Are Filters Ruining the Makeup Industry? - PSEUDO LABS

Are Filters Ruining the Makeup Industry?

How much is too much? We dive into the correlation between social media and beauty trends. 

We live in a world where our phones act as another appendage, an extension of ourselves, whether we can admit to it or not. How can we be in denial that social media isn’t already too integrated into our lives as we know it? The release of the recent Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” has sparked a lot of us to take a step back and evaluate how we interact with the social media we have incorporated into the majority of our daily lives. This has us considering how we interact with the features of social media. Something that may seem so small, like filters, actually have major impacts on the way we view ourselves. Body dysmorphia has been a huge result of these filters. They have evolved from the “dog filter” to actually reshaping jawlines, bone structures, and lip sizes. It’s problematic when these seemingly innocent filters are causing extreme dysmorphia, while some medical doctors are condoning turning these filters into a reality on patients. Let’s take a step back for a second. There are trends in makeup due to these filters as well. Do beauty trends in makeup cause the same dysmorphic effects? 

What effects does a filter really have?

Sometimes it can be hard to decipher these trends in terms of identifying which ones have the potential to become “toxic”. There are so many trends from high brows, plump lips to cut jawlines. Makeup, plastic surgery, and filters all sort of blend in the world of these beauty trends. It is wild to think about how desensitized we have become to these extreme beauty standards. Beauty reporter Jessica DeFino says in her recent Instagram post, “It is terrifying to me that medical doctors, who've taken the Hippocratic Oath to ‘do no harm,’ are taking advantage of the mass-scale social media manipulation that's happened over the past decade, are pushing these impossible and unrealistic standards on patients (specifically, patients who were not concerned about their crow’s feet or wrinkles or thin lips in the first place), and making a profit”. DeFino talks about how the effects of social media impact how the world works, making the influence of it inescapable. With most of our screen time increasing, especially during these crazy times, it is no surprise that social media has this large of an effect on us and our habits. An article about the study of “Snapchat Dysmorphia”,  touches on how Instagram and Snapchat’s filters have such altering effects on a person’s physical appearance that the term Snapchat dysmorphia was brought to life. For example, they found that plastic surgeons noticed many clients “describing their desired changes, which corresponded to what the filters on these two applications could provide”. They also found that “plastic surgeon, Dr. Schulman. Renee Engeln, Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University, has also pointed out that the common man is losing perspectives on what he/she actually looks like due to these two social media applications (Instagram and Snapchat).” Because these filters are so life-like, they are now blurring the lines between how a person looks in reality, and how they appear on an Instagram feed. It is a scary thought to not know these distinctions. 


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This weekend I watched @thesocialdilemma documentary on Netflix (thanks for the suggestion @pushingbeauty!) and I suggest you do too if you haven't already. It dives into how social media is essentially reprogramming humanity in so many ways, but the part that stuck out to me was how social media influences beauty standards. A year and a half ago, I wrote an article on this exact topic for @fashionista_com, exploring Snapchat Dysmorphia and breaking down all of the procedures (plastic surgery and non-surgical aesthetic treatments) that go into "Instagram Face." You know, the artificial, filtered look that makes it hard to tell if you just scrolled past a selfie of Emily Ratajkowski or Bella Hadid; the aesthetic that prompts you to ponder lip injections (but, like, *super subtle* lip injections??). The link is in my bio if you want to read the full story, which includes the above quote: yes, this is an actual quote from an actual dermatologist who actually encourages her clients to look more like their favorite filters, who makes a living by feeding clients' fears that they're not good enough as they are, in real life. . THIS IS NOT NORMAL. . We can't let this be normal. . I have had SO many women message me in the past saying that their dermatologists have suggested Botox and fillers out of the blue, without prompting from the patient — just throwing it out there at a yearly skin cancer screening or an unrelated appointment. It is terrifying to me that medical doctors, who've taken the Hippocratic Oath to "do no harm," are taking advantage of the mass-scale social media manipulation that's happened over the past decade, are pushing these impossible and unrealistic standards on patients (specifically, patients who were not concerned about their crows feet or wrinkles or thin lips in the first place), and making a profit. It really drives home one of the points made in The Social Dilemma: Even if you're not on social, social media has changed how the world works. It's pretty much impossible to escape its influence.

A post shared by Jessica DeFino (@jessicadefino_) on


How does this filter into the makeup industry?

In terms of makeup, filters can help “preview’ different makeup products during a launch. For example, on Instagram, Kylie Jenner had a lip kit filter a while back that let you “try on” the newest shades. This broadens the way the makeup industry is able to reach and interact with potential customers. But where is the line that causes the shift between marketing and dysmorphia inducing? Remember when contouring was the big trend in about 2012, it seemed like everyone was trying out the sculpted look of it. Even Kim Kardashian made a contour makeup line, and now we have filters that can do all the work for us. We have now evolved into a world of “digital makeup”. According to The Fashion Studies Journal, “Consumers, whether or not they practice these techniques, have become more comfortable with the idea of strategically, oftentimes dramatically, augmenting one’s appearance with makeup.” On one side, there is a comfort in turning these digital beauty trends into a reality in the realm of makeup, as it is temporary. However, on the other hand, is makeup adding to the issue of not being able to recognize ourselves? 

What about beauty enhancements?

Yes, there are always going to be debates about where the line is. That is why is important to decipher the intent within a post, filter, or brand. Although there are ways to alter your appearance, that should be left up to interpretation and the individual. Makeup is an art form. It is interesting to see how you can temporarily change your appearance through different techniques and various makeup applications. At the same time, brands that promote natural beauty, along with playing with the boldness makeup offers is something that we can admire! Pseudo Labs acknowledges that there are ways to experiment with beauty products, but also enhance the natural beauty of our users. Incorporating products that enhance those beautiful natural features, while not masking them, seems like the best way to go. With PHreckles, you can achieve the look of a faux freckle filter in real life, without any permanent changes. This allows for more room to experiment with your look temporarily or focus on enhancing natural freckles and beauty marks that tend to get covered up by ordinary makeup. PHreckles are also inclusive to all genders and skin types with a shade that ranges for all tones. It is refreshing to have products that are as unique as you are while being able to be applied universally, as they are derived from science. Faux freckles are the perfect way to enhance your beauty and subtly add boldness to any look. 




Barker, Jessica. “Considering Snapchat Filters as Digital Adornment.” The Fashion Studies Journal, The Fashion Studies Journal, 2 July 2017, 

Chiu, Allyson. “Patients Are Desperate to Resemble Their Doctored Selfies. Plastic Surgeons Alarmed by 'Snapchat Dysmorphia.'.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Apr. 2019, 

DeFino, Jessica. “A Complete Guide to All the Non-Surgical Cosmetic Procedures People Are Getting for 'Instagram Face'.” Fashionista, 26 June 2019, 

Ramphul, K., & Mejias, S. G. (2018). Is "Snapchat Dysmorphia" a Real Issue?. Cureus, 10(3), e2263.



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