Plastic surgeons rate these as the best Instagram filters. We don't agree

While some of their filter choices were spot on, others missed the mark

07 August 2019 - 11:50 By Tswelopele Maputla and Sanet Oberholzer
Instagram has been around since 2010.
Instagram has been around since 2010.
Image: 123RF/Kaspars Grinvalds

Instagram filters help us put our best faces forward when posting snaps on social media. So much so that it's not uncommon for people to ask plastic surgeons to work their magic and make them look like one of their filtered selfies in real life.

This is one of the reasons why The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) recently conducted some research about which Instagram filters are the most and least flattering, as well as which ones you should use (or avoid!) if you want to look younger than your years.

In the interests of avid selfie takers everywhere — and because, as the study's author Anthony Young pointed out, the results provide an insight into what society deems to be desirable and flattering — we decided to put these filters to the test.

Here's what journalists Tswelopele Maputla and Sanet Oberholzer had to say about them:

MOST FLATTERING FILTERS

What the ASAPS study said: Juno, Lark and Sienna were deemed to be the most flattering filters.

A snap of Sanet Oberholzer filtered using 'Juno'.
A snap of Sanet Oberholzer filtered using 'Juno'.
Image: Supplied

Sanet's verdict: None of these filters are bad at making you look good.

In my personal opinion, Juno is the best as it doesn’t take too much colour from your face, which makes it better at accentuating your eye, lip and hair colour.

Tswelopele's verdict: These filters don’t do much for my face or the quality of my picture.

Lark makes me look lighter, something I would be grateful for if the sun wasn’t already kissing my face as beautifully as it did in the original image.

On the other hand, Sierra gives me a 'tarnished' look, like a photo from the distant past; it's an effect I really appreciate because I’m into eras that I’ve never lived in.

A snap of Tswelopele Maputla filtered with, from left, 'Lark', 'Sierra' and 'Juno'.
A snap of Tswelopele Maputla filtered with, from left, 'Lark', 'Sierra' and 'Juno'.
Image: Supplied

Juno just made me look orange and I didn’t like that.

LEAST FLATTERING FILTERS

What the ASAPS study said: Hefe, X-Pro and Slumber were deemed to be the least flattering filters.

Sanet's verdict: These filters don’t cast as soft a tone on the pictures as Juno, Lark and Sierra do, for example. For this reason, it might be better to steer clear of them if you want to hide imperfections.

A snap of Sanet Oberholzer filtered using, from left, 'Hefe' and 'X-Pro'.
A snap of Sanet Oberholzer filtered using, from left, 'Hefe' and 'X-Pro'.
Image: Supplied

I particularly don’t like Hefe as it casts a very orange tone, but I like X-pro for its rich, bright colour.

Tswelopele's verdict: If looking a colour far off your skin tone is your thing, then maybe using Hefe is the way to go. I felt this filter wasn’t flattering because it didn’t enhance my picture in anyway.

A snap of Tswelopele Maputla filtered with, from left, 'Hefe', 'X-Pro' and 'Slumber'.
A snap of Tswelopele Maputla filtered with, from left, 'Hefe', 'X-Pro' and 'Slumber'.
Image: Supplied

X-Pro gave me a bit of a tan and, to be honest, I’m not sure how to feel about it. On one hand, I like that it almost gives my skin a gold-like glow, but at the same time, it’s far off the truth. 

I found Slumber just okay; my only problem is that it looked like it desaturated my picture.

MOST AND LEAST YOUTHFUL FILTERS

What the ASAPS study said: Reyes, Rise and Gingham were found to be the filters that were most effective at making people look more youthful, and Perpetua, Crema and Aden, the least effective.

Sanet's verdict: The Reyes, Rise and Gingham filters reduced the visible signs of freckles on my cheeks and contours next to my eyes. While I don’t find freckles problematic, I imagine the filters will have a similar effect on wrinkles and signs of ageing.

Of the three, I prefer Gingham because it doesn’t cast a yellowish look on the picture, but I don’t particularly like any of them as they reduce the rich colour in the picture. 

A snap of Sanet Oberholzer filtered using, from left, 'Perpetua' and 'Gingham'.
A snap of Sanet Oberholzer filtered using, from left, 'Perpetua' and 'Gingham'.
Image: Supplied

The Perpetua, Crema and Aden filters do retain a bit more colour and detail which is probably why they won’t be good for hiding 'faults', but this is something I like. I’d rather look my age than like a washed out ghost (for now – that is!). For a good example, compare Perpetua to Gingham. I prefer the former. 

Tswelopele's verdict:  Perpetua, Crema and Aden are ranked the worst filters if you’re looking for a youthful look. I’m quite neutral when it comes to Perpetua, maybe it’s because I already look 12 in my selfie, but I don’t think any of its features made me look younger or older.

A snap of Tswelopele Maputla filtered with, from left, 'Crema' and 'Aden'.
A snap of Tswelopele Maputla filtered with, from left, 'Crema' and 'Aden'.
Image: Supplied

I can agree on Crema being the worst, the grimy look certainly adds a couple more years to your skin.

I don’t think Aden is as bad as the ranking it got, maybe I’m being biased because it enhances my skin tone and matches the background quite nicely.


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