What is the ‘uncanny valley’ makeup trend on TikTok?

Follow this makeup trend to verify you are not a robot — but want to be.

The viral “uncanny valley” makeup trend is taking over TikTok, as creators try to spook their viewers with their scary good makeup skills.

“Uncanny valley” is the term used to describe the uncomfortable feeling people have when making eye contact with an android — a robot made to resemble a human.

To replicate this feeling, TikTokers are throwing things into reverse — and applying their makeup to appear like a bot.

Women are covering their faces with foundation, using concealer and highlighter to make the light appear to hit their faces in unnatural ways. They’re redrawing their mouths and eyebrows with eyeliner and mascara to make their features pop.

All of the video tutorials vary in technique — but end with similar results: viewers are creeped out by a look that seems too perfect in some aspects and a little off in others.

And that’s the point.


"Uncanny valley" makeup trend on TikTok
The viral “uncanny valley” makeup trend is taking over TikTok with more than 40 million views as creators are trying to spook their viewers with their scary good makeup skills.

The creators are aiming to elicit the same uneasy feeling people experience when staring into the eyes of an android — something is off, but it’s hard to pinpoint what.

TikToker Zara (@alkiiwii) recently went viral with her take on the trend, quickly amassing 14.4 million views on her most recent video tagging #uncannyvalleymakeup, which has 41.5 million views on the popular social media channel.

In the video, she lip-syncs a clip from the video game “Detroit Become Human,” which follows androids in the year 2038.

“I only exist thanks to the intelligence of the humans who designed me. You know, they have something I could never have […] a soul,” she mouths just a little behind the audio, while making facial expressions reminiscent of a video game character to add to the effect.

“THIS is uncanny valley,” viewer @naharahakeofficia commented.

“This gives me goosebumps,” @moonxdione replied.

Many others compared Zara’s made up look to the mother character in the famously creepy children’s movie “Coraline.”


TikTok/@beautybyzoeg doing the "uncanny valley" makeup trend
“Uncanny valley” is the term used to describe the uncomfortable feeling people have when making eye contact with an android– a robot made to resemble a human.
TikTok/@beautybyzoeg

The “uncanny valley” look can also be achieved by makeup or photo and video filters.

The recent makeup trend comes as the world grapples with how to handle the rise of artificial intelligence and the quick expansion of the technology’s abilities, including shockingly realistic deep fakes and the inability to determine what is AI and what is not.

The “people” in the images seemed real at first glance but were noticed to have small but major deformities — like extra fingers and teeth — that left viewers uncomfortable.

The term “uncanny valley” went viral earlier this year after a collection of AI-generated images appearing to show a house party spooked viewers who struggled to spot why the images were so eerie.

The “uncanny valley” phenomenon has also been proven to impact more than just how humans feel but also how they react.

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