Be honest: How many selfies are cluttering up your camera roll right now? If you're like us, then the number is probably pretty high. No judgement! It's a weird time right now, and there's no shame in snapping a selfie or 50 now and then. As participants in an increasingly digital society, there's really no avoiding being on camera whether it's to document our loungewear du jour, or to log into a virtual meeting with our teams as some of us settle into a work-from-home arrangement.
All this face time has us thinking about the daily makeup habits that need to shift right now if we want to look our best in every photographic circumstance. To help, we called in makeup artist and photographer Jordan Liberty, who not only knows exactly what looks best on camera but also how to achieve it.
Ahead, check out Liberty's expert tips for putting your best face forward in photos—whether in professional pics, iPhone selfies or when you just want to step it up for your next virtual meeting.
Tip #7: Focus on Reducing Skin Texture
First and foremost, Liberty says it's all about using the right tools for smooth and flawless makeup. "I love applying skincare, foundation and tinted moisturiser with a brush. Fingertips can spread bacteria and oil," he points out.
"It's often thought that foundation for photography should be applied heavier, but with today's cameras, every bit of texture is amplified," Liberty says. "Try to reduce texture as much as possible with lightweight foundation formulas and blurring primers." When it comes to fluid lightweight foundations, this one by MAC is perfect for delicately evening the skin on your face, or anywhere else on your body.
Pore refinement is our top priority when it comes to primers. This one is amazing at blurring imperfections while minimising the appearance of pores.
Liberty even admits that there are only two complexion products he uses get the job done. "For 99% of my clients, I just use concealer and maybe a tinted moisturiser. The tint lightly evens out the overall complexion and the concealer does all the heavy lifting when applied only to darker areas," he says. This skin tint by Ilia is the consistency of a serum, and glides so smoothly over the skin, leaving it glowy and even.
For those with fine lines and wrinkles, it's extra important to use a light hand with the makeup if you want to look your best on camera. "Excess makeup gets caught in fine lines and wrinkles and instantly creases—especially concealer," Liberty warns. "Applying concealer with a fluffier brush will create an airbrushed look without sacrificing coverage. It's all about smooth application to look youthful and fresh in photos." This new-ish Hourglass concealer is a favourite amongst makeup enthusiasts, and buffing it out with a fluffy brush as described by Liberty will only make it look that much more flawless on the skin.
The takeaways: Less is more! Prioritise a blurring primer, lightweight foundation or tinted moisturiser and concealer buffed out with a fluffy brush.
Tip #6: Use Highlighter and Blush Instead of a Heavy Contour
"Contouring can be ageing," Liberty says plainly. "By hollowing out the cheeks, it can enhance the appearance of density loss. Opt for fresher peachy-toned blushes and clever highlighting to lift the face in a more natural way."
"I love my Sigma Blush Palette on set," Liberty says. "It has a range of colours to sculpt and enhance the cheeks without ever appearing too heavy. It's about wearable, bright colours on camera."
The takeaway: Don't age yourself with a heavy contour. Lift and sculpt the face with strategic highlighter placement and peachy-tones blush instead.
Tip #5: Re-Think Your Skin Prep
Of all the pro tips we hear over and over, the most persistent is that skincare is the key to flawless makeup application. "I recently shared one of my signature techniques on YouTube (and then it went viral on TikTok)," Liberty tells us. "Apply your moisturiser and SPF, then a dusting of translucent powder, setting spray and then apply primer, foundation and concealer as usual."
If you think this method sounds a little backward, that's because it is. "It sounds weird, but it works! Setting your makeup before applying keeps it on longer and makes it look smoother without the need to bake your skin, which adds texture and dulls the complexion," Liberty explains.
The takeaway: Before going in with primer, foundation and concealer, set your skincare with translucent powder and setting spray. It'll make your makeup apply a lot smoother and last longer.
Tip #4: Bump Up the Colour
"Cameras amplify texture, so it's important to avoid heavy and cakey products, but flash photography can quickly wash out blush and eye shadow," Liberty explains. "If you're going to be photographed closeup in front of a bright flash, it's safe to intensify your colours to compensate." This comprehensive palette from Natasha Denona houses vibrant hues in both matte and shimmery finishes to help you amp up the drama.
The takeaway: Bright lights can wash out colour, so feel free to be bold.
Tip #3: Keep Your Lips Glossy
Liberty also points out that enhancing the lips is key in photos. "Use colour to enhance thinner lips. Nude tones can make thin lips disappear and intense opaque colours can make them appear even thinner." Nyx's Butter Gloss range is perfect for achieving vibrant, high-sheen lips.
"Opt for a sheer lipgloss in a bright colour. The pop of sheer colour will enhance the lips more naturally than a heavily drawn liner," Liberty adds.
The takeaway: Avoid opaque nude colours, especially if you have thinner lips. Instead, use colour and glossy finishes to enhance them.
Tip #2: Soften Your Lashes and Brows
"It's all about the details," Liberty calls out. "Clumpy mascara and stenciled brows are amplified when photographed up close. Opt for more naturally defined brows and lashes to avoid the need for heavy retouching." We love the precision of a brown pen (like this one from Lime Crime) to create tiny, natural, hair-like strokes.
This multitasking brow gel coaxes unruly brows into formation while also adding a subtle wash of colour to help create more fullness without edging into unnatural territory.
For those who love a good makeup hack, listen up. "I use a precision fan brush to literally paint the lower lashes with mascara to avoid clumps," Liberty says. That might not be feasible for your everyday makeup routine, but for those days when selfies abound and you want your lashes to look thick and clump-free, this tip is a game-changer.
If you're not down to get super "extra" with your mascara application, a separating mascara like Glossier's Lash Slick will do the trick, too. No clumps here.
The takeaway: Boxy brows and clumpy lashes should be avoided at all costs. Take a more natural approach in these areas.
Tip #1: Play Up the Eyes
Even if you don't find yourself reaching for blue makeup regularly, you're going to want to hear this incredible pro tip Liberty dropped on us. "An old-school set trick to brighten eyes is to apply navy eyeliner or mascara. Sometimes, I'll even mix navy with black to make the effect extremely subtle."
Yes, you read that correctly! Blue mascara and eyeliner can be used to make your eyes pop in photos. "Bluish tones create the illusion of brighter eyes instantly by making the whites of the eyes appear whiter," Liberty continues.
"Another way to make your eyes pop is to apply a touch of bright teal eyeliner just over the centre of the upper lash line, over your favourite colour of eyeliner. That little accent of teal enhances all eye colours and subtly draws attention to the eyes by creating visual interest. And again, bluish colours make the whites of the eyes appear brighter," Liberty adds.
The takeaway: Use blue mascara and eyeliner to make your eyes pop. Blue tones enhance your eye colour and make the whites of your eyes appear brighter.