Surprise, surprise, there’s another TikTok trend making us all insecure about something we’d never thought about previously, and honestly, I’m taking it personally. TikTok filters never tend to bother me. I know that, like most, my face isn’t symmetrical and that it looks funny when flipped around. However, I’ve recently learned that the way my eyes tilt—also known as a canthal tilt—isn’t necessarily as sexy as it could be and I’m annoyed.
The canthal tilt filter has been making its rounds on TikTok. Naturally, I looked into how it ranked my eye tilt orientation. While the filter informed me that my canthal tilt wasn’t “negative,” it wasn’t really “positive” either. My eyes are just “neutral,” I guess. I figured I couldn’t be the only one overthinking the filter’s results. This made me wonder about the trend and how it’s affecting users’ psyches, the makeup industry and in-office cosmetic treatments.
What is a canthal tilt?
This term is surprisingly technical-sounding to be making its way around TikTok, but it’s a simple-enough concept. “Canthal tilt is a term used to describe the horizontal orientation of the medial canthus (inner corner) to the lateral canthus (outer corner) of the eye,” explains New York facial plastic surgeon Edward S. Kwak, MD. “A positive canthal tilt is when the outer corner is higher than the lower corner. A neutral tilt is when the inner and outer corner are in a relatively same plane. A negative canthal tilt is when the inner corner is higher than the lower corner.”
Why is the canthal tilt trending on TikTok suddenly?
I bet you’d never heard the term canthal tilt until you started seeing your favorite TikTokers talking about theirs. New York facial plastic surgeon Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD says the rise in interest comes after a filter was developed to measure the canthal tilt. The filter got popular and subsequently “started the conversation about the importance of a canthal tilt in facial aesthetics,” he says.
“Videos on how to achieve an upward tilt, including surgery, have also been trending on TikTok,” notes celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg. She speculates the filter and discussion of the canthal tilt is a continuation of the fox eye trend popularized by celebrities like Bella Hadid.
How are people on TikTok using the canthal tilt to perceive “attractiveness?”
On TikTok, people are perceiving a positive canthal tilt as more attractive. “Eyes with an upward tilt can give a sultry, youthful appearance which is considered attractive by today’s standards,” explains Greenberg. However, experts say canthal tilt really isn’t that influential when it comes to perceived attractiveness.
“In reality, this is an oversimplification. One’s attractiveness depends on the balance of facial features rather than one aesthetic measurement,” says Dr. Vasyukevich. Dr. Kwak emphasizes the same point, noting that canthal tilt isn’t considered a primary factor when evaluating eyes during a consultation.
Are people seeking cosmetic treatments to address their canthal tilt?
It seems the trend has made its way into some doctors’ offices. Dr. Vasyukevich says his office has “quite a few people who ask to lift the outer corner of the eye.” Dr. Kwak hasn’t seen the influence of the canthal-tilt obsession leak into his office just yet. However, “given how influential these filters are on TikTok and Instagram on their users, I wouldn’t be surprised by more people seeking treatment for it,” he says. “I always advise patients not to use filters as goals for surgery and to not make surgical decisions based on trends.”
There are a handful of cosmetic procedures that can alter the appearance of the canthal tilt, including neurotoxins, fillers, blepharoplasty and a brow lift, says Dr. Vasyukevich. “Patients with severe lower lid laxity or lateral brow hooding can have a negative canthal tilt. This type of appearance to the eyes can give the eyes a sad or tired appearance,” says Dr. Vasyukevich. “To address the lower lid laxity, a lid-shortening procedure can improve the orientation of the canthal tilt. For severe lateral brow hooding a brow lift could improve the canthal tilt.”
Makeup tricks to alter the appearance of a canthal tilt
Greenberg says a smokey eye and the angle of your eyeliner or adding a corner lash can be used to exaggerate a canthal tilt temporarily. “One secret many mature women use is tape,” says Greenberg. “You can hide the tape under your hair, and they are used to pull the skin upwards, lifting the face and eyes.”
Celebrity makeup artist Vincent Oquendo says, “You can easily create an upturned eye using concealer.” He recommends TULA Radiant Skin Brightening Serum Concealer ($32). “Swipe your concealer in the inner corner of your eye and in your outer corner right under where your winged eyeliner would be. Think of it as a reverse winged eyeliner,” he says. “Make sure you set this with a loose setting powder. I really love the Haus labs loose powder ($38) for under the eyes.”