Headshot Photography

Makeup Tips for Headshot Photography

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Written By Nate Torres

Your professional headshot is often the first impression that potential clients, employers, or collaborators will have of you. As such, it’s important to put your best face forward and present yourself in the best possible light.

One key aspect of achieving a great headshot is having the right makeup. The right makeup can enhance your features and make you look polished and professional, while the wrong makeup can be distracting or make you appear unprepared.

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):

10 Makeup Tips for Headshot Photography

Here are 10 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

Also, watch out for irritation that can be irritated by 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 colors because they 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

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 the shine that comes with oily skin.

oily vs powder skin for headshots
minimizing shine

10. Avoid Using SPF

Be careful using any products with SPF in them as it can create a white cast in the photos making you look like Casper the Friendly Ghost.

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:

Makeup for headshots | A tutorial from celebrity makeup artist Jaime Smith

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 and do your own 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 ask the photographer if they have their own makeup artist.

makeup artist for headshot photography
applying makeup before headshot session

What Type of Makeup Should You Use for Headshots?

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.

The type of makeup you choose to use for your headshot session depends on a variety of factors such as the purpose behind your headshot, the lighting conditions, and your skin type.

We’ll be covering some tips later that take all of these into consideration

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need to wear makeup for a headshot?

In general, makeup can help enhance your features and make you look polished and professional in a headshot. However, if you prefer not to wear makeup, that is also a valid choice.

Should you wear eyeliner in your headshot?

A small amount of eyeliner can help define your eyes and make them stand out in a photo. However, it’s important to use a light touch and avoid using too much eyeliner, which can look heavy or overpowering in a headshot.

Can you wear lipstick in headshots?

Yes, you can definitely wear lipstick in headshots. In fact, wearing lipstick can help enhance your features and make your lips look more defined in a photo.

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.