Makeup Tips for a Natural Glow on Camera

I asked my friend and busy makeup and hair artist Elizabeth Ann to share some makeup tips for a natural glow on camera. “Unless you’re a professional model, makeup artist, or stylist, getting ready for a photoshoot can be soooo HARD! What to wear? How to pop that hip? And one of the most important issues for women… MAKEUP! Suddenly your Saturday night best just isn’t cutting it. Do not fear! Elizabeth Ann is here!”

Here are Elizabeth Ann’s makeup tips for a natural glow on camera

What is the secret to natural looking foundation on camera?

Makeup tips for a natural glow Elizabeth Ann Inspired Photo by Erin Costa Photography

Makeup by Elizabeth Ann

Foundation on your face is just like the foundation of a house. It is the MOST IMPORTANT part of makeup!

1. Match your skin! If your foundation doesn’t match, the camera will know. When in doubt, select the two shades closest to your skin tone and mix them until you get the perfect shade. It’s better to go a little darker than too light, but don’t try to make yourself tanner than you are, through your foundation choice.

2. Coverage. Apply foundation aaaaall the way down your neck. The sides of your neck too, blending into your collar bone. And don’t forget your ears! The tops of your ears too! This is especially important if it’s cold or if you just have red ears. If you plan on any close-ups, the pro trick is to dab foundation on the back of your hands too, so when they are photographed next to your face, you will look super natural because everything matches!

3. No SPF with flash photography. SPF will reflect the flash and make your perfectly hued shade turn you into a ghost. Skip the SPF or choose the lowest SPF available if you might be taking photos inside or in lower light.

5. Use a brush to apply your foundation. The typical foundation brush looks like a paint brush and it is a terrible waste of foundation! The good news for the MU industry is that it makes you use a lot more foundation as you push it around your face. Then you have to buy more!

A better option is something like this ELF Powder Brush. Apply the foundation in a combination of stippling (like dabbing, instead of the typical rubbing) and swirling. This will give the perfect lightweight airbrush effect.

6. Concealer!

  • Apply in a triangular shape under your eyes.
  • A stripe down the middle of your nose.
  • A stripe just above the bow of your lips.
  • Three stripes (like a teepee) from the center beneath your lips, down your chin.
  • A short swipe between your eyebrows.
  • A dab underneath your brows (in the arch).
  • And of course, on top of blemishes.

Blend gently, with a brush. Fingers tend to just wipe off everything you just applied. Apply on TOP of foundation. Choose a shade closest to your natural skin color. However, unlike foundation, when in doubt as you match, go LIGHTER not darker.

7. Translucent Powder to Set. A light dusting of translucent powder to set it all! Do you have lines or wrinkles? Just BARELY dust over these areas, as powder can accentuate the fine lines and settle into wrinkles.

When going for a natural look, how do you approach lips and eyes?

For lips, go bright! So many women are afraid of a brighter lipstick, but the camera tones everything down. Your lipstick won’t look as bright in the photos as it might to you in the mirror. I’m not talking fire engine red or neon pink. But go a pinch brighter/deeper than what you view to be a natural shade. My top favorite shades for natural looks are all MAC Pro Longwear Lipcolours:

  1. Unchanging (the lightest shade I suggest you go for photos)
  2. Clingbeach (the number one shade requested by my brides – has a more peachy/orange undertone)
  3. For Keeps (same intensity as Clingpeach, but in pinker tones)

Stay away from nude lips. They can look so pretty in close ups, but you’ll likely look lifeless and dull in all the other shots. Don’t forget to top with gloss!

Makeup tips for a natural glow Elizabeth Ann Inspired

Makeup by Elizabeth Ann

For eyes, forget the shimmer! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unless you are under 25, just stay away from the shimmery eye shadow. There is an exception to this rule – right in the center of the lid. This reflects light here, on the biggest part of the eye (also the smoothest section of the eye lid) and can brighten it up. But it should be applied in a dab right in the middle of the lid and nowhere else.

 Oh but SHIMMER!!!! Yes, I know. This is heartbreaking on so many levels. But I promise you, it’s for the best.

 Put down the shimmer. I mean it!!!

Embrace the matte. Coat your entire lid with a neutral beige shade. Then, from brow bone all the way to your eyebrow, brush on a very light beige or white (in a MATTE shade). Dap some on the inner corner of your eye too.

Put a picture frame around your eyes. So many people neglect the bottom – don’t! Your eyes should have mascara on the top AND the bottom. At least 3 coats. And brush the beige color underneath your bottom lashes too! You can add a tan/light brown color to the outer 1/3-1/2 of your eye too, staying under your brow bone.

Smokey eye. Don’t attempt this look without a lot of practice and confidence. Learning how to apply a smoky eye is is one of the most popular requests I get. You can contact me for your own private or group makeup lesson. I will teach you how to master a smokey eye (and all these other things) for yourself! A smokey eye might look intense in the mirror, but as I mentioned with the lips, the camera tones it down. You would be surprised at how natural a smokey eye looks when captured by a skilled photographer.

Any tips for new mothers? Older skin?

  • Stay away from shimmer. In blush, in bronzer, in eye shadow. The only shiny thing on your face should be your lips and your own natural glow. Besides, here on the Southern Coast, we glisten all on our own, thanks to dreadful humidity!
  • Go easy on the powder. It settles into fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Moisturize every morning and every night (ONLY after washing your face) in preparation for your shoot. Dry skin is dull and the dry bits absorb more pigment then moisturized skin, making for uneven and blotchy color. Gently exfoliate daily as well, with a washcloth or an exfoliator.
  • Blush, baby! You need blush! And plenty of it! If you think your face looks perfectly natural and flushed, apply MORE! I can’t emphasize enough that the bright lights of the camera and the bright lights of the sun will wash you out. You need just a smidge more of whatever feels “comfortable” to you. Trust me. You will look cheerful and vibrate and full of life.
  • Ironically, Blush Baby is the name of my favorite shade by MAC. Followed closely by Dame, also by MAC.
Makeup tips for a natural glow Elizabeth Ann Inspired

Makeup by Elizabeth Ann

How do you achieve that “glow” on camera?

  • This is something that often confuses my clients. That gorgeous glow you see in photos is actually LESS about the makeup, and MORE about the photographer. They know how to capture the light and position you so that the light captures your best features, creating that gorgeous glow. Don’t dust your face with creams and shimmery powders trying to get that look. That is why your hire a professional photographer! Those photogs have mad skills, yo! Worth every penny!
  • If you don’t believe me, you can dust a little shimmery bronzer on the apples of your cheeks. But unless you have the MU skills, just pass on the shimmer! (I know this news is breaking hearts… I’m so sorry. BUT TRUST!)

Is there anything you should avoid for achieving the natural look?

Just say no to:

  • Glitter. Sparkle.
  • Eye shadow in shades of: blue, purple, pink, red, yellow, orange.
  • Lips in brick red, brown, or other dark colors.
  • Nude lips.
  • Any mascara that isn’t black.
  • Any eyeliner that isn’t black.
  • Pencil thin eyebrows.
  • Dry skin.
  • Glitter. Sparkle.
  • Did I mention how quickly shimmer can ruin a natural look? Okay, okay. I think you get it now. 😉
  • Not enough makeup. In the effort to look natural in photoshoots, women often under apply makeup. If you look super natural in the mirror, you need to add more. As I mentioned before, the sun and the flash will make you appear to wear less makeup than what you see in the mirror. So apply with a heavier hand than normal, even for that natural look.

And remember ladies…

Makeup is like any DIY project. The process to beauty can be ugly. Don’t be discouraged! Keep going until everything is on, then make your tweaks at the END of all makeup application. Your look isn’t complete until your have lips, cheeks, and mascara done! And BLEND, BLEND, BLEND!


Meet Elizabeth Ann:

Makeup tips for a natural glow Elizabeth Ann InspiredElizabeth Ann is a blogger and DIYer who just wants to make your whole world feel pretty. She’s styled hair and makeup for over a decade, including runway, print, and bridal, working from Europe to California, before landing in North Carolina. With over 25 “Best of” awards for styling, she turned her focus from makeup to motherhood. She is now the mother of one spirited toddler with another little boy on the way. You can still benefit from her skills by booking a private or small group makeup lesson. She still occasionally styles for special events and weddings. Check out her blog to learn more tips and tricks about makeup and hair styling, home décor, DIYing, and anything else that makes for a pretty world!

Connect with Elizabeth: Email | Facebook | Instagram

I'm Erika and I am a maternity, newborn, and family photographer based near Wilmington, NC. I'm also a mom to two cutie boys, lover of backyard gardening, candles, chocolate and Amazon Prime.

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