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Let’s Get it Right: Hair & Makeup Tips for Your Portrait

You want to look your best, right? But is that hairdo and earrings really going to present the best you? In a portrait the dynamics that make your look exceptional are quite different than in real life.

The first mistake people make when planning for a portrait session is that they think they should dress up as they would for a meeting (or a family gathering). But those are all very diverse situations, such as lighting which is a primary element for how others see you.

So leave your usual makeup in your cupboard and let me help you get this right. I’m going to help you create the perfect look.


You’re not doing a fashion shoot, so don’t plan on looking like a model. Quite the opposite actually.

The secret here is being subtle but effective in each area.

Face in General

  • For your foundation you can invest in one that reflects light. This will show fewer lines on the image (every woman’s dream come true).
  • Remember to apply concealer where necessary.
  • Bronzer adds definition without making you seem unnatural.
  • Ensure your cheeks’ coloring (please use subtle colors) is blended well, because any lines will be enhanced on the photo.
  • Finish off with a layer of powder to hide oil and sweat.

Handy Tip: Both oil and dryness show up easily in photographs. A facial can do wonder, but do it a day or two before the shoot so if your skin reacts and becomes a bit red at first there’s time for it to return to normal)


You want people to notice your eyes because that’s where your emotions lie, so let’s accentuate them. This simply means eyeliner is needed, not plastering your eyelids with eye shadow to get that smokey look we all want.

Make sure the eye shadow color matches your eyes and outfit. Then add mascara (Go all out and use one that thickens & lengthens as long as it still looks natural).

These tips apply mostly to women. However, men, if you’re doing a dance photography session, the same rules apply.


I will say it again: Subtlety is key.

Even if you love wearing red in general, for this occasion rather exchange it for pink or plum which matches your natural coloring. You want people to notice all of you in the photos, not only your lips.


I can’t tell you how to style your hair, but I can tell you what not to do and how to make your style look its best on the day:

  • Don’t get a new style the day before the shoot. You may hate it and there’s no way to hide it (or edit it out) on a photo.
  • Haircuts (even for men) must be done a week beforehand, to ensure it looks natural on the day.
  • Keep your hair natural if you don’t usually style it. You must feel yourself and look relaxed.

Other than this, just make sure your hair looks clean and brushed.

I think the best way to summarize this is with one word: downscaling. I see people doing too much, while the things that really add the X-factor to a photo is actually your character, your attitude on the day and feeling relaxed. Focus on that and let the photographer worry about the rest.

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