Makeup Ideas for Senior Pictures

Kate Miller-Wilson
Teenage girl applying mascara

Your everyday makeup routine won't cut it at portrait time, but these makeup ideas for senior pictures can help. Learn what looks great on camera so your photos will look amazing.

Try a Subtle Smoky Eye Without Sparkle

Many eyeshadows have mica or other ingredients that give them some extra sparkle. This is great in person, but it doesn't work in photos. The sparkles can catch light and distract from your eyes and appearance. Instead, look for makeup that has a flat appearance. Try a bold, smokey eye in the same colors you would normally use. Feather the shadow out from the outer corners of your eyes for a bold but natural look. It's always a good idea to practice your technique before the day of your portraits too.

Show Off Your Lips Without Shine

Your smile is a huge part of your senior pictures. In fact, it can make the difference between a gorgeous senior photo and one that feels boring or blah. To get the most out of your smile, you can go a little lighter on the eyes and play up your lips instead. You can do this with your favorite lipstick, as long as it isn't too shiny. Like eye makeup, any sparkle or shine on your lips can glare in photos. If you love your regular shade but it shines too much, you can also transform it to a matte lipstick with a product like Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer.

Happy girl laughing

Make Your Brows the Star

If you prefer a simpler, sportier look, let your brows take center stage. A strong, clean brow can make a natural look feel polished. A week before your portrait session, have your brows shaped at your local salon. Keep the rest of your makeup super simple and use a brow definer to perfect their shape and texture. If you have sparse or over-tweezed brows, you can fill them in with the definer, or you can use it to accentuate the arch. Either way, practice before your session so you can make sure your brows have the perfect look.

Teenage girl on bicycle

Layer Concealers to Cover Your Breakouts

Life is stressful, and senior pictures can add to the stress. If you find you have a breakout at the time of your portrait session, remember that your photographer can improve things with retouching. However, if you want to cover up any imperfections yourself, you can do so by layering concealers. Start with a primer to fill in any scars or dips in your skin, and follow this with a little green concealer to help cancel out redness. Then apply foundation and regular concealer, and finish your makeup routine as usual. Again, you'll want to stay away from sparkle here, since it will draw attention to skin imperfections and reflect light in your photos.

Keep It Light and Fresh

For a natural look that still feels polished, choose light, fresh shades of your favorite products. This works especially well if you want a light, high-key look to your pictures. Use your regular techniques for applying eye makeup, lipstick, and blush, but choose shades that are a bit more neutral and light in tone. If you wear foundation, keep that the same. Try out a few looks before the day of your portraits so you can make sure you're happy with the results. As always, it's important to steer clear of anything that reflects light.

Portrait smiling blonde teenage girl

Use Neutral Makeup With Bold Clothing

If you plan to wear something super bright for your senior portrait session, keep your makeup neutral. This doesn't mean you have to skip makeup altogether, but stay away from bright colors or bold looks. You can do a subtle smoky eye or a little mascara, but pick eye shadow that goes with every color and doesn't draw attention to itself. The same goes for lips. You can wear lipstick; just choose one in a shade that's similar to the regular color of your lips. Otherwise, your makeup and your clothing will fight for attention in your photos.

Portrait of smiling woman

Pay Special Attention to Your Eyes With Glasses

If you wear glasses, your eyes can get lost behind the frames in photos. You want your eyes to really show up in your senior pictures, so pay special attention to how you apply your eye makeup. After an eye makeup base, use a peach shadow or other neutral tone to add color to your lids. Follow up with a brighter highlighting shade. Then add liner, paying attention to wear your frames hit so you don't allow the liner to intersect with the frames. Finally, add plenty of mascara to make your lashes show behind your frames. Let your mascara dry completely to keep from smearing your frames.

Makeup That Looks Like You

No matter which makeup idea you choose for your senior portraits, be sure you practice it ahead of time. In addition to getting the hang of the technique, you can make sure you're using makeup that looks like you. After all, these are the photos your friends and family will have for years to come.

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Makeup Ideas for Senior Pictures