The selfie has become so ingrained in our culture that it’ll score you nine points in Scrabble, and can be found amongst “ebullient” and “obstreperous” in the Oxford English Dictionary. And Kim Kardashian, whose snaps regularly garner upwards of a half million likes, is even releasing and a selfie-themed book, Selfish, next April. While you may not have a makeup team at your disposal like Kardiashian, we’ve got tips, tricks, and tools straight from the pros (like Lauren Conrad’s makeup artist) to help you put your best face forward. Follow our 10 foolproof rules and snap away!
1. Phone a Friend
Or better yet, jump into a photo with one. Despite their narcissistic moniker, selfies are more fun—and way less awkward—when they’re taken with a pal. Photographer Tony Kim says, “It usually leads to laughter and some silliness, so your photos end up looking less staged and more candid.”
Nothing ruins a selfie like a photo-bombing outstretched arm. Problem solved: Hisy’s Bluetooth device ($25; hisypix.com) lets you take a photo without even touching the phone. Use the stand (not shown) to prop your cell, pose, then click the quarter-size remote button. Perfect. Selfie. Every. Time.
3. Be a Poser
Scroll through any Kardashian Instagram feed and count how many pics are straight-on snaps of their faces (hint: it's very few). That’s because turning your head slightly to one side makes your face seem thinner and hides any sign of a double chin. Another face-slimming tip: N.Y.C. makeup artist Kristofer Buckle says to raise the camera just above your line of sight and steady your gaze on the lens. But try not to stare (can you say, “Deer in headlights”?).
“I like to tell my clients to do a hair toss before taking a picture,” says hairstylist Riawna Capri, who has worked with Selena Gomez. “It adds lift.” Flip your hair over your face, whip it back, and allow strands to slide forward naturally. Need a bit more volume? Keep a travel-size thickening spray in your purse. Try Bumble and Bumble Thickening Dryspun Finish ($29; bumbleandbumble.com).
Unless you have extendable arms, most selfies are pretty close up, meaning any makeup that settles into fine lines—around your eyes, nose, or mouth—becomes pretty darn obvious. Lauren Conrad’s makeup artist Amy Nadine suggests sticking to cream blushes and shadows. “They melt into the skin more easily and look a lot softer in tight shots,” she says. We recommend Make Up for Ever HD blush in Coral ($26; sephora.com).
Unless you’re hashtagging #nofilter, there’s no shame in putting your pic through one. “Even though I hate the word ‘imperfections,’ there’s nothing quite like a filter to blur them away,” Nadine says. But like skinny jeans, this isn’t one-size-fits-all. In general, Nashville, which Conrad prefers, works well with fair complexions, while Valencia balances darker skin tones. Nina Dobrev is a fan of Chrome, which you can find in the filter options on the iPhone (not Instagram).
7. Do a Background Check
You want your clicks to capture the real you, but nobody needs to see your dirty laundry, old Starbucks cups, or unmade bed. “Look for a simple yet beautiful background that won’t distract from you being the focus of the image,” says Kim. Natural light always trumps artificial. “Lightbulbs can make your skin tone look off and give you undereye bags,” Kim says. If you are snapping indoors, stand near a window since the sun casts less shadow there.
Chances are you’ve double-tapped a pic or two of a friend rocking a pretty mani or wearing an adorable ring. And for good reason. “Great nails and jewelry add visual interest to close-up shots,” says manicurist Ashlie Johnson, who recommends a clean but poppy polish and delicate rings. “Complicated nail art and chunky jewelry end up overwhelming the photo,” she says. We love Catbird Twisted Stacker rings ($64 each; catbirdnyc.com). For nails, try Givenchy Le Vernis in Bronze Intense ($20; sephora.com) or Jin Soon Nail Lacquer in Nocturne ($18; spacenk.com).
Sorry, but the ubiquitous cheeks-in, lips-out look is not hot. Instead, emphasize your bone structure with contouring, advises N.Y.C. makeup artist Joanna Simkin. Suck in your cheeks, and sweep a matte cream bronzer (we love Nars Matt Multiple in Vientiane, $39; narscosmetics.com) along the hollows using a flat buffing brush like Tarte the Slenderizer Bamboo Contouring Brush ($32; ulta.com); blend well. Now gently tap highlighter, like Josie Maran Argan Illuminizer ($28; sephora.com) onto cheekbones, across the bridge of your nose, and along your brow bone. “Your face will look instantly chiseled,” says Simkin.
“Smartphone lenses are wide-angle, so they’re not as flattering,” says Adam Bronkhorst, a London photographer. His solution: snap-on lenses from Photojojo ($20 each; photojojo.com). They easily attach to any Apple or Android device, taking your regular old camera phone pro with fisheye, telephoto, or polarized lenses. Another way to upgrade your selfie cred? Use the app #nocrop, which allows you to post fullsize photos and reverse the mirror-image view.