Primping for Portraits: photo perfect make-up tips

Primping for Portraits: photo perfect make-up tips


Even everyday makeup can be a hassle, so when it comes to figuring out what makeup you should wear for your portraits it can leave you completely stumped. If you are someone who is totally uncomfortable with make-up the truth of the matter is, I would probably refer you to a professional make-up artist to help you on the day of your session. I do have referrals at the ready, so just let me know when we are planning out the session if you would like someone else to help you to prepare your make-up for the day.

If you are feeling brave enough to take on the make-up task at hand, I’ve laid out some simple tips to help you prepare. I’m by no means a make-up expert, but I’ve certainly learned what does and does not look great in photos.

Everyone who has worked with me knows I’m not a huge photo-shop photographer and I would prefer to help you look your best naturally. That being said, I am always happy to remove blemishes or minor undesired age lines with my magical photo editing wand.

Here is the scoop from what I have learned to help you on your end of things.

Skin Prep

Like the other planning that goes into your portraits, take the time to prepare your skin in advance.

  • apply a deep cleaning or deep moisturizing facial mask two days before you have a professional photo shoot
  • on the day of the session a light exfoliation (one that you know works well with your skin type) will help brighten the skin
  • apply a light moisturizer as a base for your eyes, face and neck
  • next put on a make-up primer over your face, under your eyes, and blend downward onto your jawline and neck

Face Tips

To avoid make-up overload or odd coloring it’s best to apply your makeup in natural light. Select MATTE everything when deciding on your makeup for portraits. Yellow tinted is better than shimmery or translucent.

  • try a high definition foundation (one with light reflectors to help minimize both pores and fine lines)
  • concealer with yellow undertones under your eyes can help a lot but be careful to avoid reverse raccoon eyes (too light)
  • dusting your face with a sheer bronzing powder just around the perimeter can flatter and shape your face. It will also take focus off your forehead. Just be careful not to over bronze- it’s a common mistake and easy to do
  • go for a cream cheek color or cheek stain for a natural glow while also giving you a base for your powder blush later
  • lightly apply a loose power over your entire face to avoid shine (if you tend to shine a lot in the T zone try a blotting powder)
  • emphasize your cheeks with a powder blush

The Eyes

Emphasizing the eyes is important, but like everything else not too overdone is best. Again matte everything is key. 

  • the simplest eye for a photo is opting for single color on the eyelid area going to the crease, followed with a light shade as a highlighter on the brow bone
  • black or dark brown eyeliner can make your eyes really pop. It’s ok to extend the liner outside of the corner of your eye, but steer clear of cat eyes to keep the focus on your entire face
  • use a thickening and lengthening mascara (making sure to remove any unintentional black marks with a q-tip)

The Lips

Lips, like the overall thoughts for photo makeup is best to not be too bold or overdone, but noticeable. 

  • medium shades of lipstick in pink or plum work best
  • try a small dab of clear or light lip gloss in the center of your lips and gently rub to blend outward

Even with all that, the best thing you can do to look beautiful in your portraits is to relax and be you! Confidence and a genuine smile are really the best thing a person can wear. Also know, I have your back on this one and will be first to let you know if I see your makeup has gone wayward on picture day.  

Be Beautiful,


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