No money for a makeup artist? No problem! 8 steps for beauty success

No money for a makeup artist? No problem! 8 steps for beauty success by Alexis the Greek

I’ve been using the same makeup routine for over 18 years, if you can believe it.

That’s not because I’m stubborn and out of date—it’s because the human face hasn’t changed in 18 years, and there are some makeup tricks that are tried-and-true if you want to be sure you look good not only in daily life, but also on camera.

I can’t stress it enough that you can’t rely on Photoshop to make you look picture-perfect. That’s especially true if you’re hiring a local photographer for $200 an hour to take your headshots and brand photos for your freelance business. 

To make the most of your money, use these 9 steps for applying makeup before your next brand shoot!

1 - Start with a fresh face—do your hair first.

Blowing your hair dry, applying curlers or irons, and holding your arms above your head to get your smooth locks into just the right updo produces a lot of heat. So you sweat! 

To avoid a sheen on your forehead and chin, do your hair before you do your makeup, and then run a facial cleansing wipe over your face (including under your jaw) to freshen your skin. If you think you’ll need it, apply an oil-free moisturizer with clean hands, and allow it to set before you start on the makeup.

2 - Apply concealer under the eyes, to the top lip, and around the nostrils.

Some beauticians think it’s best to apply your concealer after you’ve applied your foundation. I only agree with this method when it comes to blemishes. To look naturally bright, apply a cream or liquid concealer under the eyes, in the creases around the nostrils, and along your top lip.

Blend the under-eye concealer with your ring finger (your weakest finger, so as to avoid stretching the skin and making any creases more prominent). Be sure to get underneath your bottom lashes, and the wing-shaped space that extends out beyond the corner of your eye (the topmost part of your cheekbone).

Apply concealer to the creases of the nostrils to make them appear less deep, and apply concealer to the top lip area to make the color you apply later pop.

3 - Line the bottoms of your eyebrows with the shape you want them to take, then fill in the rest with pencil or powder.

Tweeze any wayward hairs, and then use a liquid liner that closely matches your brow color to create the shape you’ll want your brows to take. (This requires some practice, so try to rehearse a couple times before your shoot.) If any hairs fall below the line, tweeze them out.

Use a pencil that is slightly lighter than your brow color to fill in the remaining space to make your eyebrows appear full. Try not to pencil above the area where your eyebrow hair naturally grows.

4 - Apply a powder foundation.

The rule of thumb with any foundation is to match your skin tone, and then go just one shade lighter.

This does two things: One, it virtually eliminates any chance that you’ll have a line along your jaw where the color of your face looks different than the color of your neck; and Two, it causes your face to reflect just a little more light, so when you have your photo taken, you create the effect that you’re more open and happy.

Apply with a large makeup brush that has been recently cleaned.

5 - Curl your lashes.

It’s such a small measure, but it makes a world of difference when done right. You want to be sure there is no mascara residue from yesterday’s makeup in your lashes for this step, so if you didn’t use your facial cleansing wipe to clean your lashes, grab a new one and clean just your lashes now.

Curl your lashes once very close to the root—hold for at least three seconds, then release. If you have long lashes, curl again a little ways out from the root. Hold for 3 seconds, and release.

6 - Apply eyeshadow in a gradient, then liner, then mascara.

The darkest part of your shadow should be at the outermost corner of your eyelid. A slightly lighter shade of the same color (I generally use brown or charcoal gray) can come in to either edge of your iris. Finally, a very light, almost invisible-to-the-naked-eye color can be applied to the underside of your brow bone.

Line the top set of lashes with liquid liner as close as possible to the lash line. This makes lashes appear fuller and sometimes longer, which is helpful if you can’t apply false lashes on your own.

Finally, apply mascara (wipe excess on the opening to the mascara tube before application). Start at the roots, and move gently side-to-side to keep lashes from clumping, while also achieving your best coverage.

7 - Brush blush higher on your cheekbones than your instinct tells you.

Brush outward from the middle of the face, sweeping upward as you go out. You want to create a V-ish shape, with each side of the V being one of your cheeks. Also dot your nose and the height of your forehead with a hint of blush.

8 - Add shimmer to the places you want to glow a little.

I use a glitter powder for this step, and I focus mainly on the inner eyes and the brow bones. Some also like to add shimmer to their cheeks, though for me I find this tends to make me look like I’ve worked up a sweat, and that’s not a look I care to have.

9 - Brush on lipstick for long-lasting color, then add shine.

It’s my practice to add a light or bright color to my lip before a shoot. Lighter colors tend to make the subject look more youthful and trustworthy, and brighter colors tend to make the subject look more whimsical, fun, and adventurous. Deep colors are typically reserved for evening, as they are associated with sex and mischief!

Finally, I add a gloss so that the color looks more natural and less distracting from the eyes.

Was this helpful? If so, share your Before/After images with me on Instagram! Upload them as a gallery and tag me right in the first photo, @alexisthegreek. I can’t wait to see your photos!

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Hello! My name is Alexis.

Coffee lover, day dreamer, foodie, and creative. Currently working and living in New Hampshire, I’m an eclectic mix of forward-looking and completely old-fashioned.


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I only chat about photography and best online business practices here on my work blog. To get to know me better, visit my personal blog Alexis the Blogger!

Alexis Paquette

Hi! My name is Alexis. I’m a web designer and photographer for creative professionals. While I’m based in New England, I travel and I accept work from all over the world from both small and international brands!