Easy Hair and Makeup for Headshot Photography

If you’re considering headshot photography and want to do your own hair and makeup, this guide has you covered.

You might have your clothing options down, and just need some help with that final hurdle.

Fortunately, it’s easier than you think. In this post I’ll give you some general advice how to prepare your makeup and hair ahead of a shoot.

If you are getting your makeup professionally done beforehand, I would recommend sending them this page as there are nuances to hair and makeup for photos.

hair makeup headshot photography

Can’t you fix it in photoshop?

Before we begin, I want to highlight that small blemises are easy to fix on the computer. If there are any minor issues such as the odd spot, these can easily be touched up.

I like to keep my retouching natural – it will look like you, at your best. My rule of thumb is “if it’s temporary, we will retouch it out”.

If you have any specific requests such as removing scars, just let me know.

You don’t need to wear loads of makeup to try hide a spot or blemish – it’s easier to remove a blemish in photoshop than it is for me to correct overdone makeup.

Prepare like a champion

Follow your usual skin and hair care routines in the days prior to the shoot, including any supplements that you might take.

However I would recommend to not have a facial or wax the night before the shoot. They can be more taxing on the skin, and we want you to look at your best. If you want to exfoliate the night before, try to keep it light.

I’m sure you’ve heard it plenty of times before, but do try to make sure you get enough sleep in the week prior. (I know I can be a grumpy sod if I don’t get my 8 hours). Not only will you look fresher, but you’ll feel better too.

Trends – Potentially your worst enemy

If you’re doing any sort of makeup or hair ideas that are currently trending , remember that your photos might not age well. Fashions change, as does your own tastes. What might look cool today, might not look cool in 12 months time.

Depending on how you plan to use the photos, that might not be much of a concern. Planning to update your headshot every year as your image evolves? Then trends shouldn’t be much of a concern.

If you’re planning on using your images for a longer period of time, then try to go for a more timeless look. Simple often wins.

headshot makeup

Makeup for Headshots:

Keep it natural

Ever heard that old phrase “KISS” – keep it simple, stupid? That rule applies to makeup for headshot photography.

I want you to remember that the lighting is setup to showcase you at your best. Lights are carefully placed to sculpt the face, making your eyes pop and enhancing your features.

Keeping the makeup simple will help for the lights to do their job.

The most important piece of advice I can offer for makeup, is to keep it looking natural.

The makeup should be there to enhance your beauty, but the photo should be about YOU, not your makeup.

Here’s a few quick and dirty guidelines:

  • Avoid any makeup that creates a shine on your skin (suncream is a common culprit).
  • Don’t use dark eye makeup, or use bold patterns and shapes (such as wings on eyeliner).
  • When adding shape to the face, keep it natural and avoid and harsh or sharp lines.
  • Choose tones that match your natural skin colour
  • Avoid fake tan, it can often leave lines between tanned and untanned areas
  • Avoid fake lashes
  • Mascara in small amounts can work, but keep it to a minimum
  • When using foundation, oil free products generally work best
headshot lipstick

Lipstick – adding pop to a headshot

If you decide to go for lipstick, then keep it to colours and shades that you would usually wear. Like with clothing choices you should wear what you feel comfortable and happy in.

Wearing a bold colour might look interesting, but if you feel strange wearing it, then it’s a no-go. Think about where the photo will be used. If it’s a business headshot to use on LinkedIn, then purple lipstick might not be the best choice.

That said – if your personal brand is a bit wacky, then purple might be the perfect choice!

If you want to go for a more natural look, then lip balm or gloss can be a great option.


Hair can often be another confusing topic when people are having the headshot taken. Should you get it cut the day before? Wear it up, down, sideways (that would be impressive!)

If you want to get it close to the shoot, make sure you go to a hairdresser or barber that you’re comfortable with. The last thing we want is you to have a bad hair day and cancel the shoot last minute.

If you sometimes wear your hair down or up, I recommend coming to the studio with your hair down. It’s much easier to tie hair up and getting it look right, than it is to let it loose.

Wear a style that makes you feel comfortable

You’ll notice a common theme here – I always recommend you to wear things that make you feel great! Your headshot session should be fun, without you needing to worry about how your new hairstyle looks.

Keep the style on-point for your image

One thing to consider, is if the hairstyle is fitting with the image that you want to give out.

If you’re going for a very clean professional look, you might want to keep your hair quite simple. A good question to ask yourself could be “would I wear my hair like this to a job interview?” If the answer is yes – then it is probably a good fit.

Don’t forget the accessories

If your hair allows for it, bring a few extra pins and bobbles. Depending on the session length, you might decide to try a few different hairstyles out.

I do carry a small selection of bobbles and pins in my studio, so don’t rush around last minute trying to find some.

Tidy up any loose ends

It’s a great idea to trim away any stray or unintentional hairs the night before. You don’t need to go overboard on this, as loose hairs can be retouched away in the edit. But having it neat and tidy will always help.

Facial hair

It’s quite easy to decide how to wear facial hair. If it’s unwanted (nose, neck, etc), then remove it the night before. Keep the rest relatively tidy, but in tune to your usual style.

If you’re someone who grows stubble very quickly, you might want to shave a few hours prior to the shoot so you can look at your freshest. If your stubble takes a bit longer to grow, then shaving the day before is fine (and it gives the skin time to relax again).

headshot facial hair

Extra thing to bring

Along with hair bobbles and pins (if needed), feel free to bring any extra things you might help. This could include blotter paper, hairspray, wax and powder.

I’d recommend preparing your hair and makeup in advance, as headshot sessions can often be relatively short in length.


Hopefully that should cover the bases for everything you need to know about hair and makeup for headshot photography. If you prefer a professional to do it for you, I can make recommendations for artists who I regularly work with.

If you choose to go with your own hair and makeup artist, make sure they understand what media makeup is. Having makeup look right on camera, requires a different skillset to the usual.

If you have any questions, just leave a comment down below. If you want to book in for your own headshot session, then click here to get in touch.