With beauty hacks and 15-second makeup tutorials becoming as common on TikTok as “#renegade” and “#savage,” cosmetics brands are flocking to the platform.

Recognizing that Gen Z remains stuck at home with nothing to do apart from their Zoom classes, brands across industries have been upping their content investments on the short-video platform. TikTok has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times, according to SensorTower. During the quarantine period, it has been the second-most-downloaded app in the United States after Zoom, based on App Annie rankings. Expanding beyond the core dance and lip-sync videos that were the app’s claim to fame, TikTok has been working to make itself a welcoming place for beauty. Following the earliest adopters who joined the app in 2018 and 2019, a growing roster of beauty labels has been launching new accounts and sponsored hashtag challenges in 2020. 

TikTok beauty content that goes viral has been generating serious sales for the brands behind them. Deciem’s The Ordinary recently saw a 426% sales spike in its AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution after the product caught on among the platform’s acne-positive teens. The hashtag #theordinary currently has 48.7 million views, with the top 15 posts on the hashtag all about the Peeling Solution. The brand’s TikTok popularity was completely organic and not boosted by paid influencers, according to a Deciem spokesperson. It prompted the brand to officially launch its TikTok account on February 14 this year, posting about the cult product in its first video. 

Other beauty brands that have posted videos on official accounts for the first time in 2020 include Milk Makeup, Glamglow, Wander Beauty, Ole Henrickson, Beautycounter, Lime Crime, Nudestix and Glow Recipe. Among an index of 143 of the world’s top global beauty brands, 15% now operate an official TikTok account; this is up from just 5% in October 2019, said Ashley Tolbert, the vice president of beauty at Gartner. 

Beauty content has proven popular with TikTok’s primarily Gen-Z user base: The #makeuphacks hashtag is one of the most popular beauty topics, with over 2 billion views. TikTok has also been featuring beauty content during the coronavirus quarantine, including hosting a designated beauty tutorial night during its quarantine livestreaming campaign last week. The platform has also highlighted beauty hashtags on its homepage as featured topics, including the #selfcare hashtag that has received 2.9 billion views. 

The coronavirus quarantine has accelerated beauty brands’ TikTok content production plans. Nudestix founder Taylor Frankel said that the brand launched its TikTok account two months ago, but “really started to create content for the platform only about a week ago,” a decision that, she said, was “100%” a result of the coronavirus quarantines.

“As a millennial, I just couldn’t understand it for the longest time,” she said of the app. “My sister, who is a little bit younger than I am, is obsessed. How quickly someone can become viral [on the platform] is insane.”

Brands new to the app should recognize “just how different building a presence on the platform is than on Instagram,” said Tolbert. She pointed out that brands like E.l.f. have seen the most success in creating viral content using hashtag challenge campaigns, rather than focusing exclusively on content on their own accounts. 

These campaigns are still going strong during the coronavirus quarantine, even as brands scale back dramatically on their overall advertising spend. NYX’s #butterglosspop hashtag challenge recently earned a staggering 7 billion views, despite the fact that the brand only has 13.4k followers on its account. The brand worked with top TikTok stars including Avani, MohoganyLox, Brent Rivera, Louie Castro and Tanisha Coatzee, and paired a custom song with the hashtag. 

Beauty brands are also adapting to TikTok’s unique, freewheeling content format. “We’re creating makeup content and tutorial content, but in a really quick, easy, fun, relatable way,” said Frankel. “And it’s just about being funny, quirky and real.”