One of the most common questions we get asked as portrait photographers, is how to best apply your own make-up for photoshoots. When it comes to make-up tips for photography, there is a huge variety of opinions and advice available to anyone searching on the internet.

The most important thing is that you feel great about yourself. If you are not the sort of person who wears a lot of make up in your daily life, then less is often best. We have done plenty of portraits of women with little or no make-up.

However, if you do like a little bit of cosmetic enhancement, here are some tips that are simple and fool proof when it comes to applying gorgeous make-up for your portrait session.

A quick summary:

1. Well-defined eyes are important
2. Stick with neutral tones for a classic look
3. Avoid glitter or shimmer, opt for matte finishes
4. Skip the fake tan


Your eyes are usually the focal point for most portraits and for many Photographers the eyes are the most important part of your face. Skin blemishes can be photoshopped out, but beautifully defined eyes can be captivating and can showcase your true beauty that comes from within.

Use an eyeliner to define the shape of your eyes. Black or dark brown are both good options. In terms of eye shadow, stick with neutral tones so it is your eyes that people notice, and not your eye shadow. If you are really wanting a wow factor, consider false eyelashes or partial lash accents which can add subtle length. Well-defined eyebrows are also important, as your eyebrows frame your face.

If you want to get more technical, there are various online tutorials. We like this one which shows you how to achieve timeless ‘cat eyes’. Variations of this technique have been used time and time again.


Having gorgeous skin will certainly help you shine in your portrait. Flash photography can wash out the colour in your skin. Therefore, apply a bit more foundation than normal, covering blemishes. Be careful not to overdo concealer and make sure you blend it well, especially under your eyes. Lighter coloured concealer has a way of showing up under the scrutiny of a camera.  Use a matte foundation or powder to avoid too much shine.


Keeping in mind that flash photography can wash you out, perhaps apply a little more blush than normal. If you use a bronzer, apply a little less than normal or stay away from it altogether if it has a shimmer. Remember that blush and bronzers can help shape and define your face. Click here for a little run down on different face shapes and blush application techniques.


Apply lipstick to suit your own taste. Many people opt for neutral shades as they won’t overpower your face or date too quickly. However if you really love your bright coloured lipsticks, of course these can look fantastic too. The most important thing is to create some contrast between your lips and your face. This can be achieved with either light, neutral or dark tones.

Fake tan?

We usually advise people to skip the fake tan. Your natural skin tone is the most flattering shade. Fake tanning sometimes creates streaks and blotches in your skin that can require hours of blending in Photoshop to remove. If there are going to be other family members in your portrait session, then the contrast of the fake tanning colour next to natural skin tones will be exacerbated, appearing more obvious and “orange” looking than is actually the case.

Don’t forget your finger nails

Hands are visible in some photographs and if you have put in some effort with regards to make-up, the last thing you want is chipped nail polish appearing in your treasured photos. Make sure your nails are neat and either painted or clean. This is especially important in pregnancy or baby photoshoots where your hands can play a major role in the photograph.

If you have any further photography make-up tips, we’d love to read about them in our comments section.

For more information about our portrait sessions or to book yourself in, please click here. We look forward to your enquiry.