Australian Big Brother star has permanent scarring after trying TikTok freckle hack

Many folks have started getting medical advice and adopting harmful DIY beauty trends from TikTok. Tilly Whitfeld, an Australian Big Brother star, fell victim to a very dangerous TikTok beauty trend. She tried to create semi-permanent freckles on her face with henna and a needle. Tilly tried creating freckles on her face using tattoo ink that she purchased on eBay. She later found out that it was counterfeit ink filled with lead. The procedure left permanent scarring and caused Tilly to temporarily lose eyesight in one eye. Below are a few more details about the story from People:

Back in May, Whitfeld, 21, explained that she often appeared on Australian Big Brother with a blue clay face mask to cover a patchy red reaction on her cheeks and nose. It was “the result of attempting to remove scarring I inflicted on myself trying to replicate an at home beauty procedure I saw on a TikTok video,” the reality star wrote alongside several Instagram selfies and close-ups of her complexion.

“Please please don’t try any ‘DIY’ or ‘at home’ beauty procedures. I ended up in hospital with temporary loss of vision in my eye due to swelling and was very sick from the infection, not to mention my face was somewhat unrecognizable. Leave it to the professionals 🌈🦄✨” Whitfeld shared, adding that the photos show “deep below surface level scaring and dark pigmentation.”

The Big Brother star did not reveal which of the many viral TikTok beauty hacks caused the reaction at the time, but in a new interview with the New York Times, Whitfeld said it was the result of attempting to give herself freckles.

The controversial trend takes popular faux freckles (applied with henna, an eyebrow pencil or even products specifically created to give natural-looking spots) one step further by using sewing needles to prick yourself with ink. If it goes as expected, the results should “fade within six months,” according to the NYT.

The video Whitfeld came across reportedly did not specify what type of ink to get, so she ordered brown tattoo ink from eBay.

“It didn’t hurt at all, so I didn’t think I should stop,” Whitfeld told the outlet. She later discovered the ink she purchased was a counterfeit product with “high levels of lead in it,” according to the NYT, and has since spent nearly $12,000 on doctor’s visits to correct the scarring.

[From People]

I’ve said this before, no one should be taking advice from TikTokers who are not licensed medical professionals. Period. And even licensed medical professionals should be viewed with skepticism. Tilly is lucky she didn’t lose her face. The fact that she has spent over $12,000 to correct a silly mistake is definitely a hard way to learn a lesson. I really can’t believe that there are people on TikTok promoting this sort of reckless behavior and even still I can’t believe there are people who are following blindly. Hopefully Tilly will be able to heal with minimal scarring on her face. And I hope that Tilly will be the poster child for not doing these dumb TikTok trends. If folks are telling you to do a DIY procedure on your body that you know should be done in a medical office or hospital by a professional, please don’t. Learn from Tilly, going viral really isn’t worth more than your health.

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74 Responses to “Australian Big Brother star has permanent scarring after trying TikTok freckle hack”

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  1. Robyn says:

    Raise your hand if you spent years hating your freckles and sun spots, staying out of the sun, wearing a hat and giant sunglasses, dipping yourself in sunscreen and concealer to get a “flawless” complexion only to see freckle pens and now this (!!!) take off. Thanks, I hate it.

    • NorthernGirl_20 says:

      Same lol, I have LOTS of freckles and always hated them (and was bullied and made fun of for them so much when I was younger) and now freckles are in!!???? I hate it as well.

    • Escondista says:

      See also: anybody who was called a witch/freak for playing dungeons and dragons only to have Stranger Things make it cool. But hey, whatever makes people not hate themselves for their appearance or interests.

    • GrnieWnie says:

      Amen. I have worn sunblock religiously since my mid-teens.

    • keroppi says:

      *raises hand*

    • Piratewench says:

      I am covered in freckles, layers upon layers. They don’t look like these fake freckle trends. The fake freckles spatter cutely across the cheeks and nose, like a cartoon. REAL freckles do whatever the hell they want lol. I often get new freckles on and around my lips in the summer that make it look like I have some little food on my face. It’s not always cute and it’s not evenly spread on the face or body. I’m 100% of irish, English and Scottish ancestry so I’m basically see-through with splotches all over. lol not exactly the same look these “influencers” are emulating. They are emulating a cartoon idea of freckles, not the real deal!

      • Robyn says:

        My skin does the same! A photon of light hits and boom! Splotchy. Now that I’m middle aged, I care a lot less, but still…

        It’s just *interesting* how what is considered “ugly” in (white supremacist) beauty standards becomes a trend once it can be monetized.

      • detritus says:

        All of this.
        The faux freckles are not even emulating real freckles, the placement is totally raggedy Annie cute not pasty folk in the sun cute.

        Reminds me a bit of the beauty Mark trend from the 90s

      • Gah says:

        I love you @Piratewench

        Same same I have freckles on my eyelids now!?

        And bc I live in the tropics and also enjoy surfing gardening hiking walking to and from my car…welp the freckles on my face and arms are rapidly multiplying.

        It breaks my heart that my daughter says she hates her burgeoning freckles (she is pale w red hair) but I remember at boarding school we received a j crew catalog w a freckle faced model on the front (like all over face not just nose) and the girls in my hall recoiling and saying how ugly she looked.

        It’s taken me a long time to appreciate them… but you best believe I’m attacking my age spots with a plasma pen- it works and is easy for the splotches

      • Anna says:

        Take a look at the IG @ maisonartc whose muse is model Tilly. I think her freckle pattern is beautiful as do many and think that her embracing of her freckles in all of their unique glory is going a long way to change “beauty” ideas in fashion. Also the models with vitiligo choosing to go makeup free is very inspiring.

      • clomo says:

        That’s interesting, I stay out of the sun, cancer runs in my family but when I did tan years ago the only place I got freckles was across the bridge of my nose and cheeks a bit so these types of freckles don’t only occur in cartoons. My best friend is half Irish and half Japanese and has boatloads of freckles and she is so cool looking, very pretty and guys love her so yay to freckles the natural way and yay to no freckles too. Yay to all skin types, variety is the spice of life!

    • readingissexy says:

      I have alot of freckles and had absolutely no idea they are popular right now, LOL. And yes, I am one of those folks that wear SPF 50 sunscreen everyday…even when I don’t go out, LOL.

    • Joanna says:


    • paranormalgirl says:

      hand raised. I am the sunblock queen. Irish freckled ginger.

      • Lucky Charm says:

        *Raises hand. I also have the freckled, fair Irish skin and have had a 50 year affair with sunblock. Not sunscreen like most people, sunBLOCK, like keep the sun away from me!

        And as a tween/teen I hated my freckles and would try anything to get rid of them. I don’t know how many lemons I killed for the lemon juice to rub on them, lol.

    • Nicole says:

      Same here. Hated them growing up. eyeroll.

    • tealily says:

      Amen. Like everything I was made fun of for as a child, it’s cool now.

    • Meg says:

      i have freckles too, maybe i wouldn’t have had so much self hatred growing up if this was in style back then.
      Hell low rise jeans made me hate my body. im short waisted so low rise jeans made my stomach look worse. Now to see people wearing pants at the proper waist on their bodies, i would’ve felt so much more comfortable in my body if id been born like 15 years later

    • Amn says:

      Ugh. Yes.

      This is so stupid. Like using WD-40 as a filler level of stupid. Like, they aspire one day to be smart enough to be stupid.

  2. carousel says:

    Amazed that “don’t give yourself stick poke tattoos on your face” actually needs to be said.

    • Izzy says:

      In the middle of a pandemic in 2020, people needed to be told not to lick public toilet seats, so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, I guess.

      • olliesmom says:

        And there were people that constantly needed to be told to wear a mask, wash your hands and distance themselves from people outside of their bubble and they couldn’t get that either.

        I don’t expect much out of people anymore I guess, so I’m not disappointed.

    • Haylie says:

      I’m so disappointed in grownups this year. First, using Gorilla Glue as a hairspray, not injecting lead based dye near your eyes to get fake freckles.

    • lucky says:

      This. So much this. Also the ebay seller should be prosecuted, but WTF was she thinking?!?!?!

    • detritus says:

      I’m amazed that tik tok managed to produce worse results than prison tattoos.

      • Justjj says:

        I lose a little bit of faith in Gen Z every day. First the Croc stilettos, now TikTok prison freckles.

    • Mel says:

      Like don’t put Gorilla glue in your hair?

  3. Nlopez says:

    I feel bad for her. Hope the scarring goes away, or at least fades. : (

  4. Gil says:

    Well, she is on big brother, clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

  5. Northerngirl says:

    Facepalm, shake head…

  6. SaySo says:

    I’m sorry that she is going through this, it’s really hard when the first thing that others see is your “imperfection”. Having said that, why would you alter yourself based on a tik-toc trend? sigh… sometimes I hate the internet.

  7. Lauren says:

    I’m really sorry for her, but for god sake’s why did she thinks it was a good idea to play around with needles, tattoo ink and, her face?! There’s a reason why tattoo artists are certified and can work only in certified environments.

    • Betsy says:

      I swear seeing something on the internet breaks some people’s abilities to think clearly. “But they said it on the internet, it must be true…”

  8. girl_ninja says:

    That is brutal! I do not mess with injections into my face professionally never mind some products purchased on eBay.

    Poor girl that sucks.

  9. jbyrdku says:

    How stupid.

  10. Lucy2 says:

    How did she…why did she…
    I’m at a loss as to why anyone would do this. Hopefully she recovers well, but…wow.

  11. equality says:

    Maybe tiktok needs a “mythbusters” type show to explain why things you see on there are not a good idea.

    • TeamAwesome says:

      There are tons of reaction videos like this exactly for various tik tok and you tube “beauty” hacks. I especially enjoy the ones done by the Welsh Brothers.

  12. atorontogal says:

    All I can say is, what a dumbass!

  13. milliemollie says:

    I don’t feel sorry for her. It’s her own fault. Sometimes stupidity hurts.

  14. Feebee says:

    Hard lessons to learn, esp on public. But honestly, why don’t people think twice?!

    • Size Does Matter says:

      That’s exactly what I thought. Geez what a hard lesson to learn. People are even supposed to test out hair dye on a tiny section first to make sure you won’t have a bad reaction.

  15. Piratewench says:

    Very sad. It was a very dumb move but we have all done dumb things in our youth. Maybe not THIS dumb but no one deserves permanent scarring for a vanity mistake. I hope she can reduce the scarring, poor misled young person.

    • SomeChick says:

      she can reduce the scarring. silicon scar healing sheets are miraculous. she needs to stop wearing makeup first tho!

  16. keroppi says:

    This is from a long time ago, but it reminds me of the woman, Hang Mioku, who injected black market silicone and then cooking oil into her face.

    • terra says:

      People who outsource aren’t immune from complications either – see: Priscilla Presley’s counterfeit filler fiasco.

  17. terra says:

    Ignoring how disappointing it is that tattooing your own face needs to be pointed out as being a bad idea, looking at these photos the other thought that pops out at me is that she needs to stop over-lining her lips quite so much.

    • dj says:

      Yes Terra. What is the deal with women over lining their lips now? I noticed Kim Kardashian does it too on the top lip. It’s nasty looking.

  18. Lunasf17 says:

    I just don’t understand how anyone thinks shoving needles in your face with eBay tattoo ink is a good idea. I mean I also did dumb stuff at 21 but this is a whole new level. Also I thought Australia has a pretty good public healthcare system but even they’re like nope we’re not paying for this stupidity with our taxes.

  19. Honey says:

    So are all the Instagram posts she’s made since using old pics? Or does she have loads of makeup on? Or is it healed now? Ha somebody catch me up I’m not following that well.

  20. psl says:

    I have no sympathy for any of these stupid people who try these “challenges”.

    Sorry. Try thinking next time.

  21. Gab says:

    OMG! Put on some blush and call it a day!

  22. Jules says:

    darwin award.

  23. Sof says:

    It would have made more sense if she was in her early teens, but cmon, she is 21 and didn’t stop to think?
    Everyone should be careful: there are plenty of fake tutorials out there to trick people (mostly kids or teenagers) into ruining their things, especially technology related. For example, they tell you to clean your computer with certain producs that will defenitely ruin it or the tin foil ball in the microwave that (doesn’t) turn solid after certain amount of time…

  24. Jess says:

    She couldn’t afford a professional?


    I don’t think she “fell victim” to a trend. She made her choice. It sucks but she is accountable for it. People need to make better decisions! I know tiktok is influential but people, adults especially, should know better.

  26. Shannon Brown says:

    I read about this on Apple News. Whoa…I can’t believe people are still trying internet trends after that tide pod ridiculousness.

    LOL…I remember when I wanted a mole like Madonna. I used Maybelline like everyone else. I guess those days are gone.

  27. Alex Schuster says:

    I had giant lips as a kid. In the 80s thin lips were in. I was bullied,made fun of constantly. then the Angelina Jolie came along

  28. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Part of me wants to give her a hug, and the other part wants to bonk her on the head with a rolling pin. Not the marble one, the wood one lol.

  29. SurvivalIsTheGame says:

    I am a BBAU watcher and I just want to say I love Tilly! She is such an amazing houseguest/ competitor. I am so sorry to hear this happened to her, it’s an awful punishment for making a mistake. Now I understand why she always had on full coverage makeup or her blue mask, poor girl, she is so mentally tough you never could tell anything was wrong. If you are reading this Tilly love and luck from the USA!!!!

    • Ang says:

      Genuine question: what is it about these shows that you like and what makes you “love” a complete stranger? I’m curious as to how this is entertaining to people.

  30. Maureen says:

    The stupidity is amazing with what people think they can do instead of trained professionals. Tiktok, YouTube and FB are filled with potentially dangerous things that people decide they can do after watching one 30 minute video instead of years of training and also buying the cheapest products to do the activity.

  31. Northstar says:

    Tons of freckles all over, but they never, ever, bothered me or made me self conscious. And funnily enough, I tan beautifully and never burn. I think it is due to Viking ancestors – always out on the water in the sun.

  32. Doug says:

    How incredibly stupid.

  33. Mattie says:

    A tween burned over 90% of her body following some idiot by writing on her bathroom mirror with alcohol lighting it up only to set herself on fire

  34. jferber says:

    I hope she can reverse the damage through plastic surgery/dermatology. Not kind to call her stupid. Obviously she shouldn’t have done this, but she did and instead of beating herself up (or having the internet beat her up) focus on solutions and better decision making in future.

  35. Aries-Mira says:

    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.