How To Do Quick and Natural Makeup For Photos

My go-to makeup routine before getting in front of the camera

WHERE — London
PHOTOGRAPHY — Sam Flaherty

How I do my makeup for before a shoot; the quick and natural edition. The tips and tricks I’ve picked up from makeup artists over the years for photo-ready skin.

Remember how we used to get dressed up and leave the house for work or meetings, or to dinner and a night with friends ? Yeah, me neither. And yet, my makeup routine does in fact, still exist; it’s just changed somewhat.

It’s now less about finding the right statement lippy for that party (for obvious reasons), or even trying out fun eye makeup to lift a casual pair of jeans and a tee. Or wanting to look your most flawless self for a job interview or a date, or just because who knows where the day will take you. Instead – hopefully just for the time being – we conduct so much our life via screens. Zooms, Facetimes, Skypes, WhatsApp calls, Instagram, Stories… you get the gist.

So with that in mind, I wanted to share my current lockdown makeup routine; basically, how I do my makeup for photos (and the odd video).

And because I love ya, if you need to re-up on your makeup, or just try something new, you can use the code JESSIE15 for 15% everything online at Code8.


Although I’ve always had a less is more approach to makeup, one thing I’ll always apply is foundation. I’ve been using Code8’s Day to Night foundation for almost two years now, and I gotta say it’s managed to give me flawless coverage through both summer and winter.

I like my foundation to be light and dewy, with a consistency that you can build up. For quick, photo ready skin, I apply the foundation using the built in wand, then I use my fingers (ideally warmed up) to gently apply all over my face. Then I’ll build up the coverage where needed; which for me is usually under the eyes and a little redness across the cheeks.

The goal here is not to look like you’re a walking filter with contured check bones. You just want to even out the skin tone; for photo-ready skin you simply want your foundation to even out your skin tone and smooth out it’s texture.


When it comes to foundation, there’s a few. First off, start with a hydrated and primed base. Then, if possible, try to do your makeup in natural light. It’s worth taking a smaller mirror and your makeup bag to a spot in the house with natural light if your bathroom doesn’t have any.

Obviously you also want to blend really well. But another less-known tip is to avoid mineral-based makeup if you’re getting in front of the camera, as it can create shine in unwanted places.

And for the best result, place ‘dots’ of foundation where you want to apply more coverage, and let it sit for a minute or so, to adapt to your body temperatur before blending.


Blush is underrated. People harp on about illuminators and conturing, but rosy cheeks are natural, so it makes sense to highlight them. I’ve always prefered cheek tints; they’re so much easier to apply and just feel a bit more dewy and natural. I have a few of Code 8 5 Secs lip and cheek tint, which I quite literally draw onto my cheekbones like a crayon, and then smudge in with my fingers until it feels natural and rosy-cheeked. And of course it doubles as a lip tint/balm – anything that does more than one job is always a good thing.


Avoid anything with shimmer and opt for a colour as close to the natural shade you’d have if you were laughing or went for a mild jog. It should be rosy and natural, and applied just a little bit more liberally than you think it should, so it’ll show up on camera.


Since we’ve barely been anywhere this past year, and we’re spending so much time in front of screens, it makes sense to dust yourself with a healthy glow of bronzer. I brush Code8’s Summer Bronzing Powder along my jawline and ridge of my nose, then I gently dust all over my face and down my neckline.


Often our face can be a shade or two lighter than our body – especially if you’re using SPF every day, which you should be! So using bronzer can be a good way to even out any subtle differences in the colour. It can also be used to gently highlight the apples of your cheeks and tip of your nose for that ‘I just got back from vacation’ vibe.


Using matte powder or setting powder can feel a bit retro, but it’s actually key if you’re getting in front of the camera; be it a selfie, or a Zoom. If you’ve gone to the effort of applying foundation, it makes sense to not only set the makeup in place (I’m using Code8’s Matte Velour Powder) but also even out your skintone and protect it from being subjected to unflattering glare.


So, using powder to set your makeup is a great way to reduce shine in photos and ensure your makeup lasts as long as possible. But you can actually also use your face powder to set your skincare too. If you’ve gone to all of the effort to hydrated and prime your skin, then using a face powder can actually set these products and keep them locked in place too.


And lastly, a lick of mascara to open the eyes. A second coat if you want more definition and to draw attention to your eyes. I’ve been using Code8’s mascara for so long now, simply because it goes on smoothly – there’s nothing heavy handed about it; you can apply a coat or two and your lashes still look super natural.


You would think you would want want to dramatise your lashes for the camera, but actually, the opposite is true. The camera will pick up on clumpy or heavy lashes, so it’s actually best to just use a light hand and keep them defined, but natural.


I love a bright lip – a classic red is my go-t0 if I want to make a more casual outfit feel a little more put together. But for photos, it’s best to opt for a shade closest to your natural colour. Basically, you just want to amp up your natural colour so that it defines the shape of your mouth and adds a little pigment.  Code8’s AM/PM lip balm in chameleon is one of the few makeup products I’ll always leave the house with. The balm hydrates my often-dry lips; the shade is so subtle that you could almost be fooled into thinking it was my natural shade, and the shape of the the crayon-like stick allows precise application.


If you want to give the impression of fuller lips, avoid flat, nude colours and instead use a subtle tint with a glossy finish to enhance your pout.

Be mindful of your application – the edges should be blended very well (thumb is an amazing substitute for blending brush) and the colour shouldn’t go lower than on the top of the apple on the cheekbone – the direction towards the nasal line.

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