This New Makeup-Removing App Wants To Destroy Your Self-Esteem — & It's B.S.

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
In a digital-obsessed world where sending memes back and forth without comment is a perfectly acceptable form of staying in touch, what you look like on the 4.7-inch screen of a standard iPhone is almost more important than what you look like face-to-face. Filters are the new foundation, and the App Store overfloweth with ways to virtually apply lipstick, chisel your cheekbones, brighten your dark circles, shrink your nose, and otherwise alter your appearance without actually altering it.
And then, somewhere in the midst of it all, there is MakeApp and its new Remove feature. This tool does the opposite of your go-to photo editor: Rather than add makeup, or at least the illusion of it, to enhance your features and make you look like a better version of yourself, Remove exists to wipe the slate clean. It'll show you what you look like underneath all that makeup, and expose the real you — or that's what it says, at least. That's not exactly true.
Now, I have FaceTuned with the best of them. I admit to using apps to lengthen my moon-shaped face, darken my lips, correct my slightly left-of-center nose, smooth out my premature crow's feet, and whatever else I wish to "fix" that day, on a fairly regular basis. It's not dramatic, you wouldn't struggle to recognize my Instagram self IRL — it's just the same sort of thing I generally hope to pull off with makeup, only I don't even have to put on makeup to do it! Now that's the future.
But when the filters are reverted, when the makeup is off, are we all shadowy-eyed, tired-looking specters with thin, dry lips and dull, sallow complexions? Through the lens of MakeApp Remove, yes. With its "makeup-removing" claims, this silly app perpetuates the idea that underneath the layers of concealer, highlighter, blush, and mascara, you're not just a person who happens to not be wearing makeup — you're ugly. And in today's inclusive, feel-good brand market, preying on a woman's insecurity to sell her a beauty app isn't just shitty, it's a bad business move.
Ahead, four Refinery29 staffers gave MakeApp a whirl to see how well it did at guessing their makeup-free faces under all that makeup magic. Let's just say that not a single one of us ended up biting the 99-cent bullet after the free trial.