Photography Makeup Tips


The idea of makeup is to enhance features and give you skin that glows. Natural makeup will even out your skin and highlight your eyes or lips and keep you recognisable. From brushes, prep, foundation and colour read on for makeup tips.

Ideally your headshot shouldn’t quickly date. A natural look is best for majority of people unless you are wearing more make up on a day to day bases. Portraits on the other hand, you can choose between natural to full glam and anywhere in between.

Shimmer, shimmer

Love a bit of shimmer, but when it comes to makeup for portraits, proceed with caution. Opt for matte products to reduce flash back and blown out highlights in your images. Matte makeup is less likely to travel where you don’t want it. Shimmer in the wrong places can emphasise fine lines and wrinkles.

Prep your skin

The better you treat your skin, the better your application. Sleep, plenty of water and good diet all play their part. As do does a good skin care routine. Choose a skincare range suited to your skin type.

Cleanse, tone and moisturise. Apply an eye moisturiser and whilst you apply the rest of your makeup you might like to apply a hydrating lip balm as well.

Much like painting a call or canvas, you want to apply primer to your face. Primer creates a barrier for your skin. It smooths your skin so makeup doesn’t absorb as much in and makes your makeup last longer. You can apply primer with your hands. And you want to let it set.

For day to day, I have a single liquid concealer pen but for special occasions and portraits, I use a correction palette which I use sparingly. Orange will lighten dark around eyes and blue spots. Green reduces redness. The palette comes with 3 concealer shades. Cover the orange and green with the concealer to match your skin tone. Concealer can also be used on your eye lid as a primer.

Brushes are where the magic happens

We can’t continue without talking about brushes. Good quality brushes is where it is at. Spend the money. It will save you time and give you a smoother, blended result. Some brushes are double ended. There are now great quality vegan brush option out there.

I recommend the following as a minimum.
Liquid Foundation: Choose from a buffer brush or sponge. (I prefer the sponge).
Powder foundation: Kabuki Brush
Concealer: Concealer brush
Eye shadow: Blender brush, smudge brush, eye liner brush
Blush: Blush brush

The eyes have it

Eyes are the focal point of your face.

Doing eyes before foundation means your primer continues to set and you can remove any fall off before adding foundation.

Start by filling in your brow if needed. Your eyebrows are the frame for your face.

Eye shadow there’s a lot to perfecting eyeshadow. For a photoshoot it may be best to stick to natural eyeshadow shades so your images don’t quickly date. Unless of course you use colour purposely.

Blend blend blend.

Get that blending brush we mentioned earlier. If you aren’t sure, blend some more!

Understand your eye shape

Eyes come in many wonderful and look up techniques best suited to your eye shape. Remember dark colours push back, light colours draw forward.

  • Almond eye: eyes are one eye ball apart, not slanting done or up, visible crease, visible lower and upper lid. This eye is said to be the ideal shape for all techniques.
  • Hooded: Upper lid skin hangs over lower lid hiding the crease. Find techniques to lift your crease line. Use matte colours. Apply eye primer. Steer to waterproof makeup.
  • Monolid: No visible crease, eye appears flat. Research techniques to give the illusion of a crease.
  • Deep set: Eye appear further back in skull and brow appears forward. Bring forward with lighter colours.
  • Protruding : eyelids appear further forward in the lower lid. Use darker colour on lower lid push it back.
  • Upturned: Outer corners slants up. Look up eye liner, mascara and eyeshadow techniques that bring the outer eye down
  • Downturned: Outer corners slant down. Look up eye liner, mascara and eyeshadow techniques that bring the outer eye down
  • Close-set: Eyes are spaced closer than one eye width apart. Use lighter eyes on inner edge and darker on outer edge. Keep eyeliner away from inner edge. Mascara on outer lashes
  • Wide-set: Eyes are spaced further than one eye width apart. Start with darker colours on the lower lid. Go darker from inner edge and avoid shimmers on the inner edge, apply shimmer to outer edge.

Set your foundation

Foundations come in a light, medium or heavy formula. Some foundations are buildable. A lot comes down to what you are comfortable with. Remember we want a beautiful natural glow to your skin.

Find your perfect match. Certain foundations are suited to dry, combination or oily skin. Ensure the one you choose is best suited to your skin type. I opt for a medium coverage liquid foundation.

Get the colour right. Smear a line of foundation with your finger from the middle of your cheek to your jawline. Look at the colour against your neck and decolletage. It should practically disappear into your skin. Your colour should look natural, not like you a wearing a mask.

Blend all foundation well using a brush or sponge. Bring it down your neck and into your decolletage.

Finish to perfection

A mineral foundation, finishing powder or spray will help set your makeup and keep it on longer. A finishing powder can double the favour and reduce flash back that can be produced with photography lights.

Rosy cheeks

This is a personal preference whether you choose pink, peach or even us a bronzer a blush. Again it should look natural with your skin colour and give you the ultimate glow!


Use a lip moistures as you start your makeup routine to prep lips.

The general rule is you give focus to eyes or lips. If you have gone heavy with your eyes, use a lighter colour for your lips. Choose a colour that compliments your skin tone.

Lip liner will give your lips a nice line before applying lipstick as well as making your lipstick last longer. Outline your lips and then colour in the inside.

Apply lipstick and use a tissue to blot any excess and reapply. Make sure you take your lipstick to your shoot. Reapply if you have a drink or something to eat.

Picture perfect

Make up is a personal thing. Make sure you feel comfortable in the final result whether you apply it yourself or use a makeup artist. Check all makeup is blended well and enjoy your shoot!