I often get asked, “What makeup should I wear for my session?”
While I am in no way a YouTube makeup guru, over the years I have experimented with a variety of makeup brands, both drugstore and higher-end. I’m finally at a place in my life where I feel like I have a solid makeup routine and have found what works best for me. (Don’t get me wrong – I still love to try something new, but I spend a lot less money trying everything that comes on the market than I did in my teens!) If you haven’t met me before, I have fair skin that leans toward the oily side. If this isn’t you, my favorite makeup for pictures may not be yours, and that’s OK too!
This post contains affiliate links; if you click one of them I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. For more information please read my disclaimer on affiliate links.
My Favorite Makeup For Pictures – Drugstore
Whether you make your purchase on Amazon, Walmart, or at an actual drugstore like Walgreen’s, “drugstore” makeup is just a term that means it’s readily available in any market. It’s often at a lower price point, but you don’t need to sacrifice quality for price!
If you don’t wear a lot of makeup every day, don’t feel like you need to cake it on for your session. BUT I do highly recommend you wear a little more than you wear day to day. For some this just means wearing mascara! Wearing a little extra makeup will be sure to accent your features and help your face “pop” on camera.
Starting with your base, my personal favorite concealer is Maybelline Age Rewind (shade fair). It provides a natural look and finish but great coverage. On busy days I just use this plus a little bit of powder and head out the door!
Speaking of powders – I have the same two on heavy rotation – and they’re both available on Amazon or Walmart! For running errands or when I don’t feel like doing my full makeup I always reach for Maybelline Shine-Free Oil Control Loose Powder (shade light). Although my skin tends to run a bit oily, this keeps me fresh and matte all day long. It also has a medium amount of coverage and is the perfect complement to the Age-Rewind concealer mentioned above. On the other hand, if I’m already using foundation, Rimmel Stay Matte powder is the perfect setting powder to keep me matte all day – no makeup sliding here!
Other days I take the time to put foundation on. I always buy foundation that has SPF in the formula. My two favorite foundations are by L’Oreal and Maybelline.
L’Oreal has a pro-glow line as well as a matte line, and personally even with somewhat oily skin I don’t love the matte – it’s too drying. Instead, I use the Pro-Glow foundation (mixing shades 001 and 002) and use the Rimmel powder to set it. This makes me matte enough so I don’t look shiny, but also not like a piece of leather (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but you get the picture). A tip someone shared years ago that I SWEAR by now is to mix your primer and foundation in your hands before applying. I’ve found that to make a huge difference in how my foundation looks after applying it!
I’m going to be honest – the BEST eyeshadows are from higher-end brands. They have better colors, they have more pigment when you apply them, and they last a LOT longer. I have yet to find a drugstore eyeshadow that I truly love.
However, I do have a LOT of mascara recommendations when it comes to drugstore makeup! If you want to make your lashes “extra,” start by applying this lash primer. Seriously, it’s a game changer! I don’t wear it every day but I’m always happy with the result when I do. Follow that (or start with) this L’Oreal Voluminous mascara.
My top tip for mascara is to use two different products – first use a thickening mascara (like L’Oreal Voluminous), then follow that with a volumizing mascara like Maybelline Colossal. This will give you lashes that are both thick and long – the ideal combination!
Finally, use a setting spray to set your makeup. Spray lightly then use a flat-bristled brush to “set” your makeup and press the spray into your skin. I truly think setting spray is one of those things worth splurging on. Keep scrolling to see my favorite setting spray that is worth every penny.
My Favorite Makeup For Pictures – High-End
I’m fairly picky on what I use when it comes to high-end makeup. It’s not about the brand name for me, it’s how it works and if it’s the best option for what I’m looking for. While I love Tarte foundations, the truth is my L’Oreal foundation is plenty good enough so that’s what I opt to purchase. But there are a few things that just don’t compare to drugstore makeup!
The biggest difference I have seen in high-end versus drugstore makeup is eye products. For instance, I tried to find a good eyeliner for Literally. Years. Trust me when I say nothing compares to Stila Stay All Day eyeliner. Whether you prefer a light line or a wide cat eye, this is the eyeliner for you. I’ve even been out on Lake Superior shore in the middle of 30 mph winds and it didn’t smudge!
To take my lashes to the next level, I love using the Buxom mascara (I actually just buy the travel size) after my first coat. This mascara has a special wand that doesn’t coat the eyelashes with product like the Voluminous mascara does. It really shines in spreading out any clumps that form across the rest of your lash line!
I’m also incredibly partial to Tarte eyeshadows. I truly never got the hype of eyeshadow before. “Why pay for something that’s going to rub off after an hour?” Tarte is completely different. I may be biased because it’s the first high-end eyeshadow I tried (Rainforest Vol III), but it’s the one I’m loyal to now. I got rid of most of my other eyeshadows! It’s just that good.
Must Have Setting Spray
Finally, the setting spray that just doesn’t compare (trust me, I asked the girls at Ulta for a possible dupe): Urban Decay All Nighter Spray. It’s actually cheaper on Amazon for a full-size bottle than at Ulta or Sephora! I use this all summer long, especially for long wedding days. My makeup (including eyebrows and eyeshadow) never budge! Totally worth it in my eyes – especially because one bottle should last you a full year.
Finally, just a small reminder:
Makeup and Photoshop can correct minor skin issues but they are not magic! Remember to hydrate well and often in the week leading up to your session, get plenty of sleep, and wash your face before bed. Makeup will never replace a good skincare routine!