Beauty Filter – Why it’s dangerous!

Nikki Butler

Nikki Butler

Beauty Filter Dangers 101!

You’ll be hard-pushed to find pictures without a beauty filter applied these days. Whether you’re on social media, online, or looking at a magazine. Most photos are so heavily filtered, and not just with a beauty filter – often with body contouring and feature adaptations too. In my opinion, a beauty filter is a big NO-NO! I personally think they are dangerous and damaging, in more ways than I can possibly articulate in a blog.  Let’s have a look at why I feel so strongly about this, and some things you may like to consider when looking at these beautiful, flawless photos. 

Beauty Filter Dangers

I used the beauty filter options in the super popular FaceApp. This was on the Pro settings – as I got a 3 day free trial. I’ve listed the settings I used, so you can see the changed I made to my natural self/original photo, when I used the beauty filter. 

As you can see, these apps have super clever beauty filter options, that can pretty much make me look like a different person. 

These filters really worry me, on multiple levels, and I’ll talk about that in a bit more detail throughout the blog. I don’t use them personally, or professionally. Here are my top 3 concerns: 

  1. They aren’t realistic. As you can see, I have flawless skin and conform to what society/media has led us to believe is attractive. I’m calling BS on this – it’s just not how most of us look in real life and gives us unrealistic expectations. 
  2. If we think this is ‘normal’, it can be hugely damaging to how we feel when we look in the mirror, and we don’t look like this. And no amount of makeup or skincare will create this look for us. 
  3. We are creating unrealistic versions of beauty and therefore dangerously unrealistic role models, for future generations. 
Beauty Filter v Reality

This is what I look like in REAL LIFE! You can see lines, creases and also  my scar on my forehead. You can also see slight bags under my eyes. Now, I’m wearing makeup in this picture, but not a lot – and just my day-to-day mineral makeup. 

If I go missing or get lost, and the media issues a photo of me – I’m pretty sure you’d find me, based on this photo.  But if my loved ones handed over the beauty filter one? Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t fancy my changes of being recognised! 

At the time of writing this blog, I am 47 years young. I’ve not had any anti-wrinkle injections, and I’ve chosen to look after my skin with medical-grade skincare, radiofrequency microneedling, and HIFU.  I also look after my skin with my lifestyle and nutrition choices too – as always, it’s an outside-in and inside-out approach! 

It’s realistic and achievable for other women my age, and I’m not giving a false representation of what can be achieved. 

Why THIS is so dangerous!

Now, imagine that you see THIS picture of me and I tell you the same as I’ve told you above. 

Maybe you’d look at this and think ‘WOW, I want to do what she’s doing’.  Or maybe you’d spot that there was a filter on this, at a million miles?

Either way, this is super dishonest and misleading. 

Apart from giving misleading expectations on what you can expect for treatments and products, it’s also a completely unrealistic representation of a 47-year-old woman.  I’ve seen so many influencers and celebrities online that fall into my age bracket, and I often look at them and feel ‘less’ in comparison. Sometimes it’s with their skin, and sometimes it’s with their weight, their body shape, their hair.  Somehow, they look incredible, and I can’t achieve anything close.  It can really affect my confidence and self-esteem. 

Until that is, I learned more about filters and just how many people are using them, and the extent to which they have the power to warp reality! 

Think long term

Using a beauty filter might seem harmless and a bit of fun, but the damage can be deep. 

Beauty filters create unrealistic images of what ‘beauty’ looks like. This, in turn, can really affect someone’s confidence, self-esteem, and how they feel in their own skin.  I know many people that have gone to great lengths to try and achieve results like these when it’s just not realistic. 

When we look at social media and magazines, we can’t help but compare ourselves to others. But we’re not comparing like for like, or even to reality – so this can send our self-esteem plummeting. 

Beauty filter applications also contribute to creating and fuelling stereotypes, which is something I feel very strongly about. Stereotypes, of all natures, are dangerous, damaging, and divisive. Creating a stereotype of ‘beauty’ through applying a beauty filter is contributing to creating and feeding a stereotype of what beauty ‘should’ look like. 

And, what about our younger generations too? They are growing up with impossible role models and are going to be constantly comparing themselves to filtered versions of others. There is already a wealth of evidence to support the impact of this on mental health, and it’s no coincidence that mental health issues have been on an alarming increase over the last few years. 

Can you do away with the beauty filter?

Do you remember way back when you couldn’t apply a beauty filter?  I most certainly do! When you just took a picture on a camera and then had to wait a week for the film to be developed… 

I can’t help thinking that there was something so beautiful in these pictures, as they were a TRUE reflection of the people, places and experiences. Sure, we were all caught on camera pulling a weird face, mouth half open saying something, or doing something strange with our arm. But, these were perfectly imperfect moments.  We weren’t stressing about the lighting, we weren’t taking 100 photos to get the perfect ONE, and we weren’t obsessed with how we looked in comparison to a load of people we don’t even know. 

Please don’t ever let your desire to look like an air-brushed influencer or celebrity (or even a friend) be the driver to have treatments with me, or to change the way you look. A beauty filter does not make us beautiful.  How we feel about ourselves, and our confidence to be real and authentic is where we are at our most beautiful (in my opinion).  

My beauty role models are women like Dame Helen Mirren, who looks beautiful and elegant, as the years pass by. Sure, she may have had some ‘tweakments’ along the way, but she’s embracing the natural ageing process, without giving us all false illusions of what being in your 70’s looks like. 

Remember, AGEING IS  A PRIVILEGE. It truly is. 

Comparison is the thief of joy

This is one of my favourite sayings. It’s hard enough when we get caught up in comparing ourselves to others when it’s ‘real’. But there’s just no point in comparing ourselves to something that is fake and filtered. Remember, it’s not just a beauty filter that is damaging. I’ve already mentioned body filters and altered features (such as nose, lips, etc), but also think about the unseen filters on social media. The perfect lives we think others have, the illusion that everyone else is having more fun than us, has a more interesting life or has more friends. 

I am not immune to the impact of comparison, far from it. I have grown up with significant scarring that does not exactly fit the stereotype of ‘beauty’, and I’ve been shamed and ridiculed for it. But I have found power in stepping away from the ‘should’s’, and focusing on how I want to FEEL. I’ve asked myself why I feel the need to look like others? Why do I think that beauty means being flawless and looking young? And the truth is, that’s just societal stereotyping at its finest! When I strip that away and focus on how I WANT to feel and look, I see beauty in a whole different way. 

What does beauty FEEL like for you? When do you feel confident? What makes you FEEL good? Let me know – I’d love to hear from you.  You can email me at nikki@nikkibutler.co.uk, if you’d prefer. 

Beauty filter v filters

I’m not saying all filters are a bad thing.  Whilst I don’t use or apply beauty filters, I do sometimes adjust the lighting on my pictures. 

I’m notoriously bad at taking photos – even with state-of-the-art technology (iPhone 14 pro, at least!). I often have to adjust the light balance on my photos, which, in my opinion, is absolutely fine.  Sometimes, touching up photos is a necessity, if you’re terrible at taking them in the first place!

What I’m talking about in this article is applying an unrealistic beauty filter, that misrepresents how someone really looks.  I personally believe it sets us all up to feel ‘less’. To compare ourselves to unrealistic expectations of beauty. 

What do you think? Do you agree with me? Or do you love to apply a filter? Please get in touch if you’d like to share your thoughts and opinions. I’m always open to chatting about this stuff. But for me, I’ll continue to keep the beauty filter off, on my photos! 

Skin confidence without the beauty filter

How do you currently feel about your skin? How would you like to feel about it? If you’d like to achieve your best possible skin, then I’m here to help you. 

You can download my Ultimate Skin Guide via the button below, which is packed full of advice and tips, that you can put into action for free – today!

You can also read my blog on how to achieve glowing skin HERE.  And, if you haven’t already taken my Skin Quiz, which creates bespoke advice for you – based on your answers, then you can take that HERE

If you’d like some help and guidance, then please reach out. I offer a complimentary Zoom consultation, where we talk about your skin concerns, goals, and desired outcomes – and how to achieve them.  Book in via the link below. 

Nikki Butler skin specialist
How can I help?

I hope that you’ve found my blog on beauty filter issues helpful.  You’ll find lots more blogs and information throughout the website, where I talk about the importance of looking after your skin from the inside out, and outside in. 

If you’d like help with your skin and/or scars, then please get in touch. I’d love to be able to help you. 

My aesthetics clinic is based in Alton, Hampshire. I’m 15 minutes from both Basingstoke and Farnham, and at the end of a direct train line from London Waterloo. 

I offer both in-clinic and remote skin services. Many skin stress concerns can be treated remotely. It might interest you to hear that less than 10% of clients that contact me about skin stress issues, ever need aesthetic treatments!

You can book via the button below, and you can also download my Ultimate Skin & Scar Guides. 

And, if you haven’t taken my Skin Quiz yet, then you’ll find it HERE. It takes less than 4 minutes, and you’ll get immediate, bespoke results – with tips and advice you can action immediately! 

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