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Hair and Makeup Tips For Headshot Sessions

Headshot Hair and Makeup Tips
10.29.20

New professional headshots are a great way to present your professional brand to the outside world. You might use your headshots on your business cards, company website, social media profiles, and article bios. So, since this photo will get a lot of attention, it’s important to give some time and thought towards hair and makeup. 

For female-presenting customers, hair and makeup are crucial elements for creating the desired appearance in your headshots. However, both men and women should consider their face and hair before arriving for the photoshoot. In fact, it’s best to begin your preparations several days in advance.

Follow these five tips to get a look that’s neat, professional, and camera-friendly so you can walk away with headshots that show you at your best.

Tip 1: Stay True to Yourself

It’s often tempting to go glam for your headshots. While you can certainly use these photos as an excuse to splurge on an afternoon with your hairstylist, try not to succumb to the temptation to change your look drastically. If you straighten your usually curly hair or get a new spray tan that has you several shades darker than your typical skin tone, your headshots won’t reflect reality.

Your headshot should help you become more familiar to others so they can easily recognize you in the office from what they’ve seen online. If your headshot showcases a look that you can’t maintain in your day-to-day work environment, it can feel misleading or even off-putting. Keep your look very close to your natural appearance.

Tip 2: Plan Ahead

Start thinking about your headshots four or five days in advance. Depending on the look you’d like to present, give yourself the option to schedule a facial, shape your brows, whiten your teeth (we will also whiten teeth during the editing process), or have your hair trimmed or hair color touched up. None of these steps are mandatory, or even necessarily recommended, but if you feel that they’re necessary, you’ll want to give yourself time to schedule. 

Don’t have any major grooming done the day before or the day of your shoot. You don’t want to come straight to the studio from having your brows or lips waxed, as you may end up with telltale redness on your face.

Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water in the days leading up to your shoot. Dehydration can show up as chapped lips and flaky skin. If you have chapped lips, get into the habit of using lip balm several days in advance to help them heal. Applying a healing lip balm before bed is especially beneficial. Be particularly mindful of sunscreen application in the week leading up to your shoot so you’re not dealing with a sudden burn or peeling skin from overexposure.

Tip 3: Simplify Your Makeup

While you want to keep your makeup application as close as possible to your everyday appearance, there are some exceptions to make a note of. Certain types of makeup application are particularly unflattering in headshots, even though they might look good in-person. Some key things to keep in mind are:

  • Heavy under-eye liner can make you look older on camera. Keep the application light if you use liner under your eyes.
  • Powder typically looks too flat and caky, especially when used in an all-over application. A touch of natural dewiness on the cheeks and bridge of the nose adds youthfulness.
  • Neutral eyeshadows look best for professional headshots. If you want to try a smoky eye or colored shadow for some of your shots, it’s best to add this midway through your session so you can try a variety of looks. It’s easier to add color than to take it away.
  • Makeup with an SPF is typically too reflective for studio lights. Avoid products with sun protection for your shoot.
  • Shimmery makeup can reflect camera lighting in an unflattering way. Avoid any kind of bronzer, blush, eye shadow, or lipstick with a glittery or shimmery finish. Avoid lip gloss, as this is too shiny.

If you can hire a professional to do your makeup before the shoot, this is ideal. Make sure to tell your makeup artist that you need an application suited to studio lighting if you’re having your headshot taken indoors.

For male-presenting customers, we do not recommend makeup unless you have severe acne and/or a skin condition that you’d like to minimize. Minor acne is best dealt-with in the editing process.

Tip 4: Keep Facial Hair Neat

If you typically have facial hair, there’s no need to shave it off for your headshots. However, you should make sure that it’s neatly trimmed and groomed for your photo session. If you’re usually clean-shaven, you will want to shave for your shoot. You can shave the night before if your skin is easily irritated by shaving, but you don’t want to push this task back any farther.

Tip 5: Style Your Hair Professionally

When it comes to styling your hair, you should choose a look that’s consistent with what you would present in the workplace. Think about how you typically do your hair for a job interview, important meeting, or workplace presentation. These are the types of looks you want to go for. If you’re having headshots done for an acting career, consider how you do your hair for an audition.

For longer hair, a gentle blowout with some soft volume is often best. A severe bun can look too harsh, and a ponytail or messy bun is too casual for most jobs. If you have short hair, take the time to comb and style it, using products as needed to keep it in place. Be careful with hair gel or other products that can create a glossy look that may appear wet or slick in studio lighting.

If you’re looking for an experienced photographer to help you capture stunning headshots in San Francisco, contact our team at HeadShots Inc. We have experience with business headshots, acting headshots, corporate headshots, and more. Make your appointment now and start prepping for a great photo session with these makeup and hair tips to help you along the way.

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