With selfies and instant photo sharing, a camera-ready smile is great to have. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a celebrity or genetically blessed to flash a glowing grin.
Smile Tip No. 1: Wear a "Parade" Smile
Nice smiles are gentle and natural. Smile as if you're in a parade, suggests Lily T. Garcia, DDS. In other words, strike a smile you can hold for a long time. When you smile gently, your face looks relaxed. Your mouth opens slightly, and your lower lip matches the curve of your upper teeth.
"You’ll feel the edges of your upper front teeth gently touching your lower lip," Garcia says. Your cheeks may rise a bit, but not too much. It’s the opposite of the quick smile that flashes across your face when you see an old friend. That kind of jumping-for-joy smile makes your eyes squint and your neck muscles tense -- which can make for an awkward-looking photo.
Smile Tip No. 2: Nix the Double Chin
More concerned about your chin than your grin? It’s all about posture. "If you slouch or your head is too bent forward, you won’t like how your smile looks," says Pamela McClain, DDS. She recommends this: Turn your head slightly and drop your chin so your face is not completely square with the camera.
Smile Tip No. 3: Make Lipstick Your Friend
Choose a shade that works with your skin tone. "The right shade of lipstick can make teeth look whiter," Garcia says. Shades like cherry red, wine, berry, plum, or rosy pink are your best bet. Blue-based or pink-based undertones will minimize yellowish tones in your teeth.
On the other hand, Garcia says, the wrong color, especially one that’s too dark or too red, can detract from your smile. (Psst. Lipstick sticking to your teeth? Might be a sign of dry mouth or excess plaque.)
Smile Tip No. 4: Work With What You Have
You don’t need perfect teeth to have a camera-worthy smile. Just look at Tom Cruise and his off-center ivories, Garcia says. The midpoint between the actor's two front teeth, which should line up with the center of his nose, is off to one side. It's rather obvious, but when Cruise smiles, few people notice it.
Smile Tip No. 5: Prime Your Teeth and Gums
Getting your teeth and gums camera-ready requires a bit of behind-the-scenes prep work.
If your choppers have yellowed with age, try a whitening product or visit your dentist. Correcting cracked, broken, or missing teeth will likely mean some time with a dental professional.
Though you may think of them as supporting actors, healthy gums play a crucial role in a nice smile. "You can have beautiful teeth but if your gums aren’t healthy, that detracts from your smile," McClain says. Take Julia Roberts, she adds, "She’s got a big smile, and she has a really nice blend of gum tissue and tooth."
Smile Tip No. 6: Practice
Your perfect smile might not happen overnight. If you have a big photo event like a wedding or graduation coming up, take time to practice smiling in front of a mirror. You can see how it looks and feels when you hold your shoulders back proudly and strike a natural, unforced smile. You can also play around with turning your head and finding your best angle.