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How to Look Better in Online Dating Photos: 11 Tips

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

It’s a new year and a new start, so if you’re single, maybe it’s time to go back on one or two online dating sites to look for a new sweetie. Yes, Dollface, I dated online for years and I met my current husband on match.com when I was over 50, so I understand why you have a love/hate relationship with Zoosk, SeniorMatch.com, and AARP Dating. However, I also know that the most important thing is your pic, so here are a few tips to help you get a fab photo for your online bio.

Just in case you need me to say it again, “The most important part of your profile is your picture.” Yeah, I know it’s different on eHarmony, but you’re gonna exchange photos at some point. And, I know that putting so much emphasis on a person’s looks is horribly shallow, but I don’t make the rules… I just tell it like it is, babe.

So here are my tips for looking better in photos without resorting to excessively cheesy Photoshop tricks. (Tricks are bad. When you walk into Starbucks, Photoshop will not come with you.)

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1. Women Over 40 Must Post a Recent Photo: All of this info applies to women of any age, but if you’re reading my article, there’s a good chance you’re a female over 40. So, if you’re a “mature” woman, and I hate that word, you’re going to have to deal with it. But, deal with it honestly by posting a recent photo (taken within the last six months). And, except for simple Photoshop retouching, like adjusting lighting and color (for skin tone), the pic you post should be a simple photo of you… the real you.

Nothing else works.

2. You Must Post a Close-up Photo: You must post a photo. If you don’t, men will assume you’re hideous looking. And, if you don’t feel comfortable putting your face online on a dating site, you’re not ready for serious dating… and you’ll be wasting your money.

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3. Check Out Other Women: If you aren’t sure how you want to “market” yourself in your photo, check out your “competition” on a few sites.  Just sign up for a free preview on almost any dating site. Then, switch your gender from “Female Looking for Male” to “Male Looking for Female”. If all the women’s photos look fabulous, remember that those gals probably don’t look like that in real life. You must be the exception to that rule… but don’t use a fuzzy glamour shot that doesn’t look like the real you.

4. Stand Out in a Crowd: If you browse other women’s photos, you’ll learn how to stand out from the crowd. Check to see what makes some photos pop off the screen. What kind of shots are YOU drawn to? Is it the color of the women’s clothing? Is it the background? Is it the lighting? Every site is different and every city is different, so critique the women who live in your zip code. For example, if you live in Texas and every chick is wearing a cowboy hat, you might want to be the gal in the evening gown… or, vice versa.

5. Smile Until It Hurts: I want you to smile, smile, smile until your cheeks hurt. Get a friend with a good camera to help you out or pay a professional photographer, and take a ton of pictures until you get a nice photo that doesn’t look corny and frozen. Take hundreds of pictures if necessary. Sometimes, it takes a while to catch your true personality. (Ha ha. I once read that squeezing your butt-cheeks together will make people smile in a natural way. It’s worth a try.)

6. Wear Red: You don’t have to wear red if you don’t want to. I didn’t. However, I’ve read that Men are attracted to red clothing, so you might want to wear it or use it somewhere in the photo. Stand in front of a red background. Wear a red hat or scarf. If red doesn’t look good on you, try any color that makes your face glow. (I wore a white dress with big, bright florals.) Any strong color (or black) is usually better than a blah, boring color.

7. Find a Patient Photographer Friend: You need a friend who will take enough time to get the right shot, even if you have to come back the next afternoon. If your friends don't have enough time or patience to do this right, you’ll have to hire someone. Hey, you don’t want to grow old alone, do you? Think of this as an investment.

8. Lighting: If you’re not hiring a professional photographer, you’ll probably get better results if you take your pictures outside. Here are some tips from professionals:

  • Use a flash in sunlight; otherwise, you may get harsh shadows.
  • You may get better results at sunset, with oblique rays, or on gray days with flat lighting.

9. Try Different Poses for Your Portraits: Every woman has different tricks that work for her face and body. I know that some days I take better photos than other days, but I don’t know why. Here are some tips I found on different sites. Some work for me… but some make me look worse. Experiment.

  • To look slimmer, angle your body a little so your shoulders are not square and then turn your head toward the camera.
  • Try a slightly downward tilt of the head. Studies have proven that men find this pose to be sexy and attractive. Princess Di used this trick a lot.
  • Pushing your tongue to the roof of your mouth (while smiling) diminishes the look of a double chin.
  • Some people say that you should push your face forward (just slightly) to get rid of a double chin.
  • You can make your neck look longer with a V-neck top. And, don’t hunch your shoulders; sit up straight and tall.
  • Tilt your head sideways and smile. It makes some women look younger.

Don’t try to do all of these things in one photo or you’ll fall over laughing. Well, that might make the best photo of all.

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10. Hair Tips for Your Online Bio Photo: Your hair should be a definite color (i.e. blonde, brunette, red, black, pure gray, no mousey colors). Make your hair higher by ratting it up (backcombing) or just fluffing it out. This makes your face look narrower. Slightly messy hair is fine, so it’s okay to let your hair blow around if you’re outside. It makes you look friendly and natural.

11. Makeup for Photos: Everyone is different but here are some ideas. Lots of women recommend Kiehl's clay masks to rev up their skin (use white clay for dry, older skin). My daughter uses the red or green clay. I haven’t tried either one, but I will soon. For Boomer-age makeup, I like Chantecaille, but I have weird skin, so most brands of makeup turn orange on me. Before applying foundation, I use Patricia Wexler Microbrasion. Some photographers say you should apply a bit more makeup than usual… about like what you would wear at night. Try it both ways to see what looks best on you. (Take a tip from the woman in the feature photo and dab a bit of vaseline on your lower lip.)

  • Photoshop: If your coloring looks dull, add a puff of “blush” in Photoshop. Click on your lip color with the eyedropper tool and “paint” this onto your cheeks at about 10% opacity with a large brush. Don’t overdo it.

Any Photo That Looks Like You is a Good Photo

It’s not that hard to get a photo that’s good enough for your online dating bio. You’re not looking for perfect resolution; you’re not going to blow it up to 8x10 and hang it in your living room. The most difficult part is finding a good friend who will take enough time to get you a good headshot. And, the most important thing about the photo is that you have a friendly smile.

What you write in your online dating bio is secondary and meaningless compared to your picture.

More Articles for Baby Boomer Women:

Internet Dating from a Male Baby Boomer's Point of View

Online Dating: Meeting a Guy for the First Time

What Body Types Do Men Prefer?

Dating for Newly Divorced Women Over 40 or 50

What do you think of this article? Leave a comment at the bottom of the page or give us a Google Plus.

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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  1. kay kerns

    Hey Tina Boy did this article need to be written. I didn't meet Marvin online but I did try online dating for a couple years. It was interesting....some scary wierdos, some ok average dudes I made friends with.....yes the picture is crucial. I had a male friend take my picture outside. I had just cut and colored my hair a darker brown. I wore a yellow top. I made him take about 20 shots of me. Every word of this article is right on! And I agree men like red or bright colors, or black.

    • Tina-Boomerina


      Wow. Thanks for verifying what I believed to be true. It worked for me. I did online dating for years and I met creeps as well as great guys. It's hard to meet people once you're out of school.


  2. Ray Gregoire

    I can certainly attest to Tina's article. I meet her on Match.com and of the 50 or so gals I dated
    she was the only one that actually looked much better than her picture.

    No bigger turn off than meeting a gal who does not remotely look like her picture makes you wonder what else on her bio is false.