In the season finale of Girls, Lena Dunham's Hannah makes a desperate FaceTime call to her former paramour, Adam. She has just attempted (and failed) to cut her hair into a Carey Mulligan-esque crop and is teetering on the brink of a quarter-life crisis, so she reaches out to him via the now ubiquitous iPhone feature.
Adam can see that she's unraveling-and, in a bold show of hipster chivalry, runs bare-chested through the streets of Brooklyn with phone in hand to rescue her, all the while reassuring her face-to-face of his arrival.
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This particular story has a happy ending-but let's be honest. During less dramatic moments, FaceTime and Skype aren't likely to do you any romantic favors: "These applications offer an instant way to connect, but the screen itself casts a green tone over you and creates lines across the face," says editorial hairstylist Tim Rogers of the aesthetically challenging restrictions of an iPad or laptop. "The result is that it makes you look dark and your background appear lighter. Your skin is shadowy and your hair has a weird and messy silhouette."
Fortunately, there is good news: According to Skype beauty ambassador and makeup artist, Pati Dubroff, "a few specific light and angle fixes"-along with a bit of hair and makeup strategy-can make anyone appear more than presentable. Here, our guide to a more photogenic future FaceTime or Skype session:
(1) Position yourself so that you are facing a bright sunny window for the duration of your session. "Warm lighting is always more flattering," explains pro makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury. If there isn't a window nearby, or if it's dark outside, choose a well-lit spot like the kitchen and make sure the main source of light is coming toward you at face level-not from above or below (hello treacherous dark shadows!). The solution can be as simple as taking the lampshade off its stand and moving the light fixture so that it's in front of you.
(2) Make sure the camera on your computer is at eye level. One of the main reasons people look bad on-screen is that the computer is placed low on a desk or lap, meaning the head is tilted downward. "Being shot from the chin upward is the most unforgiving angle possible," adds Tilbury. As a quick fix, take a stack of coffee table books and use them as a pedestal to prop up your computer or iPad.
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(3) Look straight into the camera, rather than staring at your own miniaturized image on screen. This requires willpower-but it is especially important when communicating in a professional or romantic capacity.
(4) Leave hair loose around the face, which, according to Rogers tends to be softer and more forgiving than going the ponytail route. If you're feeling highly motivated, you can blow-dry or flat-iron the hairline area, which is most visible. Otherwise, run a brush through your hair to ensure a smooth silhouette and use hair spray or serum to secure flyaways. For hair that's wavy or curly, he suggests a polishing spray, like Living Proof Restore Revitalizing Spray.
(5) Make an effort with your makeup, but don't overdo it. A little goes a long way when it comes to cameras. They saturate tones-meaning a berry lip stain could read as oxblood. Dubroff suggests prepping the skin with a tinted moisturizer and then using easy, creamy products like a tinted lip balm, a sheer blush, and a single swipe of mascara. If you tend to be shiny, you can dust a finely milled powder over the T-zone for good measure.
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