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I used a makeup removal app repeatedly to turn into an acne-covered zombie

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An app called MakeApp on iOS and Android recently gained attention from beauty and fashion sites for claiming to remove makeup from women’s faces. Sites like Teen Vogue and Pop Sugar called out the app for being problematic and creepy, but its lesser-known function is to double up as a Zombify app.

Here’s how it works: you take a selfie, or use a photo from your camera roll like a screenshot of another person, and then the app lets you apply any of its filters, including removing makeup or adding any of a number of garish makeup colors.

It’s pretty rude and vaguely sexist to try to strip women, or anyone who enjoys applying makeup, of the eyeliner, blush, and cover-up they’ve applied to their face. It’s also certainly a blow at people’s self-esteem.

So I set out to answer the question: what if I wasn’t wearing any makeup to begin with? Surely the app can recognize my bare face and the Remove Makeup filter will just not work, right?

That’s not really the case, as my colleagues and I discovered in a hilarious Slack conversation. Even if you bare your untouched skin to the camera, the app will freely add extra zits and pimples to your face. See below:

Left is my regular no-makeup face, right is after adding the Remove Makeup filter.

Before adding the filter, I had exactly one zit. The filter made the zit more pronounced. It also made me look splotchy and redder. I was already horrified, but my colleagues encouraged me to take the screenshot on the right and try it again, repeatedly. MakeApp gives you five free attempts before you have to pay $0.99 per pic.

Left, one application of filter. Right, two applications of filter.

I deleted the first selfie by accident, so I wasted a second attempt re-creating the effect. The photo you see on the left (above) has already been through the Remove Makeup filter once, and the photo on the right has been through it twice. I am now starting to bear a strong resemblance to someone on the cast of The Walking Dead, albeit a very inflamed version, battling skin problems. My eyebrows have grown blunt and the corners of my eyes are disappearing.

Left, two applications of filter. Right, three applications of filter.

I haven’t even reached my final form, because obviously you could go on forever applying this filter. In the end, though, I imagine I would more resemble Agent Toht getting his face melted off in Raiders of the Lost Ark than myself. Are there people out there who truly believe women — or anyone who wears makeup — look like this underneath all the layers of contouring? If so, more than being mad about this app, I pity the people who are using it with the intention of figuring what others really look like.

The app developer implies that by applying makeup, we have deceived others into thinking we’re more beautiful than we are, and they’re out to rectify that. Well, the joke’s on them, because after seeing myself as a pustule-covered zombie, I am kind of more than okay with my naked face. Now, thanks to this app, I know I could always look worse.

In happier news, Pennywise is immune to the filter, so at least one of us can stay the way we want to look.