How To Get The Instagram Filter Look In Real Life

Image by: e.l.f. Cosmetics

In 13 steps, e.l.f. shows us how easy it is to make that soft-focus, diffused Instagram beauty look a reality.

In effect, Instagram filters are like an instant, technological glow up. They blur out imperfections, tinge everything with a saturated, rose tinted glow and make us look like the better, more put together versions of ourselves; with brighter, smoother skin, sculpted cheekbones, full, glossy lips and sultry cat eyes. It’s the kind of hyper-real glow up that is so good, we are constantly on the search for products that take those digital effects into the physical world. 

Luckily for us, e.l.f. Cosmetics are on the same wavelength. One of our longstanding high street beauty go-tos, e.l.f. have everything you could possibly need to achieve that sexy, soft glow that we so covet, from pore-minimising blurring primers to glow getting setting powders and sharp, 24-hour stay eyeliner. 

Not ones to keep our favourites from you, we at Female First have teamed up with e.l.f. to bring you the ultimate guide to achieving the Instagram filter look in real life, in 13 stages alone no less. Plus, you can get 15% off your first order with the code ELFFEMALE1ST until 31st March.

Get The Insta-Glow

Blur Imperfections

If there is one thing Instagram filters do for our faces, they instantly blur out any imperfections and smooth the skin, and if there’s one product that achieves the same effect then it’s e.l.f’s Poreless Putty Primer. Infused with Squalane - an exceptional natural hydrator that you’ve probably noticed in all your favourite skincare products - its velvety soft formula helps protect skin from moisture loss, ensures make up ‘grips’ onto the face all day and is the perfect base for building that soft, poreless Instagram look. Apply with fingers after your moisturiser and before your foundation.

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Get Airbrushed Skin

Primer down, it’s now time to start thinking about foundation. We love e.l.f’s Flawless Finish Foundation for its lightweight, oil-free formula. It offers a semi-matte finish and restores any uneven skin textures and tones for visibly brighter skin, which is great for layering up all the contour and highlight that the Instagram face needs. 

For the ultimate airbrushed look, apply your foundation with the Total Face Sponge which really works the product into the skin and blends it out along those all important areas - jawline, hairline and in the crevices of the nose. Our top application tip is to wet the sponge first. How wet you make it can determine the finish of your foundation; the wetter the sponge is, the sheerer, lighter and more natural finish you’ll achieve. Use this technique to gradually build up layers until you’re happy - it’s likely that you’ll need more coverage on areas that get red easily, like around the nose, or any acne you have.

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Conceal Away

Just as important as your foundation is your concealer - it’ll brighten up your dark under eye area, the redness around your nose and any blemishes. We love the 16hr Camo Concealer for it’s intense pigmentation and long-lasting coverage that, because of its oil-balancing formula, dries matte and won't settle into fine lines or creases. Use the same Total Face Sponge again to really blend it in well.

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Set Your Work

This is perhaps where many people go wrong - they either don’t set their base, meaning it’s free to slip and melt away throughout the day, or they chose the wrong setting product and pack it on, leaving their face looking dry and ‘cakey’. e.l.f’s Halo Glow Setting Powder is developed specifically to offer that dreamy, soft-focus look that Instagram beauty filters offer. It’s silky and weightless texture ‘drapes’ the skin and finely-milled synthetic sapphire particles give skin a soft glow, diffusing the appearance of fine lines and imperfections; all while keeping make up looking fresh all day and keeping shine at bay. Apply with the Powder Blurring Brush - a medium-sized, densely packed brush that distributes powder evenly and blurs product into the skin. 

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Chisel Your Face

If you look at any Instagram beauty filter, sharp, chiselled cheekbones are a key aspect of the look. Fake your own with clever contouring powder and a brush specifically designed to fit into the concave of the face (like the Pointed Powder Brush or Contouring Brush. The key with contouring is to focus on your face shape and what it needs - not everyone’s face contours the same way because our bone structure is all different. One way to find your cheekbones is to suck in your cheeks and to find the hollows. Use this to guide your contouring and make sure you blend it out really well for that soft, diffused look. It’s best to start lightly and build up your contour gradually until you find a depth that you are happy with.

Apart from cheekbones, popular areas to contour on the face are also the nose - so as to make it look slimmer - and the jawbone. You are the best judge whether your face needs this. If you decide to give it a go, you are free to use the same contour brush on your jawline, but the nose needs a smaller, more controlled brush like the Small Tapered Brush

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Add Some Warmth

So far, you’ve blurred out imperfections, applied an airbrushed base and carved out the perfect contour - now we need to add colour and warmth to the face with blush. The Primer-Infused Shimmer Blush locks onto existing make up for long-lasting wear, and adds a touch of shimmer. Find the perfect place for your blush by smiling and using the round apples of your cheek as guides. Depending on how deep a blush you like, ensure you blend it upwards rather than down which can make the face look tired and drawn.

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Go For Gold

If contour is the Instagram face’s bread, then highlighter is it’s butter; making all those important areas - the tops of cheekbones, the tip and bridge of the nose, the brow bone and the cupid’s bow - pop. For a soft, diffused glow we love e.l.f’s Jelly Highlighter. A little bit goes a long way and is best blended out with the Highlighting Brush, a slim, tapered brush with synthetic bristles designed for precision highlighting and sculpting.

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Smoke Your Eyes

Deep, shimmery, smoked out eyes are a key part of the Instagram look. Set the eye first with some primer - it’s a tacky, smooth base for eye shadow to ‘grab’ on to and locks it in place longer without creases. In terms of eye shadow colour, we’ll be opting for rich neutrals. Take the Everyday Smoky Eye Shadow and Naked Prism Eye Shadow Palettes and have a play, just make sure you draw the shadows out in a soft, diffused tapered shape and highlight the inner corner with a light, shimmer - it will help with the cat eye look you’re aiming for.

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Perfect Your Cateye

Eyeliner is your best friend for the Instagram look. You need a deep, intense black liner and a precision applicator to draw a sharp line, as with the H20 Proof Eyeliner Pen. For some, a touch of smokey eyeliner with a pencil on the bottom lash is a nice addition - this though depends on what works for your eye shape.

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Fluttery Lashes

When it comes to lashes, the bigger the better. That’s why we love e.l.f’s Plump It Up Mascara. It offers ultra black, ultra plumped up and fanned out lashes without clumps, and without the need for fake eyelashes.

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Full, Fluffy Brows

They may be one of the last steps, but brows are hugely important to bringing together the Instagram filter look. Essentially, brows frame the face, so to balance everything out you need full, fluffy brows; a look achieved by building up products such as the Instant Lift Brow Pencil and Wow Brow Gel and using the pencil's attached spoolie brush to soften and blend out the product. The aim here is to make the brows look as natural as possible, so no harsh lines or super heavy application. Of course, everyone’s brows are different, so will need a different approach - only you are the best judge of this.

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Get That Pout

Fully, glossy lips are your best friend for taking your Instagram filter make up to a new level. Starting with a Matte Lip Colour pencil, the trick is to slightly over line the lips; emphasis on slightly, you still want this to look natural, but in doing so your lips will instantly look plumper. Fill them in with e.l.f’s Liquid Matte Lipstick for all-day colour - the diamond-shaped applicator makes this an easy process - and finish off with an ultra-glossy dose of Lip Lacquer, focusing the gloss on the centre of the lips. Voila - you have the ultimate Instagram pout!

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Setting spray

Last but not least, you need to set your make up before your day ahead. e.l.f’s Dewy Setting Mist is infused with coconut to hydrate and condition the skin at the same time.

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