Look Great in Photos with Photo-Friendly Makeup Tips

Learning how to master the perfect selfie or photos can be tricky. Flashback is a common side effect of flash photography that can ruin your photos horribly, especially when wearing makeup. Better skin prep followed by seamless makeup application using photo-friendly makeup is what you need to master. However, achieving that flawless look like the photographs of models you see in magazines is easier than you’d think it to be.

With an event coming up, we all get ourselves ‘made’ up, especially when we know that there is going to be a lot of photos taken. Be it pictures clicked using the phone or with a professional camera, the quality of all cameras has enhanced so much over the last few years. The average makeup you could pull off a few years ago looks horrid with the new range of advanced cameras. Your face can look patchy, white-washed or even darker than the rest of your body.

two friends posting for a selfie in a room with a white background and glass door.

For your makeup to look great in photos, there are a couple of things that you need to know and understand. It starts off with a good skincare routine followed by choosing the best makeup products that are suitable for different types of photography. The process ends with the adept application of the makeup products, especially the base makeup so that you look flawless in your pictures. 

Let’s divulge into the details.

How to Prep Your Skin for Photo-Friendly Makeup?

Be it for the cameras or for the naked eye, skin prep before applying makeup can help you to achieve the desired look easily. Makeup application can become a smoother process, which means that less effort will be required during the application steps. Additionally, the makeup will apply and sit on your skin much better making it more photo-friendly for sure.

The key to prepping your skin for photo-friendly makeup is developing the habit of a good skincare routine on an everyday basis, and not just on the day you want to get all dolled up. The skincare routine both makeup artists and us love involves the following steps.

Prep Your Skin

Nothing is better than fresh and clean skin for makeup application. So, the first step for prepping your skin would be to cleanse it using a suitable cleanser. 

Check for the descriptions on the tubes or bottles to know which skin type a particular facial cleanser is for. Using ones that are not meant for your skin can cause your skin to either become too dry or too oily.

Makeup application becomes difficult on such skin and it may not last as long. Start off by rinsing your face with lukewarm water. Then, pat it dry gently and do not rub the skin with the towel or napkin unnecessarily.

a woman standing in front of a white brick wall whilst exfoliating her face with a white scrub.


Once the facial and neck area is clean, the next step would be to apply a skin toner using a cotton ball or cotton pad.  Even these come in different types based on your skin type.

Avoid alcohol-based toners as they can dry out your skin.


While cleansing and toning are best done on a daily basis, exfoliation is a part of skin prep that should be done no more than two to three times a week. Use scrubs available in the drugstore or beauty store to gently rub the skin in circular motions and remove all the dead skin cells and dirt.

Homemade scrubs also work well for this.

Exfoliation before makeup application for a special event can make your skin glow and help in easier makeup application as well.

get summer ready: model exfoliating her face with brown scrub.

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Once the skin is all exfoliated, cleansed, and toned, the next step would be to apply a hydrating moisturizer. Gel-based moisturizers can be opted for by the oily skin type to avoid extra oil on the skin from the moisturizer’s ingredients. Let the moisturizer sink into the skin for a few minutes before you start applying your makeup.

moisturise, as part of your routine, before photos: woman moisturising her face with both hands.


A skin prep step that some glance over when getting ready with photo-friendly makeup is applying a primer. Primer waters, mists, or cream versions are available in multiple variants. Pick one that will give you the result and effect that you desire.

Hydrating primers are good for dry skin, whereas those that mattifies and pore-filling ones are good for oily skin type. Once you have gone through all these steps, your skin is all prepped, you’re ready for makeup. 

What Type of Products Look Best in Flash Photography?

Flash photography can highlight makeup application errors like no other. It can seem like a task, but a few simple pointers to keep in mind while choosing the products you plan to use/apply can help you greatly.

Use a Sheer foundation

Sheer foundations should be your go-to for flash photography. They seem the most natural in photos and do not leave noticeable lines of demarcation between the makeup applied areas and the rest. 

If you prefer a foundation with more coverage, use a beauty blending instead of a brush to apply it. The blender absorbs the excess foundation to dial down the coverage so that it looks better and more even in flash photography.

A foundation that is too matte can make your skin look dry whereas a hydrating foundation can make you look as shiny as the disco ball hanging above your head at the party. So, semi-matte or satin finish base products look the best in flash photography.

Suggested Article: Find the Perfect Foundation for your Skin Undertone

woman wearing bright green eyeshadow and false lashes.

Use brighter colours

Photos can easily make your makeup look dull. Opt for brighter colours for blush and eyeshadow, so that they are noticeable in the photos.

Suggested Article: How to Wear Bright Eyeshadow With Confidence

Set your makeup for photos

Makeup setting sprays and mists can help take away the extra powdery-ness from your face and blend everything together into the skin.

So, invest in a good quality one from a reputable brand.

woman having makeup applied

Products you should avoid.

Flashback: This is when a certain product can affect how a photo appears. The white cast that certain makeup products can cause in flash photography can make your photos look unflattering.

Products that are best avoided when you know there is going to be flash photography at an event are the following. 


SPF in sunscreens is a major culprit when it comes to flashback. The ingredients that block UV rays also reflect the flash’s light from a camera. Base makeup products such as foundation and concealers can also contain SPF.

While these are great for use during the daytime (no flash required for photography then), using them for an event in the evening or night can easily give you the unwanted flashback in photographs.

Hence, avoid using SPF containing base products post-sunset.


Avoid makeup products that contain silica in it. It is especially found in powder products and is responsible for the white cast that you see on your face in photos. Cheap base products tend to cake up easily and best avoided when you are going to be photographed.

woman smiling, in a red bathing suit, whilst holding a camera to her face.

How to apply your makeup for photos

Alright, let’s get to the most important section of this article – makeup application to look great in flash photography. Once the skin is prepped appropriately (refer to the section above), your makeup application can begin.

Before you start, ensure that there is plenty of either natural lighting or otherwise.


After applying the primer, gently press it into the skin with your fingertips. This helps in faster absorption. Wait for three to four minutes before you proceed with the base makeup application.

If you prefer to do your eye makeup first, you can finish that without having to wait as the time you take to do your eye look will be more than enough for the primer to settle into your skin.

preparing for photos: woman using beauty blender to apply foundation.


Apply foundation using a blending brush, an oval brush or a makeup sponge – whatever is your preference. Blend it well into the skin so that no stark lines are visible between the areas you applied the foundation on and the skin next to it.

Make sure to apply concealer to areas that need some extra coverage and brightening up. This includes under the eyes, around the nose and mouth, and your laugh lines. Blend it well so that it merges with your foundation.

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Use a translucent powder using a powder brush to set the concealed areas and the foundation as well. Make sure to cover the forehead, nose, and chin as these areas often become oily with time. A powder with a yellow undertone can help to brighten up the under-eye further if you like.


To bring back some colour into the skin, use a slightly tapered face brush to apply a bronzer on the face margins. Bring it down slightly towards your cheekbones for a bronzed goddess look. Contour using a cool-toned brown powder to chisel out your cheekbones and jawline.

Additionally, apply the contour on the sides of your nose to make it look a little tapered.

blush for photos: blush in a pink container on a window ledge

Blush and Highlight

Using a blush brush, apply a pink-toned blush on the apples of your cheek as this colour comes out the best in photos. Depending on your eye look, use a warm or cool-toned highlighter to accentuate the high points of your cheek, the bridge of the nose, and the Cupid’s bow.

Use a fluffy eyeshadow brush for intense shine or a fan brush for a more diffused highlight.

Fill in your Eyebrows

Do not forget to fill in your eyebrows as they can make or break your look. Use a brow setting gel to keep the eyebrow hairs in place.

photos: a woman pictured with defined eyebrows with a dark green background.


Apply lipstick in a shade that ties your whole look together. Use a lip brush for better control around the lip lines. A lip liner can also help you to accentuate your lip shape further.

Suggested Article: Get Luscious, Plump Lips without the Need for Needles

Setting Spray

Set everything into place using a makeup setting sprayThis product is meant to keep your makeup from budging for as long as possible. Oil-control makeup setting sprays work wonderfully to keep your skin shine-free for longer hours.

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