Selfie SOS

Selfie SOS
The selfies of Mr Baey Yam Keng (left) and Ms Julie Tan, after they were edited using a photo-editing app.

Took a bad selfie? Don't worry, you can edit it to perfection on your mobile phone.

In recent years, a slew of selfie-editing apps have appeared in mobile app stores, letting users alter their appearance in photographs by using a host of digital effects.

With them, you can smoothen out wrinkles, whiten your teeth and remove blemishes such as pimples and white hair - all with a few taps and swipes.

You can also look slimmer or change the size and position of your features - enlarging your eyes and breasts or reducing the size of your nose - and even give yourself a pain-free, virtual facelift.

The first apps, such as Photo Makeover, appeared as early as 2010.

But with selfies becoming increasingly popular, more apps have popped up in recent years.

These newer apps have become increasingly user- friendly, and come with functions to automatically detect facial features and blemishes.

Many also come with built-in filters that can mask imperfections.

SundayLife! found at least 30 selfie-editing apps, mostly developed in China or the United States, in the Apple App Store and Android store.

Most are free while others cost up to $3.98.

The free Camera360 Ultimate app, for example, has 200 million users worldwide, says its website. It can be used to smoothen your complexion, enlarge your eyes and slim down your face.

The website of another free app, Perfect365, says it has at least 30 million users. It allows users to digitally apply lipstick and eyeliner to their photos.

Student Pamela Khoo, 16, uses the Poco Mei Ren Xiang Ji app at least once a week to brighten her eyes and remove unsightly blemishes such as pimples from photos of herself before posting them on social media platforms.

She tells SundayLife! with a laugh: "My photos usually look much better after I edit them using the app. This is probably why I look much better in selfies than in real life."

She has the photo-editing programme Adobe Photoshop installed on her laptop, but says it is "confusing and difficult" to use, and prefers to use the apps instead.

"The filters and settings are already built-in, so it can take me just one minute to edit a picture-perfect selfie," she says.

Ms Adora Yeo, 24, a co-director in a magazine company, uses the Mei Tu Xiu Xiu app at least three times a week to cover the dark circles around her eyes in photos.

"I hate wearing make-up, but I also don't want to look like Kai Kai and Jia Jia," she says, referring to the pair of pandas at the River Safari.

"I don't see any harm in using these apps, since they can make me feel more confident. We are not born with symmetrical faces and I'm not brave enough for Botox."

Associate Professor Norman Li from the Singapore Management University's School of Social Sciences, who researches mate preferences, mate value and evolutionary social psychology, is not surprised at the popularity of such apps.

Dr Li, who is in his 40s, says: "People are increasingly living through their mobile phones. So it is not surprising that they are turning to these apps to make their online photos more attractive."

However, he warns that these apps can fuel a general dissatisfaction with one's appearance, since nobody can look "perfect" all the time.

"For those looking to meet someone online, the app will definitely help users get their foot in the door," he says. "But it also means potential suitors might be disappointed when meeting the subject in person."

bang@sph.com.sg

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