TikTok's Bold Glamour filter: What is it and why are experts saying it should 'come with a warning'?

Credit: TikTok

The warnings around social media's impact on body issues are nothing new, but a TikTok filter that's so effective you wouldn't even know it was there has taken things to a whole new level.

The Bold Glamour filter has all but taken over the app, with For You pages littered with comparison views and make-up tutorials on how to achieve the look without the help of technology.

The beauty filter alters facial features to make the user look more "conventionally attractive" by plumping lips, darkening eyebrows, highlighting cheekbones, and whitening teeth.

While we've seen effects like this before, Bold Glamour is doing it better than anything that's come before - that's because you can hardly even tell it's there.

Usually a filter would glitch or fall off if you moved around or put something in front of your face - this doesn't, and that's got people worried.

Joanna Kenny is a former skincare specialist who uses her social platforms to challenge unrealistic beauty standards.

The body confidence expert's had more than five million views on her video warning people not to use the Bold Glamour filter, saying: "This filter should come with a warning".

She sums up why this filter is unlike any we've seen before: "It's crazy. I don't look anything like this but the filter itself looks natural, there's some skin texture there."

The realism of it, she fears, could make negative reactions worse. Kenny talks her followers through that process: "I don't want to say this about myself but I actually look ugly when I take this filter off.

"I don't think my brain knows how to deal with looking like this one minute and then this the next," the TikToker said as she shows the comparison between filter on and filter off.

Her theory is backed up by the experts too.

Dr Mary McGill, a media studies lecturer and author of The Visibility Trap: Sexism, Surveillance & Social Media, told ITV News: "For young people who are vulnerable to self-comparison, these kinds of technologies can produce a negative self-image that can feed insecurities around appearance and the self more broadly."

She also pointed to new research which "suggests that sophisticated augmented reality beauty filters may have a greater impact on people’s self-perception than retroactive photo editing."

"This new reality can produce an uncomfortable sense of dissonance between our flesh-and-blood-selves and our digital creations that can be really difficult to reconcile," Dr Mary added.

Credit: Jossie Evans

There are some other users calling out the filter - but many more using it with joy.

Dr Mary called for "increased transparency" around when filters and touch-up technology has been used: "Increased transparency would be welcome so people can fully understand what it is they are seeing and why they are seeing it. This insight hopefully also would allow people to make more informed choices about what they consume online. "

TikTok has been approached for comment.