SINGAPORE — A potentially dangerous beauty trend called “bone smashing” has recently gone viral on TikTok, with experts and doctors warning against the health detriments of such practices.
But does the trend actually exist and are people really smashing their faces with hammers?
WHAT IS ‘BONE SMASHING’
The idea behind “bone smashing” is to promote facial bone growth and restructuring by applying blunt force trauma to key aesthetic areas of the face, such as the cheekbones and chin.
The trend, which seems to have mostly taken off among male TikTok users, bases its benefits on Wolff’s law, a medical theory developed in the 19th century that explains how bones are able to change and adapt when subjected to physical stress.
Videos with the hashtag #bonesmashing on TikTok have garnered over 266.7 million views as of Wednesday (Oct 4), but very few actually show people smashing their faces.
Instead, there are numerous videos from experts and doctors who warn against doing so, as well as spoofs and memes poking fun at the trend.
HOW DID ‘BONE SMASHING’ BECOME A TREND?
According to Canadian-American magazine Vice, the “bone smashing” trend may have originated from an Incel forum, as a result of “looks maxing”, an online phenomenon where men critique each other’s looks and suggest do-it-yourself solutions to fix flaws.
However, it is unclear whether users who promote the use of such “DIY fixes” are genuine or simply trolls.
Incel, a term derived from “involuntary celibate”, is typically used to refer to an online community of men who are unable to find a romantic partner, and is commonly associated with someone who holds misogynistic views.
Speaking to Vice, Dr Sanjay Trikha, the managing director of United Kingdom-based medical aesthetics clinic Trikwan Aesthetics, says that “bone smashing” has no evidence of producing more chiselled jawlines.
“And the risks of this type of treatment can actually be quite high,” he said.
Dr Trikha adds that there is no basis for using Wolff’s law as evidence for the trend.
“When you traumatise an area, you can get local inflammation and that can make something seem like it’s a little bit bigger, but that’s going to go down,” he said.
“So it’s not a case of ‘it’s going to come back harder or stronger’, and it can cause permanent damage. It can cause permanent issues if it was done inappropriately.”
SOME CLAIM BONE SMASHING WORKS, OTHERS ARE SCEPTICAL
While some videos simply post pictures of individuals with defined jawlines, claiming that the process had worked, several videos visually depict the practice without people actually smashing their faces on camera.
A video posted by TikTok user “angelcasass” on May 31 last year showed the user’s “bone smashing” process in his journey to achieve “prominent cheekbones”.
The background footage shows the user using a blunt object to lightly strike his face repeatedly, accompanied by the on-screen text, written in Spanish: “With a flat object, hit your cheekbones 50 times, then rest for two minutes and repeat it one more time.”
The on-screen text then informs viewers that it is important to practise “mewing” to achieve a defined chin.
“Mewing” is another facial reconstruction technique that involves keeping the tongue on the roof of the mouth for periods of time, which supposedly changes the jawline’s shape.
The video has garnered over 4.1 million views, 459,300 likes and 1,034 comments as of Wednesday.
Several users claimed to have tried the trend out for themselves, praising his methods and asking for more tips.
One TikTok user who seemingly tried the trend wrote: “The truth is that it works, it’s been almost 20 days and you can see the results despite my face not being very thin.”
However, other users appeared to have had more unsatisfactory experiences.
One user wrote: “It will only damage your skin.”
Another user, who also appeared to have tried the technique in the video, said: “I saw this video of yours a few days ago and I used the bottle. My skin turned red even though the blows were light.
BONE SMASHING MEMES
Beyond the videos promoting the trend, however, a significant number of videos posted under the same hashtag also warn about or poke fun at the phenomenon.
A sped-up video depicting a mixed martial arts fighter repeatedly delivering punches to his opponent’s head, posted on Sept 6, raked in more than 75,200 views as of Wednesday.
The on-screen text poked fun at the trend, reading: “Already giving a free bone smashing session to my ugly friend.”
Another video depicting a man with a defined jawline navigating through a crowd, posted on Sept 20, has attracted more than 718,400 views as of Wednesday.
The video joked about those who took part in the trend seriously, with on-screen text in brackets reading: “I have to look attractive at all times. No one turned to see me.”