Here's How to Make Your Skin Look Like It's Wearing an Instagram Filter
If your #NoMakeup selfie is rocking a Rise filter, does it technically still qualify for the hashtag? The jury is still out on that, but the hyper-real finish our favorite Instagram effects give our skin are often so good, we're constantly on the hunt for products that can take those effects into the real world, especially on days when the weather has our complexion looking pretty gnarly. That's why we consulted the expertise of Joey Maalouf, celebrity makeup artist and co-founder of The Glam App, who broke down Instagram's best beauty filters, as well as how you can apply one to your IRL makeup routine—but not before providing some sage wisdom on the art of the selfie.
"I mean, not to sound like Kim Kardashian, but lighting is the most important thing ever. Don't be afraid of a little backlight. It can make you look as good as direct light," he tells us. "I'm not a believer of taking a photo from too high up because it looks like you're trying to hide something, so I prefer to keep it at eye level. Valencia, Nashville, and Mayfair are pretty much my go-to filters, but if no one looks good and you want to post the picture, go black and white." Noted.
Keep reading to find out how you can look like you're wearing an Instagram filter, and the exact products you should use.
Praised for its ability to cover your selfie in a warm wash of color with subtle golden hints, Valencia is probably one of the most popular filters of the bunch, and has been shown to garner more double-taps than the others. "I call the finish a warm beige, and Nars's Laguna and Casino bronzers immediately come to mind," Maalouf tells us. "They have a very similar golden tint as the filter, but there's a beige undertone so that it won't look fake." Since both powders have a touch of shimmer, don't include them in your contouring regimen. Maalouf recommends dipping a kabuki brush in a small amount of the powder, then use circular motions to blend it all over your skin.
We're calling it—the Mayfair filter is Instagram's own contour palette, thanks to the healthy warmth it adds to your complexion, while highlighting in all the appropriate places. "This is definitely a sunkissed vibe. It's that just-got-back-from-vacation look that everyone wants," Maalouf explains. To get that effect IRL, he recommends using the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow Duo. Swirl the tawny brown powder over areas where the sun would naturally hit, then apply the illuminator over the high points of your face. "It works on every skin tone and I'm always amazed when I try it out on someone I wouldn't think it would work on," he adds.
"Hefe is so good—it's so good," Maalouf says of the ultra-bronze filter. "It's like a deep desert tan, so I would suggest using a self-tanning cream." Opt for a gradual version like St. Tropez's ($30; beauty.com) so you can build the color slowly and create a believeable finish. The pro also credits Clinique's Gel Bronzer ($19; ulta.com) as another favorite. "It's funny because it's made for men, but I use it on my female clients all the time," he tells us. "It almost looks like blood when you put it on your hand because it's so thick and dark, but when you mix it over your moisturizer, your skin heats it up and it literally looks like the perfect tan." As always, blend the product down your neck and chest to even out color, and pair it with a gradual self-tanner on your body to ensure everything is even.
Probably best for those no-makeup (or realistically, minimalist makeup) selfies, the Rise filter conceals any imperfections in the skin while giving off a dewy finish that looks entirely like your own. Maalouf recommends layering Honest Beauty's illuminating primer underneath your foundation to mimic the almost-airbrushed skin, while providing a subtle dewy finish. "It's funny, Rise really does blur the imperfections, but gives you a bright, clean, shower-fresh feel," he says. "The primer has light reflectors in it, and if you don't put it on under the foundation, you can also mix it in your hands and dab it over the cheekbones to give you a similar blurred-out effect that Rise does."
The filter with the coolest finish of the bunch, Nashville is great for giving your skin a luminous glow, and creating an even tone all over. "It's my personal favorite because of the way it brightens your skin," he tells us. "To get this effect in real life, I'm a huge believer in matching your foundation to your chest—most women will match it to their jawline, neck, or hand, but matching it to your chest is the only way to get a youthful, fluid color all over. That's when you look the youngest." Maalouf likes using the Burt's Bees BB Cream, which is lightweight enough to blend onto your chest and neck without getting any unexpected beige smudges on your clothes.