Instagram AR filters

Instagram AR Face Filters Popularity Explained

AR filters (camera effects) are extremely popular among mobile users. I’ve been using Snapchat lenses for quite some time now and found them to be fun and engaging. However, since Facebook has introduced Spark AR Studio (the software used to create those face filters for Instagram and Facebook) and released it or testing for selected developers, Instagram turned into one big selfie augmented fiesta.

Those developers who create face filters can share them with anyone on Instagram. All you need to do is just follow the creator and you’ll have access to their set of shared Instagram AR filters.

Take a look at this amazing Instagram beauty3000 filter and we’ll continue discussing this topic after that.

So why AR filters camera effects are so popular you might ask? Well, there are a few reasons. In this article, I want to talk about a few of them. I have a lot of things that I want to talk about, so I will definitely make a second part for this article and talk about other related technologies and features that I want to see introduced to these custom Instagram filters to make it an even better experience for both developers and users alike.

1. Total Self-expression – the ability to express yourself in unique and creative ways. TikTok is also a great example as well. The ability to let your personality shine through while still being partially or totally overlayed with virtual content.

2. Become an actor – using AR selfie filters you can wear a different persona and become an actor in your own little AR show. Some people get very popular as their Instagram filter videos go viral. For example, using an Instagram filter of Darth Vader made me want to put up an act. It’s like I am wearing a custom and I enjoyed taking that role and record a short video of me wearing that custom, even if that was a for a short period of time.

3. Accessibility – you don’t have to be a creative person or know how to draw or act to receive social feedback and appreciation from the community. A few looks to the camera and just let the Instagram filter do the rest. Some apps do require some skills in order to come up with some interesting and impressive results. For example, I am bad at drawing or making pixel art, I did try, but because I knew it’s going to take me ages to come up with something great, I turned out to others things, aside from not having that spare time. With custom filters, I can create cool, entertaining and creative ways of expression that will entertain my friends and other people who see those videos online.

4. You are in control – when using Instagram AR filters, you are still in control of what you want others to see. You can create your own short video with the Instagram filter and decide if this is the one you want all the world to see. You are the director and producer of your own work. I like Instagram filters because I can record my little show and decide whether I want to share it or not. It’s kind of the opposite of going live with something. Same goes with taking pictures, you have total control over the results and you can decide what you want to share. This is quite obvious in today’s digital era, but having that feeling of controlling what is being shared is something that encourages me to use a specific content sharing medium.

5. Positive feedback – It’s great having positive feedback from the community. You can see why this is so addicting. The thing is that we do enjoy seeing people liking what we do, or in this case, we might interpret the favs as people like us, which can be the case as well. Bottom line, this social exception feels good. AR filters do get lots of attention on Instagram, including relatively many reactions, comments. You suddenly feel the center of attention and gain, it’s something that many people do enjoy-especially those who use Instagram to expose part of their personal life online.

6. Being creative and stand out from the rest – One of the things that I enjoy the most is expressing my creativity. I like getting inspired by things around me and create unique expressive works, something of my own. It can be using graphics, code, body expression, etc. Without this, I feel like an automatic robot doing the same thing everyone else is doing and life becomes kind of a repetitive collection of things that have already done millions of times before. It’s great when you produce something that is new and share it with the world.

Many people express themselves in many different artistic ways. From the developer side, Instagram filters have this feel of creative freedom and seeing that being used on other people’s faces is a great joy. This is the creative part of the Instagram filter developer. If I had access to it, I’m sure I’ll be motivated to develop cool filters and I was excited seeing other people use it. The developer’s community adapted this technology with open hands and both technology enthusiast, 3D designers and artists saw the great potential of using this unique medium to deliver their creativity to the world and gain quick and massive exposure.

Those who gained access to the closed beta are being continuously active and some of them have been received a tremendous amount of exposure, both on Instagram, other social media and popular news websites.

The same goes for the user. However, some people don’t have the ability or motivation to be creative in the way they would have wanted. In this world of being manifested with endless creativity online and on social media, you have the feeling of bringing something from yourself in order to stand out from the rest.

In that aspect, Instagram filters do help with that. Especially on the early stages of discovery of a great new filter. This way, a person feels that he or she brings themselves something new, original and interesting. Some filters can fit well to specific people and their persona, so this enhancement of how they would like other people to see themselves satisfy some of this creativity need and make them look unique, special and stand out.

7. Improves online exposure confidence (partial or full anonymity) – Many people who don’t have the confidence for full body exposure, or don’t feel confident to be exposed online, do have the option for self-expression-to some degree using AR filters. Some of those filters can enhance the beauty, reduce imperfections and make you look more, well, “cool” I guess it’s the word. If a standard unmasked exposure cause one an embarrassment or discomfort, suddenly with AR filters you can open up more.

This is why virtual avatars (another topic that I’ll talk about in a future article) are and will be more popular because they allow people who don’t necessarily like being exposed online, still have the option for self-expression using their own voice, facial and body expression.

8. Video sharing experience – with Instagram filters you can record a short video of you using the selfie AR filter. Still, images are nice as well, but to really benefit from the ability to fully express yourself, nothing like sharing an orchestrated self-expression video. The cool thing is about these Instagram filters, is that they are ‘stuck’ to your face and move naturally as you move your face and also can be used to match your facial expressions. It’s like a perfectly fitted mask on your face that allow your full facial expression shines through (depends on the filter used of course).

9. Easy to get followers (fast channel growth) – Right now, the best way to get followers is to use AR filters. We’ve seen Instagram users obtaining million of views in hours and getting tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of followers in a relatively very short time. As we know, for many people, especially the younger crowd, more followers translate to better social acceptance. I’ve seen a TV show about that, seeing kids talking about how they spend hours on Instagram because for them, having more followers on Instagram affect their social status among their age peers. Some of them have decided to leave Instagram and reported that they got their life back. It was interesting seeing how that social platform affected this new generation.

Of course, there are many other reasons, including the business aspect of things. This turns those Instagram users into instant influencers and attracts many advertisers who want to promote their product on those influencer channels. People, no matter how age they are, can use this platform even as a working platform to gain extra income from just posting short videos of themselves using Instagram filters—not a bad job when you come to think about it.

10. Ease-of-use – using Instagram filters doesn’t require anyone to have special skills or being tech-savvy. In a few taps, you can create your own cool AR selfie Instagram filters and share it with the world. Tagging knowledge to promote your work of course helps, but again, it’s easy to do. It’s also easy to just browse through all the many filters available of those whom you follow, although I personally want to be able to add some to my favorites, and I didn’t find a way to do it just yet.

11. Popular platform – Instagram is already a very popular social media platform with as of June 2018, it has 1 billion monthly active users. So you can see why things can spread so quickly, especially now in the days where the most popular way to express yourself online is through selfie pictures and videos.

12. For All Ages – Instagram filters also appeal to a very wide audience, from children to adults alike. The need for self-expression, the need to stand out and the social impact of genetics have no age restriction. This, of course, widens the userbase and serves as a good breeding ground for viral content.

The many follower interconnections allow this new content to spread through like wildfire. Of course, this also existed before for images and videos, it’s nothing new. However, when you bring a new exciting feature to an already very interconnected social medium, and that feature is something that people love, it spreads very fast.

Everyone is in this custom filter craze, and this also attracts more people to try it out and see what’s all the fuss is about.

13. Shared personal diary – I think for many people, Instagram is like a public personal diary. It’s much different compared to other image sharing services like Flickr or Google photos. Instagram is a place where people want other people to see them and share their personal life, part of it at least. If you post something on Instagram, you want other people to see it. You want your content to be public.

Because of that, people post things (also see my being in control section) the way they want other people to perceive them. Like when you take a selfie picture, you don’t just take a picture, you smile, do a face, make a little act that can look great. You want your images to look cool, awesome and interesting. This is your way to show how amazing your life is. You become the marketer of your own public artworks.

Because of that, when you log in to Instagram, you know you are going to see really cool things, somethings that are going to stand out from the rest, cool images, effects, videos and of course amazing Instagram filters!

It’s a place that describes your life and the people around you in a beautiful, vibrant and cheerful colors in most part. You want others to enjoy seeing your journey through life as they browse through your amazing images and self-expressive AR filters, you invite them to your world, but in a way that doesn’t expose things you don’t want them to see. It’s an open diary where you draw your life in the way they are or you want them to perceive by others as such. It’s part of your life that you do want others to see, a way for you to express your emotions freely and in a way that you won’t feel embarrassed by.

Instagram filters is another layer of self-expressive medium that helps you create cool new entries to your diary that focus on yourself. It makes your Instagram account more personal, and more interesting for others to see. There are people who see themselves as shy people who internalize a lot and find it hard to externalize their true emotions out loud, and these Instagram AR filters do help in that aspect.

14. The Other Self – Many custom AR face filters allow you to inject yourself into another persona which you try to become part of. AR filters allow full expression in that other persona (again, depends on the custom filter) as it laid down like a flexible mask on your face and allow your true facial and body expression to shine through.

You can wear a custom face filter that resembles some type of hero character that you like. The possibilities are endless.

15. Impressive Technology – The technology itself is impressive. It’s not just a virtual mask placed on your face, it also detects your facial expression and it’s placed brilliantly on your face like a mask. At that point, you can actually feel a connection between the physical and the virtual. Something virtual is not part of you, you can’t feel it, but you can definitely see it. It’s the moment when the virtual feels partially real and tangible. This is why when I first try on a filter that put a box on my head, I felt the need to move my head to see if the box falls down.

When I use the glowing mask I felt the need to touch my face and when I use the filter with the rubber polls that come out of my face and react to my head movement, I had to move my head a lot. It did feel very much physical, especially given the fact that you observe the experience in front of you the whole time.

My phone turned into a magic mirror that does incredible things!

16. Interactivity – some of those Instagram custom filters are interactive and animated. This means that they respond to certain facial expressions you do. For example, you can lift your head up or open your mouth, and this will trigger some sort of a secondary effect or/and animations.

This makes the AR experience more engaging and fun to use. For me it makes it more interesting to watch, even when seeing the same custom filter many times, it looks slightly different when seeing different people interacting with it.

I am not an Instagram filter developer, but I’ve seen people trying to push the boundaries of what’s possible with Spark AR Studio, and I was impressed with the results.

17. Beautifier – I mentioned this as a side note in one of the points above, but there are a few AR filters that serve as beautifying masks, making you look better, at least based on your own personal aspects of what is needed for you to look better and improve your self-confidence when exposing yourself online on Instagram.

18. Talent amplifier – AR filters, due to some of the reasons I’ve mentioned above, can allow talents of people to better shine through, whether that without it, they might not be able to stand out. I do think that there is a way to take these face filters even further to create a platform that allows even better self-expression and allow people’s talents to better shine through the lens.

19. Online product promotion / AR Advertising – Instagram custom filter technology is a great technology that allows businesses to promote their products. When that comes by the masses, you can see a lot of product advertising investment put into promoting promotional custom filters.

For example, imagine a sunglasses, hats or makeup company want to promote certain products. What a better way to promote these products than delivering them virtually directly to you. Now, this is already done using augmented reality apps, but the problem is that you are required to install them and sharing and reach potential is limited. The app can offer more flexibility, but again, it has its limitations.

Then you have those amazing custom filters that allow you to promote a product and have a better chance to reach a very broad audience. Imagine seeing augmented reality ads that use custom Instagram filters. This can definitely lead to better engagement and conversions compared to static images or videos because people can actually try on this product. Just take a look at this shoe try-on app to fully understand what I mean.

From what I’ve heard, Spark AR Studio can be used as an advertising medium on Facebook, but right now not on IG, as of the time of writing this article. I’m pretty sure that in time, Facebook, who owns Instagram, will make it available on IG as well. You can create a post with the Instagram filter and boost it, but it’s not an advertising medium yet on IG.

20. Immersive technology – If you are like me, sometimes it comes kind of stale sharing images and videos, and even if not, something inside craves for something new and exciting. When Instagram filters were introduced, suddenly we Instagrammers have a new tool to use, something completely different than anything we had before. We can express ourselves in a completely new way.

Of course, if this tool wasn’t interesting, it wouldn’t help no matter what. The thing is that it has many benefits. The same was with TikTok when I first tried it. Technology innovation enables new ways for people to share great moments online in ways that weren’t possible before.

The technology itself is not just impressive as I mentioned above, it’s immersive and designed perfectly for the current generation and the way this generation wants to express itself online. AR filters seem to take a respectable place alongside the standard photos and videos that we used to share until now before Instagram filters were introduced.

Face filters become a new form of self-expressive art. If you look at it this way, Instagram is definitely one of the most popular online museums to attend and discover these new types of artworks.  It encouraged me to visit Instagram more often and see what new cool filters developers are creating. Every time I log in, I enjoy seeing the amazing things developers are creating, and not less satisfying is seeing how people use it to express themselves. You can see a filter 100 times and it’s still interesting to see how different people use it in their stories.

21. Used by celebs – celebs have a big impact on things that happen on social media, especially when it comes to influencing their followers. Many celebrities have started using Instagram filters and of course, this further helped spread the word. With some celebrities having tens of thousands and millions of followers on Instagram, you can see what it doesn’t need to take long for certain custom filters to be used and shared by millions of users.

22. Mess-free / Risk-free use – If might seems kind of awkward to mention that, but that thing is that if you ever wanted to take on a realistic approach of making a video with some of the illustrated filters (like the glossy one shown at the beginning of this article), it will probably be quite messy, costly and depends on the filter, even risky to produce. With IG filters, it’s easy, clean and effortless.

The only thing is that as a user, I can’t actually create my own filters, at least not at the moment. This is why I think if there was an easy-to-use online tool that enables users to create their own filters, IG filters would have become even more popular.

Imagine people wanting to enhance their look because the content is virtual, you can create stuff that you won’t even dare or think about doing in real life to make a cool IG post. Let your imagination goes free and you can see what I mean. So the lack of any physical boundaries is something that allow users/developers to make amazing cool filters without needing to mess around with natural materials or taking any needless risk just to produce some shareable content that can stand out.


These are a few points that I wanted to share why I think Instagram face filters are so popular right now and of course no need to mention that it runs on almost any smartphone out there on the market. I do hope that more accessible tools will be released to anyone with just an Instagram account can create a cool looking Instagram face filter and share it with the world.

I hope you enjoy reading this article and find it useful. For more cool content, don’t forget to visit and subscribe to my YouTube channel.