How to Never Take an Unflattering Photo Again

Updated 04/18/19

Now that the holiday season is upon us, so too is the never-ending stream of photo-taking. (Hey, at least there’s also some extra bubbly around, right?) Whether you’re circling up with your girls or simply trying to communicate to the world of Instagram that you did, in fact, nail that glittery smoky-eye, you’ll want to look good. And since most of us don’t have the genetic makeup of Greek goddesses, models, and the like, we depend on a variety of tips and tricks to help our less-photogenic selves look as confident and flawless as we should feel.

 'Tis the season, so here’s to berry-stained lips, bronze-gilded lids, and never taking a cringe-worthy photo again.

Keep scrolling for our must-have tips and tricks!

Try Some (Strategically Placed) Shimmer

Hourglass Ambient Light Palette $58
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If it were up to us, we would have an orb of natural light follow us around wherever we go. Unfortunately, we’re stuck in a world of dingy yellows and unflattering fluorescents—ugh. However, with the help of some shimmery highlighter, it’s possible to mimic the effect of good lighting—and counteract the bad. Do like basically every celeb-makeup artist and lightly pat a shimmery highlighter onto the tops of your cheekbones, cupid’s bow, and in the inner corners of your eyes. You’ll instantly have a natural luminosity that will brighten your complexion and draw all eyes to you (in the best way possible.) For those that like a liquid-based formula, Giorgio Armani’s Fluid Sheer ($62) is perfection (trust us, it’s worth every dollar and will last forever).

If you prefer powder, opt for Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting Palette ($58).

Pucker Up

Laura Geller Love Me Dew Moisturizing Lip Crayon $16
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No, we don’t mean literally (seriously, save the duck face for the tweens and VS Angels, please). Instead, brighten your pout with some color. Even if you’re more of a natural gal and nudes are your go-to, the lightest swipe of berry or rose can make a huge difference. A dose of color on your lips will not only add some contrast to your complexion and interest to the photo, but it will help the camera bring out all of your features. There’s nothing worse than a pallid lipstick that causes your lips to completely disappear—simply put, the effect is sickly and unflattering.

Since nothing is off limits at this time of year, try experimenting with a color that’s a little outside of your comfort zone. The effect will translate as less dramatic (and intimidating) in photos. Laura Geller’s Love Me Dew Moisturizing Lip Crayon ($16) in Cranberry Glaze is perfect for light to medium skin-tones while Nars’s Satin Lip Pencil ($26) in Palais Royal is gorgeous on those with medium to deep complexions.

Go to the Dark Side

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner $22
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It’s no secret that some extra definition (in the form of killer eyeliner) is key when taking a great photo. Prior to having your photo taken, follow the advice of Korean model and beauty guru Irene Kim, and use a bold black liner to your advantage—bonus points for adding a wing to create a beautiful cat-eye (um, we know we’re not the only ones with uncomfortably close screenshots of Adele’s face on our phones). For a super-black formula that won’t budge until you want it to, try Stila’s waterproof formula ($22).

Looking for an even more dramatic effect? Take a smudge-proof kohl liner (like this one from Smashbox, $20) and line the upper and lower outer edges of your inner lids. The overall effect will be all the more alluring.

Get Cheeky

Nars Blush $30
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Just like a pop of color on your lips helps brighten your entire complexion, a bit of blush can add a seriously gorgeous touch to photographs. The trick? Pick a color that is a tad brighter or deeper than your go-to hue. By starting with a deeper shade, you won’t be tempted to go crazy layering on color (which is pretty much bound to end in clown-like disaster), and your face will instantly have natural definition and glow. Though your face-shape can dictate proper blush placement, swiping along the tops of your cheekbones and then lightly blending back toward the ears creates a believable and pretty look.

We’re currently loving Nars’s Blush in Seduction ($30)—a sangria hue that delivers the prettiest of flushes and is universally flattering.

Don’t Over-Contour

Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer $28
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Believe it or not, you don’t have to contour the heck out of your face to take a good picture. In fact, please don’t. Unless you’re Kim or Kylie, an overly contoured face can translate as harsh and unnatural in photos—group and selfies alike. Instead, the aforementioned blush, lip, and eye combo should be enough to bring out all of your features in the most natural, forgiving, and flattering way possible. However, if a bit more color and definition are calling, opt for a light swipe of matte bronzer around the temples, on the sides of the nose, under the cheekbones, and along the jawline.

Benefit Cosmetic’s Hoola Matte Bronzer ($28) is a great option due to its non-sparkly formula and not-too-pink, not-too-orange color. Plus, Julianne Hough is a fan. So there’s that.

Know Your Best Side

Use Filters to Your Advantage

Though we don’t condone using filters to completely alter the appearance of photos (or yourself), we do like the affect of some subtle shade manipulation. In particular, we’re loving Patrick Ta’s recent recommendation to use the red (yes, red!) color filter option on Instagram. It will mimic a warm, rosy glow that is photo-taking perfection for this time of year—adding a pretty warmth to skin which, thanks to daylight savings, may or may not have seen the light of day for a while now. So, do like Kim Kardashian and Ashley Benson (just a few of Ta’s A-list clients), and filter some red into your next photo.

We doubt you’ll be disappointed.

What’s your go-to secret for taking a flawless photo? Share with us below!

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