21 Free or Cheap Ways to Take a Better Selfie

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Woman taking a selfie with an orange backdrop
Photo credit: Rohappy/istockphoto

OH SNAP!

For better or for worse, selfies are everywhere and it looks like they're here to stay. They've practically been elevated to an art form thanks to high-quality cell phone cameras, the rise of social media, and the legion of influencers who always manage to look effortlessly fabulous in Instagram posts. But even scoring that perfect snapshot takes some work. To step up your selfie game, here are some of the best tips to elevate your look, from shooting at the right angle, to getting budget-friendly gadgets and apps.
Couple taking a selfie
Photo credit: Nikada/istockphoto

AIM FOR THE BEST ANGLE

The proper angle makes all the difference in producing a flattering selfie, advises Avanti Gupta, a fashion-and-style influencer who has over 28,000 Instagram followers. "I always like to hold the phone a little higher and angle my face at a three-quarters angle," explains Gupta.
Man taking a selfie in front of red double-decker bus in London at night
Photo credit: Halfpoint/istockphoto

GET A BOOST OF LIGHT

If there's no natural illuminating light present, Gupta relies on her Lumee phone case to fix the problem. Lumee selfie cases ($49.95) are built with side bars that illuminate the user's face with the push of a button. When the case is lit, the light fills shadows, enhancing the photo and making the subject look picture perfect.
Underexposed selfie at night
Photo credit: Kajdi Szabolcs/istockphoto

EDIT THOSE UNDEREXPOSED SELFIES

In those trying times when you're in a poorly lit location or the sun isn't cooperating, turn to Brightly ($2.99). Its an iOS app that automatically fixes dark and underexposed photos by enhancing lighting and contrast.
Woman taking a selfie with her dog in the grass using a filter
Photo credit: Pekic/istockphoto

WHEN IN DOUBT, FILTER IT OUT

The incredibly popular VSCO app offers a variety of filters that can improve your selfies, says professional photographer RaShea Drake. Using VSCO, stylish, film-like presets can be applied to images to make them look glamorous, dramatic, moody, and more. While the app is free, some of the filter packages cost $1.99.
Ring light on a phone
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

CONSIDER A RING LIGHT

Ring lights are another photo secret among social media mavens, particularly beauty bloggers, who snap countless selfies. These lights, which clip onto your phone and can sell for about $11 on Amazon, provide even, flattering, soft light that looks fantastic on all skin tones, says Drake.
Selfie stick with remote control
Photo credit: andy_Q/istockphoto

GET A SELFIE STICK WITH BLUETOOTH

While selfie sticks aren't universally loved in crowded tourist attractions, there's no denying that they make life a lot easier. Some selfie sticks can even be converted into tripods and come with a wireless Bluetooth remote, and some do both like this nifty one that runs about $20. In other words, you can put your phone on the tripod and use a remote to snap the picture from afar. Selfies don't get much easier than that.
Woman taking selfie in kitchen with natural window light
Photo credit: DragonImages/istockphoto

HAVE FUN WITH LIGHTING TRICKS

Drake suggests looking for a doorway, window, or somewhere else where the sunlight drops off sharply. "Pose just within the shadows and enjoy the lovely light," says Drake. "This is a trick I use often for professional portraits when I don't have an assistant."
Woman jumping and taking a selfie in front of city skyline
Photo credit: swissmediavision/istockphoto

ADD SOME MOVEMENT INTO THE MIX

In addition to holding the phone slightly above your face and body, consider adding movement to create a more interesting selfie. "Practice tossing your hair or moving to create motion," Drake advises.
Closeup of woman's face lying down
Photo credit: PeopleImages/istockphoto

DIGITALLY TOUCH UP YOUR PHOTOS

You don't have to have perfect skin for a good selfie. Lifestyle blogger Mara Rose Smith suggests using the iOS Facetune app to touch up your selfies. Not only does this app allow for retouching and blurring small imperfections such as blemishes or age spots, it also has a face reshaping and slimming feature and a variety of amazing selfie filters. It can even whiten your teeth, says Smith. The app is free but there's a variety of in-app purchases that cost around $5.99.
Woman cleaning face with a wipe
Photo credit: andresr/istockphoto

PREP YOUR FACE BEFOREHAND

Before you even pick up your phone to take that picture for posterity, get your face selfie-ready with oil-blotting sheets, says Smith. She recommends Boscia's Clear Complexion Blotting Linens, designed to banish oil and perspiration. They're available for about $10 per package.
Women at a night club taking a selfie
Photo credit: SolStock/istockphoto

ADD A LITTLE SPARKLE TO YOUR SELFIE

While this particular tip is obviously not be for everyone, Smith also recommends keeping BECCA Glow on the Go Highlighter set ($20) handy when you're planning on snapping selfies. "Add some sparkle to your cheekbones, nose, chin, and forehead quickly from anywhere," says Smith.
Woman taking a selfie with her morning coffee
Photo credit: michaelpuche/istockphoto

FIGURE OUT THE BEST TIME OF DAY TO SHOOT

Some experts say taking selfies in the morning is your best bet for a solid photo. Your hair and makeup hasn't yet been impacted by whatever the day holds in store, whether that be inclement weather or a power yoga class at the gym that leaves you looking sweaty.
Woman taking selfie on the beach
Photo credit: Merlas/istockphoto

SHOOT IN NATURAL LIGHT IF YOU CAN

Yes, there is a long list of lighting devices and editing apps, but most experts agree that natural light is always the best option. So if there's good natural light available, don't squander the chance for a good selfie. "Fortunately for most people, the most flattering lighting is natural lighting," says Mandie Brice, an international model and make-up artist.
Taking a selfie underwater while scuba diving
Photo credit: Marco_Piunti/istockphoto

STAGE YOUR SHOT

While a selfie is all about you, there should also be some additional, interesting visual elements in the picture. For the high-rollers of the world and social media influencers, this could be a private jet, luxurious hotel suite, or gorgeous vacation backdrop that will make the rest of us jealous.
Woman taking selfie with Eiffel Tower in the background
Photo credit: martin-dm/istockphoto

CAPTURE MORE OF THE BACKGROUND IN YOUR SELFIES

Photojojo's Everyday Wide Angle lens is an inexpensive and easy way to make your selfies pop. The lens ($30) easily clips onto a front-facing phone camera (or a laptop if you're taking Photo Booth selfies), adding extra space to the frame. It's perfect for bringing in that beautiful scenery behind you and elevating a glamorous selfie, says Meg Golz, digital marketing manager for Photojojo.
Mini bluetooth speaker selfie helper
Photo credit: Courtesy of lafab.us

GET A SELFIE HELPER

Just in case you need music to get in the mood for taking a stellar selfie, there's this invention: Mini XBoy Bluetooth Speakers with a selfie feature. The three-inch wireless speakers ($39) connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth and allow you to remotely control your phone to snap selfies.
Woman taking selfie with her dog
Photo credit: Pekic/istockphoto

ALWAYS TAKE NUMEROUS SHOTS

Nearly any photographer will tell you that it takes numerous shots to get just the right one. The same rule of thumb applies to selfies. Even stunning celebrities and reality personalities who are killing it on social media (yes, this includes the Kardashian-Jenner clan) are known to take several hundred shots before settling on one that is post-worthy.
Man taking selfie wearing sunglasses
Photo credit: RossHelen/istockphoto

WEAR SUNGLASSES IF YOU'RE CAMERA SHY

If you're not feeling or looking your best but still must snap a selfie, try putting on a stylish pair of sunglasses. With shades on, all you have to worry about is smiling. Or offering up just the right pout, depending on your mood. Bottom line: Sunglasses make nearly all of us look cooler in a selfie.
Selfie photo of two girls with a pink filter
Photo credit: wundervisuals/istockphoto

RESIST THE URGE TO OVER-EDIT

Yes, high-style filters and face tuning is great, but too much manipulation of the final image is never a good thing. There's a fine line between retouching a blemish here and there and entirely revising reality a la Mariah Carey.
Women posing and pouting lips to take a selfie
Photo credit: JohanJK/istockphoto

STEER CLEAR OF SELFIE CLICHES

Don't blow kisses at the camera or suck in your cheeks to make your cheekbones look bigger and better. Instead, go with a natural expression and a genuine smile, a combination that wins selfie gold.
Confident man smiling and taking a selfie
Photo credit: m-imagephotography/istockphoto

BE CONFIDENT

Confidence is the best filter, says Drew Henry, a social media influencer and blogger for Design Dudes. "It's your selfie. Be feeling yourself and work it," says Henry.

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