Makeup Tips for Resume and Other Professional Photos for Work

Friday, November 12, 2010

Which beauty blogger on the face of the earth does a post on looking good in professional photos? I mean, most beauty bloggers I know of don't even work, and the ones that do don't want to blog about work! :P But if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I've just started working (and am feeling very poor having to live off my own meagre pay), and I've had to have some photos taken for things like staff passes, resumes, name cards, and other generally professional stuff.

And I came to realize that there isn't actually any very comprehensive post on makeup for resume or work photos, or other photos where you have to look professional for your job, so I thought I'd do one! I know the subject matter is a little dry, but I hope you find this post useful.

To make up for the fact that this post is going to be a tad boring, I'm going to show you, as an example, my very own white-collar mugshot!

Tip #1: Keep your makeup natural

I can't stress this enough, and this really should be common sense, but work photos are not the time to stick rhinestones all over your face, or try out that awesome smokey eye. So stick to what the beauty industry calls "straight makeup" - basically, makeup that is just meant to enhance your features naturally, and doesn't have any artistic value.

The best and easiest way to do this is to stick to colours close to your natural skintones, and don't attempt any dramatic contrasts. So if you naturally have dark lips, don't try to do a nude lip all of a sudden, and vice versa. You can go a couple of shades darker or lighter, but don't do anything too drastic. It will look a little odd in photos.

Tip #2: Keep your makeup matte

I know having an "etheral" glow is all the rage right now, but glitter and shimmer shows up like nobody's business in photos. What looks like a soft glow in real life will be a discoball oil slick in photos, especially if the photographer is using flash (and most of them do use some sort of flash). So keep it matte. I didn't use any highlighting/shimmer/glitter products at all, but it doesn't look flat or one dimensional in the photo, does it? In fact, I think it would have turned out worse if I had added in some glitter.

If you absolutely have to use some sort of highlighter, pick something that does not have any discrete pieces of glitter or shimmer, and is not too frosty, so tht the shimmer doesn't reflect any light. And apply it only on specific spots on your face, and not all over. That will minimize the chances of you looking like you rubbed KFC chicken all over your face. But my honest advice is to really just keep everything matte and not use a highlighter at all.

Tip #3: Wear blush!

A lot of makeup lovers I know of are afraid of blush, which honestly perplexes me. They can rock a dark eye, or a vampy lip, but attempt to deepen their blush colour and they scream that they'll end up looking like a clown. However, if you are taking professional photos, the lights in the studio often end up making your face look a little washed out, so a fair amount of blush is necessary to prevent you from looking like Edward Cullen in your photograph. In fact, for my own photo above, I overdid the blush but it just showed up as a slight flush, so don't be afraid to use it!

If you're wondering what colour to use for blush, I'd advise you to stick to universal neutral pinky-brown shades, like MAC's Blushbaby, Bobbi Brown's Slopes, Stila's Lilium, etc, because they are pretty much foolproof when it comes to photographs. I believe I was using Bobbi Brown's Blushed Rose Pot Rouge in my own photo. If you want a brighter or deeper blush colour, feel free to try it out, but be careful that it doesn't end up looking odd in the photograph. And of course, no shimmer.

Tip #4: Wear mascara

This is another common sense tip, but everyone needs to wear mascara for a resume or professional photograph. I also personally prefer brown or black mascaras as they show up better in photographs, although very pale girls with light lashes might choose to disagree with me. I do think mascara is a must when taking that important photo for your job application, as it really does have a subtle effect in making the eye appear more awake.

As for false lashes...I'm ambivalent about those for a professional shoot. I think a lot depends on the lashes. Some are obviously too way out there for a professional photograph, but there are a few that might work. I personally don't advocate wearing false lashes for a professional shoot myself, though.

Tip #5: Shape and fill in your brows

This is a much-overlooked tip, but it makes a huge difference to your look. If you have sparse brows, or light brows, or barely-noticeable ones, fill them in! I myself have a really awesome set of gorrila eyebrows, but when I take photos, I always make sure to shape and fill them in. It does make a huge difference, because the strong lighting and flash in the photography studio does tend to wash out your face, and that includes your brows as well. That said, I didn't really have time to shape my own brows before the shoot, so my own brows aren't a great example. But you get what I mean.

On that note, it's important to choose the colour of your brow powder or pencil. Don't go too light or dark, or it will show up in the photograph as being invisible, or too harsh.

Tip #6: Wear lipstick, not lipgloss

Now, you know I love all my lip products equally, but for work or job-related photographs, I tend to prefer lipstick instead of gloss. The rationale for this is because the studio lights and camera flashes will make your lips look very reflective if you use gloss, and it won't look reflective in a good way - it's definitely not going to look like those lipgloss ads! So to be on the safe side, I try to pick lipstick that doesn't have any shimmmer or glitter.

If, like me, you rush to a photo-taking appointment only to find you only have lipgloss on you, then pick a lipgloss that isn't too glossy or reflective (creme-finish lipglosses are my favourite for photo-taking), and doesn't have any huge bits of shimmer or glitter. In my own photo, I had forgotten to bring along my lipstick, so I used a less-reflective, non-glitter lipgloss. I don't really like how the light is reflecting off my bottom lip in a rather distracting manner, but I guess it's still alright.

Tip #7: Wear eyeliner - but not too much!

How much eyeliner one should wear for a professional photograph is a very tricky question, because there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. Different people have different eye shapes, sizes, and contours, so some people can wear more eyeliner than others. As long as it looks natural and the line isn't, you know, one inch thick, it will probably be alright. In my own photo, I just lined the outer half of my lower lash line. I didn't bother with the upper lash line, because of my hooded eye shape and drooping lid, but I generally think that if your eye shape can accomodate liner on the upper lashline, it's a great idea to put a little bit of liner there too.

In fact, I suspect that a huge challenge for this tip is to get people accustomed to the right amount of eyeliner for a work photo. I know of people who are so used to piling on the eyeliner that they feel naked wearing nothing less than a thick, winged line that ends at the sides of their head, and I also know of people who don't wear eyeliner at all, and even a smidgen of eyeliner makes them feel uncomfortable. So if you're one of those, I encourage you to go outside your comfort zone a little.

Of course, there are going to be more tips that I haven't mentioned, but I didn't want too long a list,so I kept it to the tips that I found most useful. I hope this has helped some of you - and if it hasn't yet, your turn to enter the working world will come soon, so you'll need it eventually. :P *Evil cackle*


  1. I love this post and your make up is beautiful!

  2. Great tips, and you look absolutely beautiful!

  3. this is very much hrlpful!! thank you for posting this!!!

  4. This was really helpful! I've been lookin for posts like this! Thank you!

  5. Not boring at all, you're being very helpful!XX

  6. I really like this post, but I think you would benefit from a different frame of glasses. These ones suit you, but I'm sure there are better ones out there for you!

  7. which foundation are you wearing?
    it looks really great, so matte :)

  8. I actually didn't mind blogging about my job, but I think most bloggers keep it private. Some companies don't like to be exploited by their employees online.. I won't hesitate to say that my job at ALDI sucked so bad, tho : P

  9. Excellent post, thank you!! This was really helpful and interesting. I love the KFC Chicken on your face bit, LOL!

  10. @Sanny: I totally LOLed at the glasses comment! I've been thinking of changing my frames too, but I've grown quite attached to my Harry Potter glasses, LOL!

    @cynn.bee: I'm not wearing foundation in the photo. I used concealer on my undereyes and spots (I think it was Laurier Mercier's Secret Concealer) and loose powder on top. The powder was Coastal Scents Silica Powder. I hope this helps!

  11. Great advice! Though I think you're being a bit too hard on yourself with the little bit of light reflecting off your lip :P

  12. Grea tips! I'll be having an ID tag photo taken next week so I'll keep these tips in mind. Thank you :)

  13. The peachy pink colours really warm your skin. You look friendly and approachable at the same time professional. Well done!

  14. Your face looks just perfect for a professional photo, natural and very subtle, you did a really good job but I bet you know that already. :) I need to take a photo myself, so your tips come really handy and I agreed with EVERYTHING you said in your post. Very helpful, thank you very much!

    p.s.: you're very pretty and have beautiful features and skin! ^_^ Love your hair, too!

  15. you look GORGEOUS! you should see how many frightening photos i have. i look like a dinosaur on crack!


  16. @musicalhouses!

    thanks! your skin looks great :)!
    I guess my skin isn't too bad either, except for some redness on the cheeks.
    currently I use Mac's MSF in MediumPlus.

    do you think a small winged eyeliner would work?

  17. @cynn.bee: I think opinions might vary, but I'm going to say yes! As long as it's not overdone (not too thick or too long), and in a basic colour (e.g. brown, not teal glitter).

  18. what lipgloss/stick did you use in the photo. Its really nice!

  19. @aigi: I'm wearing a Sally Hansen Smile Brightening Lipgloss in Luminous :)

  20. love the tips presented. It will really help me too in my present work! I'm new here... kindly have a view of my blog when you're free and do leave me some comment... if interested you can follow my blog too at have a great time! Always continue to enjoy writing!

  21. I was having trouble in getting a good professional makeup artist. Then I found this website. To tell you frankly, these guys are professional and kind of workaholic to give you your desired look. Try it. makeup tips

  22. Good tips, you look nice and professional in the pic :) And btw you're hilarious lol, I loved comments like the KFC chicken one hahahaha!!! ;)


  23. stumbled upon this blog when googling for warm / cool undertones for Asian skin. That post was good stuff :)

    You look very pretty and the colors suit you very well in this pic Agree with the previous poster regarding the glasses though...the lens shape makes your eyes look closer set than they really are.

  24. Wow, you have beautiful skin!

  25. Very nice and very professional make up!

  26. should one use matte eyeshadows too or are shimmery ones ok? :) TIA!

    1. @Anonymous: I think matte shadows are the best, but if there is slight shimmer it is ok too. The thing to avoid would be eyeshadows with huge visible pieces of glitter, or eyeshadows that are very frosty, as they will likely show up in the photo. Hope this helps!


Thank you for commenting! I read each and every single comment! If you ask a question in your comment, please check back to this post, as I will reply in a comment to this post as well :) Please note that comments with soliciting links to shops or websites will be removed. Thanks!


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