The Lip Gloss Hack of TikTok – The New York Times


Suppose this article were a TikTok video, the author would be putting on lip gloss right at this moment. Unscrewing the cap on a tube of rosy liquid and swiping it generously across pursed lips. Mwah!

The act of applying lip gloss in the first few seconds of an internet video is a subtle technique that creators and influencers use to capture attention – preferably without viewers even realizing why they were compelled to pause scrolling.

And once you notice it, you can’t unnoticed it.

An influencer setting off to do grocery shopping at Erewhon in Los Angeles. A clip of Kristin Cavallari, star of “Laguna Beach,” sitting in her car lip-syncing. A nutritionist sharing strategies on how to control your cravings.

What do these performances have in common? They all start with a lip gloss introduction.

Julia Broome, a social media manager in Los Angeles, refers to this makeup technique as the “lip gloss tactic” and includes it among various other subliminal hooks in a recent video. Other examples include beginning a video while adjusting the camera to create the illusion of a spontaneous idea, and wearing bracelets that produce satisfying clicks and clacks, known online as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response or A.S.M.R.

“It’s like performing a magic trick right in front of your eyes, and you can’t quite figure out what’s happening, but you can’t look away,” said Mr. Broome, 27.

She mentioned that she has used the lip gloss trick in her own videos, where she regularly provides social media strategies and tips, until an observant viewer called her out on it.

Michelle Onorato, who works in hospitality marketing, attested, “When influencers do things like that, it makes you feel like they’re talking to you personally. It’s like a FaceTime call. You almost get pulled into thinking you’re actually having a conversation with that person.”

Ms. Broome emphasized that many of those who start their videos by applying lipstick or lip gloss are not trying to sell cosmetics.

“There are major creators who use the lip gloss tactic as their bait,” she pointed out, mentioning popular influencers Paige Lorenze and Alix Earle. “They’re discussing something entirely different, and distracting you with their lip gloss. You can see half of the comments discussing what she’s actually talking about, the real substance of the video, and the other half of the comment section is like, ‘Where can I purchase that lip gloss?'”

TikTok is home to a whole community of creators, like Ms. Broome, whose videos aim to help aspiring influencers create content that will be favored by the platform’s algorithm.

Brittani Cunningham, a social media strategist and manager, advises her clients to make sure they’re mobile while filming. “Just sitting in front of the phone or camera can become monotonous,” said Ms. Cunningham, 27, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Ms. Broome is not concerned that exposing these successful engagement strategies will diminish their effectiveness.

“From a consumer’s standpoint, it offers a different perspective, like, ‘I’m not sure if I want to be lured into a video like that. I’m not sure if I want to be manipulated to stay on someone’s page for this reason, or to be sold this product,'” she said.

Ms. Broome has more social media techniques up her sleeve. As with many online trends, she noted, as soon as one becomes established, another is poised to replace it.

“Alix Earle does something all the time that I don’t think anyone has caught onto yet,” she disclosed.

Ms. Broome generously revealed the undisclosed technique: Pretending to be running late while hastily filming a video.

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