Actor headshots are
about capturing you- you in your perfect casting type. Headshots are hugely important to the actor’s career and as mentioned in the Camera Shy blog, can be a bit terrifying. So, I’m going to be posting a series of blogs on headshot preparation to make it nice and simple. Below is a step-by-step preparation guide on make-up. I’m not saying you must wear make-up for your actor headshots- you don’t have to. It’s a personal choice. However, if you do, there are seven things you need to know:

  1. Whether you plan to wear make-up or not, show your skin some love. The day before your actor headshots session, drink enough water, exfoliate and moisturize and get lots of sleep. It’s obvious, but it’s easy to loose sight of the basics. You’d be surprised at how many actors book headshot sessions and then arrive exhausted and de-energized.
  2. Skin: wear a natural base that matches your skin tone. If it blends into your neck without showing a difference in colour- it’s a skin tone match! Concealer or a brightener underneath is pretty handy. A small amount shading and contouring can work well, but don’t go over the top.
  3. Lashes: mascara is great for definition around the eyes. I don’t recommend false eyelashes. They very rarely look natural in headshots. If you really really want to wear them, send a selfie to your headshot photographer and ask him/her whether or not they look natural. If desire, eyelashes can be lengthened and darkened in post anyway.
  4. Eyeliner: I suggest my clients wear little or no eyeliner. If you do want to wear eyeliner, keep it simple and neat. Thick black eyeliner can be too character defining and limit your casting range. A pale eyeliner on the bottom water-line however, can really open up the eye. If in doubt, bring the eyeliner with you and then add it halfway through your headshot shoot.
  5. Eyebrows: keep the eyebrows as close to natural as possible. It’s currently very popular to have large defined brows. And if you’ve very full brows, accentuating them can really work. However, if you’ve less-Cara-like eyebrows, be wary of changing them dramatically for your headshot session. Your actor headshots need to look like you and that includes your brows! Remember you might be cast in a role where they don’t want you to wear make-up. The other thing to say about is that both eyebrows and eyeliner are very fashion-related. While photography is intrinsically linked to what’s socially popular, the best actor headshots have a sense of timelessness.
  6. Lips: defining the lips and wearing a soft natural colour is a safe-bet. I would recommend bringing something a little more dramatic with you, so that you can get some variety in your headshot gallery. A colour-free lip-gloss is handy thing for a younger fresher look.
  7. Fake Tan: If you’ve never worn fake tan, don’t experiment the day of your headshot shoot. If do use fake tan, really spend time applying it carefully and make sure your face, neck and shoulders are all the same colour. Also, choose a shade that is what you would look like if you had a real tan. Some dark browns (and eh, oranges) are simply not natural.

To sum up, keep it natural, don’t get caught up with what’s happening in fashion photography and if in doubt, send your headshot photographer a make-up selfie and get their expert opinion.

PS Diana Lupulesc does a great make-up tutorial for actor headshots:

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