Don’t Look at Me: Anti-Surveillance Makeup

March 18, 2014 • Beauty


Look 1

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.


Look 2

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.


Look 3

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.


Look 4

 Here’s what you’ll need:

MUFE Rouge Artist Intense Lipstick in #22, Elmer’s Glue gluestick, Wolfe FX Hydrocolor Essentials palette, Mehron creme makeupHolika Holika Essential Petit BB Cream, Coastal Scents glitter in Crimson RedAmerican Apparel nail polish in Palm SpringsIllamasqua nail polish in Monogamous, and LA Colors nail polish in Fun in the Sun.

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  • Amazing! I love all the looks you create Lauren!! The tip for flipping your long hair over your face for unrecogniability is perfect though difficult to navigate with in the world. My biggest wish is to create a look that really makes people back off from me because I really need my cocoon of space (and only assholes wanna disturb it anyway), but it hasn’t succeeded yet because I often dress so cutely… maybe? Or because I am small? Or just because I am female?? I don’t know, to you Lauren, to Arabelle, To anyone reading this have you ever felt like you succeeded? hmu!

    • Arabelle Sicardi

      i don’t know what you are asking, can you clarify? i think i succeed in being unapproachable most of the time. i do not dress cute and i don’t smile most of the time. i am a small person too. i don’t know if your gender is the thing preventing you from being cocooned in safety. it might be how you present your gender but it’s not your gender. do you know what i mean?

      • That’s true! I dress very female & girly most of the time, even when I don’t try to I seem to come off that way? I love my personal style (see website 4 easy clarification) and I don’t want to give it up but it’s disheartening to go out knowing you will get approached/cat-called or simply ridiculed (unoriginally I might add). I don’t want these men and these teens coming to me, messing up the personal space I desperately need.

        Am I being clear? Sorry (not sorry) english is my second language and in general I am often distacted – jump from one thing to the other!

        • Arabelle Sicardi

          Aw it’s okay I just wanted to make sure I understood. I think my personal style is weird enough that mostly only other cute people have courage to say anything to me at all. Culture can’t be changed by just one person but you can still try to wear armor to protect yourself against jerks.

          • Yes, thank you for your words. My armor of overwhelming cuteness is currently not enough and I am searching for something thicker and scarier. Like Lauren though, it seems the weirder I get the more I get approached. Death glares do nothing, and sometimes I feel like I’m at my wit’s end, dealing with depression and finding safety in (supposedly unconventional) clothing don’t seem to mix, but I NEED it to. Your schemes seem to work.

            I also just have a lot of questions about this/ I think about this all the time because some of my friends don’t get approached much while dressing equally colourful or cute (some have mentioned that creepy comments have declined with their age, but I still look very young which makes the possible reasons for men approaching girls lots of levels creepier). It doesn’t have anything to do with colours, shortness of skirts, shabby dress or uptight dress as well all know. Then what materials do I need to make my armor (just thinking out loud).

    • I don’t seem very pleasant because I always look pissed off, but that’s just my face, haha. Somehow people still feel inclined to approach me and ask/comment about something all the time. I’m not afraid to shoot the death glare or laugh at people if I feel uncomfortable. I can’t think of any way I’ve succeeded in becoming more unapproachable appearance-wise, I mean, I wear freaky dead stuff and have long claws, and those types of things usually attract even more curiosity!

  • SafiS

    very important to me right now!!!!!!!!!! i’ve been reading a lot about this,for a film i plan to make in the years to come.i really wanna make a movie about a rogue cyborg girl and anti-surveillance is a part of her “”””look”””””.i also think it would be a great way to sheild yourself from douchebags while youre out and about(this is also apart of my future cyborg girl’s thing) so many ideas flooding through my head,im off to write them down.thank you so much for this,Lauren!!

  • mariana

    this is INCREDIBLE
    well done a million times over!

  • Seriously SO awesome, all of the looks. I need to challenge myself creatively, this is a great inspiration and reminder to do so. You’re very talented!

    Ali xx
    Pretty in Python

  • Sickeningly good.

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