What do Rihanna, Julia Fox, Jason Momoa, and Betty White have in common? Apparently, it’s all in the sauce. “The sauce” is TikTok’s latest term for that gravitational, attractive energy some people (both A-listers and plebeians) can possess. “It’s definitely a vibe, which is why it's hard to define,” MJ Gray, 27, who brought “the sauce” to TikTok, tells Elite Daily. Still, she’s trying her best to lay it all out.
On Nov. 1, Gray, a Los Angeles-based model and photographer, posted her first TikTok about the concept, sharing her take on why some people just have the “it” factor. After working in the modeling industry for years, and being in the same social circles as celebrities, she started noticing that not everyone had the same level of charisma. “When you’ll see photos of them... you’re like, ‘Oh my God, this person is so attractive and so cool,’” she explained in the video. “But then when you’re around them in real life, you’re like, ‘Oh.’ There’s an element missing.”
The sauce might be a vibe, but it’s palpable. “You will be in a room with these people and everyone will gravitate toward the individual who has this particular type of charisma,” Gray said. Quickly, her comments section was flooded with people discussing the sauce and asking if their favorite celebs made the cut.
Now, Gray’s #thesauceseries hashtag — where she explores every iteration of “the sauce” — has nearly 270,000 views, and her followers are seriously invested in which of their favorite celebs are deemed sauce-worthy. (Kim Kardashian? No. Anna Marie Tendler? “100,000%.”) Read on for how Gray defines the sauce — plus, how to tell if you have it (or if you’re getting lost in it).
The Sauce, Defined
The sauce means something slightly different to everyone since it’s based on embracing your individuality. “Someone who has the sauce has a strong sense of self,” Gray says. “It’s someone who is confident. When you're around them, you feel heard and you feel seen. They have a comforting, very strong presence.”
Take a scroll through Julia Fox’s TikTok and you’ll see exactly what Gray is talking about. In one particularly memorable video from Oct. 4, Fox explained her bleached eyebrows look: “I love having the bleached brows because it’s kind of like a man repellant.” Not giving AF what men think and doing so with a relatable, DIY eyebrows hack? Sauce.
Of course, Fox’s sauce is just one recipe. There are no consistent, identifiable sauce traits — that’s the point. “The sauce is about claiming your uniqueness,” Gray says. “That's why it's hard to pinpoint because it does come in several shapes, forms, colors, and sizes. It's just the presence that's there all the same.”
Someone who feels right at home at a jazz club? Sauce. Someone who knits in their free time because they love it? Also, sauce. To put it simply, if you’re doing something for you without trying to appeal to others, that’s the sauce. “It can be a myriad of personality traits,” Gray adds. “You just feel like you're a part of their experience of being.”
Gray isn’t the first one to define the sauce. Along with the usual NSFW definitions, Urban Dictionary has a 2015 entry that describes it as “someone who has a style, confidence and attraction about them.” Gucci Mane also described the sauce in a YouTube video from 2013. “When I had no money, I still had sauce. If you don’t got no sauce, then you’re lost,” he said, before adding, “No, you can’t be born with sauce... You gotta get seasoned.”
Do You Have The Sauce?
Unfortunately, if you have to ask if you have the sauce, you probably don’t. “It's about a sense of self,” says Gray. “If you have to ask someone else about your sense of self, then that sense of self probably isn't very strong.”
But that doesn’t mean you’re destined to be sauce-less forever. “The sauce is definitely something that can be acquired,” Gray says. “I would even argue that perhaps no one's born with it. It's something that is acquired through hardship and character development.”
Take Anna Marie Tendler, for example. As a Victorian lampshade designer and artist, she’s got an undeniable sense of self — and her sauce has only grown more potent since her split from John Mulaney in May 2021. “The fact that she managed to leave that relationship, after everything that happened, without saying anything and with so much grace... everyone ended up being on her side,” Gray says. “And all she did was just continue to be herself. That's pretty saucy.”
Just like you can gain the sauce, you can lose it, or “get lost in the sauce.” One example? Resident king of BDE Pete Davidson. “He used to have the sauce, definitely,” Gray says. “He got too caught up. He just started surrounding himself with the most sauceless individuals.” Oof, sorry Kim. “Now, it’s just too much marketing. Marketing is about appealing to everybody, or appealing to as many people as possible, and that's not a strong sense of self.” The totally-not-a-PR-move courtside date with Emily Ratajkowski probably didn’t help, either.
Still, there’s hope for Davidson (and everyone else) who wants to reclaim their sauce — or make it from scratch. “A sense of self is something you have to acquire because we're all growing into ourselves as we go through this experience of life,” Gray says.
So just embrace your seasoning — aka, every scar, victory, strength, and weakness — along the way. Soon enough, you’ll have a gravitational pull that could rival Rihanna’s... OK, maybe not that powerful, but you get the gist.