A Makeup Artist's Top 5 Tips For Looking Naturally Beautiful In Photos

Photographers love Laramie Glen for her amazing ability to eliminate retouching. Here's how to put those skills to use for everyday photos.

I recently had the pleasure of hanging out with one of my favorite working makeup artists: Laramie Glen. You may recognize her handiwork from some of xoVain’s favorite looks from Fashion Weeks past. She has worked with some great designers, models, photographers and publications, and was even the key makeup artist for my last runway show.

In addition to being an absolute gem, and one thing about Laramie is certain: photographers rave about her incredible talent for creating naturally beautiful skin.

When it comes to makeup, retouching is something that photographers LOATHE. You don't get the chance to retouch photos before they hit social media, but the good news is, with a few simple steps, you can look nearly perfect--and natural to boot.

Thanks to smartphones, you end up with your picture taken far more often than you would have 10 years ago. The same common complaints are present whether you're being professionally photographed or just Instagrammed. You can look gorge in real life, but in photos, stuff you don’t notice, like shininess, redness around your nostrils, and dry lips can turn a good hair day into an I-wish-I-wore-a-paper-bag day faster than you can say CHEESE!

So I've asked Laramie to give us a super-easy guide photo readiness!

Here I am before...

1. Erase redness.

Full application of concealer and foundation is not always necessary, even if you are getting your picture taken.

"Using a small amount of a full-coverage stick will give you a more natural appearance than piling on tons of a sheer liquid product to get coverage" Laramie says about quick but effective coverage. I usually use BB cream, but I was very into the clean and bright appearance of only covering where it was necessary.

Laramie's technique:

• Apply stick or full coverage concealer directly onto skin. Try putting it above brows, down the bridge of the nose and around the nostrils, and in the crease of your chin.

• Blend with fingers outward.

• Use a damp Beautyblender or sponge to press product into skin, creating a more natural finish.

Try using Vichy Dermafinish Corrective Stick or Maybelline Fit Me Shine Free Foundation.

2. Mattify and control shine.

One of the biggest issues Laramie sees in casual group pics is shine. You might look matte in real life, but with a flash, your shiny forehead from misplaced highlighter will look like a strange brain aura.

Laramie says this is the number-one complaint of photographers during a photoshoots.

Laramie recommends keeping blotting papers on hand for touch-ups, and pressing into your forehead and around the nose just before photos are taken. I just use rolling papers because they are cheap and in my purse already. Papers are better than powder, because that way you’re not adding product to your face and risking getting cakey--you’re simply taking away the shine.

Laramie's technique:

Before leaving the house, use powder on your T-zone. If you want to be fancy, you can use two slightly different shades of pressed powder to simultaneously mattify and softly contour the face.

Laramie recommends MAC Mineralize Skinfinish powder, which provides a natural sheen to the skin that looks airbrushed, but is not heavy or waxy like some mineral makeups tend to look in photos. Use the lighter formula on the center of your forehead, down your nose, and the center of your face. The darker formula can be used around the hairline and to define your cheekbones--try dusting lightly from your temples down, following the natural line of your cheekbones. If you just want to use one color, use the lighter one.

Apply the powder lightly in big, swirling circles for the area you want to contour, and light swipes feathered across forehead, down the nose and onto nostrils.

3. Blush yo'self.

This tip comes with an important suggestion: good-quality brushes. Laramie recommends using better brushes--you can use drugstore product with high-end brushes and it will make your makeup look flawless. Good-quality brushes basically do the blending for you. No matter what your budget for actual product, brushes are a tool that will far outlast any tube of foundation or pot of eyeshadow, so choose wisely.

Adding blush before you leave the house ensures that you look alive. If you have naturally rosy cheeks, Laramie suggests adding a touch of color just along the cheekbones. Blush should be applied where you naturally flush (usually apples of the cheeks) to avoid looking like a bright pink stripe on the side of your face.

Laramie's technique:

• Smile big and use a blush brush to apply a soft peach color or pink on the apples of the cheeks.

• Next, rub a small dab of Lucas’ Papaw Ointment--Laramie told me that this is in every pro’s kit to use on dry lips, scabby zits, cuticles, anywhere moisture is needed and fast--in between your fingertips, and press the product into your cheeks to mimic natural texture of skin. It may seem redundant to add moisture back into skin, but remember, we took away shine where we don’t want and we’re adding it to create healthy-looking skin.

4. Make your brows 2 legit 2 quit.

Brows are something Laramie and I agree tie a look together 100%. Especially in photos, brows that are too thin will age you and, worse, make you look dated. Mascara be damned, without perfect brows, I feel naked.

Laramie showed me how to make them look full and perfect without being too sharp or dark. Having a soft brow keeps things looking all angelic and glow-y, and not as bitchy as I usually rock. Opting for powder and a grooming gel will have them looking just the right amount of polished.

One great tip that I learned here: Don’t tweeze one brow to match the other brow, use product to fill the thinner one in. Brows should have a straight line from the bridge of the nose to the arch, even if you want to do a curved look. Brows should never have a head like a tadpole.

Laramie's technique:

• First, look at your brows and fill any holes with an angled brow brush and an ashy brown eyeshadow or brow powder. Just even out the brows--do not darken them.

• Then, brush the brows up and out towards temple with a clear or tinted brow gel, like Anastasia's. This keeps everything lying stationary.

5. Hydrate your lips.

This sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how badly a chapped lip can ruin a photo. Lips should always beckon with their plump softness, not repel with crusty cracks. Plus they don’t feel so nice, so keep things moist!

Bonus points if you use a hydrating lip product with a touch of color. Shine on the lips is a quick way to up your sexiness in group photos. Choose a bluer shade of your favorite color to make your teeth look whiter.

Laramie's technique:

• Again hitting up the Papaw Ointment, apply this to the lips and allow it to soak in for a moment.

• When you need your lips to look good for the long term, reach for a moisturizing chubby lip color, like ones from Neutrogena or Clinique. These have a stained, soft appearance and will not need meticulous application, so you can quickly swipe a touch up before a photo.


So before you go out with your friends and you know someone’s gonna snap an Instagram photo, follow these steps, throw some blotting papers and your moisturizing lip color in your purse. You'll be surprised what a difference it makes!

Photos by Darnell Scott.