Are Instagram Filters Influencing Aesthetic Trends?

The beauty industry is no stranger to changing trends but the latest to hit the aesthetics industry is causing serious concern amongst injectors. 

It’s no secret that Instagram is quickly becoming one of the most popular social media platforms used globally and plays a significant role in many of our lives. According to the Hootsuite Global State of Digital 2021 report, nearly 80% of Australians use social media and we’re currently spending an average of 146 minutes per day on the platform. 

With the rise in usage comes new app features – think IGTV, reels, and more recently, face-changing filters that use Augmented Reality (AR) technology to completely alter your appearance. 

At the same time as our Instagram usage has skyrocketed, requests for both invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures is rising. Both influencers and practitioners are taking to their social platforms to show off the results of treatments that seem to emulate some of the most popular filters, despite the banning of plastic surgery filters.

It has us wondering, is the rise in our Instagram usage and the popularity of these new filters influencing the procedures people are requesting in clinic? 

Two industry experts weigh in

Lisa Rush, Director of Lisa Rush Skin Clinic in Sydney’s Woollahra thinks so.

“Instagram filters are fuelling our obsession with perfection and pushing us towards wanting more enhanced features, and slimmer bodies,” says Lisa. 

Lisa Rush, Director of Lisa Rush Skin Clinic
Lisa Rush, Director of Lisa Rush Skin Clinic

“At Lisa Rush Skin Clinic, we have definitely noticed an increase in ‘on trend requests’ from the younger demographic coming into the clinic. Nose slimming, fox eyes, and lip enhancements are common requests and predominantly seen in younger clients being influenced by trends that are dominating social media channels.  

“The majority of our clients don’t lean towards extreme face modifications but there is a high expectation to strive towards skin perfection and feature enhancement to get that perfect shot.”

Concern isn’t just skin deep

This increasing desire to achieve an Instagram perfect complexion has Lisa concerned about the deeper issues that come along with body image. 

“Whilst face and body tuning can be a bit of fun, in the wrong mindset it can fuel body dysmorphia and unrealistic expectations about what can and should be achieved,” says Lisa. 

“We are not afraid to advise our clients to take time to consider their face or body altering procedures, or referring them to the relevant practitioners if body image support is required.”

“At the clinic we take pride in having upfront and honest discussions with our clients about achieving best outcomes for them.  We always encourage body positivity and if clients do have problematic skin issues to address then we do so in a realistic manner and ensure our clients understand what is achievable and what is not.” 

Dr Aliaa Yusof MBBS, Cosmetic Physician, is another leading injector who’s very passionate about the topic of Instagram trends and their influence on the aesthetics industry, particularly the distorting impact it’s having on young womens’ views of their appearance. 

Dr Aliaa Yusof, Cosmetic Physician
Dr Aliaa Yusof, Cosmetic Physician

“Over the years, I have seen more and more patients asking for specific procedures based on popular Instagram trends, such as the “Fox Eye Brow Lift” and “Russian lips”, shares Dr Aliaa. 

“It is great when patients educate themselves before deciding to have treatments but it’s also important for them to understand that some of these images on social media are heavily filtered, edited or photographed using certain angles and lighting that exaggerate certain features. 

“Unfortunately, these enhanced and edited images have become the norm and encourage unrealistic expectations of procedure outcomes and distortion of self-body image, especially among women who are already striving for near impossible beauty standards.”

Leading trends are putting diversity at risk

Dr Aliaa’s concerns extend beyond individual trends to the wider issue of diversity in the beauty industry.  

“I find Instagram or Snapchat filters problematic, as most of these Augmented Reality (AR) filters promote the same look, the ‘Instagram face’; pore-less clear skin, high cheekbones, cat-like eyes, long thick lashes, small tapered nose and full pouty lips. They tend to erase traditionally ethnic features to fit in with the aesthetic.

“In my opinion, it’s important to preserve certain defining features that are uniquely you and define your identity even with facial augmentation procedures. Diversity in beauty should be celebrated rather than erased.”

As a result of the rise in requests for the procedures promoted through Instagram filter trends, Dr Aliaa says that providing a holistic service that focuses as much on the psychological impact of treatments as the aesthetics is more important than ever. 

“As a doctor, it is my responsibility to advocate for my patients’ best interest and this includes educating my patients on what is achievable and realistic by promoting a more holistic approach to beauty.” 

“It can be a challenge to promote a good balance between having a positive body image and the self-empowerment in choosing to have cosmetic procedures.” 

“The key is that it should come from a place of self-love, not self-hate. Looking like an Instagram filter should not be a beauty goal and it’s imperative that as cosmetic doctors that we recognise the psychological impact that beauty trends and these AR filters have on our patients,” says Dr Aliaa. 

“It simply starts by having that difficult discussion with our patients, and sometimes having the courage to say no.”

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