Unfiltered Beauty: How Social Media is Influencing Beauty in 2023

Unfiltered Beauty: How Social Media is Influencing Beauty in 2023

You’ve probably scrolled through at least one of these kinds of videos on TikTok. An influencer cleaves your phone screen into two with a thin line of concealer drawn down her face. On one side she labels “2016”, and brushes on matte foundation, blends in a contrastingly light concealer, and thickly dabs on setting powder – known as “baking” – to set the make up in. The other side –  “2023”, the concealer takes on a more natural tone, blush replaces a glittery highlighter, and faux freckles are dotted on, a surprising contrast to 2016’s perfectly poreless look.

It’s only when we see videos like these that we realise just how quickly beauty trends evolve. Up on social media, discourse about the faux freckle trend (alongside others, such as the dark circle trend of the 2021s) spread with divisive views. Some claimed it celebrated diverse bodies, while others slammed it for trivialising people bullied for those very physical insecurities. 

The divisiveness, emotional responses, and rapid evolution of beauty trends highlight just how beauty, self-expression, and social media are tightly intertwined. We caught up with Penny Peng, Social Media Manager at Sephora China, to learn more about her relationship with social media and beauty, plus how we can maximise its benefits. 


Hey Penny! It’s great to meet you. With over 15 years of marketing and communications experience, and 6 of them spent at Sephora, tell us a little bit more about your beauty journey with social media. 

I’ve always been fascinated by beauty, and a big part of that has to do with the media – of course. Growing up, I’d see celebrities in magazines and idolise and mimic their clothes or fashion styles. In recent years, say from 2010, social media has really changed the game. Beauty lies in the voices of individuals who share their unique perspectives, superstars or otherwise. Even in the last decade, those platforms have rapidly evolved from pictures, to videos and TikToks, which also change the way we “present” beauty!

I’ve grown alongside those changes, both as a user and a professional. A big part of my work at Sephora blends the real and reel world, ensuring that our social media activities channel into our omnichannel experience for users. 


Speaking of self-expression, why is that so important for you? 

Self-expression goes beyond just letting others know how I’m feeling, it provides an opportunity to understand myself from the perspective of others. A simple piece of feedback about what I’m wearing or on my makeup can kickstart so many interesting conversations on both parties’ views on the world! 

Plus of course, it does wonders for your self-esteem. When you show up as your authentic self day after day, it builds confidence that seeps into other aspects of your life, like voicing your own opinions, or embarking on a new project. 

I think this should be a similar experience for most people – which is why I’m all for self-expression! I joined Sephora because I believe we empower people to pursue that. 


What are the biggest beauty trends dominating social media in 2023 according to you?

I think, paradoxically, the biggest trend “dominating” social media is the lack of any specific trends. Rather, we’re seeing more authentic, diversified and inclusive self expressions of beauty from curious “explorers” embracing different perspectives 


Interesting. So what are your plans for the future of self-expression? 

Well! I personally can’t wait to see how social media will evolve, especially with technology advancing so quickly. 10 years ago, who would’ve thought we’d be able to scroll through user-generated videos and photos for inspiration like we do today?

Furthermore, I hope everyone remembers to use social media as a space for good. I’ve seen the amazing work KOLs have done to build up their followers’ confidence and product knowledge, so I know social media can be a force for great positivity. Be kind and always be someone’s cheerleader!

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