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Digital Life

Selfie magic: apps that add sparkle to your self-portraits

JASMINE OSADA rounds up the best apps to add sparkle to your self-portraits

Published on May 8, 2014 4:25 PM

Beauty need not come at a heavy price.

Selfie makeover apps can give you a completely new look for less than $3, and some even cost nothing.

Makeover apps are essentially digital beauty salons packed with editing features which smoothen your skin, enlarge your eyes and even add a dash of make-up so your selfie looks perfect.

While most are targeted at girls, these apps work for guys too, giving any user an instant Japanese Kawaii or Korean ulzzang look.

Here are five great apps which can give you a million-dollar look.

GirlsCamera: Japan Purikura
Free (Android, iOS)

Modelled to look like a Japanese sticker photo booth, this app comes with all the features you would expect in the real-world version.

It is great for quickly beautifying an impromptu selfie, though the app's makeover options are pretty basic. Photos taken with the in-app camera or imported from your photo album are given a beauty treatment which applies different filters to smoothen skin and lighten the complexion.

Just like a real photo booth, this app comes with plenty of cute customisation options, including stickers, frames and scribble-on text. You can even add contact lens stickers to change your eye colour.

I am not a fan of this feature as the contact lenses were difficult to apply, especially on a small smartphone screen.

  • If you were a fan of those classic Neoprint photo booths, this app will bring back memories of the good old days.

Photo Makeover
$1.28 (iOS)

This is the perfect app for giving yourself a virtual nose job. It lets you edit your facial features but does not offer beautification tools.

The editing features might seem paltry when compared with those found in other apps, but Photo Makeover is the best of the lot when it comes to slimming your jawline and adjusting the size of your nose, eyes or mouth.

You can let the app automatically proportion your facial features or take full control with the manual editing option. I prefer the latter, as the auto adjustments tended to look rather odd. But the manual pinch-and-drag controls can be rather tricky to use and will require some practice before you get your facial features the way you want them to look.

  • If you have always wanted to have cosmetic surgery but never found the courage to go under the knife, this app might just be the cheap, painless alternative you have been seeking.

Modiface Photo Editor
Free (Android, iOS)

Cancel that appointment with your plastic surgeon.

This amazing app offers more than just a simple makeover - it can deliver a complete facelift.

For an app with such powerful tools, Modiface Photo Editor is surprisingly easy to use. The only real work you need to do is to mark out your facial features so the app can work its magic.

Once the photo set-up is complete, you can use a toolbox to erase blemishes, reshape your nose, alter your jawline and get that virtual facelift.

You do not need photo-editing skills to get the best out of this app, as all the tools are applied using simple tap and drag gestures, while slider bars let you fine-tune adjustments.

My only gripe is that images are so closely cropped that completed pictures look like glam versions of passport photos.

  • These virtual facelifts are so good you will want to use them in your real passport.

Cymera - Selfie & Photo Editor
Free (Android, iOS)

This app is a virtual cosmetics case. Packed with dozens of make-up effects, Cymera is perfect for giving your selfies a little digital gussying up before you post them on social media.

The app automatically detects your facial features so you can start editing right away. Nifty tools include a face slimming feature, a smile tool which turns the corners of your mouth up for a Mona Lisa-esque expression, as well as dozens of make-up options.

Applying foundation, lipstick and even mascara is easy. The tap-and-drag controls are so intuitive that even the boys can apply concealer or foundation and get weed-whacked eyebrows for that K-pop idol look.

Besides virtual makeover features, Cymera also comes with effects, filters, frames and stickers.

  • This feature-rich app is one of the most powerful ones available. And best of all, it is free.

Beauty Booth
Free (Android, iOS)

If you want to get the ulzzang or "best face" look that has taken South Korea by storm, fire up this app.

Great for newbies, Beauty Booth lets you glam up your selfie by using a very simple control interface.

The app automatically analyses your photos and applies a filter to give your skin a soft, dreamy sheen. Then, it adds eye shine to your peepers to complete the ulzzang style.

To fully customise your perfect shot, simply choose from more than two dozen filters and 20 contact lens effects, most of which are free.

I especially liked the app's accurate eye-detection feature, which made applying the virtual contact lens a breeze.

Beauty Booth also comes with some basic decoration features, including stickers, frames and a nifty crop tool which lets you import other images from your photo album.

  • What makes this app truly shine is its ability to turn your selfie from distressed to dreamy with just a few taps.


This article was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life on May 7, 2014.