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#CurlsOnFleek: 5 Photo Editing Apps to Floss Your Natural Hair on Instagram

8:02 AM

best-photo-editing-apps-natural-hair-instagram

I know what you're thinking.

This is the most petty, narcissistic post Christina has ever thought of doing. I halfway agree with you. Narcissistic, absolutely. Petty? Kinda....well, no.

There has been conversational overkill around Instagram, social media in general, and our self esteem. Don't determine your worth by the number of likes, stop coveting other's curls, don't buy clothes off Instagram, blah, blah, blah. Those lessons are all valid within their own right, but what if you just want to put your best fro forward and get a little feature love on Berry Curly, Fros & Beaus, or Trials N Tresses? Or maybe you're a blogger just looking to step up your visual appeal in 2015?

I feel you.

What some of you all may/may not know about me is that aside from my obsessive love of hair products, I have a soft spot for social media. I love analytics, studying trends, understanding the drives and draws of various platforms, and of course connecting with all of you. With the time I dedicate to understanding social media (and being a consumer), I've picked up a lot of useful information that has helped me step up my game -- especially on Instagram. The quality and overall aesthetic of my photos has improved greatly, if I must say so myself. Part of it is due to that awesome Canon t3i Rebel that Samuel bought me in November. The other part is, well, apps. I'm not versed in Photoshop (although I can fake my way around a few things), and I don't have a keen eye for editing, but I know trends, and I know apps. Here are the 5 apps (in my opinion) that will help you take your natural hair Instagame to the next level:

(All apps are available on Android and Apple, unless otherwise stated)

1. Dropbox 
Cost: FREE
I know this isn't an editing app, but in 2015, a phone devoid of Dropbox is not an option. It's one of the best ways to move photos from your camera (unless it's WiFi enabled) to your phone. Pop your SD card in your computer, upload from the card to Dropbox, open the app on your phone, and boom. It's a two-way street -- you can also upload photos from your phone to Dropbox, which is perfect for those of us with finite-memory phones (#TeamiPhone). For my blog posts, Instagram, Facebook, and more, I'll take a ton of photos at the beginning of the week with my Canon, upload the ones I want to Dropbox, and stash 'em there until I need 'em. You can do the same with pictures of products you want to share, documenting hair styles, photo grid tutorials, and more.

2. Pixlr
Cost: FREE
What I love about Pixlr is that it is a web-browser and phone app. Pixlr itself contains 3 different applications -- Pixlr Editor (the robust and feature-heavy web-based app), Autodesk Pixlr (a condensed web and phone app version), and Pixlr O-Matic (which I don't use). If I'm fixing something intensely, I'll use the web-based Pixlr Editor -- but those days are few and far between. I am a heavy Autodesk Pixlr user on my phone. In Autodesk Pixlr, you can make collages, edit and enhance the photo, add text, crop, use double exposure (adding a photo from your gallery onto another photo -- great for making infographics), add overlays, borders, and more. You can almost do anything in Pixlr. I do wish it had a few more features so I wouldn't have to add this next app, but for free.99 I won't complain.

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My graphic for the Curl Care 101 series is a joint venture between Pixlr and Rhonna :)
3. Rhonna Designs
Cost: $1.99
Wonder Curl owner Scarlett hipped me to Rhonna a while ago. Many of the pretty, inspirational photos you see were designed in Rhonna. Rhonna is less about photo editing (you'll need a companion app like Pixlr or your phone's native photo editing features, because Rhonna can't be bothered), and more about adding gorgeous text and beautiful decorations and overlays. You can create banners, add little jazzy doodads, stamp on uplifting statements, and more. One of my favorite things to do in Rhonna Designs is take advantage of the ability to create shadows, outlines, and adjust transparency on text and graphic elements you create. If you see a photo of mine with a semi-transparent box or arrow in it, you can bet I made it in Rhonna Designs. By the way, there's a second Rhonna app -- Rhonna Designs Magic. I don't use it, and from what I can tell, it will serve me no purpose. But Rhonna Designs? Well worth the $1.99.

4. Camera+ by Tap Tap Tap
(iPhone only)
Cost: $2.99
 I stumbled upon Camera+ on a tech blog, and haven't looked back since. For the money, it is the perfect photo quality editing app for anyone who wants their photos to "look like that person's". You know -- the bold colors, the crispness, the lack of shadowy lurkiness, polished, and just overall appealing. What I love about Camera+ is that you can make your photo editing as basic or complex as you like. Under "Scenes" you can use tons of pre-sets (clarity will change your life) to play with color, tone, and lighting -- or if you're feeling really fancy, venture into The Lab and take more creative control.

Here's a photo of mine before Camera+
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 And after
best-photo-editing-apps-natural-hair-instagram

5. InstaSquarer
(iPhone only)
Cost: FREE
 InstaSquarer is the holy grail of no-crop apps. How irritating is it for you to take the perfect picture of your twist-out, and to have Instagram's pre-set dimensions determine how much of your hair gets to shine? Like, should you really have to choose between the left half of your face and the perfectly curled ends of your bantu knot out? Absolutely not. I'll have nothing of the sort. There are tons of no-crop apps out there, but they're all lacking (trust me, I've tried). I used SquareSize until  they got disrespectful and started watermarking themselves on my photos. I then turned to InstaNoCrop, but realized there's no point in sacrificing photo quality for no-croppability. That's where InstaSquarer wins -- you get to retain the high quality of your original photo, while being able to share it on IG without cropping. There's also basic editing functionality, and the ability to add text, but really, those are just add-ons to a brilliantly functional app.

Well, there you have it folks! Those are the 5 apps I use regularly to make my photos look like I actually know what I'm doing. Here are a few final tips for getting good photos to start with:
  1. For phone photography, always wipe your lens before you snap. You'd be surprised how many fingerprints and oil smudges end up there -- and how much of a difference a clean lens will make.
  2. Less-busy backgrounds make for cleaner pictures where the subject matter (you) stand out.
  3. Make sure the light source faces you, and not your camera lens (i.e. face the light, don't let the light eminate from behind you) -- unless you're doing three-point lighting, but that' another story for another time
  4. Avoid the front-facing phone camera when you can, but if you must use it -- follow tip #1!
  5. If you have a professional camera, invest in a wireless remote. The best $20 you'll ever spend.
 Have fun taking some kick-butt selfies, usies, wash day, and other photos! Tag me on Instagram @maneobjective if you use any of my tips or apps after reading this! Share with a Curlfriend!

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38 comments

  1. Nice...I just downloaded the dropbox..Thanks!

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  2. Thanks for stopping by! Dropbox has been a game changer for me. I forgot I had one before -- re-downloaded and discovered I had tons of photos from like 2012! I was able to recover long forgotten transitioning photos for my blog, LOL. I hope you found this helpful :)

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  3. This is why your are one of my favorite bloggers. Sharing is caring! I always had trouble with Instagrams cropping issues! What's the point of buying a 21 mp camera if you can't upload the full quality of the picture. Thanks for sharing this I can't stand when some people won't disclose information to others like they created the app just for themselves. (Sry mini rant lol)

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  4. Oh yes I am so about to download the camera + app. I use No crop on my iphone. Great post!

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  5. Great list!!! I also love afterlight and afterfocus. Afterlight takes your photos from drab to fab by letting you up the brightness, contrast, saturation, etc while letting you crop and such. Afterfocus lets you blur your background for awesome sultry looking pics. I also love viscocam.

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  6. Thanks for the tips #blmgirls

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  7. Very nice collection - I need something to make my photos POP!

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  8. Good luck! They're my (not so) secret weapons :)

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  9. Thank you Tiff!!! I'll definitely have to check out Afterfocus and VSCOCam!

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  10. Thank you! That Camera+ has given me new life! lol

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  11. Thank you Mally! This is EXACTLY why I went ahead with this post. One thing I noticed is that a lot of folks get super secretive about what apps and programs they use. It's just like you said -- they either ignore or are really elusive about them. I don't believe in keeping good things to myself -- thanks for appreciating that :)

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