Industry Standards for Makeup in Headshots

Headshot photographers LA, Vanie Poyey

One of the top reasons I see agents asking for a re-shoot…

…is too much makeup in headshots.

In fact so much so that some reps will flat out say “Don’t wear makeup in your headshots!!”.

Although I don’t agree, (because it tends to look washed out on camera and evening out skin tone makes a big difference in making your headshot more competitive), I completely understand why an agent might say this.

Alan Franks: Urban Hip / The Hero / Customer Service

Bobby Avila: Outdorsy / Fitness / Anti-Hero

Chuck McLane: The Professor / The Cowboy / The Musician

So many times they’ve had to deal with actors coming in with great headshots ruined by too much makeup.

AFTER A WHILE, IT’S HARD TO TRUST both photographers and clients to get it right so it’s easier to just not deal with it.

To avoid the re-shoot scenario, first and foremost it’s important to note that casting directors want to see the natural *real* you. They don’t want the glammed-up version of you in a headshot. It’s easy enough to put on makeup once you book a role, but what you really look like needs to come through without changing your face.

Dave Crossland: Suburban Dad / Anti-Hero

Gina Beretta: The Detective / BBQ Mom

This means that those fake lashes are a no-go. Contouring is a no-go. That heavy cat-eye-liner is a no-go.

For men, the foundation, while correcting skin tone variations and under eye circles, needs to be translucent and luminous instead of mat and heavy.

I realize there are trends in place and it’s easy to want to put on a full face with drawn in eyebrows as you often see demonstrated by IG and TikTok makeup artists, but those trends are not necessarily good for getting you work. They often pigeonhole you into a stereotype.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule!

Sometimes you may need to draw in your brows to fill in gaps or manipulate the shape- if you’re like me and grew up in the 90’s, you virtually have no eyebrows so you have no choice but to create them.🙄

Sometimes you may need lashes because your lashes have all fallen out but in that case, we’d use individual lashes that look like your own, instead of the trending long lashes.

Jennifer Lepine: Best Friend /Tania Anders: Blue Collar

Landon Robinson: The Love Interest / The Best Friend

AND WHILE IT’S OKAY TO GET CREATIVE WITH MAKEUP to clarify certain looks, it’s only okay to do so for specific looks and not for an entire session.

As you scroll through the pictures on this page, you’ll notice there are certain looks that have heavier eye makeup and perhaps more than just light and natural lip colors but you’ll note that those looks are very specific and only help casting immediately identify the look. Agree? Comment below!👇

Michelle Barton: Girls’ Night Out / Sci-Fi Heroine / Edgy Musician

RJ Wayne: /Dana Handleman: Urban Hip / Creative Professional

If you work with a seasoned photographer, they likely understand industry standards and will let you know if you’re stepping outside the “safe” zone with your makeup choices.

Our makeup artists are trained specifically on what industry expects to see. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t take into consideration what your preferences are.

While it’s important to check in with you to make sure you feel comfortable and *you* feel like you, it’s also important you are given the proper advice so that you don’t end up having to re-shoot.

Let me know your experience with makeup in the comments below!

Susan Brava: Country Western / Suburban Grandmother


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