Ever wonder how celebrities get the perfect lighting on their Instagram selfies? Meet the LuMee case.
Pronounced “loo-me” — as in “illuminate me!” — the case is surrounded by tiny white lights that brighten your face. It was invented by Jersey-based professional photographer Allan Shoemake back in 2011 after he realised some people’s selfies just looked terrible.
When social media started up, I would look at photos people had taken and I would wonder why bother?” Shoemake, who has been a photographer for over 30 years, told INSIDER, referencing selfies taken at night or inside clubs and bars. “Now there are all these front-facing cameras, but there’s no lighting for them.”
The LuMee case solves that issue with its ring of lights that surround the phone. The goal? To make you glow, no matter the lighting.
When news first broke that Kim Kardashian West used the case at the 2015 Grammy Awards, suddenly everyone had to have one, including other stars like Lindsay Lohan. Since then, Kardashian West has designed her own line of LuMee cases with a faux marble pattern.
Intrigued, I wanted to try out the new LuMee case for myself.
The case was bigger than I anticipated, but charged really quickly. Shoemake said it takes around half an hour for the case to fully charge and if you keep it turned on, it would last roughly two hours. He charges his case “once a month, maybe.”
I can confirm that after testing the LuMee for about two months now, I haven’t charged my case since the first time I used it — and it’s still going strong.
After charging for 30 minutes, I was ready to start taking pictures.
Immediately, I noticed a huge improvement in my selfie game.
The biggest difference was taking selfies indoors or anywhere with overhead lighting. You can see in these before-and-after selfies I spliced together that my skin looks pretty flawless and my undereye cirlces disappeared once I turned the case on.
I started testing the case in all sorts of lighting. Probably the starkest difference was in my boyfriend’s kitchen, where the harsh, bright light could make even Beyoncé look tired and peaky. The LuMee case provided enough light to off-set the effect:
The case also has a dimmer function. If you press down and hold the power button, the LuMee lights either dim or brighten.
But no matter how bright the lights, the LuMee always drew a crowd of curious people.
Not unlike a selfie stick, people wanted to know what the LuMee case was, why I had it, and if they could test it out.
“The first time I spoke to Kim [Kardashian West] we were talking about that,” Shoemake told me. “When you bring the case out in a bar or a club and you turn it on and start taking pictures with it, its like people are drawn to that light.”
The immediate draw of the LuMee case also had an effect on how Shoemake and the company decided to market the phone.
“We thought our demographic in the beginning would be high school girls because I had a high school girl at the time and she took so many selfies,” he said. “But they didn’t like the attention drawn to them by turning the light on because they’re self-conscious.”
Instead, it’s the more confident 18- to 35-year-old crowd who are buying the case, at a rate of about 70% women and 30% men, according to Shoemake. “Vanity is not just for women,” he laughed.
There are a few downsides to the case, namely that it was pretty bulky.
Sometimes, I felt as though I had another phone stacked on top of my phone. I also found it hard to take my phone out of the case and I didn’t love the huge LuMee logo on the back, though it was disguised on my phone by the marble design.
But though bulky, the LuMee did its job as a case. As someone who often drops their phone, I put the case through quite a bit of wear and tear, even dropping it on the New York City streets a few times. Still, my phone was unharmed.
Ultimately, the LuMee did exactly what it claimed to do and everyone who borrowed my phone was impressed.
So if you have a spare $50 and are selfie-obsessed, this is the phone case for you. Plus, if it’s good enough for Kim Kardashian West, then it’s good enough for me.
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