We’ve all been there before. You take extra time getting your make-up *just right* because you know pictures are going to be taken. You apply powder and lipstick and mascara . . . you look in the mirror and like what you see. Later, you see the pictures. You aren’t happy. Your face is much lighter than your chest, you have raccoon eyes, bronzer issues and your forehead is shiny. These are all the results of common makeup mistakes when you’re getting your picture taken. I’ve learned the hard way what to avoid when the cameras might be flashing. If you’re thinking about getting pictures taken this Mother’s Day, or if you just want some ideas on how to look better in pictures, read on!
Tip 1 - Avoid Reverse Raccoon Eyes
The first common mistake that people make is to wear concealer under their eyes that is too light for them. If you have dark circles under your eyes, use a concealer with yellow undertones to offset the blue. Avoid picking a lighter color in hopes of masking the problem. The problem here is that while the color may look fine under normal light, it shows up lighter under the harsh light of flashes. Make sure that your concealer is just a tad lighter than your skin (or foundation, which should match your skin) to avoid reverse raccoon eyes. Here are two concealers I like:
The Clinique concealer pictured above is a lightweight formula that is perfect for discreetly hiding my dark circles.
The MAC concealer, also pictured above, somehow manages to be both lightweight and heavy duty at the same time. I wear this when I want more coverage.
Tip 2 - Apply Make-up To Your Chest
Another common mistake is NOT putting some makeup on your chest. I know that it might sound weird to you to put powder below your neck, but this step is imperative when your photograph will be taken. If you have powder on your face, but not on your chest, the flash will absorb the light on your chest and reflect the powder on your face. Or is it the other way around? Either way, do not skip on the chest makeup! Otherwise, it will look like your face is a different color from your body and that you’re wearing too much makeup. I use a bronzer on my chest when I know photos will be taken.
Tip 3 - Avoid Shimmer
Most people know the importance of applying powder before taking pictures. But be careful with the type of powder you are using. Anything with shimmer (even a shimmery bronzer) will look great for a night out, but neither are good options for pictures. In pictures, the flash will reflect all of that shimmer and you will look MUCH more sparkly than you’d like.
Your other option, if you don’t like bronzers, is to use a yellow-tinted powder. Regular translucent powders tend to look white under the glare of the flash, and are best avoided. Clinique makes a great anti-redness powder (pictured at left) that would work perfectly for this case.
A quick note about bronzers: don’t go overboard. Choose a matte bronzer and use it to accent ONLY the areas that the sun would normally hit. Sweep it lightly across your forehead, nose and cheeks. Do not use bronzer to achieve that “I’ve just come back from vacation” look. You’ll end up looking like an Oompa Loompa (scary picture at the top of this post).
Also, if you use bronzer on your face, you should be using a little bronzer on your chest in order to avoid two-tones in your pictures. Bonne Bell's Powder bronzer (pictured at right) has tested well for me under camera lights time and again. The formulation is nice and matte.
Tip 4 - Avoid Lip Extremes: No Lips or All Lips
A fourth common mistake is to wear lipstick that is too light or too dark. Too light and your lips will disappear into the photo. Too dark and your face (and teeth!) can appear to be a different color in a photo. Not good.
While I love experimenting with different lip colors, (really dark plums in the fall and light beiges in the spring)...photo time is not the time to experiment. Stick with a lipliner that matches the color of your lips and a gloss (or stick) that complements your skin tone. (Note: blue-red hues make your teeth appear whiter!) Avoid shimmery glosses, but use gloss! I’ve found that gloss just photographs better than matte finishes. Buxom makes a great plumping gloss (pictured at left) that comes in a TON of colors . . . my sister and I love this gloss!
Tip 5 - Wake-Up Your Eyes
Finally, your eyes. Make sure that your eyes are defined in the picture. You don’t have to overdo it, but make sure that you at least wear mascara. Choose one that doesn’t flake or clump and apply multiple coats. I like CoverGirl Lash Blast Length (pictured at left).
Another mascara to try is Lancome’s Definicils. This mascara always gets consistently high ratings due to the dramatic lashes it produces.
My new favorite mascara, however, is L’Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes LashExtension Mascara (pictured at right). The name is long. Your lashes will be too. This mascara doesn’t clump or flake because it literally forms little tubes on your lashes. When you wash your face, they come off in a big clump . . . there’s no color to deposit itself under your eyes. I LOVE this mascara because it doesn’t leave a mess under my eyes . . . even when I fall asleep with it on.
A final tip to make your eyes appear wider and more refreshed is to dap a light cream shadow under the inner corners of your eyes. This opens your eyes right up and makes you appear well-rested. I’ve tried many different options here, but I’ve found that Wet ‘N’ Wild—yes, the cheapest brand of makeup ever made—makes the best cream shadow stick for this use.
There you have it—my advice for achieving that picture perfect look! Now go out and take the best pictures of your life!
Scotti, a contributing author of Ain't No Mom Jeans, is a teacher, a bartender, and a make-up maven who has spent most of her life coaxing S, her make-up challenged older sister, to branch out beyond cherry Chapstick and mascara. Thank goodness.