Makeup Tips for Your Best Headshot

As a Beauty and Headshot Photographer, I like to make sure every last detail is perfect. From the lighting, to the expression, to the backdrop selection, to the wardrobe styling-- all components come together to support your branded vision.

But there’s another ingredient that’s super important—Makeup!

This is no time to skimp on details. Your face will be front and center. You’ll want to make sure your makeup application is on point


Here’s me, pictured above. This particular day I was suffering from a patch of blemishes on my chin. (Notice how that ALWAYS happens on picture day?) Despite my 8 hours of sleep, I also tend to have dark under-eye circles, but nothing that can’t be overcome with a bit of concealer. So, let’s start here…

STEP 1: Apply Concealer.

If nothing else, please consider applying some concealer. Actually, there’s a bit more than just concealer at work here. Brittany of Brittany Cantrell Makeup Artistry ( link to: helped me out with this demo. She used a mattifying primer, tinted under-eye concealer, flesh-colored blemish concealer, matte foundation, powder, blush, lip balm, eyeliner and mascara to achieve this clean beauty look.

If you only saw this picture above, you might assume I was wearing NO MAKEUP. That’s the thing I love most about the clean beauty “no-makeup” makeup look.

I have plenty of portrait clients stress that they don’t want to look overly done or confess that they’re even a little afraid of makeup. This is the perfect amount of makeup for women who want to look natural, fresh and polished on camera.

PRO TIP 1: Apply a white or neutral cream eyeliner to the water line (the very inside) of your lower lid. This will wake up tired eyes and reduce any redness.

PRO TIP 2: Skip the dewy and shimmery face products in favor of matte foundations, concealers and powders. What looks pretty and dewy in real life, may look greasy when you’re in front of the lights.

PRO TIP 3: Men can benefit from a bit of makeup too. A simple powder or blotting paper will help remove shine and make your face look fresh and camera ready.


STEP 2: Line and Define the eyes.

 When working with my clients and makeup artists, I often recommend a defined eye and neutral lip.

You could just stop at the step 1, but consider going a bit further.

The eyes are the windows to the soul after all. In headshots, great eye contact can stop the viewer in their tracks. So be sure to give eyes their due.

Here, Brittany defined and filled in my brows, used neutral shadows, and for extra oomph, lined the upper and lower lids with a dark shadow. Compare this picture with the previous picture. See how the defined brows and eyes draw your attention immediately to my eye contact? That’s what we’re going for.

By picking just one area of emphasis, you’ll be sure to draw your viewer in with your winning, smiling eyes.

PRO TIP 4: To make eyes appear bigger, take a white or cream shadow and apply it just to the inner corner of your eyes. Complement the light inner liner with a dark shadow liner on the top and lower lashes for big, beautiful eyes.


STEP 3: Turn up the volume.

4 Makeup Demo shadow contour.jpg

If you like wearing makeup on a day to day basis, be sure to turn up the volume for picture days. Well done, camera-ready makeup should be a touch more than your usual.

If you look in the mirror and say: “Whoa. That’s a bit much,” it’s probably perfect!

It always surprises clients to see just how much the makeup comes down in camera. The reason is: in real life, we are used to seeing in three dimensions, but when the lights come on and the camera clicks, we are taking 3-D You and pressing you flat. Makeup goes a long way to create depth and dimension in your portraits.

Let’s take it a step further…

Above, Brittany added shadow contour to my upper lid. Photography is all about the study of light. What’s dark, recedes. What’s light, comes forward. Great makeup artists use this trick to work with different eye shapes and create eye-opening effects.

PRO TIP 5: Use a darker shadow to contour your eye and add extra oomph. Don’t forget to blend!

PRO TIP 6: Today’s shadows lean towards neutrals but a little color can’t hurt. To really make your eyes pop apply a color that coordinates with your eye color. Have blue eyes? Use copper or gold. Have green eyes? Use a mauve.


STEP 4: Lashes for the win!

Adding false lashes can be an absolute game-changer! When I really want to look my best, I trust a pro to create a full and lush line of lashes for me. At Megan DiPiero Photography, we treat all of our Beauty clients and Custom Headshot clients to this gorgeous look!

PRO TIP 7: The right lashes will fill in your lash line and suit the shape of your eye. Try several brands to see what suits you best and don’t be afraid to trim the false lashes for the perfect shape. Our makeup artist Cyndi Welch turned me on to Ardell #110 Natural. I’m a bit obsessed with that look. Give it a try!

PRO TIP 8: Practice makes perfect. Be sure to try false lash application at home (several times) before the big photo day. Or, do like I do and just leave it to the pros. I always hire a makeup artist for big events and of course, portrait days! If you’re an MDP client, we’ve got you covered with complimentary pro makeup application. Hooray!


STEP 5: Smile for the camera!

Your makeup is on point and you are ready to rock! Let’s see the application process in action…

(Unofficial) STEP 6: Retouching

The very last step is retouching. Did you catch that in the last frame of the gif above? I like a natural retouch that works with your makeup, the beautiful lighting, and your lovely skin to bring out your best. Just a little additional lightning under the eyes and a bit of shadow and highlight to draw attention to your features. Perfect!  


To review:

1)    More is more. Add concealer and basic makeup for a clean beauty look.

2)    Turn up the volume to avoid being washed out by the lights.

3)    Focus on one feature—the eyes—to draw the viewer in to your expression.

4)    When in doubt, go Pro!


Enjoy your new headshots!


Eager for more? Stop on by our Headshots gallery to see our fabulous makeup, lighting, and posing in action!

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