You’ve probably seen photos of anti-surveillance looks online about a hundred times like I have, especially on Tumblr where many blogs eat that type of stuff up and make room to squeeze it in between crap that looks like it’s from thejogging. The look is usually like an odd combination of the hair and makeup from the film Liquid Sky mixed with a little bit of Cousin Itt, who happens to be one of my hair idols. However, the creative possibilities are endless. The main goal is to make your face undetectable to facial recognition programs, like in cameras or Facebook’s Photo Tagger, and help protect your privacy. Sounds simple enough, but it was surprisingly difficult when I attempted it.
I realized makeup was secondary, maybe not even necessary, to achieve the look. At first, it was all I focused on, only playing with hair and accessories as a final touch. I tested my looks in person with an app using the ViolaJones algorithm and after experimenting with countless looks and variations, it felt impossible for me to become undetectable with just makeup alone. The form of the face was still detectable in certain lighting conditions and angles. I reversed my method by focusing on what I’d do with my hair first, which turned out to make more of a difference because it actually obstructs parts of the face. The most successful techniques were by creating asymmetry and simply not enhancing features. I almost had to forget how to put on makeup because it can’t be applied the way it’s usually intended. When I tested my final photos, looks 2 and 4 had false positive readings and looks 1 and 3 weren’t recognizable at all.
It’s a fun look to play around with anti-surveillance makeup for photos, but is it worth it for actual use? For me, not really–unless I’m feeling extra creative and paranoid. Hair alone can be effective enough to fool facial recognition programs. I could just do my makeup the way I want then easily flip my hair over my face if I ever feel like I need to hide myself. It already engulfs my face the second I step outside into the wind. When I was in high school, there was this kid who had grown out his hair to cover his entire face and nobody knew what he looked like until a year or two later. Now, that’s like the ultimate anti-surveillance look.
Here’s what you’ll need:
MUFE Rouge Artist Intense Lipstick in #22, Elmer’s Glue gluestick, Wolfe FX Hydrocolor Essentials palette, Mehron creme makeup, Holika Holika Essential Petit BB Cream, Coastal Scents glitter in Crimson Red, American Apparel nail polish in Palm Springs, Illamasqua nail polish in Monogamous, and LA Colors nail polish in Fun in the Sun.