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unfiltered beauty

Have you heard about the #unfiltered beauty movement surfacing off late? You must recognize it as the usage of #nofilter on Instagram / other social media websites. A liberating beauty movement that emphasises putting your best (unfiltered, unapologetic and bare) face forward. It may be with or without make-up based on your preferences but it’s gleaming with self-love, acceptance and comfort in one’s natural skin with les flaws et imperfections. 

 Social media is an overwhelming space for some. It’s easy to lose your way into creating a ‘filtered life’ while carefully creating a filtered IG feed full of selfies, OOTDs, about last night’s perfect looking memorabilia & #ThrowbackThursday stories of picture-perfect staycation. So, I’m here to talk about something positive, something I noticed brewing over Instagram – a culture giving way to the rise of #nofilter beauty or as I’d like to call it – #unfiltered beauty or beauty-realism.

It’s safe to say that the era of unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards placed on women and men is slowly giving out. So, there’s hope for us after all! There’s hope to be kinder to one another and hope that there’d be less judgement and more acceptance for one another. While working on this article, the work of an amazing young American photographer Peter DeVito, comes to mind. His work majorly circles around real skin portraiture that celebrates imperfections, self-acceptance, acne normalisation and in a literal sense ‘being tired of the Photoshop’. All of which seems to reflect from a space of self-realisation and his personal journey with acne. Truly inspiring!


Coming back to the topic at hand- An increasing number of Millennials & Gen Z are baring it all by that I mean choosing to show their real skin on social media sans filters! I do realise with the dawn of the Metaverse & virtual reality, the point of this article may sound slightly absurd. But the context is very different. I’m talking about the changes in social behaviour in the beauty, wellness and skincare spectrum. 

Riding the new #nofilter beauty wave on Instagram

Whether you prefer makeup or a no-makeup makeup look, there’s a whole new wave of social media users embracing their real skin, in all its imperfect glory. Whether it’s posting the before-after of using a beauty product, a pre-makeup face or post makeup removal (aka the #GURWM reels), social media dwellers are getting increasingly comfortable baring their real skin on camera. And what’s more, is that this idea of the #nofilter skin is bringing a shift in the mindset and obliterating the pretence of excessively manufactured perfection. The race between social animals vs the internet isn’t over! Far from it! But there’s hope that we use social media to our advantage.

 Influencers 101: A guide to embracing #nofilter beauty 

I also love how celebrities are jumping the bandwagon and endorsing the idea of #unfiltered beauty with their no-makeup & #nofilter selfies showing their community of followers behind all the glitz and glamour; they’re humans that embrace their real skin too. Here is Malaika Arora for example baring her natural skin.


The recent #RanAlia’s wedding caused quite the stir amongst the patrons of beauty, makeup & skincare included. The cause is Alia Bhatt’s no-makeup makeup bridal look. Her followers remained captivated as pictures appeared of Bhatt having the wedding of her dreams with perfect outfits, a star-studded guest list attending picturesque ceremonies but she kept her facial makeup to a bare minimum quite literally. Some critiqued her for the choice, whereas so many agreed that she’s never looked more relaxed & happier. I for one, couldn’t agree more, she indeed looked comfortable in her skin. Now whether you decide to add her look on to your Wedding Inspo Pinterest board or not, is up to your preference but the look along with the idea of looking your most comfortable self is setting a new standard for brides.


Where there’s demand, there’s supply

A few up-and-coming homegrown beauty brands are following suit, saying bye-bye to overly edited, retouched skin & flaw-hiding culture in their marketing campaigns to keep it real. Many have come forth to have honest conversations about realistic beauty standards rather than pushing products or selling marketing gimmicks.  

FAE Beauty – A makeup & skincare brand that endorses the no-retouching, no editing rule in their marketing campaigns & social channels. They demonstrate their products to a diversified group of target audiences notwithstanding their genders, different skin types, complexions & varied skin conditions – honestly showing what real skin looks like- pores, acne and all! They seem to believe in the manifesto of ‘raw and unfiltered’, propagate realistic beauty standards, breaking some age-old beauty stereotypes while staying true to their brand name ‘free and equal beauty’.


Another beauty brand that I genuinely applaud for bringing inclusivity (for real) into the beauty world is Blur India. The narrative they seem to be setting is blurring the lines between makeup & self-love while also bringing in a diversity of brand faces to make more people feel included and comfortable in embracing their beauty. They also seem to be having honest conversations about genderless beauty, acne positivity, ageless beauty and forming an inclusive community with people with skin deformities, differently-abled and acid attack survivors while realistically propagating the true meaning of ‘beauty being inclusive.


Another brand I admire is Ilana Organics – a beauty brand that focuses on formulations with make-up that looks great and nourishes your skin. 

The brand endorses the idea of giving your skin the nourishment it needs, lifestyle changes & knowing what’s right for your skin and the planet.

What I appreciate the most is the founder, Nikita Deshpande’s definition of beauty – to be your real self and not pretending to be someone else. I connected with her on the subject of #unfiltered beauty and here’s what she had to say –

“I comprehend #unfiltered beauty or #nofilter beauty as being transparent. Beauty isn’t just what you see on a brand’s media channels, it’s everything – right from knowing the products that you put on your face, what goes inside them to the conversations you’re having as a brand. Everything needs to be unfiltered, honest & transparent. When it comes to the usage of filters on social media like Instagram, I think it’s great for entertainment and fun but when it comes to talking about skin in particular, or marketing products, it’s often misleading and therefore we ought to assume contextual responsibility.

The reason why consumers are often attracted to unattainable beauty standards is that we’re accustomed to thinking something is better when it looks perfect on social media. But a virtual image is often misconstrued as reality. There’s a lot of unlearning to do on our part as consumers as well. Having said that, it’s a brand’s responsibility to stop selling unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards. But on a larger level, where selling and consumption are interdependent, it’s also the responsibility of a consumer to be conscious and more aware of their expectations. Only then we can together start setting new beauty standards.

Understanding that what goes on with your skin has a lot to do with general lifestyle, genetics, eating right, exercising, meditation, and keeping your mental health in check, is like winning half your battles. The other half involves putting in the effort and bringing consistency in doing so. Given that there are days when you don’t feel up to a workout and just want to relax, you can try meditating and doing the simplest things that give you joy. It could be slow reading, lighting your favourite scented candle, taking some time for journaling, taking care of your plants, cooking your favourite meal or watching something that makes you happy. The key is to remember to feel happy, healthy and beautiful inside out.”


In the post-pandemic era, increasingly more people are taking a more holistic approach toward beauty and wellness. Ergo, how beauty enthusiasts engage with brands is also shifting to more hybrid beauty-consumption patterns. An increasing number of active beauty consumers are moving towards multi-use products that offer multiple make-up benefits as well as nourishment to the skin. Which I think is also a fabulous way towards conscious consumption by reducing the number of products in an average beauty consumer’s vanity. If I can achieve a nourished skin + an understated glam look using 3-products, sign me up.

To conclude, I feel that the more we realise that the imperfect realness of bare skin (and mind) is liberating, the farther we’d be from self-judgement. Thus, making ourselves even more self-accepting, and kinder to ourselves and the people around us. And to think, with the age of #unfiltered beauty, if we’re headed to a kinder place on the internet, that’s a culture I’d love to be a part of. Wouldn’t you?

Featured image creative by Mallory Heyer.

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