There are dozens of apps out there that you can use to make your selfies more polished than you look in real life. If you want to smoothen your skin, darken your eyelashes, or add cat ears (no judgment), technology has you covered. But in “features that we’re pretty sure literally nobody asked for,” here is a photo editing app that does just the opposite by removing makeup from photos.
MakeApp actually has a number of functions that it can perform on photos or videos, using a neural network to imagine what a person’s facial features look like with more or less makeup. It’s the makeup removal feature, though, that has had the most controversial results. Here's what happens when it's tested out on celebrities.
It’s probably fair to guess that most people aren’t using this feature on themselves. Commenters were quick to point out its sinister uses, saying that it encourages viewing makeup as deception and would most likely be used to jeer at the supposed shortcomings of women’s un-made-up faces. Some called it “a plot to make men think all women are ugly” and criticized its ability to “strip women of their makeup without their consent.”
Others pointed out that the app actually exaggerates one’s appearance without makeup. Many of the celebrities whose doctored photos were used as examples have appeared without makeup in reality looking considerably different. Women who tried out the app on themselves found that it took deepening lines and blemishes so far that it added some that weren’t there in the first place. To prove the point, one journalist put her bare face through the filter repeatedly until the app had made her look like a decaying zombie.
To sum it up, the neural network has its flaws and we can’t take it as a definitive picture of what someone looks like without makeup. But even if you needed help visualizing that celebrities have dark circles and uneven complexion under the layer of contour they’re wearing to brightly lit promo events, that’s nothing shocking—if you think showing someone with normal features like those is some kind of sick burn, you might need to go outside more.