Picture Perfect: Looking Great in Selfies and Beyond

Janell M. Hickman
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The Internet went crazy after self-proclaimed selfie queen Kim Kardashian announced she’d be releasing her very own book of unreleased photographs. Now, thanks to the digital age, everyone must look photo-ready at all times for better or for worse. From Snapchat to FaceTime, privacy is no longer a luxury—so why not look your best? We rounded up a panel of experts to ensure you look #flawless in both solo and group shots. After reading this great advice, you may even be able to skip the filter.

Avoid Artificial Lighting
“This is tough for an untrained eye,” warns photographer and director Andrew Zaeh. “It’s best to utilize nature’s key light (a.k.a.the sun) whenever you can. As a general rule, be sure whichever light source you choose to use is above eye level—a source from underneath is like horror-movie lighting: unnatural and unflattering.”

Let The Sun Shine
“Lighting is key in best selfie practices,” explains IT Cosmetics’ Education and Training Executive, Erica Mrose. “If you are using outdoor natural light, the best time to take your selfie is sunrise or sunset for a red warm glow; this gives a beautiful warmth to all complexions. Overcast or cloudy days can cast a grey tint to selfies which can result in the need for a filter.”

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Don’t Blend in The Background
“When taking a close up shot, make sure your background is not the same color as your hair,” shares Frédéric Fekkai Dallas-based hairstylist, Tony Salle. “A brunette will not show well against a dark or black wall and similarly blonde hair won’t look good against light colors or white.”

Highlight Your Assets
“Contouring can definitely help with creating the illusion of a slimmer and/or more uplifted complexion,” explains Jo Levy director of Artistry at Rouge Bunny Rouge. “To create a natural effect, apply bronzer across the upper forehead, blending well into the hairline. Follow by sweeping bronzer right underneath the cheek bones and blending outward towards the ears and temples. Lastly, sweep a touch of bronzer down the bridge of the nose and along the edges of the jaw to pull the face forward while slimming the face shape.”

Find The Right Angles
“Most of us will benefit from holding the camera, phone or tablet above eye level for a slimmer jawline,” says Mrose. “Avoid holding your device too high, which can accidentally spotlight under-eye bags, elongate nose and enlarge the forehead. I prefer a 3/4 profile with a natural smile with naturally contoured subtle makeup and loose flowing hair.”

Pick The Right Hue for You
“[In terms of clothing selection], dark colors (like navy and black) or reds are universally flattering,” explains photographer Keith Major. “[When editing] you can cheat with lighter filters to wash out blemishes and give great ‘beauty light’ to any image.”

Take Dirty Hair from Drab to Fab
“Use a dry shampoo on the roots to refresh the hair and give extra volume and texture—a trick to this is to apply the product at night,” explains Salle. “When you wake up in the morning, the oil is absorbed and you have added volume without dry shampoo residue!” Another key product?  Fekkai Soleil Beach Waves Tousling Spray. “It can create a wonderful beach texture and fullness to strands without having to comb or brush the hair.”

Fake Flawless Skin
“To truly fake flawless skin is all about layering and blending,” shares Levy who recommends a light coverage tinted moisturizer, a creamy, medium coverage concealer and a pearly liquid illuminating highlighter. “A liquid illuminator can be mixed into your tinted moisturizer (just one drop) or applied to the very high parts of the cheeks, inner corners of the eyes, bridge of the nose and the outer edge of the temples for an ethereal, refreshed and gorgeous looking complexion.”

Put Down The Glitter
“Avoid any frost, sparkles and shimmer products, which can make us look older by accentuating fine lines and wrinkles,” cautions Mrose. “A creamy concealer like IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye will give great coverage without settling into lines, or creasing throughout the day, and an illuminating foundation will make skin glow!”

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Make Some Moves
“When taking a photo, don’t hesitate to give the hair movement,” explains Salle who works with starlets including Salma Hayek and Jordana Brewster. “It always makes the look super sexy—toss or shake your hair out!”

Look Better On The Beach
“[You can] use a matte bronzer to slim your waistline by using a large brush along the sides of torso from bikini top down to your bikini bottoms,” shares Mrose. “Then take back down along the middle of stomach to enhance muscle tone. I love to use IT Cosmetics Vitality Bronze Matte with the Large Fan brush for a quick and perfect tone.”

Create Some Curves
“[For full body shots], the worst thing to do is stand stock straight,” warns Zaeh. “Toss out a hip to create a nice s-curve shape from head to toe. If you want to look slimmer, stand with your hips perpendicular to the camera then twist your shoulders around toward  for appearance of a smaller waist.”

Shiny Hair Starts In The Shower
Shampoo is a really important step for the shiny, healthy hair. Be sure to use a shampoo appropriate to the texture of your hair (fine, oily, colored, damaged, dry, etc.) A second shampoo is also a great way to truly remove build-up,” shares Salle. “The rinse is equally as important—so be sure to remove all of the shampoo and finish with a cool rinse for extra shine.”

Focus On The Original
“Filters can help, but aren’t always an easy fix all if the original is bad,” explains Major. “Ask yourself: Is [the picture] evenly balance ? Is it clean? Is it clear? Look for the lighting to be flattering or interesting—both if you’re lucky.”

Aim to Look Younger
“Using soft, earthy tones of eye shadow that have a subtle sheen can really help to lift the lids,” explains Levy. “Follow by one coat of dark brown or black, lengthening mascara to accentuate the top and bottom lashes. Heavy, caked-on applications of dark eye shadows and/or eye liner to the top lids and lower lash line can make eyes look small, tired, and older.”

Practice Does Makes Perfect
“Honestly, take a LOT of selfies,” advises Zaeh who has worked with Jay-Z, Nick Jonas, and Janelle Monáe. “It will become clear quickly which angles work best for you when you’re sorting thru a myriad of shots.”

Out With The Old…
A few of our experts have several selfie gripes they hope are left in 2014: “Seeing the camera phone in the photo is so tired,” shares Major, while Mrose says is over the duck face. “It’s such a forced look, and I think happy, natural beautiful is much more sexy!” Levy agrees, “If you naturally have a happy disposition, show it! I wish more people would avoid the over-done duck face, it looks so forced….can you imagine if we all walked around with duck face? Ha!”

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