How to use makeup to look your best on camera

Saying your words to a video camera can be a bit nerve-wracking, which is why here on HTWB we’ve looked at a number of tips on how to perform, what to wear, etc. Now, we’re very lucky to welcome some advice from top international makeup artist and beauty writer Gail Spooner who shares some brilliant advice on how to make yourself look great for the camera, whether for video or for a still image. And yes, that includes you men, too… 

How to use makeup to look your best on camera

Gail Spooner works on a client’s eye makeup

Whether you’re male or female, it’s important to present yourself in the best possible way. This includes our choice of make-up and how we apply it but not all of us have a team of make-up artists and stylists at our disposal. The camera can pick up our flaws and even worse, highlight them and high definition will magnify these 10 fold! So…

My top make-up rules before going in front of that camera:

1.Do not try anything new

2.Matte is King

3.Keep it natural

By following my simple make-up guide, you’ll be camera-ready in no time!

1.Prep: Start with a clean and moisturised blank canvas to work on

Tip:  Use a moisturiser specifically for your skin type; i.e. oil control for oily skin (so that makeup does not slide off) or hydrating for dry skin (to prevent flaky patches on skin)

2.Primer: Acts as an “undercoat”!  Not only does it increase the staying power of your makeup, it will give a smoother finish and some can even act as a “mattifying” product

Tip:  Use a primer with non-reflective properties

3.Foundation: You don’t need to be heavy handed but apply enough to even out your skin tone.  Choose a shade that is as close to your skin tone as possible and apply small amounts to the face using a foundation brush.  Blend well especially around the jaw and hairlines (the camera will highlight tide marks)

This can be layered depending upon the extent of cover you require

Men:  Make sure you have a close shave before applying foundation – unless you want the 6 o’clock shadow look…

Tip: Use a water-based liquid with a matte finish

4.Concealer/Colour corrector: Will fix whatever your foundation cannot in terms of:

  • Blemishes
  • Marks
  • Blotches
  • Redness

…and will also brighten up the under eye area to eliminate dark circles. Apply sparingly with a small fluffy brush though as many formulations can settle into fine lines and wrinkles, thus highlighting rather than concealing!

Tip: Yellow or green can correct redness

Tip: Peach or coral can correct bluish tones

5.Eyes:  Are the focus to draw your viewers in! There are many different eye shapes and different techniques to enhance or minimise these. Below is a simple and classic look

Use a base or primer to keep eye make-up from smudging (tip: use your concealer as the base)

Brows:  Keep them natural but groomed!  Brush any unruly hairs into place and set using a clear brow gel.  If brows are a little sparse, use a matte eyeshadow powder to fill in the gaps using a small angle brush following your natural brow line

Eyeliner: Frame your eyes by applying above and below lash lines. To open up eyes, start mid way below your lower lash extending to the outer corners of your eyes

Tip: A white kohl pencil applied on the lower water-line will also open up the eyes as will applying a light dot of eyeshadow on the inner corners of your eyelids

Eyeshadow: Use a mid-tone matte eyeshadow on the lid area sweeping upwards and outwards. Apply a lighter matte shade to the brow bones as a highlight

Mascara: To finish the eyes (if your lashes are poker straight, use a lash curler first which works in seconds)

Tip: Short natural lashes – add a few individual false lashes to the outer corners or your upper lashes for a naturally enhanced look

6.Lips: Wear a shade that is not too dark (this can age you or make thin lips look thinner) or too light (your lips will disappear)

Use  a neutral toned lip liner to define your lip shape (this will also help to prevent “feathering” where lipstick can bleed over your natural lip line

Lipstick: Again, the shade should be neutral but deeper than your lip tone

Tip: I prefer to use a satin finish lipstick which is semi-matte. This still gives a lasting colour payoff but is not as drying as a matte texture

Men: use a non-glossy colour free lip balm to moisturise lips

7.Cheeks: Avoid shimmer/sparkle. Certain studio lights can ‘bleach’ out your face. To add dimension and warm up your face, add blush to the apples of your cheeks (smile and you will see them appear) sweeping up towards your temples. Choose neutral flesh coloured shades a touch darker than your skin tone

Tip: Apply a little more than you’d normally wear

8.Contour: If you can’t cut steak with your cheekbones (like most of us) and to define a fuller face,  apply a matte pressed powder or blush below your cheekbone in line with your nostril sweeping towards your ear creating a wedge shape

Tip: The contour powder should be one or two shades darker than your foundation shade for the best results

9.Powder: Finish with a dusting of loose blotting powder. Translucent is best unless you’re able to match your powder exactly to your foundation shade

Men: This is especially important for any bald heads

Tip: Apply a light layer using a big fluffy brush to avoid a cakey effect which the camera will pick up

Wow! This really is a print out and keep resource, and it’s just as valuable if you’re going to have some still photographs done for your LinkedIn page, business card, website, etc. Many thanks to Gail for sharing this precious advice.

How to use makeup to look your best on camera

Gail Spooner

Gail Spooner is based in London and Milton Keynes, England. She is available for photographic and film work as well as for weddings and other special occasions. She also is a regional co-ordinator of the wonderful UK charity Look Good, Feel Better which provides practical and very effective free workshops on skin care and makeup for women and teenagers struggling with the visible side effects of cancer treatment. Check out Gail’s website here or email

Image: with grateful thanks to Kate Everall Photography, Milton Keynes based specialist in family portraits and special occasions.