Let’s Make Up! How to Look Good in Your Videos

November 11, 2011 Video Presentation Coaching

Careful makeup application is critical, not just to make you look more attractive, but more importantly, to correct the distortions caused by the camera lens and lighting. The camera sees things differently to the human eye. High definition (HD) cameras can accentuate wrinkles, magnify flaws, affect skin color and tone, and make you look heavier than you actually are. Ouch! In my experience, it is important to wear makeup if you want to look your best when filming your video presentations. Yes, that includes you, men, too. Take my word for it that every Hollywood tough guy you see on screen is wearing makeup!

Face Facts

We are genetically programmed to study faces. Like it or not, your face and smile provide the basis for the first impressions your viewer will have of you. Your face is where your viewers’ eyes will be focused for the majority of the time you are on screen, so it is important to make sure your face looks as good as possible in a close-up shot and knowing you most photogenic angle can help also.

Even the best looking models, news anchors, and presenters (both male and female) always wear makeup on camera – and wouldn’t dream of stepping intothe frame, without it!  Just as in normal everyday life, makeup is used to accentuate your natural features, as well as cover up any blemishes.

Be aware that the camera and lighting tends to “gobble up makeup” so you will need to apply a little more than you would normally use in daily life.

Although their requirements are not the same as women, most men need a bit of powder to look their best on video. Bald guys especially need to apply powder all over, to avoid lights from reflecting or bouncing-off from their heads, which can be visually distracting to the viewer.

Powder Up!

You want your performance to shine – not your face

Even if we are not sweating, the oil from our pores produces a shine on camera. A small amount of powder is required to reduce this sheen. Beware that foundations with SPF or light-reflective properties can make your skin look wax-like or worse cadaver-like under the lights.

You want your performance to shine – not your face. Unfortunately, many leaders have learned to their regret that if their faces are visibly perspiring on camera, they lose credibility and give the appearance of not telling the truth. Of course, it could be the lights and their nervousness making them hot, but that’s not the impression their viewers get. You want your performance to shine – not your face!

I toured the CNN studios in Atlanta, and it was revealing and refreshing to see the news anchors pulling out their handbags and re-applying their own powder and touching up their hair and make-up during the commercial breaks – without the aid of a makeup artist or stylist!


The camera and lighting will tend to wash out your skin tone, so makeup is required to bring your skin back to life.

Some colors do not come across well on camera. Women need to avoid dark reds and maroon-colored eye shadows, lip gloss, and blush because the camera has a tendency to accentuate the blue pigment in these colors, and they can appear purple (or vampire-ish) on camera.

Warm colors are best for video makeup

 A General Rule of Thumb:
  • Warm colors are best for video makeup
  • Opt for matte, neutral hues
  • Choose a classic makeup application style (less likely to date) that defines your eyes and mouth (the most expressive parts of the face) to help them stand out on screen
  • Avoid high-shine, light-attracting elements often found in blushers, lip glosses or eye shadows
  • Avoid cooler colors; as your lighting set-up may accentuate or exaggerate these colors on camera

I personally use the M-A-C brand (and have done so for past 10 years, without complaint). The brand is known for its camera-friendly qualities and is commonly used by makeup artists on film sets, and by TV anchors and reporters.

If you want to know the more specific technical details about makeup application see my article: Look Good on Video. Make Up Techniques for Men and Women.

Thank you so much for stopping by!



  1. Prentissterito says:

    This is great work Be very informative thanking you 

  2. Sweetl8dy says:

    Thank you. I recently got into “background acting” aka being an Extra and I don’t wear very much make up in my day to day. This article was very helpful. I’m going to print it and follow the tips on my next shoot. Turns out I’ve been doing ALL the wrong things, from SPF make up, to blush, to eye-shadow with a little shimmer…I sweat like crazy and probably look dead…on top of that I’m African American so I already have difficult time matching my shade…I was planning on trying out MAC…I’m definitely going on my lunch break today! Any type in particular? I like cream to power presses generally because they are easier…but I’m open to suggestions.

    • Hello thank you for stopping by! If you do decide to run with MAC maybe book in a consultation with them (some charge, some don’t) that way they can provide you with the best color matches for your skin.

      Go for the basics i.e. primer, foundation and concealer and neutral powder to set your look. Personally I use the MAC Studio Tech range it comes in a compact: http://bit.ly/NTPC4P have a look around their website so you can get an idea on pricing too.

      Hope this helps and all the best with your shoots too have fun! –Bianca

      Also see my comprehensive guide: Look Good on Video. Make Up Techniques for Men and Women: https://stebian.com/2011/12/look-good-on-video-make-up-techniques-for-men-and-women/

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