Filters abound on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, smoothing out skin blemishes, enhancing facial features and in many cases, offering up an unrealistic image of beauty.
However, these popular filters may have a damaging effect on mental health, according to a recent survey from beauty and hairstyle app StyleSeat.
The StyleSeat team asked some 700 people to try the popular “bold glamour” filter on TikTok, then provide thoughts on how it made them feel. The main takeaway is that one in five respondents said they felt more insecure after seeing themselves with the filter.
Seventy percent of respondents said they think beauty filters are negatively affecting people’s self-esteem. This is particularly felt among Gen Zers, with 72% of them deeming beauty filters bad for their mental health.
The survey also found that four in five respondents believe beauty filters on social media apps have changed beauty standards.
StyleSeat chose to focus on the bold glamour filter in particular, given its popularity. Videos using the filter had gathered more than 941 million views at the time of the survey.
The bold glamour filter is different from previous generations of Snapchat or TikTok filters, which were often glitchy, cartoonish and obviously not real representations of someone’s face.
The bold glamour filter, on the other hand, uses advanced AI to change the appearance of a person’s face – making it look hyper-realistic, according to NPR.
Some of its features include a smaller, thinner nose, higher cheekbones and eyes that look like they’ve been given eyelash extensions and heavy makeup.
“I look like a completely different person,” one video by TikTok user Chiara King notes as she tries out the filter.
“This is legitimately a filter,” TikToker Emily Ciambella says in another video as she touches her face in disbelief, the filter unwavering. “Why are these getting like this?”
“No wonder everyone feels so … ugly all the time,” she adds. “This is hard to tell that it’s a filter. They should be illegal. We have got to stop this, for real.”
While the filter is immensely popular, more and more TikTokers have been calling out the negative effects of such filters.
In one video, TikToker @tolzhaus compares her face without a filter to her face using a filter.
“If you look at yourself all day in a filter like this, how do you not feel like absolute garbage about yourself?” she presses. “I highly recommend doing no more filters, just for your own self-esteem and your own betterment for mental health.”
With mounting concerns about TikTok’s potential to drive up mental health issues—from low self-esteem to depression and isolation—parents, experts and public health officials have called for increased restrictions on the app.
This year, TikTok implemented a default time limit for kids under the age of 18 who use the app, aiming to counter some of those concerns.
Still, some people are now hoping for a ban, or at least some sort of additional regulations, on these beauty filters.
The StyleSeat survey found that one in three people think beauty filters should also have an age requirement—and one in five believe that they should be banned entirely.
For the time being, though, plenty of TikTok users have been urging others to stop using filters on their own—and instead focus on how they are beautiful enough without them.