Beauty Filters and the Myth of “Clear Skin”

Beauty Filters and the Myth of “Clear Skin”

Dermalogica’s #FkAcneCensorship campaign debunks the myth of “clear skin”



I started using beauty filters very early on—that foolproof band-aid solution to bad skin days, where with just one quick tap, you instantly get baby-soft & smooth skin, lash extensions, faux freckles and a summer-ready tan (without being exposed to harmful UV rays). Truth be told, it seemed harmless. What was so wrong about needing that quick confidence boost, which required hardly any effort?


An app, AirBrush, started it all for me. My relationship with my skin was at a new low after I had the worst bout of breakouts in my life. I couldn’t reconcile how people could look up to me, a beauty writer, and find my recommendations believable when my skin was in such an abhorrent state.


Still, even during good skin days when I felt content looking at the mirror—where my pores weren’t enlarged and my hormonal acne was at bay—I felt the need to smoothen my skin. Looking at my Instagram feed now, I can pinpoint exactly which selfies I AirBrushed—and the slew of flattering comments that came with it—a convenient lie to give off the illusion that I was in control.


RELATED: To All The (Acne) Scars That Shamed Me


With Instagram, it’s a whole new ball game. A beauty filter can heighten my cheekbones, shrink my face, thicken my lips and give me a nose job, without having to spend thousands. This form of augmented reality, a commonplace type of grown-up virtual dress up, is targeting young girls most especially, dictating what beauty “should” look like. It’s so normalized, too, that we don’t realize how our perceptions of ourselves suffer because of it.


#FkAcneCensorship with Dermalogica

This ever-evolving dialogue on beauty filters and acne is one that the skincare industry wants to take part of. Clear Start by Dermalogica acknowledges that these problematic beauty standards are unrealistic and unachievable. As a beauty editor, I also recognize that I have the ability to reinforce these standards, when I use phrases like “clear skin” and “flawless beauty” as I pen articles, which is deceiving to readers.


Before Acne Awareness Month comes to a close, we put the spotlight on the significance of body neutrality—cultivating acceptance and awareness of our body, and recognizing what it can do for us. We may not always want to celebrate our bodies, but we do acknowledge the  remarkable things it does for us.


RELATED: Monki Wants Us To Talk About Body Dysmorphic Disorder


In an exclusive virtual event called In Your Face! Let’s Talk Acne with Clear Start by Dermalogica, Kristina Rodulfo, Filipino American beauty content creator and former magazine editor for international titles like Women’s Health and ELLE, shares, “Being mindful about words, whether you’re an editor or a reporter, can really shape our opinions of ourselves.”


She adds, “[Not doing so can] inadvertently make people feel bad about the skin they have, when it’s perfectly natural to have pores and texture and cysts!”



For Sarah Miller, Master Instructor for Dermalogica and cosmetologist, the myth of clear skin is something she’s had to wrestle with for years. She reveals, “I’ve had clients come in and tell me of the most outrageous things that they’ve tried [to combat acne]— toothpaste, cotton with alcohol. One instance was [when] someone used tape to try and fix their acne!”


We need to evaluate how we see acne, especially for young people who experience it regularly. Miller notes, “There needs to be a change in how we see acne for all generations, most importantly for the Gen Z, since they’re in a time of their life when they are most susceptible to it. Acne happens for various, even uncontrollable reasons, and that’s perfectly normal.”


RELATED: Loving My Body Is Something I Never Thought Would Happen in Lockdown


Clear Start by Dermalogica, in partnership with the the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), says #FkAcneCensorship by providing support for research and resources for those suffering from mental illness.


The beauty industry still has a long way to go when it comes to supporting consumers and acknowledging that they, too, are part of the problem. One thing’s for sure—healthy skin is the goal, because perfect skin does not exist.



Clear Start by Dermalogica is available online through Sephora Philippines and Lazada.  



Photos Dermalogica

Art Matthew Ian Fetalver


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