Please look closely at the photo on the left. That, reader, is me, the writer, wearing a full face of makeup. Clearly, my gelled brows and tinted lips were intended to con some schmuck of the opposite sex into thinking I am extremely good-looking and then make him buy me six iPhone X’s. Fortunately for said schmuck, there’s a new app that takes photos of people wearing makeup and then filters them to show what they (theoretically) look like without it. Called MakeApp, the app lets you un-makeup five photos for free before asking you to pay $0.99 to continue editing images and videos. Now look at the photo on the right. That’s me after MakeApp edited my face to let everybody know how grotesque I look when you digitally peel off the highlighter and mascara. Horrifying, I know.
MakeApp is the brainchild of once-Kremlin-linked, Russian founder Ashot Gabrelyanov. For what it’s worth, I thought the AI itself worked pretty well on my face. (The app also has filters that add a layer of makeup. These worked, uh, significantly less well.) But it’s MakeApp as a concept, not a technology, that’s both laughable and problematic. After all, the makeup-free version is just another filter. It’s no more or less “real” than a selfie that’s been run through Facetune or VSCO or tweaked a bit with Instagram. And the idea that somebody might need an app to help them figure out what somebody’s face — celebrity or normie — looks like without makeup is comical. But, hey, better safe than sorry. You never know who’s out there with a bag full of Glossier trying to scam you.