How to Use a Selfie Light

Illuminate your best self with flattering light

An image of a man applying makeup in front of a standard ring light and smartphone.

Snapping the perfect selfie is harder than it looks, especially in low or unnatural light. With the help of a selfie light, you can brighten things up so that your selfies never look dull, shadowy, grainy, or downright unflattering. Plus, these improvements happen without any post-processing work.

Selfie lights can be attached to any iPhone, as well as to any Android phone regardless of manufacturer (e.g., Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.).

What Is a Selfie Light?

A selfie light is a light fixture that you can either set up in front of yourself or attach to your smartphone.

Those you set up in front yourself are usually just standard ring lights. Phone-attachable selfie lights typically are miniature ring lights that encircle front-facing phone cameras or special phone cases with sides that light up.

Standard Ring Light

Standard ring lights aren't just for selfies, of course; most professional photographers use them, particularly if they specialize in portraits. A flash is mounted in a circular ring with a hollow center. This type of ring light comes with its own stand or is mounted to a tripod. A smartphone or camera sits in the middle of the ring so the selfie is bathed in uniform lighting.

The standard ring light is ideal for makeup artists and other creative types who want to showcase their skills without having to physically hold their devices. Whether you want to strike a pose or record a tutorial on how to apply winged eyeliner, a standard ring light is best because it leaves your hands free. The one major downside is that a standard is much larger and, therefore, far less convenient than one that attaches to your phone. They also can be pricey.

Mini Attachable Selfie Ring Lights

Attachable selfie ring lights are just like standard ring lights, but much smaller and without a stand or tripod. They clip onto the top part of your device so that the camera sensors are encircled.

A screenshot of YouTube.com.
Image from YayOrNayNicole

Attachable selfie right lights are ideal for people who prefer to take casual selfies and don't mind using their hands to hold up their devices. Because they're smaller, they're more portable and typically more cost-effective than standard ring lights.

Illuminated Phone Cases

Illuminated phone cases take the ring light to a whole new level. This is a phone case with light emanating from its perimeter.

A screenshot of YouTube.com.
Image from YayOrNayNicole

If you want your selfie light to be as discreet and as easily accessible as possible, the illuminated phone case is for you. It's an actual case, so you can keep it on your phone—making it the most convenient selfie light option of them all. Unfortunately, illuminated phone cases don't offer the same protection as protective cases, so they won't save your device should you drop it or get it wet.

How to Use a Standard Ring Light for Your Selfies

These are very basic instructions for how to use a standard ring light and will vary depending on the type of ring light you have.

  1. Refer to the instructions for your specific ring light to assemble it. You might need to attach it securely to a separate tripod if it doesn't come with its own tripod or stand.

  2. Place the ring light stand or tripod on a sturdy surface and adjust its height.

  3. Attach your smartphone to the center part of the stand or tripod so that it's entirely encircled by the light. Positioning it in portrait or landscape mode is up to you.

    The traditional way to use a ring light is to place your device inside the ring, but you can experiment with lighting angles by positioning your device to the side.

  4. Open your selfie or camera app to test the view, and readjust the height if necessary.

  5. Turn the ring light on, and use the dimmer to adjust the brightness.

    Photographer holdings ring light
    Andrs Adorno / EyeEm / Getty Images
  6. Snap your selfie.

How to Use an Attachable Ring Light or Illuminated Case for Your Selfies

The following instructions are meant to give you a general idea of how to use attachable ring lights and illuminated phone cases. They vary in design and functionality, so the instructions might vary a bit from what you see here.

  1. Refer to the instructions for your specific attachable ring light or illuminated phone case. In most cases, simply clip the attachable light onto your device, or secure the illuminated phone case onto it just like any other phone case.

    MYRIANN 36 LED Selfie Ring Light
    Amazon
  2. Turn the light on.

  3. Open any selfie or camera app to test the view.

  4. Use the dimmer to adjust the brightness.

  5. Try holding your device from different angles to see how this affects your shots.

    Consider using a selfie stick to get a farther shot or a tripod if you'd like to go hands-free.

  6. Snap your selfie.

  7. Don't forget to charge the battery of your attachable ring light or illuminated case when the battery gets low.