Actor Headshot Makeup: Achieving the “Natural” Look

Recently, I was back in Will Star’s studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a portrait session of a musician/actor/playwright.  She had recently gone from long hair to a bob and wanted to be sure her professional headshots accurately reflected her look.

We did two makeup looks, a “natural” look, which I’ll be discussing here and a second more “dramatic” look.

As with most actor headshots, the goal is to a achieve an easy natural look,. But, natural does not mean light makeup!  In fact, the “natural” look can require quite a bit of product application, especially to the skin, to ensure evenness in tone and complexion.  However, “natural” also suggests “accurate” – so heavy contouring is not the way to go.

Skin: The most important part of makeup application is  starting with a well moisturized face so your makeup does not flake or crumble.  I generally like to apply moisturizer immediately after showering or washing my face so it soaks into the skin and apply foundation while my skin is still slightly damp.  As a base, I applied a thin layer of Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse Foundation in Porcelain Ivory Light 1 to even her skin tone. To apply, I pump the foundation onto the back of my hand and pick up the product with a dense foundation brush, working in a circular motion over the entire face. To cover any darkness under the eyes, I applied NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla.  I also dabbed some concealer on the lids to act as a primer for shadow.  To contour her cheekbones and nose bridge (ever so slightly), I drew defined lines with Bobbi Brown Foundation Sticks in Alabaster and Walnut and blended with my foundation brush.  With a damp beauty blender, I then dabbed Laura Mercier Translucent Finishing Powder primarily under the eyes to set the concealer and lightly over the rest of her face to ensure a clean finish. Last, I contoured with the Anastasia Contour Kit in Light to Medium to ensure depth in the right places.

Eyes: As a base, I started with a thin line of black Sephora Retracable Waterproof Eyeliner into her lash line, but did not extend beyond the natural eye. I find that applying the eyeliner before the shadow ensures that you achieve a depth at the very edge of the eyes that really makes them pop.  By applying eyeliner first, you can blend eye shadow on top of the line to soften and look less “made-up.”  For eye shadow, I started with a layer of shimmery pearl, Abyssinia from NARS, on her eyelid all the way to the brow.  I then turned to my absolute favorite Urban Decay Naked Palette to enhance her eyes, which were a gorgeous blue.  On the lid, I applied a light layer of “Sin,” in the crease, “Naked” and “Buck,” and under the brows, “Virgin”, all with a dense shadow brush.  I then blended with the eye shadow brush from the palette.  To minimize the look of any bags under the eyes and to keep the look natural while giving her eyes depth, I smudged “Naked” into her bottom lash line with a flat shadow brush and blended outward.  I finished her eyes with a generous layer of my favorite waterproof black mascara, Maybelline Volum’ Express in Glam Black, on her top lashes.

Lips: First, I applied my favorite lip primer, MAC Prep and Prime Lip (I knew we would be opting for a lipstick and not a gloss and a nice moisturized lip was essential). I then lined her lips, following her natural shape with MAC Lip Pencil in Boldly Bare. With a lip brush, I filled her lips with NARS Dolce Vita Sheer Lipstick for a natural pink pout.  I dabbed a sheer gloss right at the center of her bottom lip to add a little volume to her lip.

Cheeks & Finishing Touches: To keep the look dewy and fresh, I used NARS Multiple Orgasm on the apples of her cheeks and was sure to blend well with the beauty blender.   With a contour brush, I highlighted her cheekbones, nose and chin with Anastasia Illuminator in Starlight. For her already well-defined eyebrows, I filled them in only slightly with ash brown shadow with a flat eyeliner brush.

Here is a before and after.   

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