Science and esthetics joined forces with phone cameras and have caused a beauty revolution like that not seen since makeup became popular with the start of motion pictures. Especially with the young people who use them the most, photo and video-editing filters have made them want to attain the filtered versions of themselves in real life.
Instagram was the first social media site to add face enhancing filters in 2017 and as The New Yorker described “the age of Instagram face,” it was a look defined by “poreless skin and high cheekbones,” “catlike eyes and long lashes,” and “a small nose and full lips.”
Initially, filtered photos appeared fake and obviously retouched but the filters rapidly improved.
Selfies could be made more flattering and yet realistic and people started comparing themselves to the seeming perfection of those retouched pictures.
With Tiktok’s Bold Glamour “filter,” introduced earlier this year, face editing in videos looks so realistic that it’s almost undetectable. Many users have commented that after seeing how they look when the filter is on, they’re more dissatisfied with their unfiltered face than they were before. 90% of women admit they edit photos of themselves before posting them online.(1) Many of them admit that they retouch every photo of themselves that they post.
Facebook released research findings from a survey of 22,000 users showing that 32% of teen girls felt unattractive when comparing themselves to people they saw on Instagram. A survey found that 45% of young females say that social media makes them want to get cosmetic surgery(2).
75% of plastic surgeons saw a spike in clients under 30, according to data released last week (2023) by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that in 2020, some 12,000 cosmetic Botox injections were carried out on teenagers.
Why are young people so interested in having cosmetic procedures? Millennials’ social lives take place on social media. Gen Z has essentially been exposed to social media all their lives, take the most selfies and interact on the most sites. A report from December 2022 claimed that over half of Gen Z typically spends four or more hours scrolling on social media, with TikTok named one of the most-used social media apps.
The most notable change in cosmetic dermatology over the past 2 decades lies in the shift from correction and reversal treatments for millennials to preventive measures for Gen Z. (3)
Millennials, in general, are interested in minimally invasive “tweakments”, such as injectables, chemical peels and light laser treatments. Gen Z tends to be most interested in preventing the signs of aging with “prejuvenative” noninvasive skincare routines, microdermabrasion, gadgets, etc.
What really sets the members of this generation apart, surgeons agree, is not just that they are coming in earlier for treatments but also that they are coming in knowing exactly what treatments they want.
As plastic surgeon Dr. Theda Kontis notes, “My older patients will come in and say: ‘I want to look better. I’m not sure what I need. The younger patients come in and say: ‘I want fillers in my cheeks, and I want Botox here.’ They know exactly what they want, and they know what it does.”
- Gill, Rosalind. Science News. March 8, 2021. Changing the Perfect Picture: Smartphones, Social Media and Appearance Pressures.
- Walker, Candice. Current Psychology. Effects of social media use on desire for cosmetic surgery among young women. 30 April 2019. volume 40, pages3355–3364 (2021)
- Gupta A, Miller PJ. Management of lip complications. Facial Plast Surg Clin. 2019;27(4):565–570. doi: 10.1016/j.fsc.2019.07.011