Basic Makeup Tips & Must-Haves for Portrait Photography

Makeup has been hobby that I had lately ('cuz, you know, i felt I needed a hobby from my photography "hobby"). And by lately i mean it's been going on for a while...I've been doing the makeup for many of my photoshoots, and even collaborated with other photographers as a makeup artist. 

Makeup tips are something i get asked quite a lot, either by my clients/models and especially by my fellow photographers, so i think a blog post on this topic would be a great idea. So If you are thinking of getting a few makeup essentials for basic portraiture, or wondering what product you might need to look best in your next headshot, here are a few essentials from my makeup bag and few really awesome tips, that will help you push your portrait game to the next level, whether you are the photographer or the model.

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A few reasonably-priced essentials from my makeup kit:

This is a very useful product for close-up portrait photography. It fills in lines and pores and leaves skin more smooth and beautiful. Use it on the bare skin, before applying foundation. I use REVLON Photoready Prime + Antishine™ Balm. You can find it in drugstores. It's around $15. I'm quite happy with it. 

Foundation is a tricky thing. If you're a photographer or a makeup artist just building your kit, you'll need a bunch of shades, to be able to match different skin tones. When I was in photo school I was asking my models to bring their own foundation and powder. You can also buy a few shades, several tones apart, and mix them up.
If you're preparing for your next headshot, and you don't want to get a professional make-up done, make sure you are using the right shade for your skin tone. It's basic, but it's very important. Depends on the lighting, but tone differences might become very visible. 

Powder & translucent powder: 
Powder is good for removing the shine. If you are a photographer, consider getting a translucent powder. This is a real must-have for me. I generally use this one on men. It removes shine without adding colour. I use Marcelle Translucent Face Powder, again an inexpensive solution (around $15).

Use a natural colour. Blush looks good if it's applied well. Use these guidelines (click on the image to view in full): 

This is a whole other blog post, but for starters you will basically need a big brush for powder and a smaller one for blush. Generally, eyeshadow comes with those small spongy brushes, which are easy to use, but you'll need extra ones. 

For a startup portrait kit, consider buying a nude eyeshadow palette. It's extremely versatile for day to evening looks. For an inexpensive solution, i recommend The Nudes or The Blushed Nudes palettes from Maybelline; for a drugstore brand, not bad at all.  Also, you can save money if buy an extensive palette with many shades. The biggest one I have is the Color My Life palette from Sephora, with 36 eyeshadows and 6 lip glosses.

Lip gloss:
It's basic, natural and goes with everything.  

Drugstore brands are generally OK. A classic one is this one from Maybelline.  


- For headshots, keep makeup natural. It also depends on your daily look. If you generally wear a lot of makeup, you can wear more makeup in your headshot. But normally. a subtle makeup goes a long way in a professional headshot. 

- Make sure you keep your make-up brushes clean. I have a shampoo for brushes and i put medicinal alcohol in a spray bottle, which I use all the time. I wash my brushes as often as I can, and especially before applying makeup on someone else.  

- Contouring: If you really want to push your portrait game to the next level, you should learn contouring. This is one of my favourite parts from makeup. It's amazing what you can do with good contouring. The idea behind it is to accentuate shadows and highlights that form naturally on the face, in order to sculpt. Here's a really cool contouring tutorial (but you can find countless other ones all over the web). I use the Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette, but there are other more accessible alternatives, as well. However, the contouring kit is a product I suggest investing in.  Also, I don't recommend using bronzer for contouring, it's much too orange. Also, for photography I suggest keeping in mind the type of lighting you use. Studio flashes will wash out colours, so you might need to go more extreme with the contouring.

- Use luminizer. I bought the Sephora Collection MicroSmooth Baked Luminizer to test it out, and it's absolutely amazing. You know that shimmery shine along the cheekbones you see in professional makeup photos? That's what it is. 

All these being said, I will wrap things up here. For more makeup ideas and tutorials, check out my Pinterest Makeup board.

But I'm still learning, so I would love to hear some of your comments. What other makeup essentials do you recommend?