Dermatologist Reacts To TikToker Scar Girl's Scar

Within the last couple of years, college student Annie Bonelli has amassed nearly 817,000 followers on TikTok under the handle @wtmab. Between her skincare product reviews, makeup tutorials, lip-sync videos, and other popular types of content typical of the platform, it was Bonelli's facial scar that began to draw thousands — sometimes millions — of views to her videos.

The scar appears as a prominent brown streak running down the length of Bonelli's right cheek (via Rolling Stone). For this reason, many TikTok users have come to know her as "Scar Girl," a hashtag that has accrued nearly 680 million views on the social media app. While she has never disclosed the specific cause of the scar, Bonelli has described the incident to her followers as a traumatizing experience.

As the scar began to fade and shrink over time, viewers started openly questioning the legitimacy of Bonelli's injury, particularly after she applied a topical skin treatment that resulted in significant changes to the scar's appearance.

How a chemical burn changed the appearance of Bonelli's scar

In an interview with NBC, Bonelli stated that the scar changes viewers were criticizing were the result of a chemical burn reaction that produced a new injury on top of the existing skin damage. Addressing the lengthening and significant darkening of the scar's appearance, Bonelli told the news outlet, "It was bubbly and bloody and gross ... That turned into a new wound on top of it, which is why [the scar became] significantly longer, because I just sloppily put it on."

Despite this explanation, some followers are convinced that the TikToker is drawing the scar on with makeup. Viewers remained divided on the subject even after Bonelli posted a video of herself at the start of 2023 attempting to wipe the scar off of her face with a makeup wipe.

In order to gain some medical insight, NBC spoke with Dr. Tina S. Alster, clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University. Dr. Alster told the outlet that while most scars progressively diminish in appearance as time goes on, it is not out of the question for a scar to turn darker in color. Continuous rubbing of the skin, UV-ray exposure, or additional injury to the site could all potentially prompt a scar to become darker in appearance, Dr. Alster explained.

Dr. Pimple Popper weighs in on the scar's change in appearance

While Dr. Alster did not speak to the circumstances surrounding Bonelli's scar in particular, another skin expert has weighed in on the influencer's injury. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee, also known by her television persona Dr. Pimple Popper, told E! News that Bonelli's scar changes aren't so unusual.

Much like grazing your ear with a hot flat iron, Dr. Lee explained that surface burns from topical treatments do happen. Factoring in the scar's dark brown color and its distinct edges, Dr. Lee was able to speculate as to what kind of topical treatment may have caused these changes in Bonelli's skin. "The appearance makes me suspect she applied something to the area like a chemical peel acid, which burned the skin," she stated. Because Bonelli is not Dr. Lee's patient, she cannot say for sure whether or not the scar is the real deal. However, Dr. Lee emphasized that a topical burn is a plausible explanation for the changes observed in the TikToker's scar.

Bonelli's scar treatment plan and using her platform to support others

Bonelli noted in her NBC interview that she was fearful about seeing a physician after she experienced the chemical burn. However, Dr. Lee told E! News that seeing a specialist is the first step she recommends to patients who are on the road to developing an effective skin care treatment plan. While she may have experienced some initial hesitation, Bonelli has since shared that she began working with a dermatologist in the summer of 2022 and is focused on reducing the visibility of the scar.

Much of the skepticism surrounding #ScarGirl has often been linked with the scar's appearance. Some TikTok users claim that the scar looks too flat, as opposed to textured or raised. However, while speaking with Bonelli in a 2023 interview, Rolling Stone noted how her scar appeared red and flaky, with evidence of skin damage. Yet no matter what the public chooses to believe — or not to believe — the influencer has stated that she's dedicated to using her platform to help others feel seen who may be experiencing insecurity about their scars.