9 Hacks to Help You Snap the Perfect Selfie

iStock
iStock

For some, selfies seem self-indulgent; for others, they're a just a regular part of daily life. In honor of National Selfie Day (June 21), these nine tips could help upgrade your personal pics from so-so to standout snaps, regardless of whether you're a novice or a pro at capturing the perfect self-portrait.

1. ENHANCE YOUR JAWLINE.

Photographer Peter Hurley explains that taking photos up close can capture jawlines in unflattering ways—what many people call the "10 pounds" added on by cameras can often be attributed to the appearance of a slight or accentuated double chin. Luckily, you can fix this in a pinch with a simple trick: adjusting the angle of your head. Pushing your forehead out and down tightens skin around jawline, diminishing the appearance of sagging skin while defining the neck and adding contrast between the two.

2. INVEST IN A SELFIE STICK.

Selfie sticks might have gotten a bad rap when they blew up the market a few years ago, but the public stigma has mostly subsided (especially now that no one is trying to rebrand them as "monopods" or "narcissticks" anymore). Selfie sticks can be particularly useful when traveling alone or for trying to catch the perfect background view when your arms just won't reach. Plus, these simple contraptions make selfies with groups of friends so much easier and higher quality.

3. GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM.

Woman taking a selfie.
iStock

If you tend to take a lot of mirror selfies in the restroom, it’s time to pick a new backdrop. Ditch the MySpace-era bathroom selfie for a brighter, less soap-scummy room. Also, the fluorescent, yellow lighting in bathrooms can make you look prematurely aged, while mirrors will reflect unflattering lighting in all directions, essentially creating the worst possible filter.

4. BE AWARE OF YOUR LIGHTING.

Lighting truly makes a selfie, so swap out fluorescent overhead lights for more natural light that makes you glow. Larger, diffused bulbs are softer on your complexion than smaller bulbs, which create harsh, direct lighting. Portrait photographer Sarah Sloboda also recommends facing your light source (whether that be an open window or a soft-lit lamp) and keeping lights at eye-level—the most flattering position for face-on selfies.

5. ADD MORE CURVES TO YOUR POSE.

Model Tess Holliday recommends striking a pose to add more definition to full-body snaps. Placing a hand on your waist and popping a knee can add curves and visual dimension, especially in billowy or non-form-fitting clothing. While at first the photo pose can feel a little unnatural, it’ll soon become second nature when selfie after selfie looks great.

6. USE THE RULE OF THIRDS.

Woman taking a selfie with a camera.
iStock

Just because you're taking a selfie doesn't mean you can’t keep to the rules of photo composition. The Rule of Thirds—which divides photos into a three-by-three grid—suggests that you can take flattering and visually interesting images by moving the subject off-center. For a new take, position your face in the left or right upper-third of the photo, with your eyes about one-third of the way down.

7. EXPERIMENT TO FIND YOUR BEST ANGLE.

Finding the right angle for your face can make all the difference. Selfie aficionado Kim Kardashian (she did publish an entire book of selfies, so we trust she knows what she's talking about) recommends her trick for slimming down her face: chin tucked down, with the camera held slightly above face level. This angle can soften round faces while eliminating neck rolls. If your arms are feeling a little short, the selfie stick can really help here.

8. EMBRACE FILTERS.

In the world of selfies, retouching isn’t vain. In fact, photographer Ryan Hebert says you shouldn’t be afraid to "smack a filter on it," simply because it makes selfies more flattering. If you're not a fan of adding full filters, it's still OK to retouch certain areas by softening harsh lines or adding more shadows. But if you're simply looking too good for a filter, don't forget to add that #nofilter hashtag.

9. REALLY, JUST DON'T OVERTHINK IT.

Man takes a selfie with the Eiffel Tower.
iStock

If your camera roll is full of attempted selfies, stop and think about what your end goal is. Are you wanting to document the moment or are you aiming for a model-esque headshot? A good selfie should be uplifting and easily sharable with friends and family to let them know that you're experiencing something fun or unique, or that you're just looking really fly. The longer you take to compose your photo, the more likely it’ll look forced or unnatural. It’s just a selfie—so don't stress it. There are plenty more to be had.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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Taco Bell Quarterly, a Taco Bell-Themed Literary Journal, Exists—And You Can Read It Online

What does the Crunchwrap Supreme have to do with queer politics? A lot, actually.
What does the Crunchwrap Supreme have to do with queer politics? A lot, actually.
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Taco Bell

In August 2019, writer and “Editor Grande Supreme” MM Carrigan launched the first edition of a free online literary journal called the Taco Bell Quarterly. It wasn’t a publicity stunt—in fact, it wasn’t affiliated with the fast food chain at all—but rather a quality collection of Taco Bell-themed literary musings that ran the gamut from satirical to totally serious.

According to Food & Wine, about 1500 people downloaded that first issue, and viewership grew to 40,000 for the second issue, which was released in February 2020. The Quarterly is gearing up to launch Volume 3 in September, and it promises to be the most zeitgeist-y edition yet.

“Volume 3 will be very much informed by the state of the world. The pieces we're gravitating toward are foreboding, existing on the precipice of an alternate history in which we might have prevented the pandemic," Carrigan tells Mental Floss. “People think we're a joke, but this will be the issue that proves we're not. Writers are taking chances in writing in our magazine that I don't think the literary world has seen in a long time. We're writing with radical sincerity.”

Capturing the cultural atmosphere of this year through Taco Bell-related poems, essays, and short stories might seem like a tall order, but the Quarterly is no stranger to tackling tough topics. While some early pieces are silly and upbeat—take Alana Saltz’s poem “Ode to Nacho Fries,” for example—others use Taco Bell as a backdrop for deeper musings about “homelessness, suburban dread, poverty, American identity, and so much more,” as Carrigan told Food & Wine.

Carrigan chose Taco Bell as the journal's unifying thread because, to put it plainly, it was the first idea that popped into her head.

“Brands are a symbiote that live in our brains. We're telling that story,” she says. And, as far as brands go, Taco Bell's offbeat, innovative menu items and neon beverages are more “seductive” and “daring” than McDonald's classic Big Macs and smiling clown mascot. In other words, the subversive fast food chain is the perfect theme for an online journal that aims to subvert people's stereotypical understanding of “The Writing Life,” which Carrigan describes as a “journey of MFA programs, writing retreats, [and] rubbing elbows at conferences.”

As interest in Taco Bell Quarterly grew, Taco Bell itself began to take notice, and Carrigan says the company has sent the team hundreds of dollars' worth of free tacos as an unofficial "thank you" for all the free advertising. She distributes them to writers whose work has been rejected by other literary magazines.

While you wait for Volume 3 to hit the internet this fall, catch up on the first two volumes on the Taco Bell Quarterly website here.

[h/t Food & Wine]