If you are getting professional headshots taken in the near future, you’re probably starting to think about your look. Maybe you’re Googling hair and makeup tips to make sure your photos will look their best so you can get hired and get noticed! You know it’s important to portray all the confidence in the world and you want to make sure you’re “on brand” but there’s actually a bit more to consider when it comes to headshots.
Sure, I could tell you to stray away from metallic makeup, or “on trend” makeup, or wear matching foundation. However, all of that advice is floating all over the internet — so I want to offer you a little bit different advice.
This might be a controversial statement, but I don’t believe what you’re wearing in your headshots is the most important thing. It is important for sure, but what you really should focus on is feeling comfortable. It doesn’t matter how many websites have told you to choose something conservative like a silk blouse and blazer. I have some photos in outfits like these and while most people would say they’re perfectly nice pictures, they’re just not me and you can tell I’m not feeling confident.
So wear what makes sense for you and your brand, and more importantly, pay close attention to your hair and makeup. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself and you know a great makeup artist that’s local to you, by all means hire them! That way you can relax and be confident that you’ll be camera ready.
I recently shared this information in an Anchor podcast. You can click the image above to listen, and to discover other topics I’ve covered recently!
Now, let’s get down to business. Here are the five most important hair and makeup tips I have for your professional headshots:
Skincare is everything. If you are focusing on how great your skin looks naturally, anything you choose to do on top of that will look so much better as well. As someone who has struggled with acne quite a bit (I was actually on Accutane or awhile) I know it can be a bit of a sensitive subject (read/watch my vlog here). Breakouts, hormones, and other issues can make us feel hopeless. A good professional photographer can help edit your photos in a way that will ensure you look your best. Be sure to talk to them about your concerns beforehand. Most photographers are happy to spend a little more time editing so you get a completely natural, polished photo.
If you’re dealing with the more “everyday” random blemishes, uneven skin tone, and dryness, the solution is simple. Drink more water (sigh, I know, I know but…) one week before your photos. It will make a much bigger difference than you think it will. It will tighten skin, minimize pores, brighten your skin tone, etc.
Another thing you can do is treat yourself to a facial. If you have the means, going to see a certified esthetician can be a game changer. I wouldn’t recommend doing anything more “extreme” right before your photos like microdermabrasions or extractions. You just can’t be sure how your skin will react, and you probably don’t want to risk it.
If you don’t have the budget, you can do your own facial at home. There are so many affordable, good quality face masks you can get for $5 or a little bit more. Stay away from any that are cheaper than that because they’re probably not using the best ingredients.
For those of you in the US, I love Andalou Organics, Yes To Brand or Que Bella masks — all of which you can find at Target. In Europe, Lavera, Sante, and Avene all make wonderful masks that you could try!
Makeup artists cannot change the texture of your skin. I say this a lot but it’s true. When you see a photo of someone with fantastic looking skin, it’s either a result of some very good editing or a strict skincare regimen… or both. The fact of the matter is, makeup applies more beautifully on good skin.
If you get your photo taken often, you’ll want to invest in some quality HD makeup. Generally, these are products without a lot of SPF in them. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, the more affordable HD foundations are going to be SPF-free.
If you don’t want to invest in a good foundation, invest in a loose powder that you can “set” your tinted makeup with. Or if you really do not like the feel of foundation on your face, you can look at powder foundations — although they can look cakey fast.
Three commercially available brands that immediately come to mind are the Ultra HD Make Up For Ever foundation (available at Sephora and other major retailers). As a matter of fact, I have this foundation in my professional kit. It photographs and films beautifully. Keep in mind it does need a little bit of time to settle into the skin — so wait 20 minutes or so to have your pictures taken after application. MUFE also has an oil-free version for oily skin types, which is extremely important if you don’t want to look shiny on camera. Becca Ultimate Coverage 24 Hour Foundation is another great foundation pretty readily available and accessible. This is a more full-coverage option with great pigmentation and zero flashback. NARS also has a few great options for different skin types.
For oily skinned beauties, look specifically for products that say “oil-free” or “mattefying.” This general rule of thumb will keep you safe!
If you don’t know how to find the right shade of foundation for you, I’ve got you covered in this post here on Finding A Foundation That Matches Your Skintone. Check it out!
I have been asked lately why I don’t wear more dramatic makeup, like a smokey eye, on a regular basis. People are curious why I don’t use my own makeup as a kind of “advertisement” for the work I do as a makeup artist. In their mind, a makeup artist should always be rocking a full face of makeup. I do get why they think that. But, that’s not me. It’s not my style. I love doing special occasion makeup, but for an everyday look, I prefer natural looks. Believe it or not, people hire me because they love how I rock a natural no-makeup-makeup look! Some days, I don’t even wear makeup!
If you never wear makeup, it doesn’t really make sense to wear a makeup look that you don’t normally wear, especially in your headshots. However, there are ways to use makeup to enhance your natural looks without it being noticeable. The actual quantity of makeup that I apply for a “no makeup” look is about the same as a more dramatic look. However, the way it’s shaded, blended, and applied photographs beautifully and naturally. The end result is a look that looks like you, but just perfected!
So bottom line: if you don’t wear eyeliner or a bold lipstick every day, don’t wear them for you headshots. You’re not only going to feel uncomfortable while your photos are being taken, your lack of confidence in your image is going to show through in those photos and also not quite line up with how most people see you. Stay true to you!
Ok, this is where it may get a little technical but this is extremely important. I’ve been asked by so many entrepreneurs with questions about how to do their makeup for YouTube or webinars, or other video projects. One of the things I kept noticing is they would choose a lipstick color that clashed with their brand, or wore an eyeliner style that didn’t necessarily line up with their brand image, or wear blouses that completely (or even subtly) match with their brand colors.
For example, on of my Create Your Signature Look graduates loved to wear this gorgeous coral lipstick for all her videos and pictures. She thought by wearing this bold lip color that she loved, she didn’t have to worry about the rest of her makeup. The thing was that her logo at the time was red. So when she was photographed in that lip color next to her logo or brand colors, it kind of clashed. It wasn’t jarring, but it was noticeable to me. We changed her lipstick to a red color that was in the same family as her logo. The change was shocking! Everyone on her visual team noticed immediately and was blown away at what a big difference that tiny little change made overall. Eventually, she changed her logo to match this coral lip color and all was right in the world! Colors matter.
If you’re using these headshots for your website, social media pages, brochures, etc. you’re going to want the colors you wear (both your clothing and your makeup) to match your brand.
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I call myself a couture makeup artist because I don’t believe in a “one size fits all” philosophy when applying makeup. Every application I do is unique in its own way! Just like a fabulous custom made gown! … Personal makeup preferences & sense of style vary dramatically from person to person and it is my job to hone in (as best I can) & figure out what works in a relatively short period of time. This may seem stressful to some it it is SO my jam! … I’m so so looking forward to meeting my two lovely prom clients tomorrow — and being part of the most photographed day of their adolescence! Can’t wait to create a look that will live on in photo albums to be passed on from generation to generation! … ♥️♥️ Double tap if you want me to post MY senior prom pic from 2002!! I will do it for you! Also, I’m actually in love with this pic of me snapped by the oh-so-fabulous @annemariemichel 😍 lastly, I’m going to be posting more pics of “me” as part of a #30daysofme challenge!! Why don’t you do it with me so I can get to know you better?!
No matter what you do, there’s a uniform that goes with it (with some exceptions). If you’re a tattoo artist, you might rock a winged liner and red lip. That’s part of your brand image! If you’re a photographer, you probably wear something comfortable and more casual, but polished. I tend to wear mostly black with the occasional pop of color. For your headshots, wear what you normally wear most work days.
All of these rules also apply for your hair, okay! Think about how you normally like to wear it. If you’re naturally curly and you wear your hair curly 90% of the time, straightening it for your photos may not be the best idea. People won’t recognize you! Personally, I like to get my hair washed and blown out before a photoshoot. If you’re not washing your hair the morning of, dry shampoo can give you some instant volume. Use good products, and stay away from heavy oils that can weigh it down.
Ultimately, your personality and your brand needs to shine through. Your hair and makeup can really call out to your ideal client. It can also let them know what to expect from you. They’ll think, “is this someone I can see myself working with?” When potential clients see your photo, they’re going to form an opinion about whether they will like or trust you. That’s why it is SO important to pay a little extra attention to your hair and makeup when it comes to preparing for those professional headshots!
I’m Natalie, an American born makeup artist & makeup educator based in Wiesbaden, Germany. I truly believe that makeup, when applied well, can transform us in so many ways. My page is a space for inspiration, education, and advice. Thanks for being here & I’d love to connect with you!