If you’re getting professional headshots taken in the near future, you’re probably starting to think about how you want your hair and makeup to look. Maybe you’re Googling “hair and makeup tips” to make sure you will look your absolute best in your photos.
With professional headshots, it’s important to portray all the confidence in the world while at the same time making sure your photos are “on brand.” But, there’s actually a few more things you want to consider before you hop in front of that camera lens.
Sure, I could tell you to stray away from metallic makeup and make sure your foundation matches your skin tone perfectly. However, that kind of advice is all over the internet already — I want to offer you something a little bit more.
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.
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 who is 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!
Are you ready to dive in a little further? Here are the five most important hair and makeup tips I want to share as you prepare 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 for 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 looking photo.
If you’re dealing with the more of the “everyday” random blemishes, uneven skin tone, and dryness, the solution is simple. Drink more water one week before your photos. I know, I know, but I promise it will make a much bigger difference than you think. Being properly hydrated helps tighten skin, minimize pores, brighten skin tone, etc.
Another thing you can do is treat yourself to a facial. If you have the means, go see a certified esthetician. I wouldn’t recommend doing anything “extreme” right before your photos (like microdermabrasions or extractions) since you just can’t be sure how your skin will react.
If you don’t have the budget, do your own facial at home! There are so many affordable, good quality face masks you can get for around$5. Just stay away from any that are cheaper than that because they’re probably not using the best ingredients.
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 photos taken often, 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 get cakey.
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.
Make Up For Ever (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. it’s 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.”
If you don’t know how to find the right shade of foundation for you, I’ve got you covered in this post here.
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!
If you never wear makeup, it doesn’t really make sense to wear a lot of makeup in your headshots. However, you can 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.
So bottom line: if you don’t wear eyeliner or a bold lipstick every day, skip it. You’re going to feel uncomfortable and your lack of confidence is going to show through in your photos. Stay true to you!
I’ve been asked by so many entrepreneurs to help with their makeup for YouTube videos or webinars. One thing I noticed is that they would unknowingly choose a lipstick, blouse, or accessory that clashed with their brand colors.
For example, one of my Create Your Signature Look graduates loved to wear this gorgeous coral lipstick for all her videos and pictures. She thought that by wearing this bold lip color that she loved, she wouldn’t have to worry about the rest of her makeup. That’s totally fine, but her logo at the time was red. So when she was photographed in that lip color next to her logo featuring her red branding, it really clashed.
So, we changed her lipstick to a red color that was in the same family as her logo. The impact was shocking! Everyone on her visual team noticed immediately and was blown away by how this one little change made such a big difference. All I’m saying is… colors matter.
If you’re using your headshots for your website, social media pages, or brochures, choose colors that match your brand.
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.
This rule also applies to your hair! Think about how you normally like to wear it. If you’re naturally curly and you wear your hair curly 90% of the time, don’t straighten it for your headshots. People won’t recognize you! I like to get a wash and blowout before a photoshoot. But, 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 subtly 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 before your professional headshots!
What’s the number one thing you’re going to take away from this article as you prepare for your headshots? Do you have any other questions for me? Let me know in the comments below!
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!
Makeup education a great passion of mine. I have personally witnessed how makeup education has positively changed lives time and time again.
Throughout the years, I kept noticing the lack of real-life, practical, and easy to understand makeup education.
After developing PDF guides for my private lesson clients, then workbooks for my makeup workshops, enough people told me I should write a book. So in 2019, personally funded and self-published my first book, Be Your Own Makeup Artist.