Planning your makeup before your Photos

Updated: Apr 27

Makeup tips for headshot photography Makeup key points to make a stunning natural look, by a Boston photographer who specializes in headshots.

Natural Look, not “Light” makeup For headshots, you want natural-look makeup. “Light” makeup is suitable as long as it is natural and evenly applied. It is more important to aim for a natural look than “light.” Although both can be accomplished simultaneously, it is important to prevent an uneven application. To avoid this, use a minimum amount that ensures uniformity. Also, don’t be afraid to apply setting powder, more than when you are making up for in-person activities, say, going to a workplace or a party. What you need is even coverage combined with natural look finish. Always a good start is clean and healthy skin, well moisturized. Use primer where appropriate. Color of foundation Match the color of the foundation to the natural color of your skin in neck/chest area. Some people (especially with fair skin) often choose a shade darker than the skin tone, and that is fine for social events. However, in photography, always match your foundation color to the rest of your skin. If you prefer to alter the skin tone in your photograph, the whole skin color can be adjusted darker or warmer to make it look most attractive during editing. The best type of foundation is the liquid type. For headshots, oil-free (water or alcohol based) is best. In particular, oil-free matte finish foundation is most common for headshots, but some find it a bit difficult to apply, as they dry quickly, and it also makes a caky look if applied too thickly. Avoid “sheer look” (or glowy or dewy) type as they give excessive shine in the pictures. (Those latter type of makeup is popular for party makeup, as some like the way they look in person, and they last for many hours, especially the ones that are silicone-based. Very few makeup artists who are familiar with photo shoots use those, at least for commercial work in the US.) Powder or compact foundation doesn’t provide the right level of coverage for photo shoots.

Lips The color of the lips should be no more than one notch darker than the best look in person. The lips should be shifted in the direction of darker red. Also, lip gloss is often used in making the lips fuller. Eyes Wax your eyebrows a couple of days in advance. Trying to reshape the brows through retouching process is possible, but costs more time and money than getting them waxed in real life. Fill in your brows, especially if you are not going for a retouching option. Make sure your eyebrows are clear and dark enough when viewed in soft natural window light. Mascara is also appropriate for headshots. Darker color works better for mascara, so black is usually the best choice, even if you usually use brown. For natural look headshots like actress audition or corporate bio, there is no need to use heavy eye makeup at all. But if you are going for more styled photographs, the eye accents should be one notch darker or vibrant. Also, unless you have had professional training, avoid under eye liner, it is so often creates a droopy old or tacky look, so in most cases its better to only apply it on the upper eye lid for a a lifted youthful look. You can wear false lashes for most types of work other than the actor’s headshot. In photographs, the lashes do not look as long and drastic as you see in the mirror. Keep this in mind: the photographic lighting biases your face color to the lighter side, and eyes are where you get the most attention.

Blush Use blush in one small notch darker than the best look in person. However, please make sure to make a few well-diffused applications in small quantities. The first time should be applied and spread in a wide circle, and the second and third in progressively smaller areas. This is to make sure that the edges of the blush are gradual and not abrupt. You can always add more, but once you apply too much, it is tough to blur the edge or remove some. Powder Don’t be afraid to use a lot more powder than usual. A lot of setting or finishing powder is routinely used in fashion and beauty photography to reduce shimmer and make the skin look matte. You will realize that a professional makeup artist will keep applying powder every 10–20 minutes of the shoot to prevent shiny skin. You should bring yours and apply extra powder regularly. However, if you are taking a corporate or professional headshot, you probably want to use the next technique to control the shiny skin instead. For party makeup, shimmer can look great, but for photography, use a matte finish. Oily skin The best way to control oily skin is a blotter sheet. If this is not enough, mattifying gel (cream) is easy to apply and works well with the skin of all types and colors. A more traditional recommendation is colorless translucent powder, such as L’Oreal Bare Naturale mattifying mineral finish powder, which works well for light skin, but not on darker skin. For fashion and beauty shots, a lot of powder is used, but for clean, natural look makeup, you want to use powder to adjust the look and not to control the shine.

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