Make-up tips for photography

I’m teaching a design camp at Altitude Summit in Salt Lake City this weekend about make-up tips for photography.  You know, for all your big photo shoots.  So I thought I’d share the bulk of my presentation here with you, because I’m a giver.  {but mostly because I need cliff notes while I’m presenting}

Regular makeup doesn’t do the job when you’re being photographed, especially if the photographer is using any kind of flash.  It’s really easy for the colors on your face to get blown out {too white} and distorted from what they naturally look like, but I’m going to share a few little make-up tricks anyone can do to look fabulous in photos.

makeup tips for photography

Make-up tips for photography

  • start with a clean, moisturized face
  • groom your eyebrows: shape/pluck/spoolie, fill in with eyeshadow
  • put on your makeup in natural light
  • less is more for an everyday look, for a photo shoot amp it up a little
  • use a make-up primer to fill in lines and scars
  • start with a tinted moisturizer, blend really well
  • always tap your brush before applying blush and eyeshadow to get rid of excess color
  • apply blush at the apples of cheeks, leave most of the color there and blend up towards ears
  • if you don’t have an eyeshadow primer, use a foundation brush and apply a small amount of foundation on eyelids before applying eyeshadow
  • apply foundation to your lips too, it will help the lipstick/lip-gloss last
  • apply eyeshadow with one brush + blend with another, use about 1/3 more eyeshadow than normal
  • use only matte colors no shimmery or glittery colors, they’ll reflect the light
  • avoid hard lines with eyeliner
  • only use liquid eyeliner on the top lid
  • go two shades lighter on lipstick, dark can look too harsh
  • use a lip liner with the same shade of your lipstick/lip-gloss, fill your lips in using a lipstick brush
  • apply a small dot of lighter lipstick/lip-gloss to the center of your lips, it will make them look more full
  • curl your eyelashes, always always always
  • apply 2-3 coats of mascara
  • use false lashes if you dare, they look amazing in photos
  • use a sponge with moisturizer to remove any traces of errant eyeshadow
  • apply a foundation just one color darker than your normal skin tone; not dark dark, but just one shade darker
  • blend foundation really really well
  • use under eye concealer to cover any dark circles you might have
  • finish off with powder all over your face, and blend it with a big fat brush
  • take some digital photos with your camera when you’re done to get a feel for what you’ll look like; use a flash
  • keep a pack of rice paper in your purse, they’re these amazing little absorbent sheets that pull oil off your face

That’s it, that’s all you need to know.  Head off to the races and get your pretty self photographed, you look gorgeous already.

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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. Emily :

    Fantastic tips! Thanks for sharing!

    • Allison :

      No problem, thank you!

  2. Dottie :

    Genius tips! I just wish I could have seen more of you at Alt. I’m so very sorry about that! But that just makes me even more determined to go to Evo. Mwa hahahaha!!!!

    • Allison :

      Babe, if I don’t get a sit down with you in the next 3 months I’m going to have a breakdown. Not even kidding a little.

  3. kimberly :

    you should include pictures, for those of use who dont wear make up and have no idea what your talking about. thanks for the info anyways.

    • Allison :

      Kimberly, a handful of these already have posts but the rest will flesh out this year.


  4. Jenny :

    I read this before I put makeup on today and had to hold myself back when I was applying my mascara.

    • Allison :

      But man you would have looked foxy…

  5. Lindsey :

    I stumbled upon your site while Googling tips for at-home manicures, and I fell in love! I have two questions:
    1) I’m a fair complected girl. The thought of using a darker foundation sends me in to a slight panic…as I’m afraid of the dreaded Foundation Line and the always classy Oompa-Loompa Look. Suggestions? Breathing techniques?

    2) Liquid eyeliner. I have used it a few times, but it was applied by steadier hands. Tips for first time user?

    Thanks! love your site!

    • Allison :

      Lindsey, I’m so happy we found one another!

      1} the {slightly} darker foundation trick is ONLY for high end photo shoots, don’t ever do it in real life
      2} liquid eyeliner, I have a tutorial just for you:

  6. Terry :

    MsMP and Carol, My sitesr also had a premmie that weighed 7.9lbs…born a month and a half early. Can you believe that? If she went full term, I guess that would’ve been a 12lb. or more baby. God works in mysterious ways. Go Figure?