
He also names Joan Kim for her “aesthetically pleasing” vlogs, foodie TikTok creator @Lahbco for his beautiful recipe videos, and @geodesaurus for her knowledgable TikToks about lakes around the world.
Amidst all the noise, it can be difficult for TikTok users, or beginners in general, to navigate their skincare journey when first starting out. Aside from seeking professional advice from a dermatologist, Ben suggests taking it slow and being gentle with your skin. “It’s easy to go overboard with things like exfoliating acids and retinol because those products always have such marvelous claims attached to them, but it’s important to also focus on hydrating, strengthening, nourishing, and protecting your skin.”
And most importantly? “Don’t forget to wear sunscreen every single day, no matter what!”
So, after trialing and testing hundreds of skincare products over the years, we were desperate to know… what’s the one skincare product that famed skinfluencer Ben Neiley could never live without…
“I’d probably have to choose the Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence. It’s the product that first got me into skincare, and has been a staple in my routine for so many years. It’s hydrating, strengthening, works well on my acne-prone skin – and it’s just one that I always come back to time and time again.”
*Immediately adds to cart.*
Ben’s Top Picks
Favourite Drugstore Product
Favourite Mid-Range Product
Favourite Luxury Product