10 Tips to Look Good in Pictures

woman taking selfie with blue bunny ears phone case
Jennifer Livingston/Trunk Archive
You don’t need a thick layer of makeup or a professional updo to stand out in party selfies and family portraits. “In fact, the photos my clients love the most are the ones where they look like themselves,” says Darbi G. Hebrank, a family photographer in Lenexa, Kansas. Use these steps to take your hair and makeup to the next level.
Jeffrey Westbrook
Jeffrey Westbrook

Tip #1: Put makeup on your body.

“When you apply primer to your face, add some to your neck as well to avoid different tones,” says Sarah Lucero, global executive director of creative artistry for Stila Cosmetics. Try Honest Beauty Everything Primer Glow.

Use the same strategy with a highlighter (we like Almay Make Them Jelly Hi-Lite in Mermaid Magic, available drugstores). Smooth it onto your cheekbones and any exposed body parts, such as your shoulders, for a good head-to-toe glow, says Lucero.

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Jeffrey Westbrook
Jeffrey Westbrook

Tip #2: Fake a mini eye lift.

If you didn’t sleep well, opt for navy eyeshadow to brighten things up (try Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow). “It contrasts with the white in your eyes to make you look more awake,” says Lucero. Also, use Lumify Eye Drops ($12; Target stores) to safely zap redness for eight hours.

Then, sweep a clear brow gel through brows in an upward motion so that they point up. (If that looks messy, trim the tips of your brow hairs to groom.) “This creates a fuller brow, which is more youthful and looks better in photos,” says Lucero.

Jeffrey Westbrook
Jeffrey Westbrook

Tip #3: Wear bold lipstick.

A vibrant color in a jewel tone shows up best in pictures. “Plus, ruby-red, garnet, and amethyst shades have a blue undertone to help make teeth look whiter,” says Elisa Mello, D.D.S., cofounder of NYC Smile Design. We like Mary Kay Matte Lipstick in Red Roma.

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Jeffrey Westbrook
Jeffrey Westbrook

Tip #4: Lock down your locks.

“To make your style last until the pics start, rake mousse”—we like Pantene Pro-V Body Boosting Mousse (available in drugstores)—”through damp hair before you blow-dry. Then when you have your hair just the way you want it, mist a shine-enhancing hairspray all over,” says Garnier celebrity hairstylist Michael Dueñas.

Brook Pifer/Gallery Stock
Brook Pifer/Gallery Stock

Tip #5: Determine your good side.

Research has shown that most people favor their left side, but spend some time figuring out which angle you like best by having someone snap a few test shots, says Hebrank. It’s easier to see which side is more symmetrical in a photo than in real life.

“If you’re at a holiday event, ask a family member or a friend to be ready for the phone handoff when you want to be included in the pictures with your kids,” says New York City–based lifestyle photographer Ana Gambuto.

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Jeffrey Westbrook
Jeffrey Westbrook

Tip #6: Zhuzh hair.

Minutes before the shot, spray dry shampoo through strands to add body and soak up oil, which can look greasy in photos. “Then run your hands through roots to fluff them up and rub in the dry shampoo,” says Sarah Potempa, celeb hairstylist and inventor of The Beachwaver Co.

To tame flyaways, mist hairspray (like Garnier Fructis Style Sleek & Shine Hairspray, available in drugstores) onto hair and smooth with a toothbrush or a dryer sheet. “Or roll the side of the hairspray can over the flyaways,” says hairstylist Mia Santiago. Don’t use your fingers; they’ll stick to the hairspray and create more frizz.

Lastly for selfies, make your hair look bigger throw your hair up and over to one side—the side away from the camera—to add instant volume and show off its color and texture, Dueñas says. For other shots, pull all of your hair in front of your shoulders to frame your face.

Jeffrey Westbrook
Jeffrey Westbrook

Tip #7: Refresh makeup right before.

Spritz a face mist (like these from The Body Shop) from arm’s length away to revive makeup that looks dull or has sunk into fine lines, says Lucero.

Jeffrey Westbrook
Jeffrey Westbrook

Tip #8: Get rid of T-zone shininess.

If your nose, forehead, or chin looks too reflective in the flash, tap on a little translucent powder or use a blotting tool (we like Setz Blot + Translucent Powder, $4; drugstores). “I move it in an upside-down V on the middle of my face to get rid of excess shine around nostrils, smile lines, and my chin,” says Lucero.

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Antonio Terron/Trunk Archive
Antonio Terron/Trunk Archive

Tip #9: Get your pose on!

“For a look that’s natural and flattering, stand with your hips rotated 45 degrees from the camera, shift your weight to your back foot, and cross your other foot in front of it,” says Hebrank.

“Also, rather than putting your hand on your hip, put your child on your hip or wrap your arm around your kiddo or your partner’s waist. And remember: Relax your shoulders. Your anticipation will make them rise and you want to avoid looking like a soldier at attention.”

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    Jennifer Livingston/Trunk Archive
    Jennifer Livingston/Trunk Archive

    Tip #10: Enlist one of these tricks.

    • Get creative. “For a selfie, shoot from way above or way below, or spin slowly around as you fire off your camera. You may get a gem!” Gambuto says. “Or take 20 versions of the same photo.” There’s bound to be a great shot in there.
    • Find the light. “To locate the best lighting in the room, hold your hand up and move it around in a circle until your hand is in the brightest spot,” says Potempa. During the Shoot “That is where you should stand for the most flattering pic.”
    • Prevent a double chin. When taking a selfie, hold your camera above eye level, Santiago says. From that angle, your neck is mostly hidden.
    • Don’t fake a smile. “For a fresh and genuine expression, relax your face and drop your eyes down, then smile as you look back up into the camera,” says Reid.
    • Do make a joke. “Laughing looks much more natural than a posed smile in photos,” says Potempa.
    • Take breaks. If the moment feels forced, your expression will show it, says Broadus. Even if you are in the middle of a family photo session, hit pause to play a bit or have a snack. It’s supposed to be fun!

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