Rat Girl Skincare Is TikTok’s Most Feral Trend Yet—Here’s Why We Love It

April 08, 2024
Chloé Valentine Toscano
By: Chloé Valentine Toscano | skincare.com by L'Oréal
Why We Love Rat Girl Skincare on TikTok

Grunge is back, mob wife is in, and we’re all feeling a bit burnt out from the “clean girl” aesthetic that dominated much of 2023. So it should come as no surprise that one of this year’s biggest trends is the so-called “rat girl” trend. Coined on (where else?) TikTok, this beauty trend is essentially the antithesis of the clean girl, championing spontaneity, messiness, and a rejection of the ultra-polished, aesthetic-driven culture we’ve grown accustomed to.

While the concept of rat girl skincare may sound a bit messy, the trend is anything but lazy. Instead, its focus is on utilizing effective, multi-tasking products that get the job done (without any unnecessary frills). So, if you’re interested in retiring your 15-step skincare routine and adopting a simpler approach, keep reading. We’ll teach you how to embrace your inner rat girl ahead.

What Is the “Rat Girl” Aesthetic?

What started out as “rat girl summer” in 2023 is now a full-blown, year-round aesthetic. At its core, it’s a challenge of the curated, polished routines and rituals made popular by TikTok influencers. Where others reach for viral, aesthetically pleasing products and dedicate hours to complicated beauty rituals, the rat girl prefers a quick-and-dirty (but still effective) approach. Think: cleansing wipes in lieu of the double cleanse and multi-tasking moisturizers rather than layer upon layer of serums. While some people refer to rat girl skincare as “feral,” we’d argue it’s less about chaos and more about giving yourself permission to relax. The idea, ultimately, is to spend less time chasing perfection, and more time living your life to the fullest.

What Does “Rat Girl” Skincare Entail?

The rat girl turns the concept of a dedicated skincare routine on its head, focusing on the bare necessities and addressing concerns like redness and discoloration only as they arise (and as simply as possible). While cleansing, moisturizing, and using sunscreen remain priorities for the rat girl—these are essentials, after all—everything else is pared back and specifically chosen to have the maximum impact with minimum effort. Easy-to-use, multi-tasking products are a key component of the rat girl’s skincare collection.

The Appeal of “Feral” Skincare

For those feeling burnt out by the curated skincare routines pushed on social media—and the highly-polished aesthetic they represent—”feral” skincare may boast many benefits. The first (and, we’d argue, most important) is that it’s freeing. If you genuinely enjoy spending time pampering yourself, that’s great, and you absolutely should do that. But when you do things because it’s expected of you, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The rat girl ideology allows you to guiltlessly let go of unrealistic expectations that don’t resonate with you and focus on doing what makes you feel your best. Ultimately, we’d argue that’s what skincare is all about: feeling good.

The second benefit of rat girl skincare is that, in many cases, it’s a lot easier than more complex routines. Less products to use means you’re spending less time on your routine. That’s more time that can be spent doing things you enjoy—whether that’s cozying up at home with a movie or checking out a new restaurant with friends.

How To Embrace Rat Girl Skincare

Rat girl skincare isn’t about neglecting your skin, but rather, giving it what it needs in the simplest way possible. As mentioned earlier, cleansing, moisturizing, and protecting your skin with SPF are musts, no matter who you are. You may also choose to address skin concerns like blemishes or dullness, ideally with multi-tasking products that don’t require much time or energy to use. If you still need help parsing out your ideal rat girl regimen, keep reading. Ahead, we’re sharing some of our favorite products for a simple yet effective skincare routine.

CeraVe Hydrating Makeup Removing Plant-Based Wipes

Cleansing wipes are a rat girl staple, as they allow you to cleanse your face quickly and easily (even if you’re on the go). We love these gentle cleansing wipes from CeraVe; they remove dirt, makeup, and other impurities without stripping your skin barrier. Plus, the non-comedogenic wipes are formulated with ceramides and glycerin and help to lock in hydration while they cleanse. We recommend keeping a pack on your nightstand so you always remember to remove your makeup before crawling into bed.

Thayers Double Action Acne Serum with Salicylic Acid

If you’re looking for a one-and-done serum to add to your simplified routine, consider this multi-tasking option from Thayers. The powerful serum with salicylic acid, niacinamide, and lactic acid helps address common skin concerns like breakouts and dark spots while helping to hydrate and calm the skin. Apply a thin layer to your face after cleansing, then follow with your favorite moisturizer (and sunscreen, if it’s daytime).

Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Daily Re-Texturizing Triple Acid Peel Serum

When you want to target skin concerns like uneven texture and large pores but don’t want to dedicate an hour to self-care, reach for this apply-and-go peel from Kiehl’s. It’s made with alpha-, beta-, and poly-hydroxy acids and visibly improves skin tone and texture while remaining gentle enough for daily use.

La Roche-Posay Mela B3 Dark Spot Serum with Melasyl + Niacinamide

Tackle discoloration with this one-and-done serum from La-Roche Posay. The potent formula visibly improves a wide range of skin discolorations, including age spots, sun spots, and post-blemish marks. Plus, it helps brighten the skin, giving you that coveted “clean girl” glow (but without the “clean girl” effort).

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness Serum

The rat girl doesn’t have the time to meticulously apply foundation when she’s facing redness. Instead, she reaches for this multi-tasking serum. The unique formula contains light-reflecting green pigments that help to immediately neutralize the appearance of redness. It also helps calm and hydrate the skin, contributing to a more even-looking complexion over time.

Kiehl’s Better Skin UV Serum SPF 50+ Facial Sunscreen With Collagen Peptide

When you can’t be bothered to layer serums and sunscreen (but still need sun protection), reach for a sunscreen that does it all. We love this serum sunscreen from Kiehl’s, as it offers broad-spectrum SPF 50+ protection against UVA and UVB rays, boosts skin radiance, and blends seamlessly across a wide range of skin tones. Just remember that when it comes to sunscreen, you don’t want to cut corners. Reapply your SPF every two hours or after sweating or swimming, and seek shade during mid-day when possible.

Up Next: What Is Skinimalism? Plus, How to Build a Minimalist Skincare Routine

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