Tips For Doing Your Own Makeup For A Photoshoot

So, you want to do a photoshoot but don’t want to hire professionals to do the makeup.

Tips For Doing Your Own Makeup For A Photoshoot

So, you want to do a photoshoot but don’t want to hire professionals to do the makeup. It’s understandable, especially for beginning photographers who are strapped for cash, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

It might seem counterintuitive, but doing makeup for a photoshoot isn’t the same as doing makeup for a social event. You have to keep in mind a camera’s strengths and weaknesses, because it won’t always capture exactly what the naked eye sees. What may look great in person might look messy or awkward once you’re behind the lens.

But don’t worry, doing your own makeup for a photoshoot doesn’t have to be stressful — just check out our tricks and tips for a flawless execution.

What Sort Of Products Should You Look For?

Before you can even think about applying makeup, you have to make sure you have the right products. For instance, if you’re a beginner, you’ll want to use powder products instead of liquid products — they’re easier to blend, which is extremely important in photography.

It’s important to keep in mind that you’ll want to purchase quality products, as cheaper brands will make your skin appear cracked and wrinkly on camera. (Trust me, the extra cash you’ll have to shell out is worth the hours you’ll spend trying to fix it on photoshop.) You’ll also want to avoid products with built-in sunscreen in it — it doesn’t work well with flash photography and can give the face a mask-like appearance in photos. For similar reasons, you’ll want to stay away from shimmery or glittery products altogether and instead opt for matte.

Skin Prep

This should be a given anytime you wear makeup, but it’s worth repeating: always, always wash and moisturize your face first. Not only is it good for your skin and your complexion, but it’s always best to start on a fresh canvas.

Before you start applying your foundation or concealer, you’ll also want to remember to coat your face with a thin layer primer. Not only does it help ensure your makeup stays in place after the long hours of shooting, but it also lessens the appearance of your makeup and fine lines, making your skin appear younger and more natural. Especially target the areas under your eyes, on your nose, and on your forehead and cheekbones.

Foundation and Powders

When it comes to foundation, you don’t want to use just any product you happen to have on hand. In fact, when shopping around for the perfect foundation for photos, you’ll want to make sure you select the closest possible shade to your skin tone — anything lighter or darker darker will look awkward and more obvious in photos. If you choose to pair your foundation with a powder, avoid HD powders — while they look nice in-person, your skin will appear to have white patches in photos. Instead, opt for colored loose powder or a regular powder compact.

When it comes to application, you don’t have to worry about full coverage — the camera will wash out most of your blemishes. If you’re wearing a lot of makeup, it’ll be obvious in pictures, especially ones taken in natural light. Instead of trying to make your skin look flawless, focus on making sure it looks natural.

Contouring and Highlighting

Flash photography is known for washing out the subject’s face, which is why contouring and highlighting is extremely important for photoshoots. Use a contour with a matte finish under your cheekbones, along your temples, and under your jawline to add definition and depth to your face. Once you’ve finished contouring, you’ll want to highlight your cheekbones and cupid’s bow in the same places the light would hit them naturally.


The eyes are often the most important part of the subject in a photoshoot, which is why it’s important to make them pop. Be sure to use black eyeliner and mascara (instead of brown or gray) and, if you’re wanting extra drama, don’t be afraid to use fake lashes.

When it comes to eyeshadow, you’ll want to keep your model’s eye color in mind. Blues and greens tend to look better with warmer shades like golden browns, peaches, or reddish browns, while hazel eyes pair well with purples, grays, and pinks. Brown eyes tend to be neutral, pairing well with nearly any color. To add definition and depth to the eyes, you’ll want to use a lighter shade for the inner corner of the eye, a medium shade for the rest of the eyelid, and a darker shade for the crease.


You’ll want to make sure your (or your model’s) eyebrows are waxed or plucked a few days before the shoot so that they’re clean, defined, but not irritated. You’ll also want to make sure you fill them in on the day of the shoot, especially if they’re blond — eyebrows often get washed out in pictures, so darkening them in a must.

Blush and Lips

Professional cameras and studio lights tend to soften makeup by about 50%, so it’s important to apply more color to your cheeks and lips than what you may be used to. You’ll want to use brighter colors, especially on your lips, as natural hues and nudes are harder to capture on camera. You may also want to apply gloss to your lips, as they’ll make them appear fuller and plumper.

The Finishing Touches

First thing’s first: is everything blended? This is extremely important in photography, so make sure you haven’t missed anything before you call it good. Once you feel confident with the look, use setting spray to ensure the makeup stays intact. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t have to touch up during the shoot — makeup melts exceptionally fast in studio settings, so be sure keep concealer, powder, and lipstick on hand, as well as skin blotters for models with oilier skin.

It may sound like a lot of work, but as soon as you have the basics down, it’s simple. Just follow our tips and tricks and voila — you’ll be camera ready in no time.


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