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 from the human eye.
Our filming devices and cameras, when unskillfully handled can accentuate wrinkles, magnify flaws, affect skin color and tone. It can distort facial features, morph nose and chin size. And it can make us look heavier and older than we actually are. Great stuff!
So with any on-camera work, if you want to look your best in your video presentations, and deliver a professional look and feel – it’s important that you wear makeup for technical reasons. Yes, that includes you, men, too.
Makeup for Technical Reasons
With skin tone, the camera and all forms of lighting will tend to wash you out. This is why makeup is used on professional film sets. Makeup helps to bring some semblance of life back into your skin tone. Its that simple.
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 the majority of the time you are on screen. So it’s important that your face and hair looks as good as possible in a close-up shot.
Also knowing your most photogenic angle and best camera placement will help with your on-camera zoom confidence.
Remember even the best looking models, actors, movie-tough-guys, news anchors, and presenters (both male and female) will opt for makeup when appearing on camera. And wouldn’t dream of stepping into the frame, without it! Technically they know how lacklustre they’ll appear on-screen without makeup – under the scrutiny or the camera lens and studio lights.
While visiting CNN studios in Atlanta, it was revealing and refreshing to see the news anchors pulling out their handbags and re-applying their own powder, make-up and touching up their hair during the commercial breaks. In some instances, while their co-anchor delivered a live segment to a second camera. It was quite a Ron Burgundy moment, with hair spray, handhold mirrors, hairbrushes, combs and lipstick gesticulating just out of frame near the live anchor.
A Little More Won’t Hurt
In normal everyday life, makeup is used to accentuate your natural features, as well as cover up any distracting blemishes. However, the camera and studio lighting will tend to wash-out a standard makeup application. As a result, you’ll need to apply a little more than you would normally use in daily life.
You want your performance or delivery to shine…not your face
Time to Powder Up!
Although their requirements for makeup 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 a light dusting of neutral-toned powder all over. It will prevent any side or overhead lighting from reflecting or bouncing-off from their heads. A major visual distraction on-screen and to your viewer.
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. Unfortunately, many leaders have learned to their regret that if their faces are visibly perspiring on camera, they can lose credibility or give the appearance of being hot under the collar in a close-up.
Makeup Colors to Avoid
Some colors do not come across well on camera. Women need to avoid dark reds and maroon-colored eye shadows, lip glosses, and blush. The camera has a tendency to accentuate the blue pigment in these colors, and they can appear purple (or vampire-ish) on camera. Instead, opt for warmer colors on the cheeks and lips.
Warm colors are best for video makeup
General On-camera Makeup rules:
- Opt for matte, neutral hues, and warm tones
- Choose a classic makeup application style (less likely to date) that defines your eyes and mouth (the most expressive parts of the face). This will help them stand out on screen
- Avoid high-shine, light-attracting elements often found in highlighters, lip glosses, eye shadows and glitters. These can age you considerably on-screen and can be highly distracting
- Avoid cool tone makeup colors on the cheeks and lips; as your lighting set-up may accentuate or exaggerate the tone of these colors on camera
I personally use M-A-C and have done so for most of TV/Film and modelling life – without complaint. The brand is known for its camera-friendly qualities and is commonly used by makeup artists on professional film sets, photoshoots, fashion shows, and TV anchors and reporters.
For an in-depth guide for professional male and female makeup applications for the screen. See my article: Look Good on Video. Make Up Techniques for Men and Women.
Thank you so much for stopping by!
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Established in 2006 Bianca Te Rito, founder of STEBIAN.com provides an exclusive, consulting service helping business thought leaders, speakers, award-winning authors & VIPs productize their thought leadership and present themselves, their products, services, or brand message to their target audience in the most effective way possible on video. Get the tailored expertise from a real-world operator with over 20 years of TV/Film industry experience working in front of and behind the camera. Learn more about our custom offers here.
This is great work Be very informative thanking you
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/