01 December 2021

Before and after: Experts reveal how popular filters change how we look

We examined the most popular facial filters used on social media to boost body confidence

Brits now spend nearly two weeks (11 days - 257 hours) on social media each year1, and everyday hundreds if not thousands of images of people’s faces are being uploaded – many of which have been digitally altered using a variety of filters.

Social media filters are not only frequently used by influencers but also by the average social media user too, with a recent survey showing that as many as nine in ten (90%) young women use filters or edit their photos before posting them2.

We at Transform analysed popular online image and photo filters, looking what sort of effects each one achieves.

Our research revealed that the most popular beauty filters on Instagram right now include:

  • ‘JUST FOLLOW’, which gives the user longer lashes, plumper lips and a smaller nose
  • ‘Cute noise’, which gives the user plumper lips, freckles, longer lashes, glowing skin, rosy cheeks and the option to pick a different eye colour
  • ‘Ariel’, which gives the user a very chiselled appearance with higher cheekbones, plumper lips, a smaller nose, arched eyebrows and longer lashes; and
  • ‘Oh babe’, which gives the user rosier and higher cheekbones, a smaller nose that is highlighted at the end, longer lashes, plumper lips and dewy skin

Together these filters - which offer varying levels of facial feature alteration - boast 791k uses on Instagram Reels alone3.

To help people see just how much difference popular filters can make to a person’s appearance in a photo, Transform worked with a designer to show the ‘before and after’ transformation of each ‘effect’. We also illustrate which treatments or small tweakments could be used if you are looking for a real-life confidence boost that has been inspired by a favourite filter.


Filters that create the appearance of larger, plumper lips

Some of the most popular filters are ones that accentuate the user’s lips, making them appear larger in comparison to other facial features and giving them a fuller effect.


If you are looking to alter the appearance of your lips and are aiming for a plumper pout, then lip fillers can be used to add or restore volume to your lips. The treatment can subtly result in fuller lips and can last between 6-12 months.





Filters that create the appearance of arched eyebrows

An eyebrow shape can alter the way the rest of your features look, and finding an eyebrow shape that balances out the face can be a great way to boost confidence in day-to-day life. The height of an eyebrow arch can affect eye shape – giving the appearance of bigger eyes, something that is popular in beauty filters.


Face lifts can be focused on your brow area and used to treat sagging skin. They tighten the skin in the area and give a lifted appearance.





Filters that create the appearance of a smaller nose

Commonly used filters tend to pair larger lips and wider eyes with a smaller nose. Small noses with slim bridges are a sought-after feature, with many people choosing to mimic this offline with makeup contouring.

If you’d like to alter the shape of your nose, there are multiple options you could look into. Rhinoplasty can be used to change the shape and size of your nose and will give you permanent results, however if you’re looking for a less long-term option then non-surgical rhinoplasty (also known as ‘nose fillers’ or a ‘liquid nose job’ can be done to subtly change the appearance of your nose.





Filters that create the appearance of higher cheekbones

Another beauty feature that is popular in filters is the raising of the cheekbones so that they are higher on the face and sit more prominently. A high cheekbone gives a youthful appearance and filters tend to either add these in or exaggerate any already visible cheekbones.


Dermal filler injections can be used to give the subtle effect of high cheekbones and a more chiseled face.




Filters that create the appearance of glowing skin

Glowing and flawless skin is another confidence boosting effect we look for in filters. With a growing number of people prioritising their skincare over makeup, it is no surprise that many look for a filter that gives them a clearer and brighter complexion.


If you’re dreaming of having filter-like glowing skin, then a HydraFacial treatment can give you instant results, leaving you with a healthy-looking complexion. This facial can be used to treat hyperpigmentation, sun damage, acne and signs of aging leaving you with clear, healthy-looking skin.





Filters that create the appearance of longer eyelashes

Longer eyelashes tend to be a staple when it comes to using beauty filters and for good reason. Longer, darker eyelashes can give the appearance of bigger and brighter eyes, giving more contrast and drawing attention to this feature.


Longer eyelashes are an easy confidence boost to deliver offline, with options ranging from mascara, false eyelashes or semi-permanent eyelash extensions.





Filters that incorporate all the facial feature alterations

When all these effects are combined a significantly altered appearance is the result. Typically, filters can range from being more subtle to achieving more dramatic and exaggerated looks.





When looking at altered images on social media it is easy to compare this to your own natural features, but it is important to remember that a temporary filter does not represent reality.

Considering the amount of time we’re all spending online, it’s easy to see how we can become used to a filtered and perfect world. Using a beauty filter when posting a snap online can be an easy and quick way to boost your confidence, but if you prefer how you appear with certain features subtly changed, treatments or small tweakments can ensure that you get a more long-lasting confidence boost.

At Transform we believe that it’s always important to feel like yourself, and that you don’t feel any pressure to make changes to your appearance that you’re not 100% confident and happy with. However, for those of that would like to make subtle alterations, the options are there to enable you to feel more confident and comfortable in your own skin.





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