In a study published in the journal Body Image, researchers at Flinders University in Australia, asked 130 women aged 18 to 30 to view Instagram snaps of thin and average-sized women, before analysing their selfie habits.
They found that the longer the women took to edit and post selfies, the worse their mood and dissatisfaction about their facial appearance.
The women in the study spent about 4 and half minutes editing up to five selfies, to smooth and change skin tone, remove dark eye circles, shape their faces and remove flaws.
According to the researchers, investing time and effort into taking, selecting, and editing selfies are not harmless activities because they have detrimental effects on women motivated to present the best possible version of themselves.
"We found an increase in dissatisfaction following the selfie task was based on the extent of editing being undertaken. This demonstrates that the editing of selfies is not a benign process but has negative consequences, even though participants reported being much happier with their edited selfie than their original photo," said study researcher Marika Tiggemann.
Many women and girls spend considerable time and effort in taking and selecting their selfies, for example, finding the best lighting and most flattering angle, which can then be further enhanced by filters or digital editing to maximise their appearance and appeal.
The study researcher Tiggemann said teenagers and young women should also be dissuaded from using software to edit selfies.
"Women appear to be motivated by the wish to present the best possible version of themselves and are correspondingly substantially happier with their edited selfie than the original photo. Yet, at the same time, these activities have detrimental effects in terms of poorer mood and facial dissatisfaction," Tiggemann said.
The results also indicate extensive selfie editing leads to feeling disingenuous online.
These suggestions are respectively consistent with the two unique predictors of increased facial dissatisfaction, such as thinking about how others will judge you, and thinking about making yourself look better than you do in real life," she said.