How To... Apply Makeup for Photos

Faces 4
Recently a friend requested a consult on applying makeup for a photo shoot. She was having some family photos taken and, naturally, wanted to look her very best.

Inspired, I combed the web and makeup books for tips. The basic principles are similar to wedding makeup -- since 2/3 of what you do for a wedding is for the benefit of the pictures anyway. As a guiding rule: in order to withstand the bright lights and flash bulbs, makeup has to be exaggerated in real life to look natural on film. If it looks like too much in the mirror at home, then it's perfect. Now that's clear, here are some finer points:

All beautiful faces start with beautiful skin, so be sure to cleanse properly and moisturize prior to starting. Even if you don't normally wear foundation, consider using it for this since it creates an even, blank canvas. It is important to make sure that the foundation is a good match and be sure to blend down onto the neck.

Shine is the enemy of photography. Dewy skin is attractive in real life, but in photos it will look like an oil slick, so keep skin matte. Tarte Peaches & Cream foundation would work well here. Use translucent powder lightly over the foundation, paying special attention to more oily areas like the forehead. If your skin is especially oily, consider a mattifying primer like Benefit Dr. Feelgood under foundation. Take powder to the studio for touch ups.

Eye makeup should, at a minimum, include black eye liner and black mascara. Again, the idea is high contrast so even if you always wear brown mascara, it's time to pick up a tube of black. Maybelline Lash Stiletto would be a good choice since it is relatively cheap, adds crazy length and is black as sin.

For a more sophistication, photos are a good opportunity for sexy eye makeup using 2 or 3 different eye shadow shades. At a minimum, experts recommend defining the crease with a dark color; this adds definition and depth to the eyes, especially important for pictures. Unsure of where to begin? Try the Lucky editor two minute smoky eye for an idea.

Even if blush is not normally part of the routine, you must wear blush. Otherwise, you will absolutely look washed out and sickly in the photos. For my friend, we did both an application of matte bronzer to the temples, cheeks and jawline and a robust application of a rosy blush.

Lips will fade into oblivion if not defined (do you sense a theme here?). Use a matching lip liner and lipstick to really pump that pucker. The danger is in going too light rather than too dark. If the thought of wearing something other than a neutral lip terrifies you, try a light berry color, which tends to be pretty universally flattering. It would be OK to use gloss as well, but since most glosses are pretty sheer, layer it over a more saturated lipstick for best results. Take the chosen lip product for touch ups.

Once finished, the overall look should be more street walker than school girl. To check your work, take a few shots with a digital camera. A camera provides a much better way to assess the efficacy of your makeup than looking in the mirror. If needed, add more blush or more eye liner and take another picture.

One last point is that if the pictures being taken are black and white, then even more contrast is needed. And just in case you are wondering about my friend, I can only assure you that I saw the proofs and she looks amazing!



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