Why Face Lenses Matter
Snapchat face lenses aren't just entertainment for idle moments; they're an entry point into a global visual conversation. Even if you just have a couple of favorite filters and only Snap using those, you're still communicating in a very specific vocabulary shared by more than 150 million other users. When someone Snaps Barack Obama with the puppy filter during a press conference, you're in on the joke. When a group of users express concern that the flower crown and "beauty" filter make faces appear thinner and whiter, you can investigate that for yourself. And face filters are a great equalizer—if Serena Williams can figure out how to look great with her head wrapped in toast, then why can't you be inspired to do the same?
Below, see how your favorite face filters have changed the way we communicate on social media.
The Dog Face
While Snapchat has kept quiet on which lens is its most popular of all time, our money's on the dog. It pulls off the nearly impossible trick of making you look like a cartoon pup and also really, really attractive. Basically, the dog lens functions a lot like Snapchat's "pretty" lens; it smooths your skin and widens your eyes. Its Photoshop effects just aren't as obvious underneath that cute doggie nose and giant, noisy tongue. When you slap on a pretty lens, you're asking your followers to believe your face is naturally airbrushed; when you go with the dog, you're saying "lol I don't really look like this."
Unsurprisingly, this pup has a lot of celebrity fans—like Ariana Grande, who starred in a Jimmy Kimmel sketch about a fake horror movie called Dog Face Filter (tagline: "Because some snaps are forever.").
And, if you've ever doubted the power of a Kardashian endorsement, consider this: last May, Kim Kardashian posted a Snap casually asking Snapchat to create a dalmatian lens. A week later, they rolled one out (it appears when you take a selfie with a friend while using the classic dog lens). Snapchat has never confirmed that it was Kim who sparked the idea, but they haven't denied it either.
The Flower Crown
You could Snap yourself in a flower crown while hiking by a waterfall, or standing stage-side at Coachella, but we think contrast is key here: save it for a night when your plans involve pizza and sweats. When you do break it out, know that you're in good company; it's President Obama's favorite lens.
Plus, the fashion and beauty industries are still pretty taken with it. Paper flower crowns modeled after Snapchat's featured heavily in Desigual's most recent runway show, and YouTube is teeming with beauty tutorials inspired by the lens.
The Face Swap
The Face Swap is good for instant laughs: You and your friend (or boyfriend or girlfriend or dad or whomever) just switched faces, and now you're both hideous! Or: You just stood in front of an antique bust at the Met and held your phone up like you were taking a selfie, and now you look like Emperor Augustus! But we also like humor with a subversive element thrown in, which Snapchat users gave us during the election cycle with face swaps made using the likenesses of Clinton and Trump. While it felt like the world was plunging headlong into utter absurdity, it was nice to feel like we could create a little absurdity of our own.