Do You Wear Makeup in Headshots?

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By The Light Committee

So, you are in the market for new headshots and might be wondering if you should wear makeup and if so, how much makeup? The quick answer in general for actors or business professionals are straightforward. For an actor, wear as much makeup as you would to show up for a casting or audition. For a business professional, wear the same amount you would for an important face-to-face customer meeting. But what else might you consider and what about for other professions like models?

Tips for a Natural Look by the Experts

In almost all cases, you will want to get your makeup done with an approach of looking natural, rather than like a made-up doll. But what might this mean? First, it is minimal but according to experts that does not necessarily mean minimal effort.

A commercial actor headshot of a woman with a cheerful look in a studio near Studio City, California

Cosmopolitan has laid out nine considerations for ensuring a natural look. In summary, the include customizing a base with a little moisturizer. You should also not apply too much concealer, as tempting as it might be to do otherwise. You should also avoid overdoing your lashes. Do not forget to consider contouring too. There are many other tips they laid out.

Maybelline also has some natural-look makeup tips to consider. One of their tips also implies a moisturized base. A second tip also in line with Cosmopolitan is to also to use a lightweight concealer. Maybelline goes on to suggest other tips that include contouring and more that you might want to check out.

There is one important thing to point out here before moving on regarding men and makeup. While these makeup tips seemingly apply mostly to women, men can also benefit from having makeup done for a headshot session. So, men might consider speaking with a hair and makeup stylist as to what benefits that can provide to him.

How Much Makeup Should I Apply?

Now that you have an overview of tips from experts on essential makeup tips, you should have a better understanding for how much makeup to apply. How much you apply is obviously a personal preference and you would be encouraged to discuss this up front with your makeup artist of choice.

Again, much of how much you apply depends on the point of the makeup. The main point here is about how much makeup you should wear for headshots. But if the point is to glam up for a night out in Los Angeles, or whatever city you live in, then you might be going beyond the natural look.

Should I Use Bold Colors in Makeup?

If you are on the fence about whether you should use any bold makeup colors for headshots, it might be wise to stay with the natural look. However, there are options to have both. Remember that a headshot session does not necessarily mean you will just get one or two corporate headshots. When getting headshots for acting, actors usually get multiple looks, from two to six and sometimes more. So, a business professional can do the same.

When considering your headshot session options, consider booking a session that allows for multiple looks if you want to explore how less or more makeup might be beneficial to your headshots. In this way, you might be able to play with, for example, different conservative to bold eye shadow combinations to match with your outfit or more.

After all, you should consider maximizing what a headshot session is all about. Nowadays, one headshot and one look is fine for just posting your headshot to LinkedIn. But most of us have many online profiles. Actors obviously have many, such as on Actors Access and Backstage. But so do business professionals. You might have one on your company website too. Business professionals like attorneys, doctors, real estate agents, and others often also need to be on social media, simply for marketing reasons. So, a great headshot goes a long way there too. Your professional look matters across the board. So, different headshots with different looks for these varied online platforms is a branding consideration.

Should I Hire a Makeup Artist for Headshots?

Yes, you should hire a makeup artist for headshots. That is the simple answer. However, obviously some people are on budgets and hiring talent for all your needs is not always possible. So, if you need to do your own makeup, then just heed the advice at the start of this article, stay natural and minimal.

Should I Hire a Hair Stylist for Headshots?

Often, a makeup artist will also style your hair. So, this can result in more bang for your buck. So, while most of the focus here has been on your makeup, do not neglect your hair. It is the other half of the equation. One other part of the equation is what you will wear for headshots. People often think a headshot is just from the shoulders up so, the top you wear matters little.

But it does matter. The point of a headshot is to keep the focus on your face. So, what you wear for the top can be distracting or complementary. Also, if you opt for a headshot session with multiple looks, you might also consider a half body shot or full body shot. In such a case, your full outfit will matter.

How Much Makeup Should a Model Wear for Headshots?

So, what about other professionals, like models, dancers, musicians, and so on. Each of these have other possible distinct possibilities for how much makeup to wear. Dancers might fall in line with actors on wearing the same amount as they would for an audition. Musicians can also push the envelope as their branding might call for edgy looks, for example.

For a model, they will typically need basic modeling digitals to submit to agencies. For these submissions, it is recommended to have no makeup to very, very little, depending on which agency they are submitting too, and there are many. But beyond modeling digitals, models also have model portfolio photo shoots they can consider.

Modeling portfolio photo shoots are a chance to get create. Glam shots are possible as are other makeup-heavy opportunities to create specific looks that they may want to push as being cast for.

Summing it Up

So, yes, wearing makeup for a headshot session is commonly a good idea, for women and men. Keeping it natural is a good approach too. Considering hiring a hair and makeup stylist is recommended as well. Remember that what you wear might play a role in what makeup you apply. Finally, once you get your essential headshots done, you might consider if other looks can be useful for your marketing, whether you are an actor, business executive, model, and so on.