It usually takes me a little while to catch onto trends. I hadn’t even heard of the bottle cap challenge until it was over and I only heard about this new FaceApp filter a few days ago. I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a photograph of a friend in her twenties who looked like she was in her eighties. When I switched to Instagram, I saw a few celebrities doing the same thing.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, FaceApp is a photo editor you can download to your phone for free. You can click any picture on your camera roll and use the old age filter to make yourself look decades older. It’s pretty realistic. It made me look like the spitting image of my grandmother. I think that’s why so many people are posting their photos — because it’s fun to play make believe, to get a glimpse at your own future.
There are downsides, though. Some people have been tweeting out warnings about how dangerous it is to give a facial recognition app access to your photos for security reasons — but there’s an even creepier reason you shouldn’t be using the app.
I’m not sure how to break the news to you, so I guess I’ll just tell you my own personal story. Like everyone else, I downloaded FaceApp to see what all the fuss was about. I ran at least a dozen of my selfies through the filter. I looked at myself with bags under my eyes and wrinkles creasing my forehead. I thought I looked horrendous, but my boyfriend thought I looked cute. I convinced him to download the app too, so I could make sure he’d look handsome as an old man. Spoiler Alert: He did. I had a fun time imagining us as an old couple, living happily ever after.
I don’t know if it was because we spent so many hours on the app or because we ran so many pictures through the system, but something weird started happening as the week went on.
My boyfriend took me to an aquarium down the street on date night. I activated my phone camera to take a couple’s selfie in front of the sharks. The blue light from the tanks shone onto our faces, so I didn’t think too much about the weird lines creasing our skin. I thought they were shadows. I chalked it up to bad lighting.
But later on, when we were cuddling in bed, I saw the lines again. “Have you been stressed lately?” I asked. “I think you’re getting some worry lines.”
“Huh… Weird.” My boyfriend chewed on his lower lip, looking me up and down.
“What? What’s wrong?”
“I was actually going to say the same thing about you, but I didn’t want you to get mad. I know how careful you are about your skin.”
That was the truth. I spent twenty minutes each morning and another twenty each night following a very specific and very expensive skincare routine. I was only twenty-three, but wrinkle prevention was supposed to start early. There was no way there were lines on my skin.
I rushed to the mirror. When I noticed the heavy bags beneath my eyes and extra lines creasing my forehead, I started sobbing. I don’t know how they could have developed so quickly, how I could have missed them.
That happened a few days ago. Since then, the lines have slowly gotten deeper and I’m starting to see more of them. I made an appointment with my dermatologist, so hopefully she gets it sorted out, but I’m worried. Maybe I’m wrong about how this happened, but I can’t think of any other explanation.
So this is my warning: If you’ve been using FaceApp, delete it from your phone immediately and check your nearest mirror. You might see a small line or spot that wasn’t there before.