Hair, Makeup, and Grooming Tips for Headshots

You’ve made the decision.  You have decided that you are ready to take your personal branding to the level it deserves to be.  You know what you are going to wear (What to Wear For Headshots). Now for some tips to help you look polished and pulled together.

Skin Care

I cannot hit this point hard enough.  Start drinking water.  Up to 60% of the human body is water. Lack of hydration shows in the skin by making it look dry, tight, and flakey.

Avoid harsh sun leading up to your headshot session. If you do not normally tan, you will not want to tan before your appointment. Even more so, you don’t want to burn and peel (this applies to windburn as well)!  If you are going to be outside before, find a great quality sunscreen.

For more tips check out 5 Things You Can Do for Better Skin Right Now

Hair for Headshots

You should plan on coming to your headshot session wearing your hair like you would on a great hair day.  If you style it a couple of different ways, let your photographer know before the session and plan on bringing your styling products along. For business professionals, entrepreneurs, non-actors, I suggest wearing your like you would to a job interview, meeting, networking event, etc.  For actors’ headshots, you should wear your hair like you would if you were going to an audition.  You need to be able to replicate the look(s).

If you are in need of a cut or color, do it about a week before your appointment. The last thing you want to happen is you go for a hair appointment the day before your headshots only to learn that you do not like the length, style, etc

Shaving for Headshots

If you wear facial hair, be sure to trim before your session.  In my studio, it is not uncommon for gentlemen to do looks with and without facial hair so they bring their saving supplies along.

Be sure to use a fresh, sharp razor and good shaving lubricant.  Avoid electric razors.  (I will be releasing an article soon with shaving tips!).  If your skin is easily irritated from shaving, you may want to consider shaving the night before.  If you really want to treat yourself, find a fantastic barber!

Last but certainly not least, be sure to take care of any unwanted hair as well. Think about your eyebrows, nose, and ears.

Makeup for headshots

If you wear makeup, I highly suggest you hire a professional makeup artist for your session.  A professional will have a fully stocked kit with product that is suited for working with photography lighting. They will also know techniques to ensure that you look your best in your images.  I work with a team, The Beauty Patrol, that stays with us during the entire session.  Since I shoot all of my headshot sessions tethered (What Does Tethering Mean for Your Headshot Session), the makeup artist can watch my screen and will see immediately if they need to make adjustments.  Your headshots should also show some range in looks.  An on-site makeup artist can easily adjust your makeup while we work.

If you decide to do your own makeup.

Your headshot session is not the time to try a new look.  Wear it like you normally would.

Be sure your foundation matches your actual skin tone. We do not want your neck and ears to be a different color than your face.

Avoid makeup with an SPF rating. It will reflect studio light and make you look washed out.

Avoid trends.  You may use your headshots for two years and makeup trends can change quickly.

Avoid bold colors, smokey eye, winged eyeliner, etc.  We want you to shine through in your headshots, not make it about your makeup.

Bring your makeup to your session for touch-ups as needed.


I know not everyone wears makeup. However, you may want to make sure that you have some help with shine control.  Under studio lights, a little extra shine can be very noticeable.  To help, I recommend this anti-shine gel from Peter Thomas Roth. I personally use it anytime I am going to be photographed and before digital meetings!  A little bit goes a long way, so this tube will last you for a long while.