Extremely Online

Here’s Why So Many TikTok Videos Start With The Creator Applying Lip Gloss

It works like a charm.

What to know about the lip gloss trick on TikTok.

Once you start to scroll on TikTok, it can feel impossible to stop and watch a video in full. You might pause just long enough to hear a blip about a new fashion trend, half of a comedian’s joke, or a bit about someone’s toxic ex before you get bored and swipe away. But if someone starts applying lip gloss while saying their piece, it’s a different story.

Many creators will swipe on a balm as they start their video to grab your attention, and it’s become such a trend that it officially has a name: meet the “lip gloss tactic.” New influencers do it to boost their views, but mega-social media stars like Alix Earle and Eloise Dufka are fans of it, too.

It doesn’t matter if the creator is swiping on the latest drop from Rhode, the shiniest gloss from Summer Fridays, or a blob of half-melted Burt’s Bees. If they’re smearing something on, there’s a good chance you’ll stop and watch their entire three-minute video.

Most of the time, the content isn’t even about the lip gloss itself, but the visual is still enough to reel you in. Here’s why it works.

What Is The Lip Gloss Tactic?

In a video posted in October, which now has over 40,000 views, creator @juliabroome admitted she uses the “lip gloss tactic” all the time — and she said it works like a charm.

The trick, she explained, is to hold or put on a lip product at the start of a video. As an example, she pointed to creator @anastazia who put on a lip product as she made an unrelated video about a trip to Erewhon.

“[The lip gloss tactic] is basically your hook without having to have a hook,” Broome said. “Consciously, or subconsciously, a viewer is more likely to stop and watch your video while you’re simultaneously doing something else.”

It’s the most subtle trick ever, but once you see it you’ll notice that so many creators are doing it. Under Broome’s video, one person commented, “Absolutely been noticing this hook” while another wrote, “It’s EVERYWHERE!”

Here’s Why The “Lip Gloss Tactic” Works

In a world where everyone is so easily distracted and always on the lookout for their next dose of dopamine, it’s becoming more necessary for TikTokers to instantly grab a viewer’s attention. In the biz, that’s what’s known as a “hook.”

The next time you’re scrolling, compare the TikToks where creators put on lip gloss to the ones where they just sit and yap at the camera and then ask yourself which one you’re more likely to watch.

According to licensed psychologist Dr. Michele Leno, Ph.D., LP, videos with a visual hook are way more likely to pull you in, especially on an app where there’s always something new and exciting to see.

Broome noted that this psychological trick is the same reason GRWM videos — a topic with over 347 million views on TikTok — also pull in big numbers. When you think about it, most creators aren’t talking about their makeup or their outfits, but they’ll still put on concealer, line their eyes, or pull on a jacket as they talk so that you have something to watch. Meanwhile, the real topic of the video is a dating horror story, a money-saving tip, or how they deal with their anxiety.

According to Leno, a hook can be something major — like when someone’s sobbing in a video — but it can also be subtle, lighthearted, and fun. Applying lip gloss is the perfect example of a lighthearted hook, likely because it’s something anyone would do when talking to an actual friend on FaceTime.

“When perusing videos, we want to feel comfortable and safe,” says Leno, which is why realistic habits are so nice to see. It’s relaxing to watch someone glide on a gloss, and as a bonus, it might also put the creator at ease. “It can reduce anxiety, create a welcoming environment, and imply that [we’re all] here for casual conversation,” she adds.

Of course, using a pretty lip product also increases the chance that a viewer will hop into the comments to ask about it, which helps even more with engagement.

According to Leno, though, hooks don’t last forever, especially once they become too noticeable or popular.

After all, the whole point of a hook is to make your video more interesting and to help it stand out in the sea of the FYP.

Now that the lip gloss tactic has been around for a few months, it’s likely another viral hook is on the horizon.


Dr. Michele Leno, Ph.D., LP, licensed psychologist