Make-up for Video

As a video producer, you have to be a jack-of-all-trades. You need to be a master of shot composition, lighting and audio. To get the most out of your talent, you need to be a good director, and to put it all together, you need to master a slew of post-production techniques. Many videographers focus so much on these production skills that they overlook a simple step that can make their productions look more professional. That step? Make-up.

It is important that your talent look its best on camera. Here are some practical make-up tips that you can apply in 10 minutes or less, even if you don’t know the difference between mascara and foundation. This article will explore three different people that you might encounter as you set out to shoot video, and tell you how to choose the best make-up strategy for each person. Along the way you’ll learn principles that you can apply to anyone that you shoot for your productions. The pros do it. You can too.

Person #1 – Darrell

African-American Male (Age: 30)

Make-up Tools: Hypo-allergenic translucent (loose) face powder, box of tissues, disposal lip brushes, eyelash comb, dark brown (smooth) eyebrow pencil, lip primer.

Purpose: Use translucent powder to remove the shine from the face without changing the natural skin tone. This is a must for on-screen personalities with dark skin. This powder comes in a loose or compact form. Hypo-allergenic powder is for sensitive skin and since you probably don’t know what type of skin your talent has, it is best to use one that is hypo-allergenic.


1. Start with a clean, dry face. Use a tissue to wipe away any moisture.

2. Drape an apron or towel over the talent to make sure no make-up residue gets on the clothes.

3. Using a medium-size powder brush, apply a small amount of translucent powder to the forehead, coming down around the cheeks and finally covering the entire face. Do not apply to the neck area. You should apply only as far as the jaw line and blend it from there, so it looks as natural as possible.

4. With the eyelash comb, brush the talent’s eyebrows in the direction they naturally grow. This will give the face an even look, with all facial hair going in the correct direction.

5. With the eyebrow pencil, going in the natural direction of the eyebrow, run a very light pencil over the eyebrow. This prevents your talent’s features from washing out under hot studio lights.

6. Get your lip brushes and primer ready. Stroke the brush across the lip primer – (never place the lip primer directly on the talent’s mouth) and apply the primer to the lips in even strokes.

Person #2 – Jessica

White Female (Age: 21)

Make-up Tools: Liquid foundation (full coverage), concealing cream, loose powder, blush, lip liner, lip gloss (semi-transparent), eyebrow pencil, eyelashes/adhesive, mascara, tweezers, triangular sponges and cotton swabs.

Purpose: Liquid foundation gives the skin a smooth, even look. Full-coverage foundation will block out any blemishes or blotches that would normally show up under hot lights and video closeups.


1. Start with a clean face. Apply concealing cream to any areas that appear dark (under the eyes) or to any skin discoloration. Blend. Professionals often apply some concealing cream under the nose to highlight any area shadowed by the lighting.

2. Using a triangle sponge, place a small amount of foundation on the sponge and apply in upward/circular strokes. When applying foundation around the nose and under the eye area, be extremely careful. Use light stokes that go inward toward the nose. The skin under the eye is the most sensitive.

3. With the powder brush, apply loose powder to the face, using light, even strokes.

4. With the blusher brush, swipe blush over the cheeks (start from the cheek and mid-center eye and brush into the temple). The color concentration should be on the cheek itself. The closer you get to the temple, the lighter the blush should appear. Reminder: keep lipstick and blush in the same color family. Do not let your talent wear pink lipstick and red blush; this will give the talent’s face an awkward appearance.

5. Use lip liner (in the same color family as the lipstick) to line the lips before applying gloss. This will prevent the lipstick from “bleeding” on screen. If you would like to make lips appear smaller, move the lip liner inside the lips’ natural line. To make lips appear larger, apply the lip liner outside of the lips’ natural line. Apply lip gloss/lipstick with a disposable lip brush.

6. Brush the eyebrows in the natural direction of growth. Apply eye pencil to the eyebrow with a medium/light hand.

Person #3 – Arnold

Balding male (Age: 55)

Make-up Tools: Compact sheer face powder, oil-free/water-base sheer liquid foundation, blush, lip primer, disposal lip brushes, eyelash curler and comb, and eyebrow pencil.

Purpose: Water-based sheer liquid and sheer powder create a natural appearance. The talent should appear to not have on any make-up, but should also not glisten or shine under your lights.


1. Start with a clean, dry face. Also, wipe any shine or moisture on the bald area of the head.

2. Apply a matting lotion or liquid powder to the head and face. This is used directly on a clean face and head to prime the area and prevent shine.

3. Apply the sheer foundation, so the talent does not appear “made up.” Blend to the jaw line. Place emphasis in the eye area, making sure there are no dark spots. Also, make sure the shaving area of the face is smooth. Utilizing a lighter liquid than the talent’s complexion, blend out any dark spots that may appear after applying the foundation.

4. Dust the entire face and the bald area of the head with sheer powder. Sheer powder can be translucent or have color to it, but is lighter than other powders in texture and weight. It will keep the talent from shining.

5. Apply a natural blush to the talent’s face, something a little darker than the complexion but in the same color family. Use an extremely light hand so the face appears natural to the camera.

6. Brush the eyebrows in the natural direction they grow. Run an extra-light eyebrow pencil over the eyebrow.

Make-up Tricks of the Trade

With all make-up applications, start with a clean, dry face and never apply make-up below the jaw line. Carry disposable brushes and hypo-allergenic powder.

His and Hers

In general, you can let women apply their own make-up (most of them will probably be more experienced at it than you are). Even so, you should still have the final say. Check the make-up to make sure it will work well for the camera.

Men, on the other hand, should not be left to apply their own make-up. Most men are really not familiar with make-up and welcome help in this area. The majority of men will resist make-up applications, but will understand once you explain they will look better on camera. For their peace of mind, apply men’s make-up in a private place if possible, not in front of a group of people.

Monitor Matters

Always use a monitor to check your subjects’ make-up under the lights you’ll be using for the shoot. You’ll find that you may need to use more make-up for the camera than you would for the naked eye.


Use translucent powder to take the shine off the face without changing the skin tone. Translucent and color powder come in loose or compact form.

Loose color powder gives the face a smooth, non-oily look. It can be used as a foundation or applied alone.

Sheer powder is lighter in texture than translucent or regular loose powder. It is available in a compact or loose form.

If the face has too much color, dust it with powder to tone it down.


Caution your talent to wear neutral colors. No large stripes, plaids or reds. Reds tend to bleed, and stripes, plaids and patterns tend keep the audience attention on the clothes and not what the talent is saying.

Neutral colors look the best on camera: tan, blue, gray, soft greens, etc. You may also want to suggest that your talent bring two additional outfits, just in case one does not work with the background.


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