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Headshot Photography

9 Makeup Tips for a Professional Headshot Session

April 20, 2022 by

In this guide, we’ll be discussing hair makeup tips for professional headshots.

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

Table of Contents

Can You Wear Makeup in a Headshot?

When you get a professional headshot taken, the photographer will often request that you have your makeup done by a makeup artist that they usually hire.

The reason for this is to eliminate any shine from your skin which can cause distractions in an otherwise perfect photo.

However, many photographers will also allow you to wear makeup if you choose not to have it applied by their staff.

So, can you wear makeup to a headshot? The answer is yes you can, but only if the photographer allows it or wants you to use their makeup artist.

makeup artist for headshot photography
applying makeup before headshot session

What Type of Makeup Should You Use?

Typically, you will be allowed to use your own makeup; however, some studios may require that they apply it for you.

If this is the case with your photographer, then you’ll need to bring your makeup on the day of your shoot.

Be sure to clarify this with your photographer before your session.

What Type of Makeup Should You Not Use?

As we’ll touch on in the tips, avoid putting a lot of bronzer that will make your skin tone look unnatural and affect the lighting of the photograph.

bronzer headshot makeup
bronzer

7 Makeup Tips for Professional Headshots

Here are 7 tips to remember if you are applying the makeup yourself for a headshot session.

1. Watch the Foundation

Be aware of the amount of foundation you wear because it will cover up your natural skin tone and cause shine on your face. Instead of wearing foundation, wear a tinted moisturizer or BB cream to help even out your skin without adding sparkles.

If you do decide to wear foundation to your headshot session the best type of foundation is the type that is oil-free (water or alcohol based).

Oil-free matte finish foundation is most common for headshots, but some find it a bit difficult to apply, as they dry quickly, and it also makes a caky look if applied too thickly.

2. Do Wear Blush and Lip Gloss

To add some color to your face, apply a light touch of blush on the apples of your cheeks and apply some lip gloss to prevent dryness.

The gloss will make the lips “pop out” more and the blush will add more color and liveliness.

adding blush headshot
blush

Also watch out for irritation that can be irritated with too much gloss.

3. Do Wear Mascara and Eyeliner if Necessary

For your eyes, you can wear some light mascara and eyeliner to make them pop!

Just remember not to overdo it Cleopatra, because you don’t want your face to look too overdone. (Unless of course this is a stylized session and you are going for that look).

4. Bring a Mirror

Bringing a mirror is important because you want to make sure that your makeup is staying fresh throughout the session.

Makeup tends to move around during a shoot, especially if you are moving your head around trying to find the best angles.

hand mirror for business headshot
bringing a mirror

5. Concealer for Blemishes

Having a good concealer for your blemishes is important because it will help minimize the appearance of blemishes before you take your headshot.

If you don’t have any, then ask your photographer if they have some that you can use during the session.

If you are really worried about a blemish that is still showing, your photographer should be able to easily hide it when retouching the photo in their software of choice (such as Photoshop).

Just let them know to make sure they “remove” the blemish.

6. Lipstick with Subtle Color

A good lipstick with a subtle color is important because it helps brighten your complexion. If you don’t like wearing lipstick, then remember the lip gloss.

7. Keep Eyebrows Simple

Your eyebrows can enhance or distract from your face, so you want to keep them looking natural and simple for your headshot.

If you have bold eyebrows, then you might want to opt for a more natural look. You don’t want them detracting from your eyes.

8. Eyeshadow

Avoid dark or bright eyeshadow color because it can either add or subtract from your face.

Pretty much, just avoid the extremes on both ends — light and dark.

In the case of a headshot, you want to add to your face so try using a lighter shade of eyeshadow that compliments your skin tone and doesn’t distract from your headshot.

eyeshadow headshot
eyeshadow

9. Powder

Using a powder that won’t cause shine on your skin is important because you want to avoid looking too shiny in your headshot.

If you choose the right powder, then this will help minimize shine that comes with oily skin.

oily vs powder skin for headshots
minimizing shine

To further explore the subject of makeup tips for headshots and see it in action, we also highly recommend this video by Jonathan Nguyen and Jaime Smith:

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed this guide on makeup tips for headshots.

This guide is also a part of our Headshot Photography Hub, so be sure to check that out for further headshot photography tips and insights.