Beauty Tips for Taking the Perfect Photo

Hair and makeup tricks to look photo-fabulous.

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In a time when anyone with a phone is a makeshift photographer and every picture is just seconds away from the newsfeeds of your old high-school friends and current coworkers, those impromptu and abundant summer-vacation snapshots really do last forever.

Here’s the good news: Looking fabulous in pictures is a learned skill. With a few makeup and hair tips, and a quick lesson in lighting and angles, you’ll be ready when someone yells, “Smile!”


1. Go soft and full

“Helmet head is what happens when humidity meets too much hair spray,” says Chris Cushing, a stylist at Georgetown’s IPSA for Hair by Nectar salon. Instead of using spray, fluff up right before your photo op by shaking hair upside down, gently raking through with your fingers, and flipping back.

2. Tame flyaways

Frizz never looks good, even on vacation. Keep it at bay by applying styling oil like Phyto Subtil Elixir Intense Nutrition Shine Oil ($38) to freshly washed hair, and then running a bit more through the ends once it’s dry (don’t get near the roots, or your ’do will go flat).

In a pinch, use a bit of suntan oil (not lotion, lest your hair take on a greasy, gray sheen).

3. Carry a hair-emergency bag

Pack a wide-tooth comb for detangling after a day at the beach or pool, a soft elastic for a quick ponytail or braid, and a travel-size bottle of hair oil to smooth and defrizz on the go, says Cushing. This should spare you from an album full of candid shots that are a little too candid.


1. Create Your Own Perfect Lighting

“Highlighter draws attention anywhere you put it,” says Alexandria-based makeup artist Taylor Powell. Use it in your favor by blending on the very tops of cheekbones to define them and in the little divot of your lips’ Cupid’s bow to make them look fuller. Just make sure not to choose a shade that’s too white or too shimmery.

Powell loves Nars Illuminator in Hot Sand, a champagne peach that gives just the right amount of sheen and looks good on most complexions. Keep your T-zone matte with a dusting of translucent powder—too much glow here can look greasy.

2. Embrace Color

Nude lips and cheeks may be chic on the runway, but they’re guaranteed to wash out the faces of mere mortals, says Powell. The roses and corals that are hot this season also add a lively flush that reads “pretty” in pictures. Choose a product that does double duty, so you can smooth it on lips and cheeks (and even eyes) at a moment’s notice. Try: Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips & Cheeks in Calypso Coral ($26).

3. Be Your Own Airbrusher

Forget about those apps that photoshop your pics. Concealer is the fastest way to dramatically brighten your skin, blur the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and erase darkness, says DC makeup artist Shaune Hayes. “Use your ring finger to pat and press a creamy product like MAC Pro Longwear Concealer under your eyes, and you’ll instantly look well-rested and luminous.”

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