Tips for Photoshoot-Ready Makeup
By Kaylin Tran
If the endless cycle of red carpet makeup mishaps didn’t point it out before, having a working knowledge and understanding of makeup is key for a successful photo. Aside from the skills of a photographer themself, styling and makeup are some of the most important aspects to consider for a photoshoot. Even the smallest of mismatched details like a cool-toned pink lip and a warm-toned blush can detract from the overall image. When working with a camera, it’s important to consider that they pick up on the smallest features that stand out. That being said, here are some tips to keep in mind to achieve natural makeup ideal for any photoshoot!
1. Skincare is essential
Before any product goes on the skin, it’s important to make sure the canvas is clean and well-prepped. Even the best of products won’t work properly on a bare surface. Make sure to cleanse (double cleanse when you’re taking your makeup off later!), moisturize and prime your face. Skincare is something that varies for each person, so figure out how to address your specific needs for a custom pre-makeup routine. Hyram, a skincare specialist on YouTube and TikTok, has great advice and informational videos! The better your skin is prepped, the longer your makeup will last. When moisturizing, it’s also important to bring the product down to your neck as well.
Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is one of Hyram’s many recommendations. This exfoliator unclogs and minimizes pores, exfoliates dead skin cells and brightens the complexion.
Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer is a great two-in-one product. It’s a lighter formula so it isn’t as heavy hitting as the rich consistency of Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream, but for under a quarter of the price, it’s definitely worth it.
2. Less is more
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having blemishes, but unnecessarily caking on foundation and concealer emphasizes any type of texture on the skin. Instead, work in thin layers until the desired coverage is achieved. The best practice is to start from the middle of the face, then gradually work outwards. Don’t worry if some blemishes still aren’t covered; that’s the concealer’s job! Just work on getting an even surface.
Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation is an oil-free product that delivers medium coverage with a dewy finish. Celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek also mixes this foundation with body lotion to even out the arms, chest and legs.
Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup dries to a matte finish and is perfect for combination to oily skin. It’s also extremely buildable with the potential to have full coverage.
L’Oreal’s True Match Super Blendable Makeup is an affordable drugstore option with a reputable shade range.
Before putting a layer of concealer under the eyes, across the forehead and down the nose, first assess whether your skin actually needs that amount of coverage. Each case is different, but celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge recommends the spot concealing method to target specific areas of the face. Take a small blending brush like the MAC 217 and lightly dab concealer onto the blemishes. Wait a second or two before gently buffing it into the skin.
For under-the-eye concealer, professional makeup artist Robert Welsh says it’s best to dot a small amount on the inner and outer corners of the eyes. Take your ring finger or a small sponge to blend the inner corner, then do the same for the outer corner. Once that’s done, blend whatever’s left in the middle of the under eye. Targeting the corners immediately lifts the eye without using excess product.
Glossier’s Stretch Concealer is perfect for brightening up a look, especially under the eyes. The brand is known for its emphasis on natural beauty, so this product isn’t full coverage. However, it’s light-weight and leaves a hydrating glow, so it’s ideal even on aging skin.
The Tarte Shape Tape Concealer took the beauty world by storm when it was launched. It’s a heavier formula, so it isn’t ideal for the under-eyes, but its full coverage will take care of most blemishes and acne scars. It dries quickly, so work fast!
3. Cream products work like a dream
When attempting to achieve a natural look, cream or liquid products are the way to go. While powders sit on the surface, cream products are much more blendable. They’re especially ideal for mature clients or those with dry skin, as they leave a radiant “lit from within” finish that adds a healthy glow. Even better, they’re extremely versatile. Most cream products can be used on the eyes, lips and cheeks—lipstick can even be used for this purpose. Cream products are usually best used with fingers; the warmth from your hands essentially helps it blend into the skin. However, for hygienic purposes, a damp sponge or soft brush will also work well. Make sure to set any cream eyeshadows or eyeliners with powder!
CHANEL’s Healthy Glowing Bronzing Cream is a cream-gel bronzer that offers a subtle sun-kissed tan without an orange tint. Sesnek even uses it to define facial features like the cheek bones.
Again, Glossier’s products are perfect for their creamy, natural finishes. Their Cloud Paints come in six pigmented shades. A little goes a long way with them! The gel formula ensures a long-lasting staying power, but they’re still flexible enough to be blended seamlessly into the skin.
Colourpop’s Super Shock Highlighters offer a cream-to-powder finish, so there’s no need to set this product. These highlighters have a buildable shine that leave a smooth finish for only $8.
4. Apply in natural lighting
This is a tip for whenever you do your makeup, but especially if it’s for a photoshoot. Remember, the camera picks up on every small detail! There’s nothing worse than when you think your makeup looks flawless in the bathroom, only for the outdoor light to emphasize unblended foundation lines—or even worse, an entirely wrong shade match. You may not even notice it, but many artificial lights have a yellowish tint that conceal some imperfections in your final look. Applying your makeup next to a window may save you the pain of having to redo certain steps.
If you don’t have access to natural lighting, you can make sure your home setup has the most optimal conditions. Warm white light is the next best thing, as it mimics natural light by evenly distributing light across your entire face. The lighting should also be evenly illuminating your entire face. For instance, having a brighter lightbulb on your left side and a dimmer one on your right side distorts the shadows of your reflection.
Something to also remember is that some powders have flashback, which means that the camera’s flash picks up on powder residue on the face. As a result, those areas appear starkly white. This isn’t visible in person and only comes up in photos, but it’s important to bear this in mind when picking products. Products made with silica (a common ingredient in translucent powders), or zinc (a product used in sunscreen), have a tendency for flashback.
5. Love yourself!
The post-editing process for photoshoots involves touching up certain parts of the image, whether it’s fixing the coloring or getting rid of stray hairs. Comparing yourself to a digitally altered product creates unrealistic expectations, which isn’t beneficial for you or the other viewers of that photo. The aforementioned tips focused on natural beauty, so don’t forget that makeup should emphasize the beautiful features you already have. Longer eyelashes and fuller eyebrows are great and all, but building a bolder, confident you is more important.
Kaylin Tran is an editorial writer who focuses on social justice issues and communication strategies, especially within the entertainment industry. You can find her on Instagram.