Uncanny Valley Makeup Is the Creepiest Trend to Make Its Way to TikTok

As we veer slightly back into the world of Tumblr-esque indie-sleaze glam, it likely comes as no surprise that the makeup looks to hit your “For You” page are starting to change. They’re likely a bit more grungy and a bit edgier than the “clean girl” looks of the past. Still, one makeup trend upping the creepy factor is known as “Uncanny Valley makeup.”

The term Uncanny Valley was created by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori, who theorized the closer to human beings a robot resembles, the more feelings of unease we’ll feel toward the android. “Uncanny Valley makeup is a look that subtly distorts reality,” makeup artist Gabrielle Alvarez tells POPSUGAR. “It casts an eerie effect that seems human but is very clearly not when you take a closer look.”

Interpretations of the term started to circulate on TikTok around October 2023, as people gave their best versions of the trend in honor of Halloween. Since then, Uncanny Valley makeup has skyrocketed in popularity, with people trying to master the subtle yet impactful makeup trend. Ahead, Alvarez explains how to achieve Uncanny Valley makeup and touches on what its popularity says about the current state of the industry.

How to Get Uncanny Valley Makeup

Ensuring all of your proportions are slightly “off” is key to achieving the Uncanny Valley makeup look. “Focus on making everything look a little bit more,” Alvarez says. “This means bigger eyes, wider lips, and harsher contours.”

While you can go the prosthetics route to make your features appear more exaggerated, if you’d prefer to use the regular old makeup products you have at home, opt for concealed eyebrows, an overdrawn lip line, and white eyeliner in the waterline to make your eyes appear almost cartoonishly wide. Additionally, this trend thrives on ashen, matte skin, so don’t be afraid to use a foundation that’s a shade or two lighter than your normal complexion, and be sure to overdo it with the powder.

If you have a deeper skin tone, Alvarez recommends going extra dark with your contour to emphasize your features. “When taking your pictures, make sure to also use a high contrast light so that the differentiation pops,” she says.

Why Is Uncanny Valley Makeup Trending?

It’s no secret that technology is playing an increasingly larger role in our daily lives. That’s being reflected in every facet of society, including the beauty industry and its respective trends. “Uncanny Valley makeup creates a conversation around [the growth] of AI culture,” Alvarez says. “It casts a lens on the unsettling nature of the world around us, as well as our reliance on technology while we inadvertently become less dependent on ourselves and each other.”

The technology boom has already started affecting beauty in other ways, from AI haircuts to Chat GPT skin-care advice and even AI-powered brand ambassadors that assist customers in finding products as they shop online. While Uncanny Valley makeup seems to highlight the anxieties that people have around the growing role that tech has in our lives, it’s also a breeding ground for some serious creativity, so at this point, you might as well have some fun with it.

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