I told myself I wasn’t going to do it—that new FaceApp challenge that shows you what you’ll look like in 30 or so years. There were the obvious reasons, of course: I’m already self-conscious, so seeing my face age decades in a matter of seconds likely wouldn’t help me in that area. And also, you know, Russian hackers (a viral tweet claims that by agreeing to their terms and conditions, you basically sign your likeness away to a company in Russia—tbd on the validity of that though).
But, at 11:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night, my curiosity prevailed. I downloaded the app, uploaded my photo, and sat back to see what Father Time had in store for me—and it turns out, I didn’t really need the app at all.
“OMG, I look like mom” was the exact text I sent my sister immediately after. “Mine does too a little,” she wrote back. To be fair, it’s not the most surprising news—we do share a gene pool, after all—but I’ve never thought I looked anything like my mom (she has blue eyes and light features, and I do not). Still, it got me thinking: How accurate is this thing, really? Can you really predict how many wrinkles you’ll get, and where specifically your face will—for the lack of a better term—sag in areas? (Ugh, sorry mom! For the record: I’m talking about a future you, as well!)
Turns out, it’s kind of a crapshoot. “The FaceApp should be used for fun only and people shouldn’t rely on the after photo as to what they will look like when they get older,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist and author of Skin Rules. “There is no way to know how someone will age.” That’s because an app can’t figure in all the different factors that contribute to aging, says Dr. Jaliman (think: your genetics, how much time you spend in the sun, how you protect our skin from UV rays, whether you smoke, and how you sleep and diet, etc.).
That said, the app might give you a few clues as to what you could look like down the line. “It does pick up dark spots [and] age spots and accentuates them to show what they will look like as you age,” says Dr. Jaliman. The app also thins out your lips—something that happens naturally as you age— and picks up small lines you have now and accentuates or deepens them into full-blown wrinkles, which are pretty accurate, says Dr. Jaliman. But as far as my thick eyebrows go, those will likely fade away a little bit. “Our eyebrow shape and position will change as we age,” she adds.
And the crazy similarities to my mom in the after photo? Dr. Jaliman says I likely look more like my mother than I think I do—and that seeing how my mom has changed can definitely give me clues as to how I will age as well. I guess that shows that we’ve all essentially had access to FaceApp all along—in our parents.
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