The Perfect Makeup Steps for Photo Shoots, Videos and Zoom Calls

I’m neither a make-up artist nor a model, but after months spent on a round robin of Zoom calls and photo shoots, I can say without a doubt that just a touch of lipstick and mascara ain’t enough for me.  I need more.  More concealer, more definition and just more color to help make the most of my time in front of a camera.  Sure, filters and light rings are nice.  But well-applied blush, highlighter and brows are better.  Not sure where to start?  Read on for how to look your best with these perfect makeup steps for photo shoots, videos and Zoom calls.
For tips on how to look professional on Zoom calls, make sure you check out this post.

Perfect make-up steps for photo shoots, videos and Zoom calls moisturizer step

#1 | Skin Prep

Start with clean skin.  Apply a moisturizer and sunscreen.  (I can’t say this often enough, but even if you’re never leaving the house, wear sunscreen!)  If your day in front of a camera is a long one, then avoid using oils which tend to rob the foundation’s staying power.  Instead, I highly recommend a blurring primer.  Cameras and lighting emphasize larger pores, wrinkles and discoloration.  Primers really help eliminate those concerns.  They create a smooth canvas for your makeup, help it last longer and just wear better.  Makeup artists rave about Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer and REN Clean Skincare Primer which is a great clean option.

Perfect make-up steps for photo shoots, videos and Zoom calls Erin holding jar of foundation

#2 | Foundation/Concealer

We used to think that foundation for photography should be applied heavier, but with today’s cameras, every bit of texture is amplified.  Better to reduce the texture with a lightweight foundation.  Skin tints are lovely, but they aren’t made to last all day.  So, opt for a long-wearing creamy formula like MAC Face & Body Foundation or La Mer Soft Fluid Long Wearing Foundation.  Apply with a sponge, taking time to dab into corners, jawline and eyelids.   Step back from the mirror and take a selfie to see if you need more coverage.  Add a concealer such as NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (a little goes a long way) or Cle de Peau Beaute Creamy Concealer (bonus points for SPF 25!) where you need it, focusing on under eyes, corners of your nose and right under nostrils. (I know that sounds weird, but it makes a BIG difference.)

Perfect make-up steps for photo shoots, videos and Zoom calls creme blush

#3 | Blush/Highlighter

Skip the contouring which can be aging.  Instead, focus on fresh peachy-toned blushes and highlighting to lift the face in a more natural way. Powder or cream formulas that are buildable work equally well. I highly recommend Wander Beauty On-The-Go Blush/Highlighter, Glossier Cloud Paint Duo (I have 5 shades!) and Fenty Beauty Cheek Out. Keep in mind that professional cameras and studio lights tend to soften makeup by about 50%.  So, it’s more about applying more color to your cheeks (and lips) than what you’re used to.

Next, highlight your cheekbones, cupid’s bow and chin in the same places the light would hit them naturally. I just tried the JLo Beauty’s That Star Filter Highlighting Complexion Booster and it’s an amazing must-have!  I use Futuredew from Glossier all the time, but also have this highlighter from Iconic and Becca’s Highlighting Powder on my wish list.

Perfect make-up steps for photo shoots, videos and Zoom calls Erin applying eye makeup

#4 | Eyes and Brows

When it comes to eyeshadow, consider your eye color.  Blue and green eyes tend to look better with warmer shades like golden browns, peaches or reddish browns (this kit from Fenty in True Neutrals is ideal).  Hazel eyes look amazing with purples, grays and pinks (try Haze Obsessions from Huda Beauty). Brown eyes tend to be neutral, so you can almost get away with nearly any color (the sky’s the limit on this kit from Tarte).  Use a lighter shade for the inner corner of the eye, a medium shade for the rest of the eyelid, and a darker shade for the crease.  To make those eyes pop, be sure to use black eyeliner and lots of mascara (instead of brown or gray which can be draining on camera).  If you love the look of false eyelashes, now is the time to give it a try.

Don’t ignore your brows.  I’m not a fan of the stenciled look which can appear harsh on camera.  Instead, I prefer the precision of a brown pen (like this one from Benefit and this from L’Oreal) to create tiny, natural, hair-like strokes.

Perfect make-up steps for photo shoots, videos and Zoom calls Erin wearing red

#5 | Lips

Did you read our Lip Colors post?  If so, you’ll see that the more natural hues and nudes are harder to capture on camera.  The brighter shades – Ruby Woo for example – just popped.  So, while I may not wear that shade every day, I’ll reach for it if I know I’m on video calls all day or being photographed.  Other shades, such as Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Camélia in Camelia Rouge and Yves Saint Laurent Beauté Rouge Pur Couture The Slim Matte Lipstick in Peculiar Pink pack a punch and really make a statement.  Add a touch of gloss to help make lips appear fuller and plumper.

Perfect make-up steps for photo shoots, videos and Zoom calls Photographer taking a picture

#6 | Set Your Makeup

Step away from the mirror.  Take a selfie.  Does everything look blended?  Do you need a tad more blush?  Are your eyes well-defined?  Once you’re happy with your look, use a setting spray (Charlotte Tilbury Transfer Proof Setting Spray or Urban Decay All Nighter) to ensure the makeup stays intact.  If the day is a long one, you’ll probably need a quick touch-up, so keep concealer, powder and lipstick nearby.

Hello gorgeous.  You are now ready for your close-up!

Do you have any camera-ready tips to share? Please let me know in the comments below.

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Francine Harris
Meet Francine, our self-described skin care and beauty junkie. As a 40-something Southern California native, Francine is a firm believer in the power of sunscreen and a gorgeous nude lip. She’s an AKT Fitness owner and hi-tech marketing communications consultant by day and mom to three high-energy, testosterone-driven boys by night (hence her preference for red wine with an ice cream chaser).
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2 thoughts on “The Perfect Makeup Steps for Photo Shoots, Videos and Zoom Calls

  1. Thanks for this! I definitely need help with my ZOOM call game! Tips like positioning the computer and getting the best lighting angles would also be appreciated. It seems like my wrinkles just jump out when I am on ZOOM! Either that or that is how I always look and I just notice it more when I have to look at myself in these meetings.

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