I recently posted a blog which was general tips on how to achieve a good headshot during this I covered clothing, lighting and briefly mentioned makeup. Well since then I’ve had a few lovely young ladies ask me about the make up for a headshot. Fearing that they might look too fake/overdone which unfortunately can happen.
I’d like to point out now that I am not a makeup artist! And I really don’t know too much about makeup apart from my years of getting expensive makeup on the cheap (all thanks to my lovely mother for her staff discount at boots!) and from being on sets and photoshoots. So here is my (non-professional) advice.
Natural Look, not ‘Light’ makeup
For headshots, you want natural look makeup. ‘Light’ makeup is good as long as it is natural and evenly applied. If you apply foundation makeup too lightly, the application tends to be uneven, and you can see a mottled pattern in the picture. To avoid this, use enough amount of foundation with attention to make it uniform. Also, don’t be afraid to use a lot of setting powder, compared to when you are going to, say, a workplace or a party. What you need is good coverage combined with natural look finish.
Always good start is a clean and healthy skin, well moisturized. Use primer where appropriate.
Colour of foundation
Match the colour of foundation to the natural colour of your skin in neck/chest area. Some people (especially with fair skin) often choose a colour darker than the skin tone, and that is fine for social events. However, in photography, always match your foundation colour to the rest of your skin. If you prefer to alter the skin tone in your photograph, the whole skin colour can be adjusted to warmer to make it look most attractive during editing.
The best type of foundation is liquid type. For headshots, oil-free (water or alcohol based) or those that contain just right amount of oil is best. In particular, oil-free matte finish foundation is most common for beauty headshots, but it is a bit difficult to apply as they dry quickly, and it also makes caky look if applied too thickly. Avoid ‘sheer look’ as they have a bit too much oil to give excessive shine in the pictures, but sometimes oil based or silicon based foundation is used with a lot of powder. Powder or compact foundation doesn’t quite give the right level of coverage for photoshoots.
The colour of the lips should be one notch darker than the best look in person. The lips should be shifted in the direction of darker red. Also, lip gloss is often effective in making the lips fuller.
Wax your eyebrows a couple of days in advance. Trying to reshape the brows through retouching process is possible, but costs more time and money than getting them waxed in real life. Fill in your brows, especially if you are not going for a retouching option. Make sure your brows are clear and dark enough when viewed in soft natural window light.
Mascara is also appropriate for headshots. Darker colour works better for mascara, so black is usually the best choice, even if you normally use brown. You can wear false lashes for most types of work other than the actor’s headshot. In photographs, the lashes do not look as long and drastic as you see in the mirror.
For natural look headshots like actress audition or corporate bio, there is no need to use heavy eye makeup at all. But if you are going for more styled photographs, the eye accents should be one notch heavier or vibrant.
Keep this in mind: the photographic lighting biases your face colour to the lighter side, and eyes are where you get the most attention.
Use blush in one small notch darker than the best look in person. However, please make sure to make a few well diffused applications in small quantities. The first time should be applied and spread in a wide circle, and the second and third in progressively smaller areas. This is to make sure that the edges of the blush are gradual and not abrupt. You can always add more, but once you apply too much in one application, it is hard to blur the edge or remove some.
Don’t be afraid to use a lot more powder than usual. A lot of setting or finishing powder is routinely used in fashion and beauty photography to reduce shimmer and make the skin look matte. You will realize that a professional makeup artist will keep applying powder every 10–20 minutes of the shoot to prevent shiny skin. You should bring yours and apply extra powder regularly.
For party makeup, shimmer can look great, but in photography, use matte finish.
Hair (also for men)
You may want to use hair spray, gel, and other products to tame frizz and make your hair look healthy. Make sure to avoid products that give a matte look. These are fine for some situations, but not for a photo shoot. Matte finished hair will look dull and lifeless in pictures. Instead, use hair products that enhance shine
Now casting directors can see the best version of you xxx