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How to Take an Amazing Selfie Every Time

Updated: Mar. 28, 2023

Sure, you can easily snap a picture of yourself, but these tips from TikTokkers and makeup pros will teach you how to take a selfie you truly love

A group of 4 young people take a selfie on a mobile smart phone
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Snap the perfect selfie

If you feel like everyone looks flawless in selfies but you, you’re not alone. Most people know how to take a selfie, but that’s not the same as knowing how to take good selfies. (After all, there is a difference!) But it doesn’t have to be that way. Taking the perfect selfie is an art, and you need just a few tricks to look amazing in photos every time.

“No one is born photogenic—it’s a skill that’s learned over time,” says Christine Buzan, a posing expert who runs @lookgoodinphotos on TikTok. “The more you practice taking photos, the more comfortable you’ll become being in front of the camera, and the more you’ll enjoy taking photos.”

To unravel the mystery behind taking an amazing selfie, we spoke to TikTokkers, influencers and makeup artists who know the tricks of the trade and shared their secrets with us. Below, you’ll find the scoop on how to look younger in selfies, the best foundation for selfie-ready skin, makeup tips to make your features pop and more. You’ll be a selfie pro in no time!

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Smiling young woman sitting on couch with a soft drink taking a selfie
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Face a window

Buzan’s No. 1 trick for how to take good selfies? Use the light to your advantage. “The right lighting smooths your skin like a natural filter,” she explains. If you’re snapping a selfie indoors, look for a spot with light that’s facing you rather than coming from above you. According to celebrity makeup artist Luis Casco, author of #Beautiful: 50 Easy-to-Create Selfie-Ready Beauty Looks, “overhead light will make you look tired and accentuate everything you don’t want to highlight.” Light aimed directly at your face, on the other hand, can reduce the appearance of texture and wrinkles on your skin.

Buzan suggests turning off all indoor lights and facing a window while you snap selfies for the best results. You can also try the best concealers (including the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind) and the best primers to make your skin look amazing in selfies—no special lighting required!

Group of friends having fun
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Wait for the golden hour

If you’re wondering how to take a selfie outdoors, lighting also plays an incredibly important role. Buzan recommends scoping out a spot with soft, natural lighting—or better yet, snapping your selfies at the golden hour, when the light is most flattering. The golden hour occurs shortly after sunrise or before sunset, and the warmer, softer daylight at that time can have a softening effect on your skin and facial features.

Shaded areas will also help you avoid direct overhead sunlight, which can create harsh shadows on your face, Buzan says. Plus, if you’re in direct sunlight, you might end up squinting, which will exacerbate the appearance of lines around your eyes. To downplay those lines when you’re in front of a camera or not, try these skin-tightening creams that dermatologists swear by.

Beautiful young make-up artist taking selfies while posing in front of a ring light
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Fake natural lighting

No natural light? No problem. You can fake it with a mini-LED or ring light, influencers say. Buzan loves the Lume Cube Panel Mini light, which creates more flattering lighting than a phone’s flash. Simply hold it up behind your phone while taking a selfie at home or when you’re out and about, then stash it in your pocket or purse when you’re done.

Eleanor Barnes, a social media influencer who goes by @snitchery on TikTok, uses a ring light when a natural light source isn’t available. “My favorite light is bright and natural,” she says, and a ring light helps her achieve it indoors. Just keep in mind that ring lights are only useful when you’re taking a selfie at home with a stationary setup. Once you snap the perfect shot, post it with one of these selfie captions.

Young African woman taking selfies in the dressing room at gym
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Find your good side

Before mastering how to take a selfie, you should consider which features you want to highlight—and which features you would rather hide. This will determine everything from the lighting to the angle of your phone. “Everyone has a better side,” Casco says. “Lots of us look best from the left side, for instance. After all, someone like Mariah Carey won’t even do an interview if she’s not shot from that side.”

To find your best angle for a selfie, Buzan recommends doing something called “The Clock Method.” Here’s how it works: Hold your phone parallel to your face with the camera lens at eyebrow level. Then move your head around in a clock-like motion, taking a photo at every “number” of the clock. This will give you a selection of photos at 12 different angles, and you can choose the ones you like the most. The next time you’re posing for a selfie, simply tilt your head in the directions you prefer. These hairstyles that make you look younger can draw attention to your favorite features too.

Smiling basketball player taking selfie with friends
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Shoot from the right angle

One strategy to emphasize or hide certain features is to adjust the angle of your phone. For example, you can minimize a double chin—and make your eyes appear larger—by holding your phone at a higher angle. Just avoid positioning the phone above your forehead, which can enlarge your forehead and nose in the photo, Buzan says.

If you want to show off your jawline, Buzan recommends snapping selfies with your phone at a lower angle, preferably below your cheekbones with the camera tilted upward. Doing so can also draw attention away from a large forehead. Bonus: Holding your phone a little lower can also “make you look powerful and in control,” according to Barnes. Just make sure to avoid these hairstyle mistakes that can make you look older.

First rule of anti ageing: Moisturise
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Moisturize right before taking a selfie

As far as beauty products go, experts say that a little moisturizer can go a long way when it comes to selfies—and all photos. “Dry skin texture is one of the hardest things to hide,” Casco says, “so moisturizing is key.” Kristina Collins, MD, a double board-certified dermatologist, recommends applying a moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid, which improves skin hydration and smooths creases for a flawless look.

Moisturizers with ingredients like bisabolol and ginger root extract are a bonus, because they can also reduce redness and inflammation in minutes, according to Dr. Collins. One caveat: You should use only a dime-sized amount of moisturizer to soften and smooth dry skin, as too much could make you look shiny. And don’t forget to moisturize your lips before taking photos as well, Casco says. A little lip balm goes a long way!

Single Mom Having Fun With Her Sons Taking Selfies
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Say a funny word

Forget saying “cheese“—saying the words money, hey or yoga is the secret to looking amazing in selfies. Unlike the word cheese, which makes your smile tight and wide, those three little words will relax your face for a more natural result. If you opt for a closed-mouth smile, try saying the word prune and then smiling slightly; this will accentuate your cheekbones.

To find which word is most flattering for you, Buzan suggests recording yourself saying each word and playing them back, paying attention to the way your mouth muscles move when saying each word. Then you can decide which one you like the most and practice saying it for your next selfie sesh.

A happily just married couple taking a selfie with the Sagrada Familia behind.
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Don’t look at yourself

Contrary to popular belief, you should resist the urge to look at yourself on your phone screen as you take a selfie. Doing so shifts your gaze downward, which can make your eyes appear smaller in the photo.

Buzan recommends looking up at your phone’s front camera lens instead. iPhones have a helpful little arrow right under the phone’s front lens when your camera is open that tells you where to look, or you can gaze slightly above the lens to make your eyes appear larger.

Natural Woman Portrait
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Smile with your eyes

The legendary “smize” isn’t just for the contestants on America’s Next Top Model. If you feel like your eyes look lifeless in selfies, smizing is the secret to appearing warmer, happier and more energetic, Buzan says.

To try it out for yourself, Buzan suggests pretending you’re scanning an aisle at the grocery store, looking for a specific kind of cereal. Your eyes should become more focused, and your eyelids should tense a little. Don’t forget about your mouth, cheekbones and eyebrows during this process. Try raising your eyebrows slightly and tilting the edges of your lips upward. Now practice that in front of a phone camera, and voila! You have perfected the art of the smize. Highlight your eyes even further with this beauty editor–beloved mascara.

Women taking a selfie before workout
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Get snap-happy

When it comes to learning how to take a selfie, less is not necessarily more. “Most people don’t realize that getting pictures you love is a numbers game,” explains Buzan. The more selfies you take, the more options you will have when it comes time to select what to share and post. After all, the slightest difference can make the biggest difference.

How many shots should you aim for? Casco typically takes at least five selfies, if not more. “Most successful influencers I know take at least 20 versions of one selfie to make sure they can edit later,” he says.

Woman using an smart phone
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Hold your phone at arm’s length

Believe it or not, your phone’s camera distorts the way your face looks. Several TikTokkers, including Barnes, have discovered that when you take a selfie with your phone’s front-facing camera, the lens makes your eyes look farther apart and your nose look larger.

You can fix this, Buzan says, by holding your phone as far away from your face as possible—at least arm’s length—and zooming in. Cellphone accessories like selfie sticks can help you hold the camera even farther away from your face and find a more flattering angle. Keep in mind that you can always crop the photo if it’s too far away.

Happy young afro woman taking selfie with mobile phone outdoors
Xavier Lorenzo/Getty Images

Center your face

Another way to avoid distortion is to make sure your face is in the center of your camera’s frame while snapping selfies. According to Barnes, a centered, head-on shot is the most universally flattering angle for any face shape. Placing your face too high on the screen will make your jawline appear softer and show the insides of your nostrils, while placing your face too low will make your forehead and nose appear larger, Buzan says.

Skin problems. acne. Woman applying concealer on her face to hide pimples
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Cover up flaws

If you have any breakouts, applying a concealer that matches your skin tone is essential before taking selfies, says Casco. Makeup artists recommend opting for one that’s about a half-shade lighter than your skin tone to hide blemishes. Concealer that is too light can create an uneven, polka-dotted effect on your skin, while concealer that is too dark can make the spots appear darker.

That said, try to avoid makeup products that could make your skin look shiny or cakey in photos. Glittery creams and powders “tend to reflect light off of the skin when the photograph is taken and can look unnatural,” while heavy or powdered foundations “can make the skin look dull,” Dr. Collins says.

Instead of makeup that tends to settle into the creases of your skin, give these makeup products for older women a try. And if worse comes to worst, you can work a little post-production magic on a breakout, so focus on the overall image and the best skin products for your skin.

African woman using a cellphone in an office alone
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Use editing apps sparingly

Digitally touching up your appearance with FaceTune or other apps is fine in small doses, but beware of going overboard. “I always recommend doing the very minimum, as it’s easy for someone to get used to seeing themselves looking too flawless,” Casco says.

He advises staying away from apps that add makeup, enlarge your eyes or make your skin look perfectly smooth. Instead, opt for tiny adjustments like whitening your eyes or teeth. “By rule, if I’m ever using an app to clean up a selfie, I would do about 3% on a scale of 100,” Casco says.

Happy man listening music through headphones taking selfie showing peace sign
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Tilt your head

When teaching her students how to take a selfie, Buzan encourages them to focus on the position of their heads as much as the position of their phones. For example, rather than facing the camera lens straight on, try slightly pushing your forehead toward the camera and lengthening your neck away from your shoulders like a turtle. Doing so can sharpen your jawline, minimize a double chin and make your shoulders and head look more proportional in selfies. You can also tilt your head to the side at a 45-degree angle and place your hand under your chin to tighten your jawline and avoid the appearance of a double chin, according to Buzan.

Just make sure to keep these movements small and subtle. Poses that feel awkward and uncomfortable will make you look strained rather than natural and relaxed in photos. Also avoid these body language mistakes that can send the wrong message.

Front view of a middle-aged businessman with ponytail and blazer takes a selfie with his smartphone in the city
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Take a risk

The next time you snap a selfie or two, try experimenting a little. You might be surprised by the results! “Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try a new camera angle or facial expression,” Buzan says. “You might find something you really like.” To get a range of options, adjust your facial expression, the position of your head and shoulders and the angle of your phone in between shots.

Portrait of young asian woman holding camera and smiling with unfocused background
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Turn your phone around

There are pros and cons to using the front-facing, or “selfie mode,” camera on your iPhone. Although the front camera allows you to see yourself and your position, the back camera snaps higher-quality images, according to Barnes. Using the back camera can also make you feel more natural because you can’t see yourself. Plus, since it’s easier to see the back camera lens than the front, you’re guaranteed to focus your gaze in the correct spot.

The solution? Use the front camera to gauge your pose, angle and lighting, then flip the camera and turn your phone around so that the back camera lens is facing you. To snap the photo, press the “volume up” button or place your phone on a tripod and use a wireless remote. You can also turn on your phone’s self-timer feature for hands-free snapping.

Selfie of a young Caucasian man smiling
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Adjust your shoulders

Sure, finding the perfect angle and facial expression can make or break your selfie. But don’t forget the crucial contribution that your shoulders can make. Buzan suggests tilting your shoulders at a slight angle and moving them up, down, front and back in between snaps. “This will add a sense of movement to your selfies and make them look more relaxed,” she says.

Barnes agrees: “Shoulders turned at a three-quarter angle always feels great for me,” she says. Moving your shoulders will also change how you face the camera with your body, so you can take photos from several different angles for multiple options. From earrings to scarves, the right accessories can also be incredibly flattering—and even help you look younger in photos.

Group of happy senior women on a walk in city, taking selfie.
Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

Have fun

Above all, “don’t overthink it,” Barnes says. She suggests recalling a funny joke or fond memory and then snapping a selfie. The results will reflect the real you: relaxed, happy and confident.

“It may sound cheesy, but Mama was right: The most beautiful glow truly starts from within,” Dr. Collins says. “Letting your authentic light shine is absolutely more eye-catching and more gorgeous than any filter.” If you do want to tweak your selfie before posting it online, check out our tips for how to edit photos using iPhone’s Photos App.