The Ultimate Guide: On-camera Make-Up Application Protocals for Men and Women

In a recent article, I emphasized why you need to wear makeup if you want to look your best when filming your online video presentations. Yes, guys – that includes you too!

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.

Many people have since written to me asking for my specific “how to apply makeup” technical details. In this comprehensive article, we provide you with a step by step makeup application process, along with expert tips and techniques to get you “camera ready” for your web videos.

Before we start, I want to remind you of a few vital points from my previous articles:

    • The video camera sees things differently than the human eye. What looks good to the human eye may look completely different on camera – and vice versa
    • How you “frame” yourself on camera – has a powerful subconscious impact on your audience. Everything within the frame takes on greater importance
    • You must learn which facial angles and expressions work best for you, and take care to present these to the camera most of the time

Ok – now we are ready to begin.

Makeup Application Tips for Men On-camera

First of all, get a good haircut, and shave or groom your facial hair. Don’t forget to groom those caterpillars! Consider having your eyebrows professionally groomed or shaped – most male presenters have had some “subtle” grooming done in this area including ear and nose hair!

Male news presenters and actors wouldn’t dream of getting in front of a camera without make-up. They understand how much the camera and lighting can detract from their features. The key for men is to even out their skin tone, cover any blemishes, and eliminate the shine from your face (or if you are bald) your head to avoid a “chrome dome” on-screen.

    1. Cleanse, shave and moisturize (avoid sunblock /SPF which can bounce light due to its properties)
    2. Gently tissue of  any excess moisture or oil  from your face – you want your face to be moisturized but shine-free
    3. Apply (with a good quality fluffy makeup brush) a light application of translucent powder. Pay special attention to your T-Zone – which runs across the forehead, down the nose,  the top lip and chin
    4. Opt for a base or tint that is a shade darker than your complexion. Go for a professional brand like MAC Makeup (a trusted brand used in the TV and Film industry). MAC is available in major department stores as well as online.
    5. Apply a light application of natural lip balm – pigment-free, no gloss. Burt’s Bees lip balm is a (chemical-free) quality brand available in most drugstores. Avoid common “big brand” chap-sticks (they are actually designed to dry the lips out – funny that!)
    6. Check that your hands and fingernails are well-groomed (again I highly recommend the Burt’s Bees hand-care range)
    7. While working under the lights – don’t let ’em see you sweat! Periodically check that your face isn’t overly shiny (by repeating the above Step 3) and that no perspiration is showing through your clothing (yes it happens and it’s extremely hard if not impossible to fix in the edit).

That’s it for you handsome guys!

Makeup Application Process for Women

Step 1. Preparation

Start with a clean exfoliated, moisturized face. Apply a non-reflective primer, especially under the eyes. This will give you a smoother surface for good makeup application. The primer will help your makeup stay on longer and keep it looking fresh.

Ensure that your foundation, concealer, and powder are a match for your skin coloration. You may want to buy a second foundation that is slightly darker for contouring under the chin.

Step 2. Conceal and Correct

Apply a concealer under the eyes to minimize any dark discolorations, redness, blotches or blemishes which will show under lighting if you are being filmed in a close-up. As a general rule of thumb; salmon, peach or orange-tinted concealers help minimize any bluish tones. Opt for one that has a gel-like texture (to prevent caking). Yellow or green-tinted concealers help to correct any overall redness.

Step 3. Foundation

Full coverage foundation helps to create a more defined image of you on screen as well as enhancing the contours of your facial features. It minimizes any distractions to your viewers which HD can often magnify;

    • Use full coverage foundation for best results and longevity
    • Apply foundation with clean fingers or a foundation brush. Dot the foundation on your forehead, nose, chin and cheeks. Start smoothing and blending out from the center of your forehead and work your way down to your nose and chin. Blend outwards towards your cheeks (keep it light under your eyes) then up to your ears and down to and under your jawline. Apply a very light application to the throat area and blend down.
    • Apply the foundation more heavily on the T section (forehead, nose) as well as cheeks and blend
    • To set the foundation so that it does not crease, melt or shine under the lights or during filming, apply a fine layer of translucent powder to set the foundation. This will give your skin a nice even fresh look. Use a translucent powder, which has no light-reflecting properties or pigments. This will ensure that it won’t alter the color of your foundation when reapplying or touching up during filming.

Step 4. Blush

  • Apply lightly first and gradually build up the color. If you apply it too heavily you will have to start the whole foundation prep again. Tissue-off or dusting with more power to decrease the intensity can work, but it’s not recommended for best results
  • Use a matte finish blush. Avoid shiny creams, or light-reflecting powders. Apply a shade that is a little darker than your natural complexion
  • With an angle brush, smile and place blush on the apple of your cheeks, gradually blend the color back towards your temples. The closer to the temples the lighter the blush color should become
  • Ensure that you stick to the same “color” family when it comes to choosing your blush and lipstick color i.e. cool blush with cool lipstick or warm blush with a warm lipstick.

Step 5. Define the Eyes & Eyebrows

Defining helps your features stand out on screen – it’s like putting a frame around a painting. It focuses the viewers’ attention on what is within the frame – and prevents the art from blending into the background. The camera and lights can really diminish or wash out your features, so it’s vital to have the most expressive features on your face defined and framed properly.


    • With the end of a makeup brush, point it straight up from the outer edge of your nostril toward your forehead. This is where your eyebrow should start
    • Now point the brush handle straight up toward your forehead in front of your pupil. Move outwards; when you hit the outer edge of your pupil that is where your eyebrow arch should be. Keep moving outwards; when you reach the outer edge of your eye that is where your eyebrow should end
    • Tip: In middle age for men and women, sometimes slightly shortening the end of an eyebrow can lift the eye and giving it a fresh look. Longer length eyebrows can draw the eye down and you want to avoid anything that drags the features down
    • Brush the eyebrows in the natural direction they grow. Run an extra-light eyebrow pencil over the eyebrow. Make sure that the pencil or powder color matches your eyebrow color and not your hair color.


There are many ways to apply eye makeup to enhance or minimize or create different effects for wide-set, close-set, deep-set eyes as well as prominent, droopy or hooded lids. Let me know in the comment section below if you would like to know more about these applications.

In this article, I will focus on a “classic” makeup look that is timeless and suitable for all ages and most eye shapes. Make sure that the eyeshadows you use are Matte based; we want to draw the viewer eye in – not bounce and reflect light at them with shimmers, frost shadows – which can make your eyes look uneven or slightly distorted. If you must use a shimmer only apply it to the arch of your eyebrow very sparingly.

    • Apply the base or lightest color from the base of the lash line to the brow
    • From the lash line run the contouring shadow (darker shade) out towards the outer part of your eye and then up to the crease line forming a V-shape
    • With a soft fluffy dome brush blend so there are no harsh lines
    • Using a color shadow (one that compliments the eye) brush on top of the lid out to the corner of your eye
    • Apply eyeliner on the upper and lower lash line (apply lightly on the lower lash line for a more natural look)
    • Using a blending tip or small brush smudge the eyeliner to soften the eye
    • Optional: apply eyeliner to your upper waterline, it gives the appearance of a thicker lash line
    • Optional: sparingly apply the color eyeshadow used on top of the eyelid under the eye with the blending tip or small eye brush
    • Apply mascara – it really helps to frame and finish the eye. Black compliments any eye color but have some fun with mascara i.e. violet mascara makes green eyes “pop” especially if they are complemented with a copper color eye shadow
      • Optional: False eyelashes – use a natural style, often they can really help open the eye
      • Optional: Use an eyelash curler (to help open out the eye) prior to applying mascara.

Bonus 1. Eye Makeup for Mature Skin

    • Work your eye shadow slightly upwards and out – to lift the eye area
    • Highlight outer corners with a light shadow color; avoid working the shadow too far out to the sides of the eye
    • From the mid of the brow lift with the thumb and ensure no darker eye shadow goes on higher than the lid
    • Avoid creamy, black, and all iridescent and frosted eye shadows.

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Step 6. Hot Lips

    • Exfoliate the lips prior to lipstick application. For a smoother result use sugar or salt and olive oil. Gently massage and rinse off
    • Use a natural lip color and lip liner that is in the same color “family” as your blush. If you have cooler color tones on your eyes opt for a warm color tone on your lips and vice-versa. It will prevent a “samey” color wash on the face – where everything looks the same and nothing stands out
    • Use a lip liner to add dimension and shape to your mouth. It prevents color bleeding in mature skins. Ensure that your lip liner matches your lipstick and/or is a natural color i.e. matches the inside of your lip for good color definition
    • Use a creamy or matte finish lipstick. Avoid using frosts – they tend to make you look washed out on camera, and they don’t define or frame the mouth area well. In some cases, they can make the mouth look smudgy or out of focus on the camera.

Bonus 2. Lip Tips

    • Large lips: pencil on the inside of your natural mouth line
    • Small lips: pencil slightly outside of the natural lip line and average size lips pencil on the natural lip line
    • Lopsided lips: even them up with the lip liner
    • Top-heavy lips: line slightly under the bottom lip of your natural lip line
    • Bottom heavy lips: line just above the natural lip line of the top lip and line slightly above the natural lip line of the bottom lip then full in with lipstick color.

Step 7. Contouring

Contouring helps to enhance or minimize features like the cheeks, nose and forehead area and can make your facial features appear more defined, thinner-looking or chiselled;

    • Always choose a cream or powder that is just 2 shades darker than your skin. No darker, otherwise it will look obvious and unnatural. The same process can be achieved with powder (2 shades darker and with an angled blush brush)
    • You can either apply contouring before or after your foundation – whichever is easiest. But make sure that contouring is done before you apply your translucent powder
    • To define and contour the cheekbones; shade under the cheekbone and stop when your brush is in line with your nostril. Then take it back to the ear making a triangle or wedge
    • If you have a protruding nose, shade on top of the bridge of the nose to its tip and slightly on either side
    • If your nose is small, use a lighter concealer to shade the bridge of the nose and on both sides
    • Blend well and check for any harsh lines
    • Set with Translucent powder.

Optional – Bronzing – another way to contour

    • Use a powder two shades darker than your foundation
    • Avoid bronzers that have reflecting properties
    • Apply with a contour or angled blush brush and shade over the hairline of the forehead from temple to temple
    • Then from the outer corner of the eye up to the temple into the hairline
    • Then shadow from the ear (yes the ear) down under the cheekbone to the center of the cheek – forming the top part of the number “3”
    • Then from the ear down to the jawline, then under the jawline, then from the jawline down the neck. Forming the bottom part of the 3 – so eventually you have a contoured “3” shape for the temple to cheek, cheek to the jawline and a little lower to the neck
    • It is important that there are NO harsh lines – the shadow must blend. Shake the brush clean after applying and go over the same places buffing it out to ensure that you have left no lines.


    • Your makeup application needs to be applied “heavier” than you would normally use in daily life
    • When applying makeup color always start light and gradually build up the intensity. It is easier to add more than it is to remove makeup
    • Always check yourself on the monitor/tv/laptop screen to make sure that everything looks great within the confines of the frame
    • Avoid reapplying foundation after you have powdered with translucent powder. it will become icky and look very caked and distracting to the viewer. Nine times out of ten you will need to wash it off and start over
    • With straight lines always blend, blend, blend
    • Drink plenty of water it will make your skin look great on video. Being well-hydrated will also help prevent you from having a dry mouth – making your words sound “sticky”
    • Avoid alcohol, salt, rich or creamy foods the night before
    • Sleep with your head slightly elevated, if it is comfortable for you. This will help reduce under-eye puffiness and any lymphatic pooling
    • Book facials or waxing/procedures a week prior – to avoid rashes, skin breakouts.

More “Free” tips and guides to check out!

If you have a topic or question that you what me to cover let me know.

You can also book a time with me to troubleshoot your video creation or a production challenge. Or see below for details.





  1. Mwald says:

    It seems like a lot to take on. How do you handle the hooded eyes?

    • Hello M

      Thank you for stopping by and for your question. Yes! This guide is quite extensive. If there was one big take-away I would recommend, it would be to ensure that you have a smooth even skin tone and color before stepping in front of the video camera. 

      Okay – Hooded eyes either come with genetics or with age. Below are some application tips for you:

      1. Use a medium to dark shadow on the outer corner and crease then slightly extend the shadow line out from the outer edge of your eye. Slightly blend the eye-shadow upwards towards the eyebrow. The dark shadow will de-emphasize this area of the eye

      2. On the lids use a lighter eye-shadow color which will emphasize this area – drawing attention away from the hooded area

      3. Avoid “frosts” or “shimmery” eye-shadows on the hooded area of the eye – only medium to dark matte colors should be applied there

      4. Blend the dark shadow well – use window wiper movements with a soft fluffy domed eye-shadow brush – there should be no obvious make-up lines (think water paintings).

      5. Check your make-up application for any issues by doing “double takes” in the mirror. Face the mirror and rest your eyes on your whole appearance – then turn away and look back at the mirror if anything instantly jars with you or pops right out at you – then there’s the opportunity to fix the issue before you step in front of the video camera. 

      Hope this helps M!

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