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How much makeup is right for your headshot?

You booked a headshot session and are looking through your closet to find the perfect outfit to complement your eye color and face shape. You style your hair and add jewelry to pull your outfit together. You want to look your best so your portrait will show your beautiful self and ooze confidence. Your headshot is your calling card, it needs to make a good first impression.

STOP! Aren't you forgetting something? Your face deserves special care as well. Especially for headshots or any close-up portraits your photographer will be using equipment to light your face to shape and highlight your best angles. That often results in showing your pores and rings under your eyes in a not so flattering light. Pun intended!

A professional makeup artist knows what products work best with the extra lighting used for headshots.

You have a few options to make sure that your face is ready. How much makeup you or a professional makeup artist apply depends on what is natural and most flattering to you. I don't use much makeup on a regular basis but I do know that for photography I want my face to have an even tone, blemishes covered up and the contour of my face accented. Lipstick and eye makeup will bring out the color of my eyes and make my skin glow and look healthy.

setting spray applied to headshot model.
Melody applies setting spray to Anita's face mid makeup application.

Take a look at the series of images below to see how a face will change when no makeup, a very light natural makeup, a little more intense natural makeup and then glam makeup is applied. All of the images were lit and photographed in the same way. The larger images did receive more post processing than the three smaller images.

See the change for yourself how well-applied makeup makes a difference. It doesn't change who you are, but it does help to bring out your best facial features and make you more confident in front of the camera.

From no makeup to glam headshots

From no makeup to glam headshots

From no makeup to glam headshots

Do you need to have makeup done by a professional makeup artist? Not necessarily. You are welcome to do it yourself, but a professional knows what products work well with the extra lighting that is used in photography and is able to apply just the right amount of makeup to work well for the camera.

Most importantly, talk to your photographer and professional makeup artist before the session to assure you get the look you love.

Thank you, Melody, of Blush Beautiful, for your expertly applied makeup for this series of images.

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Photographer Heike MartinHeike Martin is a lifestyle branding and portrait photographer in Mount Joy, PA. She specializes in capturing your life and business moments in emotive and authentic photography. Fun, relaxed and professional.

4 thoughts on “How much makeup is right for your headshot?

  1. This is literally such a genius article!! My best friend is a makeup artist, and we both would fully agree with everything you said! Well done!

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah. The correct makeup plays such a big role in the final outcome of the image. As a photographer you work very closely together with your stylist and makeup artist.

  2. I love these Heike! And the light is gorgeous in the one of Anita getting her makeup applied. Such a helpful post!

    1. Melissa, thank you so much. The lighting was an interesting mix of natural light from behind and the beauty dish that the makeup artist used.

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