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How to Have Flawless Makeup for a Photo Shoot

Updated: Feb 27, 2019

Whether you have family photos planned, or if you're a fellow blogger, or if you simply want to have better makeup for selfies; here are some tips and tricks I've learned from doing photo shoots over the years for how to have flawless makeup for a photo shoot.


The image below is from my Leonisa photo shoot, and though it was a fashion editorial with professional editing, a lot of prep work went into my look. This photo is an untouched copy to show that you can still create a beautiful look and cover flaws without using Photo Shop. Whether you're sitting for professional photos for a holiday family session, there are simple tricks and great beauty products you can use to look great in any photo.

1. Prep the Canvas Before applying makeup, try using a primer. They can be a little expensive and can clog pores, so I don't use mine often, but before sitting for professional pics, it's totally worth it to smooth out the face and cover blemishes. I like L'Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Professional Magic Perfecting Base. If you've yet to try BB Cream, I suggest you give it a go. One of my favorites is the Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream. I use it in place of moisturizer whenever I wear makeup. It moisturizes, evens skin tone, and offers sun protection. It really should be called miracle cream. It also takes the place of foundation for me whenever I'm just running errands or going to Barnes & Noble for my latte and magazine break, but for a photo shoot, I top it off with foundation. My recent favorite is the Revlon Photoready Makeup in Nude. It covers so well without looking too heavy and let's my natural skin tone come through, and it doesn't wear off easily.


2. Know your weaknesses I battle with dark under-eye circles, as well as puffy eyes, so before a photo shoot, I do a special treatment for those specific areas. Sometimes I do a natural treatment with caffeine, using a cold tea bag compress, or I simply apply an ice pack over my lids and under the eyes. A good night's sleep is the best medicine, but unfortunately that doesn't always happen. I tend to really on makeup to cover them up. One of the best bits of makeup advice I ever heard was when makeup artist Bobbi Brown said to use traditional light concealer to highlight and a yellow-based concealer for blemishes and under eye circles. For years I've been using the NYC Cover Stick in Yellow to cover tough blemishes and my dark circles.

If you have a different weakness when it comes to beauty, like stained teeth, splurge on a great teeth whitening treatment before an important photo shoot. If you weren't born with plump, luscious lips, use a plumping gloss. If you have incredibly thin eyelashes, use a lengthening and plumping mascara. These little things make a big difference in the final result; a professional family photographer will enhance the quality of the photo, but he or she isn't going to do a lot of cosmetic editing like fashion photographers do. Had I not known beforehand that these pics were going to be edited, for example, I would've flooded my red eyes with Visine. Though it wasn't an issue in the edited copies.


3. It's All About the Eyes In a portrait, the eyes are the first place people look, so you want them to be captivating. The bigger the better. Fake a larger eye by applying a highlighting concealer to the inner corners of the eyes and applying eyeliner from the middle to the outer edges (avoid lining the inner corners of the lids). A dark smokey eye is too heavy for portraits. A winged-eyeliner look is much better as it creates drama without weighing down the lids, and it adds extra femininity to the look. I created my soft winged eyeliner with a traditional black eyeliner instead of liquid liner. It's hard to get eyelashes to really stand out on camera without using false eyelashes, which can be very tricky if you haven't worn them before. I found a lengthening and plumping mascara that works so well, it gives the illusion of falsies. Honestly I'll never try another plumping, lengthening, volumizing, etc, etc, kind of mascara ever again. I am sold for life on the NYC Sky Rise Lengthening Mascara in Extreme Black (pictured right). I start with an eyelash curler, then apply one coating of mascara, then after it dries I apply another coat for an extra-thick lash. For my eyeshadow I used ULTA eyeshadow in Twilight. It has shimmer to it and has a very subtle plum undertone which brings out my eye color. It's all about what works best for you. For a photo, try to go for color in place of your typical neutral shades. Here is a quick article on matching eye shadow with eye color.

4. More is More is More...and then you still need more. The camera is so cruel. It not only adds pounds, but it also washes out color. Though I have a natural look in these pics, you'd be surprised to know just how heavy it looked in real life. I had so much blush and lipstick on, I felt like I was wearing clown makeup, though in the pictures it looked quite subtle. It's tricky to get just the right effect on camera when you feel like you're overdone in real life. My rule of thumb is to start where I normally do with my regular makeup routine, then I pile it on a few times heavier than normal. This is where the right makeup brushes come into play. On a regular day I use nothing but my fingertips and a blush brush to apply makeup, but to blend it for a photo shoot - to make it heavy enough for film but still look blended, you need the right tools. I use a small dense brush to dab and blend concealer, an eyeshadow applicator, and an extra large powder brush to apply my finishing powder.

(Photography by Clare Ahalt.)

About the Author: Krisztina Clifton is the owner and editor at Krisztina Clifton Beauty. She has been testing beauty products and blogging about beauty and wellness tips for over ten years. See more about Krisztina.

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