How to Make Perfect Makeup for Photos

Daniel • updated September 18, 2022 • 8 min read

How to Make Perfect Makeup for Photos

Some people would rather run away when they see a camera, but others go all out when the flash goes off. No matter how good you are at taking pictures, the main thing that makes you look good in pictures is the right makeup.

But depending on the photo, makeup shouldn’t be the main focus. Instead, it’s more important to draw attention to your own looks with natural makeup.


1. Certain things about the photo make-up stand out

Even before a photo shoot, there should be no doubts about the location and the lighting. Depending on which light source is used, the way colors look in the photos will be very different.

This is very true when it comes to makeup. For example, sunlight makes colors, makeup mistakes, and small skin flaws stand out more than studio lighting. So, makeup should never be too strong for photos taken during the day.

If, on the other hand, the shoot is in a studio with artificial light sources, the makeup can also be stronger because the light eats up colors.

2. Photo makeup: foundation

Our faces are made up of the skin. Skin that doesn’t have any flaws is the most important thing in a photo.

Before you put on any makeup, you need to make sure your skin is healthy. If you have a few small spots, exfoliating your skin at the start can help it look a little brighter. Then you massage in a moisturizer that keeps the skin well-hydrated and smoothes out fine lines and wrinkles. You could also use a primer, but that’s up to you. A primer shouldn’t be too dry, and it should be as close to the color of your skin as possible.

This is definitely true for makeup, too. There shouldn’t be a difference in skin color between when it’s made up and when it’s not. Makeup is put on the whole face, including the lips and eyes, in thin, upward strokes, and the edges are blended out.

For a photo makeup can include neck and décolleté. Otherwise, because the pigments in foundation reflect light differently than the pigments in unmade-up skin, pictures can be taken in which the made-up face looks very light compared to the unmade-up neck. This happens a lot when there is a flash.

In professional photo shoots, models are sometimes made up from head to toe to hide flaws like bruises and veins and to make sure their skin is the same color all over. A spray gun is used to spread the makeup over a large area. The idea is the same as Spray Tan.

Photoshop can, of course, make skin look perfect, but if something is already perfect, you don’t have to spend a lot of time fixing it up.

3. Photo makeup: shading and highlighting

Since photos are two-dimensional, the shape of the face needs to be brought out and shadows, dark lines, and wrinkles need to be smoothed out.

Lighten with lighter concealer makeup or so-called highlighter powder, which is put on the naturally lighter parts of the face, like around the eyes and in expression lines. The color of your concealer or highlighter shouldn’t be more than two shades lighter than your skin.

Also, keep in mind that concealer has more pigments than regular foundation and, as the picture on the left shows, reflects flash light in a different way.

Here, Beyonce has what is called the “inverted raccoon look.” Her makeup was perfect for the event. This effect can only be seen in the picture.

Gloss cream can help get rid of dry lines around the eyes.

Bronzer, blush, or even darker makeup can be used to make contours stand out. Most of the time, bronzing or contouring powder is used to make a look that looks natural, lightly tanned, or chiseled.

The best places to contour are under the cheekbones, on top of the chin, on the sides of the forehead/brow, and just below the face on the neck. You can also put bronzer on the sides of your nose to make it look narrower.

Blush is used on the cheekbones along with bronzer to make the face look healthy and fresh. The area around the cheeks and temples is often contoured with two or even three colors.

The darkest color is often put under the cheekbones to make them stand out more. A lighter blush is often used to highlight the temples, sometimes with glitter, and a rosy blush is used to make the cheeks look young and fresh.

To get rid of forehead lines, use a brush dusted with light pink powder to lightly brush the forehead.

4. Photo makeup: matting

Because oil on the skin reflects light so strongly, it needs to be as matte as possible. Unless the shine is on purpose, of course.

To get rid of shine, put a thin layer of loose, clear powder on your face. But you should never let the powder settle in small wrinkles or folds because it will make them look even worse. In this case, you should focus on the T-zone and use very little on dry areas like around the eyes.

It is also true that powder reflects light, especially flash light, differently than HaMisslungenes Foto Make-up that hasn’t been powdered. In any case, you shouldn’t put thick powder over “precautionary” somewhere and leave out other places.

Powder should be used (very lightly) on the neck, chest, and possibly the shoulders and back to make sure that light is reflected evenly.

5. Photo makeup: make your eyes shine

If your eyes are small or set far apart, you shouldn’t use a lot of eye makeup or draw hard lines with eyeliner.

But smokey eyes look good on everyone. If you don’t want the eyes to be the main focus, use not too dark earthy and smoky tones that are carefully blended together and outwards.

You should only put black kajal on the inside of your eyelids, if you have big eyes. This makes the eye look smaller but highlights the shape of the eye beautifully.

When you use pink tones, you should know that the camera will make them look more red. The effect can also be seen in the picture of me on the left. If you don’t want that, use eye shadow that is yellowish beige.

The right eye shadow color

With the right eyeshadow, you can bring out the color of your eyes.

  • Choose a warmer color if you have blue eyes. This warms up the iris, which is blue. It can be champagne, golden brown, or peach.
  • Brown eyes can go with almost anything. Here, you can use any color you want. But the color stands out best with pink or violet tones.
  • Use earthy browns or soft pinks to bring out green eyes.

Putting on eye shadow

Use three different strengths of color. This gives your eyes more depth and makes them look like they have more to say. First, use the middle tone to cover the whole eyelid down to the brow arch.

Only use the dark color on the outside of the eyelid. Now, put the light shade in the inner corner of your eye.

Blur the lines between the different shades to make a smooth transition. A soft brush works better than applicators and sponges for this.

You can also use a primer on your eyes. It makes the colors stand out even more. It can be used as a base for eyeshadow to make it last longer.

Put on fake eyelashes

Putting on false eyelashes is another way to make your eyes stand out in photos. It’s a great way to show off both the shape and size of your eyes. Make sure the fake eyelashes are of high quality, though.

Cheap eyelashes look fake and heavy very quickly. Some of the time, a few individual eyelashes are all that’s needed to make the eyes look better. Spread them out around your eyes.

Heavily made-up eyes and lips look enormously fast “too much” on snapshots.

6. Photo makeup: lipstick and Color

Lipstick makes all lips look better by giving them shape. For a natural look, just use lipstick that is two shades darker than your natural lip color and apply it carefully with a brush. With darker colors, a contour pencil can help you make lines that are perfect.

Then, put a lighter shade of lipstick or gloss in the middle of your lips. This makes the mouth look more flexible and full. You can get great photo effects by using different colored lipsticks and glosses, which, by the way.

7. Photo makeup: no glittery

Even though shimmery makeup can be tempting, you should be careful when you use it. Makeup that sparkles reflects the sources of light in your shoot. So, it can quickly take attention away from what the picture is really about.

So, try to make the photo as matte as possible and only set a few highlights. But none of these should cancel out the other.

8. Photo makeup: Lighting during Your photoshoot

Keep in mind that the makeup will also look different depending on how well the photoshoot is lit. Details and texture can be smoothed out with very soft light, while details and texture can be brought out with hard or directional light.

This means that if you want to use more directional lighting, like side light, you need to make sure the foundation and concealer cover well enough to keep the subject’s skin looking smooth, even though the lighting will bring out any texture from flaws or wrinkles in the skin. Read also how to make outdoor portraits.

9. Photo makeup: refresh your photo makeup

At the very least, keep the concealer, powder, lip color, and lip gloss close by during the photoshoot in case you need to touch up. No matter what time of year it is or how hot or cold the studio is, photo makeup will wear off or smudge during the shoot.

Then, small flaws will show up, especially in close-ups. So, take short breaks during your shoot to refresh your photo make-up. This will keep the quality of your photos at a high level. Then give your best features a new look. Make sure the lines are clean and the transitions are smooth.

10. Photo makeup for men

It’s important for men, too, to make their skin look even and hide small flaws. Men, on the other hand, should never look made up in pictures. As usual, it is best to first use camouflage to even out the eye area and any problem spots.

But a foundation often looks too strong on men, especially since their skin may be a little rougher. After a certain age, skin that is too soft and smooth can make a person look too feminine.

It is better to use a primer instead of a foundation for this reason. This usually comes in a jar and is milky white to pale pink. It is used all over the face.

The primer isn’t as obvious as foundation, so it looks a lot more natural. Silicone, on the other hand, makes the skin look smoother, smooths out small wrinkles, and hides pores. After putting on the primer, you can use a mattifying powder as you normally would.

Makeup tips for taking portraits in black and white

If you’re having a black-and-white photo shoot, you should know that they don’t look as good on the skin as color shots do. In this case, the photo makeup needs stronger contours and a bigger focus on the lips, cheeks, and eyes.

Scars, skin problems, and wrinkles are also much more noticeable in black-and-white photos than in color photos. So, it’s best to use a strong makeup that covers well and doesn’t make your skin dry.

How do you get a good photo?

What looks perfect, relaxed, and casual in a photo might not have been like that in real life. So, if you want a good picture, you should put in some work and get ready.

First, you’ll need a good pose. A pose should look as natural and unplanned as possible, but even stars usually practice good poses for a long time. It takes some practice to keep your back straight, your shoulders down, and your chin up just a little bit.

You should do it in front of a big mirror. Because if you move your body well, you can make it look like you weigh 5 kg less. Face expression is very important, especially for portraits.

Even here, nothing is left to chance. Because each face is unique. For one, a discreet smile works better than a broad grin.

The mirror is your best friend here, too. Try out different poses and do them over and over again until they feel natural. Faces that are stiff and tense should be avoided at all costs.

Look good on camera

Since there are so many model casting shows on TV, everyone should know that standing somewhere and saying “cheese” doesn’t make for a good photo.

After a whole day of shooting, there are often only a few “usable” pictures left, even though professionals are using a lot of gear and taking pictures of almost perfect models. 

Anyone who tries to do this at home will soon give up. We live in a time when phones and the Internet are common. People look at more and more pictures of us that end up online.

These pictures are almost like our digital identities, and many people look at them. So you have to make a good first impression!

Not sure, read more about makeup:

How to Choose Lipstick Color
Liquid lipstick mistakes to avoid
Order to apply face products
Bourjois Brush Concealer Review
5 Steps To A Flawless Makeup Base
Eyelash Extensions FAQs Tips and Tricks

Frequently asked questions

Does makeup matter for a photoshoot?

The most important thing to remember about makeup for a photoshoot is that makeup and color will never look as bright on camera as they do in real life.

Because of this, it is very important to put on more makeup for photos than you would to go out and look nice.

What does a make-up artist do at a photo shoot?

Makeup is an art form, and it’s an important part of any photo shoot. The makeup artist can change the way the model looks by using their artistic skills. With their help, the look of the picture can be taken to a higher level.

In a headshot, should you wear makeup?

You want your makeup to look natural for headshots. You can wear “light” makeup as long as it looks natural and is put on evenly. A natural look is more important than being “light.” Even though both can be done at the same time, it is important to make sure they are both done evenly.

In pictures, do fake eyelashes look good?

If you put on fake eyelashes correctly and buy the right kind for your eyes, they will look natural in photos. If your natural eyelashes are already long, adding fake ones that are the same length will make them look fuller and make your eyes stand out even more.


Makeup tips for the camera include a wide breadth of corrective measures that can achieve dramatic effects or simply an enhanced natural look.

The key to great photo makeup is paying attention to the fact that images are two-dimensional and therefore certain areas need to be artificially shaded and other areas artificially lightened.

How do  you make Perfect Makeup for Photos – let us know in the comments!

By Furoore team member Daniel
Daniel has been supporting the editorial team as a content creator since the end of 2021 and is mainly responsible for portrait photography and related practical topics around cameras, lenses as well as accessories.


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