As a beauty influencer, taking photos is a huge part of my day-to-day job duties. Over the years of my blogging hobby-turned-carreer, I have accumulated my go-to equipment to help me get the best pictures of my makeup looks. But to be honest, sometimes it’s just easier to use my phone.
I often tell beginners who want to get into beauty blogging that you don’t necessarily need top-of-the-line gear to get started. With the quality of modern smartphone cameras, you can get stunning shots without additional investment… as long as you know a few insider tricks.
Keep reading to discover my best tips for taking better makeup photos for Instagram with your phone.
1. Lighting is Key
The biggest thing you’ll need to get right in terms of taking great makeup photos is lighting. Lighting plays a huge part in translating color and details in photos that will make your picture pop when scrolling through the feed. I always suggest using natural lighting first, facing a window. This will give your photo the most realistic looking colors, which is super important for makeup looks.
But of course, sometimes natural lighting isn’t readily available, whether it’s a gloomy day, or you want to capture your night-out look. Don’t worry— you still have options! Affordable clip-on selfie ring lights can give your lighting a boost, evenly illuminating your face. If you don’t want to carry around an external light, there are also phone cases with built-in lighting like the ones from Lumee. This way, you’re photo-ready with just a touch of a button.
2. Back Camera is Better
No matter what model phone you have, chances are the back camera (on the opposite side of your screen) is better quality than the selfie camera. I would suggest taking your makeup selfies using the back camera for the best results– especially for capturing up-close detail– but how do you make sure you’re still in frame? Set up in front of a mirror so you can see where the camera is pointing. Shooting with the back camera also helps you maintain eye contact with the lens, as you won’t be distracted by the screen. This makes for a more engaging and professional-looking photo.
3. Use a Tripod for Stable, Sharp Photos
The crispness of your phone photos is what can make them look comparable to— if not indistinguishable from— photos taken on a DSLR. Yep, that means using a selfie stick or tripod to help keep the camera stable. My favorite is this selfie stick that also doubles as a table-top tripod. It comes with a bluetooth remote so you can take hands-free photos. This is perfect for taking full-face shots, or even doing Get Ready With Me videos on Instagram live.
4. Editing Doesn’t Have to be Taboo
Let’s break this misconception: editing your makeup photos doesn’t mean you’re fake. As long as you’re not drastically changing the appearance of your makeup or your facial features, editing can take your makeup selfies to the next level in a good way. There’s nothing wrong with enhancing colors to make them more “true” or getting rid of the occasional distracting blemish. In the above photo, I’ve removed a few texture spots and stray hairs on my forehead, cleared up a dark spot on my chin and lightened up a shadow under my nose. The photo looks cleaner, but not super altered or fake.
If you want to edit your makeup selfies, here are the my favorite apps to do it with:
- Photoshop Fix: As someone who uses photoshop for my blog, Photoshop fix is like having a lite version for your phone. It has a lot of the same features that give you a lot of control over colors, details, brightness and more.
- Facetune: For those of you who aren’t familiar with photoshop, Facetune might be a more straightforward way to edit your makeup selfies. Get rid of blemishes, touch up your makeup and smooth your skin.
- VSCO: I like the VSCO filters way better than the built-in Instagram looks, because there is more variety and they seem to maintain the details of the photo better.
5. Test Different Angles & Poses
Taking your photo at several angles can highlight different aspects of your makeup. I always tilt my head slightly downward in the direction of my light source if I want my highlight to pop. If I’m wearing a cut crease eyeshadow look, shooting from slightly below will show off more of the detail. For eye photos, making eye contact with the camera will accentuate your lashes while looking out of frame will show more of your eyeshadow. Don’t feel silly taking multiple versions of the same look. Personally, I could end up with 50 versions before I get the one I actually post on Instagram.
What are your favorite makeup photo tips? Share them in the comments!
Excellent tips. I’m a makeup artist and want to post pictures of my work but always struggle with lighting poses etc. This was so helpful. Thank you so much!
Wow this is very interesting, I will definitely gonna try this. I personally loved your idea about make up. Thank you for the tips! xo xo
I also use the back camera because it has more nice quality than the selfie camera. Great on taking the time to explain the selfie ring lights. It’s true that it provides continuous and excellent lighting to allow you to take elegant photos even at night. Thank you so much for sharing your tips!! Looking forward to your new articles.
Fantastic tips! To be honest, I’m currently having a hard time to take a selfie but you listed all of the important tips above. Thank you so much again. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!
The before and after selfies I’ve looked up with a Lumee case are enough to make me want to get one! Lighting is everything so I’d definitely want to have the perfect lighting with me wherever I go.
I need a Lumee case! I tried out one my friend got the other day and the difference it makes is insane!
The before and after photos with the Lumee phone case are insane!! I definitely need one!
VSCO is a favorite app of mine for picture editing, but I’ve never been good at taking selfies! I’m definitely interested in the lighted phone case, I’ll have to try some of these tips, thank you!
These are great tips! I definitely need to get a Lumee phone case.
Ooohhh definitely going to check out the Lumee case. Sounds awesome for photos. And looks it too!
what a great list of tips! Now…I just need to wear makeup more often!
A phone case with lighting is a genius idea! I have to get one for myself!
I need to check out the Lumee phone case! Sounds awesome 🙂
Awesome tips! I like using Snapseed and A Color Story editing apps on my phone.
Great tips. Even I love taking photos using the rear camera and not the front one…and yes, Lumee makes a huge lot of difference..
Lisa Marie Heath
These are great tips! Phones do take decent photos but under special circumstances like you outlined
I’m not fond of taking photos with my phone since the quality is pretty meh, but I’ll definitely be keeping these in mind when I hopefully get my new phone in the next month or two!
I have so much to learn about photography. I misplaced my camera light when I moved and never replaced it. I’m jealous of your beautiful photos and I do appreciate all these tips.
Kristi V BeginNails
Thanks for the editing software suggestions. I only crop/add watermark but there are times when I’m trying to cover a cut and I’d rather just edit it out.
I need to get a Lumee case are they expensive?
Cost depends on your phone model but pretty average for a case– about $70 for my iPhone X
I don’t have issues w/ editing because it involves creativity. I am opposed though to heavily photoshopped face but other than that, photos are fun!!!
I use a Lumee case and I love it! It’s made all the difference in my pics. Everyone loves it too, I’ve probably sold enough in person that I should be handing out cards with a link on it lmao
Lumee sure makes a difference! I would love to try one if they made something that worked with my phone model.
Great tips!! I just bought a Glamcor lighted mirror I’m hoping will level up my makeup selfies!