We all know the feeling. You’re scrolling through Instagram, admiring everyone’s perfectly curated feed when you come across a photo of someone with perfect skin. “How do they have such perfect skin?” you think to yourself. And then you remember…they’re probably using a filter.
While filters can be fun and give us a confidence boost, they can also be dangerous. Filters, especially those that smooth out skin or add artificial lighting, can give us false expectations about what our skin should look like.
The Dangers of Comparing Ourselves to Filtered Images
Social media filters are designed to enhance our photos and make us look our best. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to put our best foot forward, the problem arises when we start comparing our filtered selves to our everyday reality. Studies have shown that the use of social media filters can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, especially when it comes to appearance-related concerns such as skin complexion.
One study found that women who frequently used photo-editing apps were more likely to report dissatisfaction with their own skin. In addition, another study found that women who were exposed to more edited images on social media were more likely to believe that their own skin did not meet society’s standards of beauty. These findings are concerning, especially when you consider that nearly 80% of women say they regularly use filters when posting pictures of themselves on social media.
When we compare ourselves to the airbrushed images we see on social media, it’s only natural for us to come up short. After all, those images aren’t an accurate representation of reality. They’re often heavily edited and retouched to create an unrealistic standard of beauty that is impossible for most of us to live up to. And when we compare ourselves against these unrealistic standards, it can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-worth. Additionally, this constant comparison can also take a toll on our skin health. Studies have shown that comparing ourselves to filtered images can lead to increased levels of stress, which in turn can trigger a host of skin problems such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
How Do Social Media Filters Affect Dermatology?
As a result of social media filters, patients are coming into dermatologists’ offices with unrealistic expectations about their skin. They want to know why their skin doesn’t look like the airbrushed version they see on Instagram. And in some cases, patients are actually requesting procedures based on filters they’ve seen online!
For example, the “Kylie Jenner Filter” is a popular Instagram filter that adds artificial lighting to photos and smooths out skin tones. As a result of this filter, many young women are coming into dermatologists’ offices asking for light therapy and fillers in an effort to achieve the same look.
So what can we do about this problem?
First and foremost, we need to be aware of the dangers of social media filters. We need to remember that not everything we see online is real life. Just because someone’s skin looks perfect in a photo doesn’t mean that’s what their skin actually looks like!
We also need to be careful about which filters we use. If we’re going to use them at all, we should try to use ones that don’t completely change the way our skin looks. And we should definitely avoid using filters that add artificial lighting or smooth out our skin tone. These types of filters can give us false expectations about our own skin and make it difficult for dermatologists to properly diagnose any issues we may have!
For example, a patient may come in with a rash that they believe is acne but is actually something else entirely. If the patient has only ever seen their skin through a filter, they may not even realize that there is anything wrong!
The other problem with filtered images is that they give us a false sense of what’s considered “normal.” We start to believe that everyone has perfect skin, and when we don’t, we think there’s something wrong with us. But perfection doesn’t exist and while dermatologists can offer a variety of treatments to enhance a person’s natural appearance, they can’t perform a filtered look.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look our best online, the constant comparison between filtered images and reality can take a toll on our self-esteem—especially when it comes to our skin health. Additionally, it’s important to remember that everyone’s skin is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all definition of “perfect” skin. Remembering that everyone has different types of skin and that solutions will vary is important to achieving and maintaining true skin health.
Scheduling an appointment to have your skin evaluated by a dermatology professional can help you find the right skin care routine and or products to achieve your skin health goals!