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TikTok users are desperate to learn this bizarre photo editing hack

An image from a TikTok photo editing hack video showing how to create a blurry face effect
(Image credit: Mirta Miler via TikTok)

TikTokkers are always after the latest filter or photo editing hack. Often it's about getting the perfect sunkissed look or removing blemishes and beautifying yourself with artificially perfect skin. But the latest effect that everyone's after is a much simpler solution for any insecure social media star – it blurs your face completely.

Several TikTokkers have shared videos showing their, erm, editing process using a smartphone app that can quickly create a motion blur effect over specific areas of an image, and the technique has proved a massive hit. Thousands of TikTokkers want to know how to do it, so we'll let you in on the secret below. Just remember that for more advanced photo editing, you can always see our guide to the best photo editing software.

An image from a TikTok photo editing hack video showing how to create a blurry face effect

TikTokkers are using the photo editing hack to blur their faces (Image credit: Benji Krol via TikTok)

While in the photography world improved sensors and focusing tech allow for super-crisp, tack-sharp images, TikTokkers want to know how they can create blurry faces, the accidental look you get when your shutter speed is too slow. The idea is to create the look of a motion blur, but only on the face, with the rest of the image remaining sharp. That could make it look like you moved your face quickly while the photo was being taken – or badly applied, it could just look like you've been censored from Google Maps or that your face was generated by an AI art generator.

Several TikTokkers have uploaded videos showing the quick photo editing hack in action, and they've been inundated with comments. The Brazilian-Spanish TikTokker Benji Krol posted a video (below) showing his 'blurry face' editing process with the caption "I'll never stop editing photos like this". He received 3.7m likes and thousands of questions, most of them being "what app?"

@benjikrol (opens in new tab)

i’ll never stop editing pics like this

♬ Stressed Out - 𓆩♡𓆪 (opens in new tab)

Krol's video has inspired other TikTokkers to share their own demonstrations of the technique, including Croatian makeup artist Mirta Miler (see below). The videos all use the Twenty One Pilots song Stressed Out, with its lyric, 'My name's Blurryface and I care what you think'.

@mimiermakeup (opens in new tab)

♬ Stressed Out - 𓆩♡𓆪 (opens in new tab)

How to use the 'blurry face' photo editing hack

The blurry face effect is created in Picsart, a photo editing app for iOS and Android that's been around for years. The app is free to download but some features are available only with a premium subscription. The motion blur effect appears to be free to use at the moment, at least on Android, but some iPhone users claim that it no longer appears free for them.

To use the effect, simply hit the + in Picsart to create a new image. Select an image from your phone or take a new image in the app, hit the 'Effects' icon at the bottom, and then the 'BLUR' option, scroll to the right through the different blur effects and choose 'Motion Blur'.

The effect will automatically be applied to the whole photo, but you can then use the 'Erase' tool to remove the effect from the background leaving it only on the face. You can do this by using your finger to rub out the areas or by selecting 'face' so the app automatically detects the face and applies the effect there. However, most of the TikTok demonstrations use the shape tool: you place a square over the face area to first erase the blur effect there, and then you click 'Invert' to apply it only inside the square. Other photo editing apps such as EPIK can probably do something similar.

@definitelynotam0use (opens in new tab)

♬ Stressed Out - 𓆩♡𓆪 (opens in new tab)

Some TikTokkers aren't fans of the photo editing hack however. "Nooo ¿Por qué? si sos re lindo" (No, Why? You're so pretty), one person told Krol. "i just want you to know that you’re beautiful and you don’t need to hide you’re face," another person wrote in the comments. 

It reminds us of the last year's big TikTok photo editing hack, to recreate golden hour sunlight, but in this case, TikTokkers are hiding their faces. In some cases, it can create a sense of action and energy in an image, at others, it could be useful if you want a bit of anonymity on social media. For more editing tips, see our guide to how to edit photos and our iPhone Pro camera tips. We also have a pick of the best monitors for photo editing.

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Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes, news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at a design and branding agency based in London and Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors. He enjoys photography and wellness and also dances tango.