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.
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:
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 but photographers can only do so much!
Sure, they can smooth out texture of the skin but the pictures will look SO much better if your makeup (and skin) is on point. 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.
If you already have a skincare routine that you practice religiously (like brushing your teeth), congratulations! Keep it up and skip to the below tips.
But if you don’t have a consistent skincare routine, I highly recommend you bookmark this post, Skincare For Beginners: Build Your Skincare Routine in 5 Steps >.
If you don’t know your skin type, take my quiz here to get your results and example skin care routines.
If you struggle with acne and chronic breakouts, you are not alone. Communicate this with your photographer and ask for examples of their work. 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).
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 for a facial this time, do your own facial at home! Beware of Pinterest and Instagram DIY concoctions — many times, these are hobbyists and not licensed estheticians, and you could have severe (or noticeable) skin reactions.
If you want to DIY your facial (and other DIY cosmetics), I highly recommend Wild Beauty by Jana Blankenship. This is a great book to refer to! Check out my Top 10 Makeup Books here >
Water is NOT a miracle cure for dry or aging skin, but water and extra hydration doesn’t ever hurt. Being properly hydrated helps tighten skin, minimize pores, brighten skin tone, etc.
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. Read the 4 Things Makeup Artists Can (and Cannot) Do here >
This is where it may be more cost-effective to hire a makeup artist, since they work with foundations that are high quality and look amazing on camera. Instead of buying a foundation that you may or may not use ever again, hire a pro and save the counter or space in your makeup bag!
There are lots of great quality foundations on the market at every price point, make sure to find one that is a good match, feels good on the skin, and is formulated for your skin type.
Remember, no-makeup makeup is still makeup — and if you don’t want to appear sallow or eye sunken in, you’re going to need a good foundation to even out your skin tone on camera.
Read How To Find a Foundation Match here >
If you would like personalized product recommendations, book a consultation here >
If you are looking for 1:1 makeup coaching, personal shopping, and custom face charts check out Create Your Signature Look >
To see a list of the foundations I carry in my professional kit, check out this post. There is a bit of a learning curve with professional formulations, as they are generally more pigmented and require ‘manipulation’.
If you have dry skin, avoid powder or foundations that are ‘mattefying’ — reach for dewey or silicone-based foundations
If you have oily skin, avoid silicone-based or ‘dewey’ foundations — reach for powders, matte or ‘mattefying’ foundations
If you have combination skin, I suggest using a primer in the t-zone and using a cream/wax-based foundation
If you want to dig deep and really understand what formulation and coverage would work best for you, grab a copy of my book, Be Your Own Makeup Artist. The book breaks everything you need to know about foundation (and more) in an easy-to-read-and-understand format.
Again, 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.
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!
Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.