Updated: Dec 2, 2019
One of the most difficult choices we can face when getting our photo taken- apart from what the hell to wear- is how should we ask to get our makeup done?
There's a plethora of information and ideas out there, and often times we just want to look like ourselves, but just more polished, more fresh, more awake.
So how do you decide on what level of makeup you feel comfortable with on cameras? Most people I know don't want to look completely different in their headshots, they still want to look like themselves. Others want a bit of a bright or bold pop of colour; while others aren't accustomed to wearing makeup AT ALL and may find the idea a little challenging or even scary.
Yes, it's true we do have to use a little more makeup than what you may be used to for a photoshoot. There are several reasn for this. Firstly, cameras are very sophisticed and have very high definition which can pick up every single detail in a face; which is why we often find we do have to wear a bit of makeup just to even everything out and hide some of the things we don't want to see in the final pictures. Expecting that a photographer will cover up a blemish or tone down red cheeks is unrealistic given that the photographer doens't have the time to go through every single photo and make the same change- it would take forever! So getting a face flawless BEFORE getting in front of that lens is of utmost importance.
Cameras also have a habit of making a face look a bit 2D and flat, which is why we often use a gentle hand to give a little contouring, sculpting and highlightng to the face to bring certain planes forward and give definition and dimension.
Lastly, there's also lighting and editing style which can really make your face look different. Cameras bring a lot of light into the lens which can wash out makeup and colour, which is why we have to a add a little more to compensate, particularly if the photograher's editing style is quite light and bright. As makeup artists we will define the eyes and make the cheeks and brows just a little stonger so that they don't get 'lost' in the final photos.
So what you think may look like TOO MUCH makeup, or more than you're used to in real life, can look a LOT less subtle on camera. Your makeup artist will be skilled in applying the right amount of makeup with the end result in mind.
I often find clients have had bad experiences in the past where they have asked for makeup and got too much makeup; or conversely, they have requested a no makeup makeup look but haven't been happy with how 'bare' their face looked and felt they needed more coverage.
Below, I've outlined 3 different types of photographic makeup that differ in level of intensity and coverage, so you can get a good idea of what the difference is, and get used to some of the terminology. That way you can go into your photoshoot feeling confident that you know what you want and know what to ask for.
No makeup makeup
The ‘no makeup’ makeup look takes a pared-back approach to your makeup, using only the bare minimum products to even out your skin tone, conceal imperfections and subtly enhance your features.
Think off-duty model, no makeup vibes for when you want to look like you just woke up like this and like you aren't wearing makeup.
“No makeup” makeup is basically bare minimum, au-natural, I'm-just-genetically-blessed, no makeup-makeup aplied with a light, professional hand to fool the camera into thinking that you don't have any product on.
This look is all about glowing, natural skin, so we usually recommend this kind of makeup for people who have clear, unblemished skin that doesn't require much coverage, as any imperfections may still show through.
If you have textured, blemished, or dull skin, you may wish to consider going a step up to a soft/ natural glam look which will offer a bit more coverage, but will still look you have great, smooth, even skin.
There will often be a bit of brow and lash deinfition, but not much colour anywhere, so the overall look is of not wearing makeup.
Natural /soft glam makeup
A step up frm the 'no makeup' look is the natural / soft glam makeup look. It strikes an ideal balance between no-makeup makeup and full-blown glamour.
Natural soft glam makeup is about enhancing the features that you want to bring out, while using a bit more product to hid imperfections. Its basically the style of makeup you would lean towards for a photoshoot if you feel like you want to look like you are wearing a little makeup. It is the most popular style for a photoshoot.
This look is all about looking glamorous but without too much makeup. We enhance the eyes but subtley, we sculpt the cheekbones but the contur is soft, and we will define the brow so it is strong but not overly so.
Everything is just a bit more amped up for the camera, so you'll still like you, but with a bit more polish.
It’s all about looking feminine and sophisticated, while keeping your makeup fresh. You will look like you are wearing makeup in the photo, but it will be subtle, soft and seamless, usually with a focus on the eyes.
Full glam makeup
This is when you want to go all out and look like you have got makeup ON and plenty of it. It's when you desire to have full coverage over your skin, plus plenty of contouring, highlighting, and eye enhancement. More often than not this is a look that's reserved more for night time but ocassionally clients will request it for a photoshoot. It's when you want to look completely groomed from top to toe, and you don't really mind if it looks natural or not. It's a bit of an 'extra' look and there isn't much subetlety to it.
This look is typified by the “Instagram” beauty looks we see a lot of today — bold brows, full coverage foundation, winged liner.
With a full glam makeup look, we define and enhance EVERY feature of the face: lips, lashes, cheekbones, brows.
Remember, speaking to your stylist, communicating your ideas and your expectations, and trusting their advice, is key to being happy with the end result.
A good makeup artist with experience in photographic makeup will be able to listen to you and also guide you if you are unsure.