TikTok's 'Bold Glamour' and 'Teenage Look' Filters Are Terrifying Its Audience

The two TikTok filters are incredibly convincing attempts at changing your face, and they could be fueled by machine learning.

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The TikTok filters Teenage Look (left) and Bold Glamour (right) are incredibly effective at working in the wake of obstacles like hands, which cause previous mesh-based filters to glitch.
The TikTok filters Teenage Look (left) and Bold Glamour (right) are incredibly effective at working in the wake of obstacles like hands, which cause previous mesh-based filters to glitch.
Screenshot: Gizmodo/lanarpanther/uhhhuhhunney/notsophiesilva/prettygirlandcoolboy

TikTok is really good at keeping users entertained, most notably with its barrage of filters. Filters on TikTok have been harmless fun for some time now, mostly serving as the punchline about getting arrested or masking your own voice, but two new filters are freaking out TikTokers far and wide. Bold Glamour and Teenage Look are two new filters to the app that are potentially using AI to completely alter our faces to an unrecognizable—and uncanny—extent.

While I use TikTok pretty regularly, my first experience with the Bold Glamour filter came when my partner sent me a screenshot of her messing around with it. To be blunt: it was bizarre. The filter removed her buccal fat and applied her eyeshadow, mascara, and lip color in one fell swoop. She was virtually unrecognizable, but it was really, really convincing—so much so that even she was taken aback.

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“Dude TikTok filters are so crazy,” she wrote to me in a text shortly after showing me the screenshot.

Meanwhile, the Teenage Look filter on TikTok has been getting plenty of similar attention as well. The filter shows two videos—one of you as you are now, and the other of you with smoother skin, pinker lips, and a rounder face. Basically, the app is trying to compare how it thinks you’d look or looked as a teenager to how you look now. While the effect can be as convincing as Bold Glamour, TechCrunch argues that the real response to Teenage Look lies within the filter forcing users to confront their own mortality and aging.

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Scroll through the respective filters’ pages and you’ll find plenty of evidence of TikTok creators that are shocked at how seamless these filters have altered their faces. But there are plenty of filters on TikTok that are made by users themselves to apply effects to faces, so what makes Teenage Look and Bold Glamour so special?

“A traditional filter takes your two-dimensional screen, and then it overlays a face mesh on top that tracks to your face,” Luke Hurd said in a video published to his Twitter. Hurd is a consultant who’s worked on Snapchat and Instagram filters according to The Verge. “[Bold Glamour] actually takes the camera image itself and then processes it.”

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Previous face filters have relied on that face mesh that Hurd refers to, which maps and tracks a human face in order to apply the filter. This method can cause the filter to briefly glitch when something (like a hand) passes between your face and the camera since the filter is confused by the new obstacle. But Bold Glamour and Teenage Look are allegedly using generative adversarial networks, or GANs, in order to seamlessly cover your face using machine learning. These filters are also made by TikTok itself as opposed to a user or third-party company.

“Simply put, GANs pit two competing neural networks against each other in a fist-fight to the death,” Hurd told The Verge. “Because it uses you, it then compares aspects of your face to a dataset of images that start to match against your cheeks, eyes, eyebrows, lips, and more.”

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As detailed in The Verge’s report, the outlet reached out to TikTok several times and did not receive comment on whether or not Bold Glamour and Teenage Look are using AI, but the dots certainly connect. Likewise, TikTok did previously announce in February that filter creators could access generative adversarial networks in the app’s Effect House, which is TikTok’s home for filter creation tools.

Gizmodo also reached out to TikTok for more information on the mechanisms behind Teenage Look and Bold Glamour and did not yet receive a reply.