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Ah, Instagram: it can turn a sushi roll into a masterpiece and a silly, arm-length shot into a Facebook-worthy photo. But instead of making photo-sharing easier, the app might be turning us all into perfectionists. According to a new study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, the pictures we through the app are often carefully planned and edited. It takes more than the perfect filter to make a great selfie, so we culled the best tips for nailing this snapshot—and cutting your editing time way down!
Use these tricks to take your selfies from simple to stunning. It gives your photo a candelit effect that glosses over imperfections while amplifying other features—like your bone structure, lips, and eyes, says San Francisco makeup artist Hillary Clark.
But the right beauty tricks can help you look flawless even without the filter. First, dust a matte bronzer over your foundation on the perimeter of your face, bridge of your nose, and hollows of your cheeks to create awesome definition.
Then, intensify your eyes by rimming the upper and lower lash lines with a brown or black eye pencil and applying volumizing mascara. Finally, make your lips look even sultrier by tracing them with a nude pencil then topping them with a tinted balm or gloss in rose or mauve. Not cute. Another option: download a free self-timer app for your phone like the TimerCam for iPhonethen prop it up on a level surface to take the pic.
Find the right angle Without going all MySpace on us, it really is best to angle your camera slightly above yourself when taking a picture since it tends to be the most flattering, says Stricke. You can also take a cue from red carpet shots and angle your body or face slightly to one side more on that nextsince straight-on photos can flatten you out.
Finally, avoid being dead center in the photo.
This will help you achieve the rule of thirds, which is a photo composition trick that makes a photo more interesting by keeping the subject along imaginary lines that divide the picture into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. A study in the journal Experimental Brain Research found that photos showing the left side of your face were rated as more pleasant than photos of the right side of your face. These held true even when they took mirror image photos of the left side of a face that was flipped to seem like the opposite side.
To find this sweet spot, try standing in the shade of a tree or building. Look for light coming through a window, soft light bulbs—even neon bar s. Get creative According to research from dating site OKCupid, photos of you doing something interesting or posing with an animal trump all other pictures. Snap a picture of yourself snuggling with your dog or sitting on a jet ski.
If you do it right, your selfie can double as a conversation starter.
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