Face Filters Are More Deceiving Than Ever—11 Truly Shocking Before And After Photos From Instagram

Women have always had to battle beauty standards. However, there is something especially nefarious about today’s standards: They aren’t real.

By Katarina Bradford3 min read

Our beauty standards today are largely generated by the influencers and celebrities that we’re exposed to on Instagram. However, the major distinction between today’s beauty standards compared to previous generations is that the standards are generated by faces that don’t actually exist. There has been a recent movement exposing the face-altering filters used on Instagram and their effects on our mental health. In 2018, plastic surgeon Dr. Esho coined the phrase “snapchat dysmorphia,” relating to the overwhelming dissatisfaction with your physical appearance due to face filters on social media, as he increasingly turned down patients seeking plastic surgeries to make their faces look like social media filters. Requests to physically alter your physical appearance have only grown within the plastic surgery industry over the past several years. 

What do these filters do? Face filters overwhelmingly tend to alter your face in the following way: They make you appear to have bigger eyes, a thinner face, a pointy chin, a small nose, and clear skin. Often these filters tend to look synthetic, but as of late, filters have continually become more realistic, making these unrealistic, digitally-created beauty standards all the more seemingly attainable. 

Here are 11 examples to show you just how truly shocking the before and after face filters can be (and how easily you can mistake them for unedited photos in some circumstances too).

1. Rankin Experiment

Award-winning and cutting-edge British fashion photographer, Rankin, an icon who has come into the spotlight since becoming a regular guest judge on the UK’s makeup competition, Glow Up, recently launched a project examining how teenagers view their beauty standards. After snapping a picture of five teenage girls, each of a different ethnic background, Rankin gave them the image on their phones to alter until their face was “Instagram ready.” The results are astounding. 

Each of these teenage girls altered their face to where the original photo is almost unrecognizable. We couldn’t have said it any better than Rankin himself: “People are mimicking their idols, making their eyes bigger, their nose smaller and their skin brighter, and all for social media likes. It’s just another reason why we are living in a world of FOMO, sadness, increased anxiety, and Snapchat dysmorphia. It’s time to acknowledge the damaging effects that social media has on people’s self-image.”

2.  Holly Cockerill

TikToker Holly Cockerill set out on a similar project to expose the damaging effects of face filters on social media, and her findings will make your jaw drop. Here are a few of her before-and-after images of how TikTok’s face-altering filters completely change her (and her boyfriend’s) appearance. In some instances, the filter realistically imposes a completely different face on hers. Here are some of her most shocking before-and-after pics.  

3. Khloe Kardashian

So many of Instagram’s face filters mimic the “Kardashian ideal” with big cat eyes, plump lips, high cheekbones, and small noses. However, not even the infamous Kardashians themselves can live up to this standard. Khloe Kardashian was caught using a face filter that completely altered her natural face. 

4. Kylie Jenner

Similarly, Kylie Jenner was caught editing her face for an Instagram post from an already-edited picture. 

5. Bella Hadid

Kylie Jenner isn’t the only celebrity editing already-airbrushed pictures for Instagram. Model Bella Hadid is seen editing her Allure Magazine cover photo for her Instagram post. 

6. Karsen Veazey

20-year-old TikTok star and singer Karsen Veazy made a Reel that illustrates the damaging effects of filters on young women.

7. Tayla Damir

It’s refreshing to see celebrities use their social media platforms to expose the illusions of Instagram filters. Model Tayla Damir from Love Island: Australia used her Instagram account to show how filters alter her face. 

She wrote, “I have seen many people comparing their before and after photos using editing apps. I was mortified to see how easily an app could change someone's entire appearance. I was instantly frustrated. The frustration didn't come from people using these apps. It came from the lack of education around what these apps can do to one's self-esteem. It is becoming harder to know what is real and what is fake on social media. Between face filters, editing apps and photoshop, it's nearly impossible to understand what people truly look like.”

8.  Joanna J. Kenny

Shoutout to other ladies on social media, like Joanna Kenny, who are also exposing the warping effects of filters. As she holds up a mirror to her face showing how the filters cover up her acne and alter her face shape, Kenny says, “Comparing ourselves to others is normal. Comparing ourselves to the perfect, online version of ourself IS NOT. This is not a before and after. I could not achieve this ‘look’ in real life. No skincare will give me this result. No makeup will make me this poreless.”

9. Josephine Levin

Instagram influencer, Josephine Levin, shows how the face-filtering app, the Face App, alters her face in real time. 

10.  Faye Dickinson

British Instagram influencer Faye Dickinson, the creator of the “Filter vs. Reality” filter, tells the Metro UK that she wanted to “create something unique to show people how these dramatic beauty filters rid selfies of skin textures, tones, scars, everything that makes you.” 

11. Paige Piskin

There has been a recent trend on Instagram using the same audio and filter to call out the absurdity of face filters in a comical way. Here’s an example from Paige Piskin, who ironically is a viral filter creator, known for creating “highly realistic futuristic makeup filters” in the Augmented Reality community. 

Lastly, I took to Instagram several months ago after discovering the manipulative and destructive nature of face filters on young girls. These filters are digitally altered beauty standards bombarding every young girl who has access to social media. As big as this challenge may seem, we can reaffirm that young women’s beauty is not defined by these digitally manufactured creations, but rather is intrinsic. Let’s rise to that challenge, ladies!

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