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Everything You Need For A Headshot Session: Makeup

Written By: Alyssa Buffington

Makeup is a valuable resource in photography. Depending on the shoot, either the model or a professional makeup artist will do this work. It helps models look their best for the camera without any distracting blemishes. But makeup has a wide range of styles and combinations to work with, so which methods are best for professional headshots? Let’s break down the individual makeup areas and see the best makeup for each.


Foundation is where every good makeup routine begins. It helps cover any blemishes on the skin and creates a uniform, smooth appearance. Even using a little foundation can go a long way to make you look photo-ready.

When choosing foundation, it is important to find the closest possible color to match your skin tone. Shades that are even slightly off are visible on a good camera, and you want your foundation to blend seamlessly into your skin. Be aware of your current skin tone and stock up on what matches.

Another important part of the foundation is liquid versus powder. While oil-free liquids are typically seen as the better option, you should work with whichever version you’re more comfortable with. Either type of foundation can dry out and form a cakey film on your face if used incorrectly. Practice applying foundation to ensure it won’t dry on you.


Lip care is important for both male and female models. Chapstick is your friend, so use it regularly in your daily life to keep your lips smooth and full. For anyone applying lip makeup on the day of the shoot, remember to keep it simple.

Start by picking a lipstick shade that’s one shade darker than normal because the camera will make it appear brighter. The actual shade should be closer to your natural lip color to help it pop. Bold lipsticks are good for other types of photography, but not usually here.

Lastly, make sure you keep an eye on your lipstick as you use it. Any spots that get on your face or teeth must be cleaned up. You may need to touch up the makeup throughout the day as well, so be prepared.




Eyes and eyebrows are the center point of headshot photography, so you must take good care of them. For your eyebrows, it’s best to shape them with waxing or grooming and filling them in with a liner. This will help keep them looking full and kempt.

Any makeup you apply around your eyes should add to your natural looks. Use black mascara to highlight your eyelashes, but don’t apply too much. If you want to apply any fake eyelashes, only use ones that have a natural length and thickness because anything longer will look strange.

Any other makeup should remain within the area between your eyelashes and eyebrows. Don’t apply eyeliner to your bottom eyelids; keep any eyeliner to the top eyelids. Finally, if you decide to use eye shadow, pick a color that matches close to your skin tone for natural coloring.


There are hundreds of different hairstyles you can choose from for your headshots. It’s up to you to figure out what type of haircut is appropriate for the shoot and the use of the photo. While it’s your choice in what haircut is best, just remember that you should get it done by a professional for the shoot. A professional stylist is the best way to ensure your hair will look its best.

For men, facial hair is also a concern. Some men might go for a clean-shaven look in their photos, but beards and mustaches are also fine. Just make sure that you trim and style your facial hair so it looks well-kempt for the shoot.

One last important step with styling hair is that maintaining it is an ongoing process. Wind, movement, or weather may mess with your hair, so you need to prepare. Bring along a small comb and an emergency hair tie to help you correct any hair malfunctions.


Now you know everything you need for the perfect headshot makeup. As a general rule, keeping your makeup simple and natural goes a long way in communicating how you look day-to-day. Once the shoot gets going, you’ll only need very slight touch-ups as the day goes on. The makeup you wear is meant to highlight what you already have, so don’t go overboard. By the end of the shoot, you’ll have headshots that perfectly encapsulate your look.

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