Love it or hate it TikTok is one of the fastest growing digital platforms and has become an essential marketing platform for beauty brands. In fact, TikTok has surpassed other digital platforms like Instagram and YouTube among Gen Z (according to market research firm Mintel). There is no magic formula for knowing why products go viral. But understanding what consumers want and the science behind the products can inspire how you formulate and market your products. You can also become a more informed consumer!
One product that has been a viral sensation on TikTok is KP BUMP ERASER BODY SCRUB 10% AHA by First Aid Beauty. This product was introduced several years ago but thanks to a TikTok video in the Summer 2021, content views and product searches soared, leading to the highest ever weekly sales for the product.
Let’s take a look at the formula and why this product has catapulted into popularity.
As we have written about before, there are basically three categories of ingredients including:
- Functional – ingredients that deliver the claimed product benefits
- Aesthetic modifiers – ingredients that improve the usability of the formula
- Claims (or hero ingredients) - ingredients that support the marketing or brand story but often don’t provide any measurable benefit
Primary purpose and claims:
A body scrub that claims to sweep away dry, rough bumps associated with KP (keratosis pilaris), strawberry skin and bumps to reveal healthier, smoother skin.
Thick, opaque paste-like scrub packaged in a tube - retails for $30 for 8oz (on firstaidbeauty.com).
pumice, water/aqua/eau, glycolic acid, sodium cocoyl isethionate, lactic acid, dimethicone, stearic acid, cetearyl alcohol, sodium hydroxide, palmitic acid, glycerin, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, sorbitol, colloidal oatmeal, tocopherol, chrysanthemum parthenium (feverfew) extract, camellia sinensis leaf extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, salix nigra (willow) bark extract, bisabolol, hydrogenated coconut acid, xanthan gum, steareth-20, steareth-21, myristic acid, sodium isethionate, phenoxyethanol, potassiumsorbate, sodium benzoate, leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate, edta
- Glycolic acid and Lactic acid are chemical exfoliants that are part of the broader AHA category (Alpha Hydroxy Acids). They facilitate the shedding of dead skin cells to improve skin tone and texture
- Pumice (powder sourced from finely ground volcanic stone) is a physical exfoliant that removes dead skin cells to improve skin tone
- Sodium cocoyl isethionate is a mild anionic surfactant that provides gentle cleansing and moisturizing benefits
- Water is the primary solvent
- Phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, EDTA and leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate comprise the preservative system. Although it’s questionable whether you really need the radish root ferment in there since it is not a particularly effective preservative.
- Dimethicone is a low viscosity silicone polymer that provides good slip and skin feel, making the product more aesthetically pleasing to apply
- Stearic acid is the emulsifying agent to produce a stable product that won’t separate
- Cetearyl alcohol acts as the thickener and has some emulsifying properties as well
- Sodium Hydroxide is an alkaline ingredient that stabilizes the pH of acidic formulas
- Palmitic acid is a fatty acid that is used to improve product consistency and build viscosity.
- C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate is a low-molecular weight ester of benzoic acid and C12-15 alcohols and is used to improve skin feel and reduce drag when applying
- Sorbitol acts as a humectant and mild emollient
- There are a few other stabilizers used to improve product feel and performance but the above ingredients are the primary aesthetic modifiers
- Colloidal oatmeal, tocopherol, chrysanthemum parthenium (feverfew) extract, camellia sinensis leaf extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, salix nigra (willow) bark extract, bisabolol, hydrogenated coconut acid
What it means?
This scrub uses a combination of chemical and physical exfoliants to smooth and brighten the skin, which is its primary purpose. The aesthetic modifiers are included to promote skin feel, improve product application and of course, keep the product stable. I think the list of ingredients is a bit excessive but overall this is a good scrub formula that largely lives up to its claims.
One reason TikTok has become a big player in beauty is the visual and authentic nature of the platform. Before & After videos from “real people” are compelling and can easily showcase product benefits and results - something that has been particularly transformative for the First Aid Beauty Body Scrub.
As formulators, the marketing behind your product is often as important (if not more) than the product itself. Leveraging platforms like TikTok can be beneficial in creating buzz and can offer a great (and free) resource for keeping abreast of industry trends.