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  • Writer's pictureLexy Spreitzer

4 Free, Great Photo-Editing Apps (Influencer-Reviewed)

[originally published July 12 2020]

As much as I hate the term "influencer," I know that many of us "influencers" utilize photo-editing apps to make our photos stand out. I personally avoid apps that can distort or offer 'photoshopping' tools. For example, I hate FaceTune SO MUCH. It makes it so easy for people to alter images and make them appear "natural." I don't care if you're not wearing makeup, Susan. If you altered your facial bone structure with an app, that's far from "fresh-faced."

However, I love brightening and adding small effects to my images to make my profile feed seem visually cohesive. I don't have a theme on my socials, but I do brighten and tone all of my images a certain way. Below are the four main apps I'll rotate from when editing photos for Instagram and my blog.


I've always loved the VSCO app (even before it became trendy). I've been a premium subscriber to all the app's features for over a year now and am not disappointed. I like how I can participate in photo challenges within the app too. This app has the prettiest filters that can be used for all photography types. Some are great for portraits and selfies while others are great for nature and lifestyle shots. My all-time favorite filters on VSCO are HB2 and M6. I most often will use VSCO to add grain to lower-quality pictures. Of all the editing apps I've used, VSCO has the best grainy effect tool.

#3 A Color Story

This app features lots of presets from established influencers. I personally love ACS because I can add faux sunlight and light effects to my sunnier images. If I take a photo outside that needs a bit more personality or sunlight, I can add a flare overlay for extra brightness and interest. I don't subscribe to ACS's premium subscription as it's not my favorite app interface-wise. There are a ton of adorable filters though and I wish I'd played around with them more during my free trial.

#2 Gradient

Despite the hilarious effects and services Gradient has as features (such as the ability to see which celebrities we look like the most), I really like the practical filters that this app has. I never use the hair-color or skin-tone editing tools, but instead I utilize the "forest-themed" filters. My favorites are 3,4, and 5. These filters are warm and I love how forest filter #5 brightens the overall photo quality. Often, I'll adjust the picture temperature and make it cooler after using one of these filters. Gradient is just as useful as it is entertaining.

#1 Snapseed

Google's very own simple-to-use editor, Snapseed, is my favorite for touching up! The portrait feature allows you to highlight your face, brighten your eyes, and smooth your skin. I don't use the skin-smoothing feature as it takes away from the authenticity of my photos. My favorite tool in this app is the spot editor. You can select a section of your photo - whether it's a too-yellow backdrop or an under-exposed texture in your outfit - and edit it separately. I'll often desaturate vibrant backgrounds and add exposure to poorly-lit areas of my photographs. This app makes it so easy to add those subtle, natural edits.

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