TikTok make-up artists promote lube as a skin primer, claiming it helps foundation glide on, but experts say it could damage your skin

Asia's Tech News Daily

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TikTok make-up artists are using lubricant as a primer, saying it helps their foundation go on smoothly. But some dermatologists think there could be adverse effects.

Make-up artist and TikToker Lukas Kohutek first used lube as a primer in February 2019 and hasn’t stopped. Back then, the technique didn’t get much attention, but it has exploded since, with the #lubeprimer hashtag netting 8.7 million views.

The first time one of Kohutek’s lube videos went viral was in July this year, receiving 1.5 million views. But the trend has resurfaced recently after a user called Rady used it in a video demonstrating the “best make-up hacks” in September, racking up six million views. Since then, several other beauty creators have tried it, including Sean Anthony, who said it feels “glidy and smooth” and “grippy, which is amazing for primer”.

Kohutek, who has 14,000 followers on TikTok, where he posts creative make-up looks, said the method was actually recommended by his best friend’s mother as a skin care product “because it is supposedly great for healing up scars after breakouts”.

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A post shared by Lukáš Kohutek (@luke.ketuhok)

Silicone products have been clinically proven to help with scarring, according to US online health portal Healthline. While often silicone-based, lubricant is not typically designed to stay on the skin for long periods of time, and there is no consensus on whether it’s effective for this purpose.

“After a few weeks using it that way, I said to myself, that this can be great as a primer,” Kohutek said. “I tried it and loved the way my make-up looked and then used it almost every time I put on my make-up.”

Kohutek said he has a combination of oily and dry skin, which lube helps by hiding the dry patches. He said it “glides on beautifully” and his skin looks best when he uses it. He doesn’t know if lube makes his make-up last any longer, though, because his skin tends to look oily by the end of the day whatever he uses.

He still uses lube as a primer most of the time, and it is a staple part of his routine in most of his TikTok videos.

This isn’t the first time seemingly random items have gone viral for their apparent use as cosmetic products. In 2018, people began posting online about using K-Y Jelly, a type of lube, in their hair to support curls and prevent frizz. Make-up influencers also used a Nivea shaving balm as primer for a while in 2016.

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Influencer Sean Anthony applying lube to his face. Photo: Instagram/TikTok

Experts say the lube-as-primer trend could have negative consequences. Dermatologist Dr Geeta Yadav, the medical director and founder of Toronto-based clinic Skin Science Dermatology, says she sees the appeal of using lubricant on the skin, because it would help make-up “glide on much more smoothly”. But she also sees it as “illogical” because lube is designed to stay wet to prevent friction.

“It’s not a trick I’d encourage people relying on, especially on a regular basis,” she said. “All lubricants are different, but many of them could contribute to skin concerns such as breakouts and irritation.”

This is because oil-based lubricant formulas may contain ingredients that clog pores and seal congestion in, leading to blemishes, she said, while cooling or heating formulas could cause “significant irritation”.

Lou Sommereux, an aesthetic nurse and clinic director at the Cosmex Clinic in Cambridge in the UK, agreed, saying that most lubes contain ingredients such as nonoxynol-9, propylene glycol, and fragrance which can cause these skin concerns.

She said that while hydration is key to keeping the skin nourished, lube is essentially just a thick oil that will overload it and stick to dead skin cells.

“Thick, oily substances create an oxygen-free environment which allows acne-causing bacteria to develop and kills off the skin’s natural ‘friendly’ bacteria,” she said.

There’s also a risk of premature ageing, she added, because when you artificially saturate the skin’s surface with oil, it may stop producing it. This, Sommereux said, can lead to the skin “becoming critically dry”, which can increase the risk of wrinkles.

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Durex Aloe Vera Lube.

Still, Kohutek said he hasn’t experienced any breakouts or anything out of the ordinary as a result of his technique. “My skin is still in ‘teenage times’ so I have breakouts all the time, no matter what I use on my face,” he said.

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