Sick of seeing the same, templated, pouting, sculpted makeup look all over your Insta feed? You're not the only one. Move over Insta-face, there's a new beauty standard in town.

Instagram: it feels like the dream app that is all give, give, give; nothing but a simple, square-on-square pleasing feast for the eyes. What’s less apparent is that which it takes; a sense of context (which is vital) and time spent actually connecting in our real lives being the primary losses. Like all avenues of modern life, social media has massively challenged and shaped our real-world opinions on beauty. In the particular case of our much-loved photo sharing app, an algorithm – which gives photos more prominence based on the amount of engagement they get – has somewhat standardised what we now consider pretty.

It won’t require much scrolling to find the ‘copy and paste’ aesthetic in question; sharp eyebrows filled in to a measured gradient, cut-creased lids, laden with powdered pigment and super-plump lips painted with matte colour, all on a masked-out and carved-in canvas of skin. Hell, makeup techniques once only employed by drag queens have infiltrated into the everyday routines of the masses. However, ‘daily drag’ isn’t where the issues lies for me...in fact, if the effort required to bake (not the kind related to delicious treats) is something that you’re willing and able to put in every morning – then to you, I tip my hat (a hat that’s probably hiding two-day-old hair).

Sick of the selfie? Same

Instagram was once a platform that championed diversity and afforded beauty enthusiasts a space to explore, push boundaries and exhibit. Now, it seems to only perpetuate a single, and highly-idealised, definition of beauty. The ‘you do you’ message of old has become skewed, if not forgotten entirely, along the way.

At its best, this definitive Instagram look has spawned lucrative careers for ‘how-to’ vloggers and raised the profile of high-quality yet lesser-known brands, but it has also come to be the only acceptable form of beauty for millions of young women the world over. According to Apple, Facetune, the selfie-editor and retouch application came fourth on the list of 2017’s best-selling, paid-for iOS apps, being downloaded more than five million times. So insidious seems the pressure for perfection that, regardless of age or race, we are all striving to resemble clones of a warped Kardashian-hybrid – complete with cartoon-like features – be it only online or in our real lives too.

The beauty backlash

Despair not, for a backlash is emerging, according to the ever-eloquent and perfectly acerbic Terry Barber, MAC Cosmetics’ creative director. Speaking at the brand’s SS18 Directions presentation, he championed, “makeup that lets skin look like...well, skin” and proclaimed that, “natural is not a weakness or failure”. Fellow makeup maestro, Katie Jane Hughes (if you don’t follow her, please take a moment to do so now @katiejanehughes), who’s credited for cult-brand Glossier’s campaigns, speaks at length about complexion. All for fresh makeup that enhances real skin – embracing pores, freckles and shine – she uses Instagram as a vehicle for good; offering tips, tricks and advice on how to wear her editorial-worthy creations in real life.

By design, social media tends to isolate all other senses, only giving us
a visual stimulus without any behind-the-scenes insight. By nature, we’ve
become conditioned to believe that what we see is the norm and thus, feelbad about ourselves for not measuring up. Consider this a public service announcement, c/o of us and Mr Barber: the time is now to reclaim the realness, as “true beauty is never about perfection”.