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Makeup For Photography

This page is part of a larger topic, Amatuer Photography Tips. Please start with that page before continuing to this one.

Makeup for photography is very different from normal makeup, the foundation needs to be at least twice as thick as normal. Pancake that stuff on! Think of it as putty, and you're covering over every wrinkle, sunspot, blemish and pore until you have a smooth canvas to work on. It should be thicker than you think it needs to be, and make sure it's smooth and well blended with the rest of you! The foundation will go on your neck, a light coating on your ears, and depending on how much skin you're showing, on the bust as well. Protect your clothes by tucking tissue into your collar, and make sure your hair is off your face, neck, and ears before beginning.

After you've applied the foundation, put on a light coat of powder. As with all makeup, try to match your natural skin tone!

Next, the eyeshadow. This is going to be twice to three times darker than normal. If you're doing black and white photography, four times darker. Slather that stuff on. For brunettes, use a light taupe-brown as your base color... this will go on the eyelid up to your eyebrow, with a touch more on the eyelid closer to the outside of your eyes. I really need to give pictures, don't I? Use your ring finger to gently smudge the darker part upwards just a little, and blending it. Having a slight darkness at the outside part of your eyes makes them look larger and a little farther apart. This also gives a slight "innocent" look, which in turn makes the subject look a little younger. Which is always good.

Next, still for brunettes, use a medium shade of purple, sort of a light plum, to cover the eyelid itself. This gives the hint of healthy color.

Blondes and redheads should use these same methods, but different colors. Blondes with a pinkish complexion usually look best in a warm light brown base eyeshadow with a *little bit* of light blue eyelid shadow. Never use too much blue eyeshadow, it's nasty. Blondes can also use the plum, although a purple-ish perriwinkle is better. Blondes with an olive complexion, or just really tan, should use the warm brown with a copper eyelid shadow.

Redheads look fantastic with a warm copper base shadow, and green eyelid shadow. At the very least, try not to use blue or plum.

Next is the blusher. This can be difficult to apply properly, and far too many women walk around with garish red stripes on their faces. Always blend!

Choosing where on the cheeks to place blush depends on the age of the subject. If the woman is young enough to still have a natural blush, then the makeup blush should be spread on the apples of the cheeks, and to a point roughly below the middle of their eyes. It should be light around the edges, and darker at the very highest point of their cheeks when they smile. Again, the blush will be twice as heavy as normal. Use a light touch, however... it needs to look natural, rather than painted.

With older women, or women with angular faces, the cheek blush should go right between the highest point of the cheekbone and the hollow. Never apply blush in a straight line, or in a perfect circle. Use a light circular motion to keep the makeup looking natural. The blush should also come to a point below the center of the eye, and back to the hairline. As the blush moves towards the hairline, lighten up on the application and fan it slightly so it merges naturally with the hairline.

On everyone, a small amount of blush will just kiss the chin, the top of the nose, the right side of the nose and cheek, the right side of the chin, and just at the jawline. Having a touch of blush on the right side gives the illusion of a little sun, which you'll notice on most active, outdoorsy people.

Blush should also go on the hollows of the temples, spreading out a little to the high points of the forehead right above the temples. Remember, though... the blush needs to be just a little darker than you think necessary.

Ok! Next, another coat of powder... use this coat to spread and blend the blusher, so it looks like part of the skin, rather than paint.

Now comes eyeliner and mascara... with brunettes, black eyeliner is fine, but blondes should avoid black like the plague. Use a warm brown, and redheads should do the same... or a darker copper, if they can find it. Start the eyeliner on the top of the eyelid at the very center of the eye. This is important! Don't rim the eye with liner, it makes them look small and beady. Make sure the liner is as close to the eyelashes as possible... ideally, you should not see the lower line of eyeliner. The liner should not be thick, either... this is the one thing you won't be tripleing up on. You want it just thick enough to know that you have it on from a foot away. Once you've reached the outside edge of your eyelid, stop! Now you need to do the underside of your eyelid... I hate this part. Start the line ( very light now, just a tiny amount, otherwise your eyes will water and your makeup will run) at the center of your eye again, and run a light coat to the outside edge again. Now, put a tiny amount on your lower lid... this tiny tiny tiny amount will be right at your eyelash line coming in from above, and run maybe a centimeter from the outside corner in. Just a tiny amount. Tiny. Real small. tiny.

Now, take a Q-tip and tear off some of the cotton, leaving a little bit on the stick. Wrap it back on well, and use this small amount of cotton to smudge and blend the eyeliner, keeping it well away from the un-lined parts. Don't use this on the underside of the upper eyelid, though, and blend the liner into the line of eyelashes. This helps create the illusion of thickness in your eyelashes, and helps to keep the mascara from looking so fake. Also, keeping the liner on the outside half of your eye adds to the large-eyed innocence look you started with the extra bit of eyeshadow.

If you have smaller eyes, skip the eyeliner on the underside of the upper eyelid altogether. Use less eyeshadow at the inner edge (towards your nose) of your eye than you use at the center, and make the outside edge a little darker. Also, you can pluck your eyebrows back away from your nose just a few hair's thickness more than normal. Remember Judy Garland in The Wizard Of Oz? According to the original story, Dorothy was a very young girl, and Judy Garland was really too old for the part. So, they plucked her eyebrows back away from her nose until she appeared young enough. Of course, that barely left her any eyebrows... don't go overboard here.

Apply a thick coat of mascara, and use a mascara brush to separate the lashes and smooth out the gunk. Then brush upwards and slightly away from the eyes, again towards the outside. This should be done fairly quickly, before the stuff can dry and harden. Never ever use a curling tong... how does this look good? Or natural?

By this point thoughts of Tammy Faye Bakker may be running through your head, but fear not! Unless you used the entire bottle of everything, you're nowhere close. Just make sure it's the neutral eyeshadow you've run up to your eyebrows, and not the color.

Last is lipstick, and most people really don't need it. Surprising, I know, but just a little clear lip gloss looks best on most people, better than any lipstick out there. The younger you are, the more ridiculous you look with a lipstick... and even older subjects only need slight color. But, if you insist...

Always use a lipliner, and always apply it with a light hand. Try to get a liner that matches the lipstick shade, as well. If you have thin lips, never use a dark color, as this only makes them look thinner. If you have thick lips, but want them to appear smaller, either use a lighter lip color, or go without. Pale-complected brunettes should avoid browns, coppers, corals, and any heavy pinks, while blondes should avoid darker browns, purples, or orangey reds. Redheads should stick with the more orange reds, corals, coppers, and lighter browns.

If the subject is under seventeen or just looks younger than seventeen, they should avoid lip color at all costs. It *always* looks like makeup, and you're going for a natural look here.

Which brings us to hair.

Arranging hair for photographs can be terribly difficult, especially if you don't have a beautician handy. In general, make sure your hair is clean and neat if nothing else.

For women, the most flattering style is loose around the face, but still pulled back enough not to obscure the face. If you have really short hair, this is easy enough... three inch long hair can be waxed and slightly spiked, while brushed towards the face in a pixie-like 'do. A little like Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted, only longer for a more softening effect. Longer hair can be slightly curled and moussed for the same effect, only a bit more sassy. (I can't believe I just used the word sassy in a sentence.) Shoulder length hair can be curled more, and held in place around the face with hairspray and a few strategic bobbi pins. But with even longer hair, you can do all sorts of things.

A younger girl with a slender build can wear a crown braid with spectacular results. Section off the hair in a circle around the head, with the point at the very center of the top of her head. Start the french braid just below the bottom of her ear (have her bend and turn her head with the braid to keep it smooth), and work the braid all the way around her head, going from bottom of the ear over the top of her forehead, to the other ear, and gathering the last loose hair back where you started. Finish off the braid and hold it with an elastic band, and wrap the loose part of the braid around her head just inside the original circle. Bend the end of the braid under itself so the elastic is hidden, and use bobbi pins to keep it in place. Use *lots* of pins, pinning anything that looks like it might move, but try to keep the lines smooth. Hairspray like crazy. Gwenyth Paltrow in Emma wore a crown braid at one point, and I believe she decorated the braid with ribbons. You can easily do the same, and also small flowers if you're careful.

A few smallish braids with ribbons woven in can be very flattering for many women, but unless you have the face and figure for it, avoid any hairstyles that are tight to the head or flat. Larger women look better with fuller hair, so curls are a good thing... but don't do big hair. Tammy Faye Bakker *baaaad*, big hair *baaaad*. Also remember that your hair is supposed to frame your face, not cover it. But do not, do *not* emulate Farrah Faucett and curl your hair away from your face. That is so bad and nasty, I don't have the words to describe it. I just start spitting. The seventies are long gone, let that hair-do die. It doesn't flatter anyone.

If you can't think of anything else to do, simply curl your hair, spray it, and let it hang loose.

Makeup For Men

Now this is tough, for many reasons. First, you have to convine the guys that they *need* makeup, and that it isn't some prank. Also, you have to reassure their cute little selves that makeup does not instantly turn them into sissies. Sissifieing (not a real word, I can spell it any way I like) takes *years* of hard work.

Another hard part, once they cave to putting on the gunk, is finding the balance between "natural" and "Good God what *is* that thing!?".

And the very hardest part is finding makeup that will match their complexion. Most likely, you won't have it lying around.

Fortunately, you won't need much. If you can find a little foundation and powder that comes close to the guy's actual skin tone, you should be in business.

You'll need to start off by cleaning his face, ears and neck, as "guy clean" usually isn't clean enough. Then steam his pores by wrapping his face with a not-too-hot wet towel. He probably won't mind this too much. If he has facial hair you can talk him into shaving, have him do so after the hot towel, then lotion his face and neck. After the lotion has had a chance to sink into his dry, dusty skin, mix a small amount of foundation with a little light moisturizer, to help it spread and to decrease the gunkiness. Smooth this all over his face and neck, in a single layer. This doesn't need to be troweled on, it's only there to smooth the skin a tiny bit. Guys are *supposed* to be all rough and wrinkly. Follow this with a light coat of powder, after giving the moitsturizer/foundation a chance to sink in.

Now, eye makeup will be very different for men, as the method given for women makes the subject look young and innocent. Using it on a man will look a little silly.

Unless the guy in question is very pale, you won't be using a color eyeshadow. Use only the neutral color, and only on the eyelids to a point halfway up the...umm... I don't know what it's called. Huh. You don't want the shadow all the way up to the eyebrow, though, so stop about a centimeter or so above the eyelid fold. Don't make the heavier point at the edge, but do remember to blend the shadow well.

On paler men, a slight touch of color on the lower edge of their eyelid is natural, the shadow color depending on their complection. In this case, however, pale blonds *and* redheads should use blue.

On the not-so-pale guys, use a bronzer if you have it handy. The foundation, while smothing out the skin a bit, will make him look washed-out... apply it in the same method as blush on women. If younger, on the apples of the cheeks, if older or more angular, just above the hollows. Also on the hollows of the temples, the chin, the nose, and the right side. For the pale ones, use a small amount of blush in a complimenting tone.

Use the powder again, but gently over the bronzer. If the man has a pinkish complexion, a small amount of blush with the bronzer may be a good idea, but remember to powder again. He may look a little dusty, but the skin's natural oils will take care of that after a few minutes, and above all, he should not be shiny.

Lipstick on men has to be done very carefully. Lip gloss is generally a bad idea here, because it will be shiny enough to *look* like lipstick. If you have any matte lipsticks left over from the ninties, this is a good time to use them. Apply lightly, in a complementing shade again, and remember the lip liner. If you don't have a matte lip color, then a very light coat of chapstick is fine.

Eyeliner and mascara should always be brown on a guy. Even if he has naturally black hair, black eyeliner and mascara will look strange. For dark brunettes, use a dark brown, and a lighter shade on everyone else. Don't use much of either, and the liner only goes lightly on the outside edge of the upper lid. Blend well, and if he looks a little odd, go ahead a put a small amount on the lower lid. Tiny amount. Tiny. Even less than on a woman. Try to keep the mascara as a light coat on the tips of the lashes, as men usualy have longer, thicker eyelashes than women. Also remember to use an eyebrow brush on the guys!

Hair is also difficult...clean and neat is usually the best you can hope for, although shorter hair can be waxed and spiked into new and exciting shapes. Wildly curly hair, coarse hair, flyaway hair, or randomly corkscrewed and cowlicked hair can be product-ed into submission, and even a full jar of wax won't look too greasy on-camera, if you do it right. With men as well as women, full hair framing the face is often flattering.

Makeup On Children

While I generally despise parents who slather their kids in cosmetics (i.e., beauty pagent babies), I realize that not only can a little makeup bring out a child's natural color under the lights, but most little girls want to get dressed up and wear mom's makeup too. So, if there's no getting around it...

Before puberty, kids don't need foundation. There are no blemishes to cover, no wrinkles, sunspots, no huge pores, and their skin is naturally translucent. Damn, I wish I still had that kind of skin. But even so, the rest of the makeup needs something to hold on to, so mix a little foundation with a moisturizer. If the men's foundation was at a 2 to 1 ratio (with more lotion than foundation), then for a child it should be about 3 to 1. Kids are almost always a few shades paler than you think, so the lightest shade of foundation available should be about right. This only needs to be on the face, not the neck or ears.

Once the mixture has had a chance to set on the skin, dampen a cottonball with a small amount of astringent, like witchhazel. Gently brush the astringent over the high points of the face, such as the nose, forehead, cheeks and chin. This gives back a little bit of that translucence, but be careful not to wipe off the foundation. Keep it away from the eyes, too.

A little bit of blush, usually a pinker shade than most adults would use, should go only on the apples of the cheeks, since kids usually don't have cheek hollows yet. A little on the tip of the nose, chin, right side of the face, and a little on the forehead where the hollows of the temples would be, and that's it. After the blush, apply a light coat of powder to blend the blush.

Eyeshadow is tough on kids, as most neutral shades look ghastly. Try to use a shade of brown that is only a tiny bit darker than their natural skin tone, and use a color shade sparingly. You don't really need to use the innocent eyeshadow trick on a kid, but make sure the shadow is lighter towards the nose.

If the child is under ten or so, don't use eyeliner at all, but ten to puberty can generally get away with a little bit on the upper lid without looking silly. Mascara should always be a brown shade, and only at the tips, like you would do for men.

An eyebrow brush can give a little bit of definition to a child's face... most people completely ignore the eyebrows, but since children don't have many facial features to begin with, they need to emphasize all the features they have. Using an eyebrow pencil is not a good idea, though. Just a quick brush to define and lift the brows.

Lipstick is horrid on a child, in any shade. Lightly tinted lipgloss is about as far as you should go with lip color, and clear gloss is best, for boys and girls. You don't need to use a lip liner, either.

While little boys probably won't sit still to have their hair done, clean and neat is the most important thing. I know I keep saying that, but it's amazing how many kids I see with filthy hair, day after day. Adults too, for that matter.

Most little girls will sit still all day long if you're messing with their hair. Still, it's best to keep it simple, with maybe some curls or a headband. If they're *really* patient and don't mind a few pulled hairs, the crown braid can be lovely, or even just a simple bun.

If your subject is under the age of two, don't you dare put makeup on that baby. Just clean them up and put them in something respectable.

Why do people put those garters on their baby's head? That's the tackiest thing I've ever seen... nasty plastic things that leave those horrible red welts on their kid's head. Please, don't put those things on your child. And if your baby has some sort of rash all over its face, and you just can't wait a couple of days until it clears up... edit the rash out in Photoshop before you show them to anyone else. Yes, your child is precious, but pustules are not.