Sunday, 20 August 2017

How I Do Models Make Up For a Photo Shoot

So before I even start this post, I just want to make a disclaimer that I am not a make up artist. I am purely a make up enthusiast who is also a photographer, and thought one day, "you know what's a good idea? I'm going to do my models make up".

In all fairness, I'm really proud of some of the looks I've done on my models, given that I've literally no training or professional skills and what have you. However, I have actually discovered some things along the way that I thought might be beneficial to share if you do make up for your models but you're not a professional, but who I most had in mind was bloggers. If you're a blogger who has their photo taken/takes photographs of themselves a lot, this post might be helpful to you. 

Let's start with a couple of 'before' shots:
When I do make up for photo shoots, I have two basic aims in mind: I want the skin to look flawless on camera, and I want the make up to last for the entirety of the photo shoot (2-3 hours) with no need for touch ups. Here's some things I do to achieve this:

What I Bring
When it comes to doing other peoples make up, you've got to be prepared. They might have make up on already, blemishes, redness, dark circles under the eyes. Here are my tips:

  • Make sure you bring skincare that will cater for oily and dry skin types.
  • Bring a make up remover just in case your model already has make up on. I always have Nuxe's Micellar Water on hand. 
  • Bring a range of shades of everything. Even if you know you want a red lipstick, bring 10 different shades of red lipsticks so you can assess which shade best compliments your model's skin tone.
  • Palettes are your best friend. I like the concealer palettes from Make Up Fore Ever and Zoeva, the blush palettes from Zoeva, and the highlighter palettes from Anastasia Beverly Hills. 

Skin prep
If you're not doing your make up on yourself, make sure you ask the model some questions first. I have dry skin and so my make up caters for that, so if my model has oily skin, I will need to adapt. Always prep their skin accordingly. For example, if they're very dry, spritz a facial mist (like Aurelia's Brightening Botanical Essence*, reviewed here) and use a rich moisturiser, or if they're oily, dab over their face with DHC's blotting papers* (review here)  and apply an oil controlling toner, like Estee Lauder's Micro Algae Pore Minimising Tonic. Also pay attention to details on your models face, like peach fuzz (I have none, so when I did somebodys make up who had a lot, it was a hurdle), pimples and discolouration.
For Alice and Rosie, I applied Bliss Quench and Drench Moisturiser*. This is a simple moisturiser that does what it says on the tin: it hydrates. It's super effective; I'd say it's like a drink of water for your skin. Another area I am keen to address is the under eye area. Everyone (or, a vast majority at least) has dark circles under their eyes, or some sagging. I like to use the Christian Breton Ice Stick Eye Contour* because this is a really quick fix to smooth out and brighten the area underneath the eyes.


Priming is a very important steps when it comes to make up to be photographed. It can add more moisture if needed, neutralise skin tones, and give the skin more radiance. The latter is generally my goal. I use primers made for photography, my two favourite being Pur's No Filter Photography Blurring Primer* and Niod's Photography Fluid.
Pur's primer has a champagne tone to it so I use it for more tanned complexions (Rosie); Niod's is more neutral so I use it to brighten up paler complexions without adding any warmth to them. 

Foundation, Concealer & Powder 
The base is such an important part of photography make up, because I want the skin to look flawless. Something I found really surprising when I started doing make up for photoshoots, is you have to use a heavy hand. I know that sounds really odd, but the camera actually washes out some colour and details. At least, mine does because I already deliberately compensate +2^, which definitely plays a part in "washing out". Here's an example from the photo shoot before last, where you can see Georgie's make up doesn't look cake-y, or over done; it looks natural, if anything. But in person it was very heavy.
(Here's the post on that photo shoot, if you're interested) 
 When I apply make up like I would to myself day-to-day, I end up with a very pale looking model, with no colour to them. Here's my top tips for a base (foundation, concealer, powder):
  • Use a colour correcting concealer. I applied a green concealer (by Make Up For Ever) over Rosie's pigmentation to counteract it. I didn't need to with Alice and Rosie but if a model had drastic dark circles under their eyes, I'd apply a pink or a peach under the eyes to brighten the area.
  • Blend liquid/creams using a sponge. Whilst you should apply them heavily to begin with, a sponge will blend the product out a lot smoother than a brush, and also pick up some excess. 
  • Blend foundation down the neck and onto the ears. If the neck or ears are lighter/darker/pinker etc than the face, it will show up in pictures. 
  • I will  layer liquid foundation with a powder foundation if the model needs extra coverage. Rosie did, so after applying Mac Studio Fix Fluid, I applied Laura Geller's Double Baked Versatile Powder Foundation* all over, also.

  • Powder is the key to creating a velvet-y, flawless finish. This is especially true in photo shoot make up. Apply lots of powder. I use a powder puff to apply loose powder (Laura Mercier's translucent) to keep the make up in place, and then I apply a pressed powder all over. I do this when I've finished the base, but I will also buff pressed powder all over once contour etc is done too. 
  • Setting spray, setting spray, setting spray; apply setting spray liberally and regularly, not just at the end. This will take away any powderyness. I literally made Rosie and Alice's faces wet pretty much between every layer.

Contour, Highlight & Blush
You've got to be heavy handed here, also. My top tip is to layer! For day to day, I'll use either cream or powder contour. For photo shoots, I do both. Same with blush and highlight; use a cream and layer it with a powder. When it comes to the powder products, I also tend to mix colours. For example, I'll use a flesh coloured highlight from the temple to the apple of the cheek, and then just on the high points of the cheek bone I'll apply a stark pearly highlight. For blush, a tip I picked up from Bobbi Brown's book is to start with a neutral coloured blush and then apply a 'pop' colour on top. Charlotte Tilbury does this also.
For a sharper contour in the hollows of the cheeks, I might apply a neutral contour shade and then also apply a darker colour close to the ear, so you almost get a gradient. It's very subtle, but I find it's very effective.  When it comes to contouring, I always bake between the jaw and hollow of the cheek. This will also sharpen the line, as well as clean up any excess.

I always go for a bold lip when it comes to photo shoot make up, to help the model's face pop. Even when I go for a neutral it tends to be as bright as a neutral can be. I will very rarely opt for a nude, despite the fact that's what I gravitate towards for real life day-to-day make up. Without a doubt, red is my favourite for photo shoots. It really makes a models face stand out and looks so sophisticated, plus there are reds to compliment all skin tones.

End Result
Read the post on this photo shoot here.

Thank you for reading - I hope you enjoyed this post!
You can also find me on Bloglovin' Twitter Facebook & Instagram    

*Gifted by the brand/PR sample 
^This is how I achieve a brighter colour palette in my imagery, and how I avoid harsh shadows, or getting a silhouette effect. Please leave me a comment if you'd like to know more about the technicalities of my shoots!



  1. Wow I love the result on both girls and I love that you always add bold red lipstick, it looks amazing on camera.


  2. I loved reading this post! So different and informative! I love the looks!

    xx, The Makeup Feed

  3. This is such an interesting post! It's not often you get to see the process behind peoples shoots so this is really helpful and unique, I liked that you went into detail and explained your method in getting such amazing pictures. Thanks for sharing!


  4. This is so interesting! My makeup never photographs well so I'll definitely have to give some of your tips a go! I think you're right, you need to be heavy handed!
    PaleGirlRambling xo

  5. This is super interesting as I don't really know anything about this sort of thing. The lipstick on your models is gorgeous! Amy xx

  6. It's such an interesting post! You have thought about everything. I love how informative it is. And the end result on both girls is AH-mazing! You should do more posts like these, I'd love to see more before and after photos.

    Julia xx

  7. Wow! I really need you to come live in my house and do my makeup for me whenever I need to take photos lol the result is stunning! Great work! x


  8. This was so interesting! Photo primers would never even have crossed my mind.
    And I love those two looks!
    Cora ❤

  9. This is an amazing post - the end result looks so so good.

  10. I loved reading this as I find these types of posts really interesting.

  11. Love these lipsticks the pictures are great I love reds in particular as I'm a natural redhead they suit me so well

  12. This is amazing and so informative! Go you x


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