Makeup can make or break your professional photos, not to mention your confidence.

I personally had one makeup tragedy that has plagued me for nearly 10 years, and I’m still kinda dealing with it. It was my wedding day. A friend of mine had completed her makeup and beauty training and she offered to do my makeup for the wedding day.

Without doing into the details of how it happned, suffice to say I landed up with bright green eyeshadow on my wedding day!!

To this day, I don’t like looking at my wedding photos because I can’t stand the sight of makeup!

As a result of that experience I always emphasise the importance of my clients speaking up about their makeup before we start the photoshoot. I invite them to ask for the changes they’d like or to change it completely if they’re just not resonating with what the makeup artist has done. I’ve had clients from years ago, who chose not to speak up about disliking their makeup, only to then call me 3 days after the shoot to tell me that they can’t stop thinking about how much they disliked their makeup.

So for EVERYBODY’S sake, please speak up about the makeup!

I asked 10 professional makeup artists, what advice they had about photographic makeup to ensure that you feel confident in front of the camera and that you love your professional portraits.


10 Tips from 10 Professional Makeup Artists

  1. For any good makeup application to last long and look good it start with good skin care. If you take good care of the canvas you working on daily than the application will look better and last longer. Good skin also boost confidence in appearance. Moisturize and good suncreen.
  1. Tip for photography makeup do not wear any foundation or sunscreen that’s above 20 SPF as it will reflect in a camera.
  2. Use applicators to apply makeup as your hands will transfer oils and heat to the surface which makes product move easier and become shiny.
  3. If you dont have a dry skin use a matt foundation or powder to mattify your overall look as the finish on camera is better mattified.
  4. Always have something on the lips even if it’s only a clear balm, this will prevent that the lips dont appear dry and red in the photos.
  5. Two most important features to bring out in a photo is brows and lashes other wise you will appear one dimensional and those as the strongest features on ones face.
  6. Use enough blush as it looses it’s pigment quick and the only thing that give life to skin on a photo.

Find out more about Cecilia

Cecilia Fourie

Beautiful makeup starts with thorough skincare at home. Before a shoot, go for a great facial – exfoliation is key to reveal new skin and helps the moisturizer to absorb properly.

If skin is well hydrated, makeup foundation looks dewy and glowy. Invest in an expensive foundation like Chanel Perfection Lumiere and cut costs on other makeup items rather if you must.

i always recommend false lashes for photographic makeup  as it enhances your eyes in photographs. I use MAC lashes (but i use a very natural looking set.)

Lastly a pop of colour on the lips photographs well and gives you that extra lift in a photograph, as the camera takes away about 30% of colour in a photo.

Find out more about Helga

Helga Strydom

Always start off with a clean face, moisturise and use a primer BEFORE one applies any form of makeup. Especially if the model will be smiling and using a lot of facial expressions.
Why is this so important?
Because once you start applying makeup for photography, which is usually way more that the usual ‘Day look’ makeup, one tends to feel heavy in the face… almost as if you can’t move it because it might crack.
This is where the moisturisers and primers work their magic.
Not only do they help freshen up your skin, but they will also help the makeup shift with your facial expressions. Preventing immature dry feeling and look, preventing uncomfortable stiffness, helps in reducing base from shifting into wrinkles or laugh lines, and helps the makeup last and feel fresh for much longer.
Thus providing a better, more natural makeup experience in front of the camera for longer.

Find out more about Little Harleqiun

Little Harlequin

If you are doing your own makeup for a photoshoot because you are already quite skilled and usually get compliments on your makeup application I would say consider investing in a professional makeup brand, especially for foundation in order to get a photo finish look. Foundation is expensive so purchase one that is also good to wear on a daily basis and not just for the Photoshoot. I encourage my clients to purchase a Treatment Cosmetic that is crueltyfree. My brand of choice is Sormé Cosmetics. Sormé is a professional make up range that is beneficial for the skin at the same time as it is made from natural minerals, plant botanicals and enriched with vitamins, antioxidants and age defying peptides.

If you are not skilled in the makeup department I would highly recommend trusting a professional to get you photo ready and taking that extra stress off so that you can just focus on your time in front of the lens knowing your makeup is on point and won’t let you down

Find out more about Tryna

Tryna Knock

I personally like to focus on beautiful, health, glowing skin. I favour MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid, and often mix in a little strobe cream. This creates a gorgeous glow, without leaving the skin shiny, and makes for beautiful “photographic” skin.

Find out more about Sam

Sam Scarborough

When it comes to professional photos I think the biggest mistake women make is a doing too much, the eye likes to be drawn to one feature so pick your favorite and focus on that, so if it’s a bold lip then keep eyes, skin and everything uncluttered and fresh. Also the lights pick up more shine than is visible on natural light so make sure to strategically powder the hotspots (tip of nose, next to nose on both sides, chin and forehead)

Find out more about Raine

Raine Tauber

My tip for makeup for photographs is to go a little stronger or darker on the eyes than you would do normally. So maybe smudge a brown liner on the lashes of the lid if you don’t normally wear eyeliner to open the eyes more. Blending is also key for both eyeshadow and base. As cameras, even on our phones, are getting better they can pick up everything these days! If you wear lipstick then a liner is a must, even a natural one worn with a nude gloss can give more definition.

Find out more about Nicola

Nicola Davis

It’s quite hard to pick one tip, but I guess one of the most important tips is to look matte. So the skin isn’t shiny (sometimes it could look sweaty). Lips should also be moiusturized.

Find out more about Kristine

Kristine Adams

In portrait photography for women the most important is to use natural soft textures for the makeup – if it’s contouring, better to use creamy products for the photoshoot. Every product applied must be blended properly.
Try to avoid strip lashes (individual lashes are better).
Be careful with amount of powder. If skin is not oily, I suggest do not use powder at all.
Dry products and thick layer of foundation add age and detract from the skin’s freshness.

Find out more about Kristina

Kristina - Make It Bright

In my opinion, it’s important to always be comfortable in how you look and embrace your own style makeup-wise. Everyone knows their own faces the best. I also think that not everyone realizes they don’t need a lot of makeup. I always say that powdering your face with your normal face powder or translucent powder before photographs is amazing and it won’t give you unwanted shine or flashbacks.
Otherwise as long as you keep your face/skin fresh and healthy looking that’s sometimes all you need.

Find out more about Sarah

Sarah Anne Howarth

I hope you found these tips useful for your next portrait photo shoot, so you can step out in front of the camera with confidence!

If I were to add one more tip – if you’re having someone else do your makeup, make sure you speak up and tell them what you like and don’t like! Everyone will have a better shoot and a day as a result!!

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