What is the ‘uncanny valley’ makeup trend—and why is it creeping everybody out?

November 29, 2023

The viral “uncanny valley” makeup trend is taking over TikTok, as creators try to spook their viewers with their scary good makeup skills. Follow this makeup trend to verify you are not a robot—but want to be, reports the New York Post.

“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.

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.

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.

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.

Research contact: @nypost