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Doing your makeup for everyday life isn't the same as makeup for a photoshoot. This is because you must keep in mind a camera’s strength and weakness’ whether it be your phone or digital camera since it won’t 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, we are here to give you some tips and tricks for doing your own makeup for a photoshoot.

What Sort Of Products Should You Look For?

woman washing her faceThe first step is to make sure you have the right products. For example, 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. We don’t want that right! You’ll also want to avoid products with built-in sunscreen in it, why? Because 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 Preparation

Great skin is the foundation of any look: 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 to create a smooth starting point for the rest of your look. This 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, use a matte foundation. When applying the foundation for photographs, you want to use a matte foundation. Matte makeup does not reflect light, making it a better choice for photography. To start, use your fingertips to dab some foundation on your cheeks, your chin, the bridge of your nose, and your forehead.

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.

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 coloured loose powder or a regular powder compact. 

Go over your face with the makeup brush in large, circular motions as you move the brush throughout your face to make sure the foundation looks blended and smooth. Make sure to blend the foundation into your neck as well, so there is not a sharp contrast between your face and neck. Never stop blending foundation at your jawline.

Tip: Apply your makeup in natural window light if at all possible. This may mean applying your makeup in a room other than your bathroom but good lighting is essential to a good, even application of makeup

Shooting outside

Apply foundation more sparingly if you're photographing outside. If you're doing an outdoor shoot, you do not need as much foundation. Natural light can make makeup appear more obvious and you may look overdone with too much foundation. Only apply foundation to areas where your skin is uneven and discoloured if you'll be shooting outdoors. 


Use a concealer under your eyes, on your forehead, chin, and the bridge of your nose. Once your basic foundation is laid down, you'll need to apply some concealer. This can help eliminate the appearance of dark circles under your eyes, and can also highlight certain areas to create a slimming effect on your face.

Use the brush that came with your concealer. Dab some concealer under your eyes. Draw a line of concealer running down the bridge of your nose. Then, add some to your chin and forehead. It may also be a good idea to add some concealer just above your lip.

Use a makeup sponge to slowly dab the concealer into your face. Go slowly and keep dabbing until the concealer is blended into the rest of your makeup.

Tip: To avoid having an obvious foundation line, make sure that your foundation, concealer, and powder match the colour of your skin as closely as possible.

Contouring and Highlighting

contouring face map

Flash photography is known for washing out the subject’s face, which is why contouring and highlighting are extremely important for photoshoots. Use a contour with a matte finish under your cheekbones, along with your temples, and under your jawline to add definition and depth to your face. 

Dab some highlighter over your concealer. For photos, highlighter can help make your face light up a bit more. It can also help set your makeup and keep it from fading during a photoshoot. Using a large and fluffy makeup brush, dab a small amount of highlighter on the areas where you applied concealer. Highlighter is best used for photographs taken in the evening or in low-light conditions.


Flash photography can wash away a lot of the structural definition from your face, so a little bit of shading with bronzer or contouring powder will help keep you looking well-defined and less like a moon in the night sky.

Even if you don't usually contour, doing so for a photoshoot can help your face look slimmer and more defined. Use a dark stick foundation to trace your face and blend the makeup from there. 

Bronzer and Blush

Frame your face with a light layer of bronzer. You do not need a lot of bronzer for photos, but it may be a good idea to add a light layer. This can outline your face a bit and help highlight your features. Take a small amount of bronzer and use a fluff brush to outline your face. Draw a circle around your face with the brush, applying bronzer along your jawline and forehead.

Use a brighter shade of blush than normal. If you don't want to use bronzer, try applying blush instead. Makeup usually photographs about two shades lighter than it actually is. Therefore, it's a good idea to choose a slightly brighter shade of blush to make your cheeks look red and healthy. Pick a bright pink shade of blush and use a fluff brush to apply to your cheeks.

Start dabbing on blush on the apples of your checks. As you dab, move the brush backwards and up slightly.

After dabbing, use circular motions to blend your blush in a smooth, circular line.

Don't use blush and bronzer together. Choose just 1. 


The eyes are often the most important part of the subject in a photo shoot, which is why it’s important to make them pop. Photographers use eyes as the point of reference when focusing. 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 eye colour 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 colour. 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.

Add highlighter to your lids as a base. You want your eyes to look bright and defined in photos. Adding highlighter to your eyelids can help prevent them from looking sunken in. Choose a shade of highlighting eyeshadow that matches your natural skin tone. Use a large eyeshadow brush to apply it to both your eyelids. Use sideways, back and forth motions to cover the entirety of your lid, as well as your brow bone. 

Avoid sparkly or shimmery eye shadows. As with foundation, something sparkly or shimmery won't look great on camera. Stick to solid shades. Matte eyeshadow works best here. 

Put on eyeliner. Eyeliner is important in photographs. It outlines your eyes so they look crisp and noticeable. You can use a skinny brush, such as a corner brush, to draw a line just above your lash line. Keep the brush very close to your lashes as you draw a thin line all across your lash line. Black eyeliner is often recommended over brown shades. Black tends to show up better on camera. 

Add mascara. Once you're finished with your eyeliner, add mascara. To start, take an eyelash curler. Clamp it down on the base of your eyelashes to give them a slight arch. This will make them show up better in photos. Then, take a tube of mascara and apply it to your eyelashes. Use slow, somewhat wiggly strokes to elongate your lashes and separate them.

If any of your lashes clump, you can turn the brush on its side. Try to separate the lashes with the tip of your mascara brush.

If your mascara is clumpy, try adding 1-2 drops of any saline solution inside the tube to loosen it up. However, if the mascara is more than about 3 months old, toss it out and purchase a new one.

eyes makeup

Tip: I suggest waterproof (aka sweatproof) black mascara. Two coats. Using a new mascara tube can really be helpful because the product will not be dried out causing you to have clumpy lashes. Be sure to wipe off any excess mascara on the tube before your application. 


Pick a lipstick shade you like. When it comes to lipstick, brighter tends to show up better in pictures. However, it's best to pick a shade you like. You want to feel bold and comfortable in photos and a lipstick shade you love can help bolster feelings of confidence.

Line the lips first with a lip liner that is 1 shade darker than your lipstick to make the lipstick stay longer. Apply the lipstick with a small lip brush to make the lipstick more precise and sharp.

As with other types of makeup, matte lipsticks work best here.

Make sure to add lip gloss. You do not want to neglect lip gloss when putting on makeup for photos. Lip gloss can help your lips look full and plump in pictures. As with the lipstick, trace the shape of your lips with a complementary gloss.

Alternately, if you don't want to use lip gloss, get lipstick with a satin or glossy finish.

Tip: If you still want a natural look, try lip colours that are more pink than nude, as pink tones will make your lips pop in photography. To avoid dry and cracked lips showing up in photographs, make sure you use lip balm before you apply any products. 


You’ll want to make sure your 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. You'll need a brow powder that is 1-2 shades lighter than your brow colour.

Take the brow brush and start at the bottom of the brow. Work upward, making short and direct strokes with the brush. Fill in gaps in hair to make your eyebrows look fuller and more pronounced. Keep going until you reach the top edge of your eyebrow. 

Final Steps

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 a setting spray to ensure the makeup stays intact. Hold the spray about a foot away from your face, close your eyes, and mist your face in the spray. This will keep your makeup 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 to keep concealer, powder, and lipstick on hand. 

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.