I created what was to be called “HD face look”, but I wasn’t too pleased with the result. Then an excellent opportunity presented itself when I had to renew my passport, and thus had to take a new picture.

It is a known fact that most people look terrible in their government-issued identification photo; and though no one’s uglier than their passport photo (or so they say), it’s nice when you can look your actual pretty self there. Most of us tend to continue to go about our usual days before and after taking such photo. Therefore, we want to look nice, but not “gala ball” nice when going to, say, the supermarket (scratch that. I think that’d be awesome!).

That poses a challenge because that “high definition” camera / red carpet look requires PILES of makeup that, inevitably, will look like you are wearing a mask.
But turns out there is a way to achieve photo perfection and still looks amazing in real life!

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Start off with a clean and moisturized face. We’ve had some chilly weather here in Belgium recently, which got my lips a bit dry. I applied Burt’s Bees Replenishing Pomegranate Lip Balm at the very beginning so by the time it’s time to apply lip liner they’ll be moisturized, but not all goopy. by first to soak up the moisture for a while.
 
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Instead of primer, I used the Estee Lauder Enlighten Even Effect (E.E) Skintone Corrector. Could be comsidered a tinted moisturizer, though the coverage would be even less than a product in that category. I chose it because it adds a fabulous evening and soft-focus effect to my face (I get lots of compliments when I use it, whether on its own or combined with another product!)
However; and this is super important: if you are taking a picture in one of those photobooths with blinding flash, do not use this one. This product has an SPF of 30 which means you may get a massive flashback that’ll wash you out. Use a primer like te Smashbox Photo Finish Primer or the Hourglass Mineral Veil instead.
 
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I’ve found that pairing the Estee Lauder EE cream with the NARS Sheer Glow Foundation gives me the best finish ever. This foundation (I use shade Punjab) has more of a medium coverage and it will cover what the E.E. Cream did not. It also has no SPF, making it a great option for photos (not to mention how gorgeous the finish looks in real life!)
 
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Because I put together this look early in the morning and planned some activities later, I want this to stay put all day. I applied the NARS Pro Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base on my lids using my fingers. If you don’t have oily lids, this is completely optional. Of course, a little bit of the staying power this can give your shadow couldn’t hurt, could it?
 
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My brows are at that stage where I’m growing them out to get them professionally re-shaped (which I do every 6 to 8 weeks). In the meantime, I need to make due with what I’ve got! Luckily, I’ve got my trusty Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz to help me through! I also used the Maybelline New York Brow Drama Gel to keep the brows in place.
 
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The shadows I will use set the stage of what the rest of the face will be like: mostly, matte. Matte shadows will help better define and enhance the eyes. Shimmery shadows can work against you because you can’t really know how the light will reflect over those. I used 2 shades from the Urban Decay Naked Basics palette, W.O.S and Faint. I applied W.O.S all over the lid using a brush from a Bilderberg Makeup Set I got as a present a while ago. Then I followed with Faint in the outer V and crease. The brush I used was terrible for blending (another one from the same set), but turned out great in the next step.
 
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I took some of the Faint shadow using that bad blending brush and applied along the lower lashline. The brush edge was perfect to apply shadow on that area. By applying this technique, you can create the appearance of larger eyes (it will look even more emphasized with liner later!). My eyes are still the same size, though. I’m not a magician.
 
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Using another one of my staple products, the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in shade Demolition, I create a small cat eye. What I like to do is create the outline first, when the pencil is sharpest, then color inside the line. The outline can be tidied up once you fill in.
 
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I’m going to emphasize the lower lash line with some of the same eyeliner. I run it until about half-way the lower lash line, then smudge with my finger. You have to be fast with this part because once that eyeliner sets, it will.not.move. Then, using that crappy brush that turns out is not that crappy and it’s all of a sudden the best lower lash line brush ever, I apply a tiny bit more of Faint on the inner lower lash line, to balance out the color and create a gradient effect.
 
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Next, I applied copious amounts of mascara because I wasn’t feeling like doing fake lashes that day (or, let’s be honest, ever) Plus, I had no glue. I used Chanel Inimitable Mascara. It is freaking amazing, but I’m not sure if I want to spent the Chanel budget for something that will not last me more than 6 months. We’ll see. Then I take my Demolition liner and run it accros the upper water line.
 
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For concealer, I am once again using my recent favorite, Smashbox High Definition Concealer in shade Medium. I like using a shade similar to my skintone because of the redness around my cheeks. When I use a lighter tone (as one is “supposed” to), the area around my eyes line I have tanlines from wearing sunglasses. I kid you not! I also put some of this on a couple of spots around my mouth.
 
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This is the point where I start getting silly with the camera. Usually, I’m not a fan of the contouring/highlighting craze for us mere mortals for every freaking ocassion. This is the type of technique that works well in two cases: your last name is Kardashian OR you are going to be on camera (which incidentalLy is a situation that also applies to those with last name Kardashian). Because we are attempting to look great in photos, I will contour and highlight a tiny bit. Nothing extravagant. I used two shades from my MAKE UP FOR EVER Foundation Palette. The darker shade went on the hollows of the cheeks sides of the nose, nose, and top of forehead. The lighter shade went on the cheekbones (where the highlight will go) and the bridge of the nose. Then, using a blush/powder brush from that same makeup set from earlier, I blended all that together. Blending should be enough to blur the edges, but not too much that we loose all the colors. With this very light application, I added more definition to my face a reduced the appearance of a round-ish face. My face remains sort of round. Still not a magician.
 
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Continuing with the cream products: I applied NARS The Multiple in shade Orgasm along the cheeks. I happen to have the same shade in powder form (of course I do!) which I will be using to set and intensify the color. I blended this cream product with my fingers.
 
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Using Benefit’s Hello Flawless Powder Foundation and the tiny sponge that comes with it, I pressed some of the powder under the eyes to set the concealer. This helps a lot to prevent creasing and provide extra coverage. And now here comes the game changer, the technique that will make all the layers of makeup seem as natural as can be in real life. I used a variation of the buffing technique Wayne Goss presented in his YouTube channel some time ago: using a buffing brush, I applied the powder in a circular motions along the middle of my face (basically everywhere where I don’t have a contour or blush). The effect will be quite remarkable! I’ve noticed this works best with pressed powder rather than loose.
 
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I powdered over the contours and blush with equivalent shades. I used the NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna and as mentioned earlier, used the NARS Blush in the same shade as the cream version. Finally, I applied theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer on the cheekbones to highlight. Not a lot, though. This is the only place where I want shimmer to provide a lifting effect, not to look like a disco ball.
 
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And finally for the lips: I used a MAC Lip Pencil In shade Dervish all over the lips. I lined a tiny bit outside of my natural lip. Not too obvious, though. Then I pressed some OCC Lip Tar in shade Marion in the middle of the lips to add a more dimension to achieve the perfect nude lip.
 

And there you have it! The finished look:
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Here’s a little before and after. Still looks like me, except more polished. If only we could say the same for my hair…
 
And finally, a few more tips to ensure your photo success:
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Clockwise from top left:

  • Use a foundation that blends seamlessly with the tone of your neck. And though you may get away with the wrong color in real life, in photos this will be pretty obvious.
  • Trying too hard to cover imperfections will make it worse. You can’t fully cover a pimple, but you can minimize it’s appearance. All faces have visible pores and wrinkles and bumps. Unless you are 4 years old. Then you shouldn’t be putting on makeup.
  • When I tilt my head this way, the shimmer from the highlight is quite noticeable. When taking a picture you never know in which angle the light will reflect the most and flashback in an unflattering way. Use shimmer with caution or not at all!
  • Good shades for lips are pinks and peaches and you want to go a little bit darker than your natural lip color. Remember that photos, especially those when flash is used have a tendency to wash you out, so a lighter shade might make you look like the living dead!
  • What do you think about this look? Let me know in the comments section below and share on your social media channels! Don’t forget to subscribe!
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