What do bangs, eyebrow cuts and dermaplaning have in common? They all take 3am courage—fuelled by hours of semi-legit research on TikTok and YouTube—to pull off in a dingy dorm bathroom. But what about those beauty commitments we undertake in broad daylight? I’m talking tattoos and piercings, among other high-risk fads. Take all the time you need to trace your fingers over the battle scars left by your 2015 nose piercing because a new facial accessory is on the horizon as we speak. Introducing the whimsical and zero-fuss world of nose cuffs.
Are you someone who wants tattoos and money pieces one minute, and wolf cuts and belly button piercings the next? What about your tenth grade curiosity as to what you would look like with a septum ring? Much like temporary tattoos and magnetic piercings, nose cuffs are a nifty way to both pull off and test drive a piece of body art without the actual commitment. At this point, you’re probably wondering ‘Oh, those $1 clip-on rings are back’. Well, the concept is. But your local nose candies just underwent a gen Z glow-up no one saw coming.
Available in the wildest shapes and designs, faux nose cuffs of 2021 are a statement—minus the bloodshed. According to Refinery29, the peak in demand for the accessory hints at a greater need for us to embrace maximalism after lockdowns. “Naturally, after the concentrated period of time that we spent hyper-focused on our faces in Zoom calls, it’s no wonder that accessories of the face are shining again,” the publication added while interviewing Celest Salgado, a Brooklyn-based artist who has been creating dreamy nose cuffs—ranging from exquisite designs to elaborate bridges featuring chains and charms.
The comments section under Salgado’s TikToks are digital proof of gen Z’s shifting preferences to the dramatic and zero-commitment face accessory. “As I’ve progressed, I’ve come to notice it’s my more unconventional shapes that people seem to gravitate towards,” she said, highlighting how unique and whimsical shapes, in particular, tend to resonate with her audience. “I think people really like the idea that no one piece is the same as the next.”
Just like knotless braids gaining traction over the pandemic, nose cuffs are often questioned on their cultural significance. Part of traditional rituals worldwide, the definition of what a nose ring means to a wearer depends on the region and belief system they were brought up in. With origins dating back to 1500 BCE, the accessory often marks a critical moment in someone’s life—such as entering adulthood or getting married.
For Salgado, an important element of her work is to ensure that she remains open to cultural boundaries. “I’m aware that there is some facial jewellery that has significant cultural meaning such as the nose chain but I do not, nor do I plan on making those,” she clarified in one of her videos, now at 82,000 views and counting. “My designs are based off of my own paintings and I made them because I don’t have an actual nose piercing but really wanted something to emulate it!” After extensive research, the artist is thereby ensuring that her designs do not appropriate other cultures and remain uniquely hers. With TikTok users dubbing her pieces as the future, it’s safe to say that the whimsical accessory has got the gen Z seal of approval.
Apart from being a safer and often comfier option than the real deal, faux nose cuffs save users from the pain and roller-coaster trauma associated with the typical healing process of nose cartilages. Such tissues are essentially slower at self-healing, given the fact that there is less blood in the area due to its specific cellular structure. While some rings use magnets to help stick onto the nostril walls, the most common are designs that adhere to the natural curves of the nose without any further aid. These can be inserted and tightened until it appeases your anxiety of them falling off after you head out the door.
This brings us to a concerning standstill regarding the materials that are used to make the accessory in the first place. Considering their price range, faux cuffs are generally made of materials inferior to those used in regular piercing jewellery. The problem here is that the metals in their composition may trigger allergic reactions and irritations owing to little tissue tolerance, particularly in moist areas like the nostrils.
“It’s better if the fake nose rings you purchase are made of high-quality materials such as stainless steel, titanium or bioplast, since they are highly hypo-allergic even in the case of an existing bruise inside of the nose,” noted Streetdirectory.com, adding how it’s extremely concerning if you decide to insert a faux ring into a freshly pierced area—which only adds to the risk of developing an infection. “Nevertheless, try not to use any form of jewellery if you have nose ulcerations or herpes lesions as you may aggravate them.”
Keeping this in mind, feel free to embrace the versatility nose cuffs have to offer as yet another medium of expression. Meanwhile, brace yourself to see more artists exploring the potential these nose candies have to offer—well into 2022 and beyond.
Who actually looks like their pictures on social media? If you say you’re 100% #nofilter, you’re a liar. But then again who isn’t? We all partake in tweaking our photos—smoothing out the wrinkles, popping the highlighter more, cinching the waist a bit—but how far will we tweak our looks for the likes?
To date, tweaking our looks would be considered catfishing, but in 2019 when fake news and photoshop reign supreme, this has morphed into what could be considered digital beauty. A type of beauty solely for the internet. From the second we wake up, we bury ourselves into our phones with faces rarely seen without a filter. This daily exposure has skewed our perception of beauty and raised our standards of it to impossible, even unnatural heights.
With oceans of beauty editing apps available to us, it’s apparent that we are obsessed with elevating our face for the likes. Our obsession has even led to a new type of psychological body disorder, Snapchat dysmorphia. Being the latest rage in plastic surgery, SnapChat Dysmorphia has had people asking plastic surgeons to make their faces match their Snapchat alter egos. Although some may not be ready to go under the knife, people are still willing to explore any avenue to make themselves look prettier for the post. So what if we could edit our faces in real life as easily as we can on our phones? With the latest oddball beauty trends spreading across all platforms, that future might be closer than we think.
The latest futuristic beauty trend that has been causing alarm and fascination is sculpted makeup. Coming from the Chinese version of the Tik Tok app, Douyin, women are sculpting chiselled noses and chins with prosthetic wax (according to commentators, Ben Nye nose and scar wax is the go-to product), and refining their jawlines and cheekbones with facial tape, resulting in a narrower and sometimes unrecognisable look from the person’s original face. This type of catfishing 2.0 goes beyond Facetune or a Kardashian-like contour and has morphed from being a display of low self-esteem into an oddly fascinating and frankly impressive feat of face transformation.
Many Chinese Tik Tok users say this “trend” is solely done for the online likes and not as an actual beauty aesthetic for the real world. According to Reddit readers, this wax is prone to melt in warmer temperatures and not ideal for all day use outside.
It’s interesting to think that there is a beauty trend that solely lives within the internet for likes. It also opens up the possibilities that sculpted makeup could be a way for people to become their own plastic surgeons. Instead of praying that your genetic features will become the next IT body ideal, you can hyper-personalise your face with the latest body trends guilt-free and without permanence. If these products were developed for longer lasting daily use, this could pioneer into a form of fast-fashion plastic surgery; you can try out a different face the same way you try on a different outfit.
On the other, more critical side, many users have commented that sculpted makeup promotes cultural appropriation. Asian girls yearning for more European features: whiter skin, narrowed facial structure and pointier noses and chins. Although this isn’t the first incident of cultural appropriation in the beauty realm, the lines are becoming more blurred for what is ethically appropriate. Blackfishing, another odd beauty trend that has been making the rounds on social media platforms, is being dubbed the new form of Blackface. Using makeup, hairstyles, and fashion that is associated with the African American community, white Instagram girls are transforming themselves with racially ambiguous or at least half black features.
Although none of them have claimed that this was their intention, it is undeniable when you see the difference. Although this is an oddly fascinating and alarming display of the power of makeup, it does note the lengths users will go to look good for social media and to belong within a cultural group of their desire. Digital beauty trends such as these have ignited a discussion around what is real, and can any of these peoples’ looks be the real thing or is it smoke and mirrors?
With a year away from a new decade of the 21st century, our perceptions of truth and authenticity are dangerously skewed and maybe even become nonexistent. As our obsession with customisation continues, the possibility that we could (and most likely will) be able to create our own faces with ease and convenience could spark a new wave of beauty on and outside of the internet. A potential future of beauty that aligns with our rapid-paced society; we won’t have to go to plastic surgeons and spend thousands of pounds on one new face, we can create a new face for every day of the week. We could look like any ethnicity we want and quite literally be anyone we want to be. The ethical implications are still up in the air, but the idea that we can be our own plastic surgeons is both alarming and innovative. So be your own judge, define your own beauty online and off, because who knows what you’ll look like tomorrow.