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Photo Finish: Camera Ready Makeup

We are our own worst critics, and at no time is that maxim more evident than when we're forced to look at photographs of ourselves that we're not happy with. We can't always dictate the angle or the lighting, but we do have the final say over the makeup we choose to wear when we know we'll be looking down the barrel of a camera. From the first coat of primer to the final blotting of lipstick before we face the lens, every step in the process matters. Follow these seven fail-safe guidelines, and you'll always be ready for your close-up.

Step 1: Primer

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer

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Primer is like a gesso that serves as a buffer between the raw canvas of your skin and the paint that will cover it. Apply this version from Smashbox after you moisturize; it’ll fill in fine lines and enlarged pores before you put on your foundation, thereby ensuring the most artful coverage possible.

Step 2: Concealer

Benefit Erase Paste

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The concealer you wear in photos should be two to three shades lighter than your natural skin tone. Use Benefit’s hardworking, heavy-duty Erase Paste to lighten under-eye circles and cover up blemishes and dark spots. Blend into the skin with a flat, round-bristled brush designed especially for concealer application. 

Step 3: Foundation

Givenchy Photo'Perfexion Fluid Foundation

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Now that you’ve laid the groundwork with your primer and concealer, you’ll be able to create a flawless finish with a layer of foundation; always match the shade to your chin and neckline. Billed as having “the expertise and speed of a digital retoucher,” Givenchy’s Photo'Perfexion Fluid Foundation is an ideal choice for photo ops: it smooths skin texture, brightens sallow complexions, and minimizes imperfections—and with SPF 20 built in, it will protect your skin even during outdoor shoots.

Step 4: Powder

Lancome Dual Finish Powder

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How many times have you seen a photo of yourself and thought, “Ugh, my face is so shiny”? Well, live and learn—and never get caught in front of a camera again without wearing a good translucent powder. As South Carolina–based model photographer Bob Pardue says, “Powder makes the difference between a beautiful photo and just a photo.” Try this versatile Lancôme product—which goes on either dry or damp—for an enviably matte effect.

Step 5: Blush

Nars Orgasm Blush

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Your skin tone is perfectly even now, but to avoid having it look washed out in photos, you’ll need to enhance it with blush. Use a little more than you normally would, but aim to place and blend it as precisely as possible for the most natural-looking appearance. Try NARS Orgasm, which has gained a cult following for good reason: it gives every skin tone a dreamy, peachy-pink, golden-accented flush that instantly conjures up images of … well, you know. 

Step 6: Eye Color

Dior Eye Essentials Kit

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Although other types of makeup require heavier application to produce the best results in photos, not so with eye shadow, which can darken the eye area and make you look tired. Always choose a lighter eye shadow palette for pictures; blue, white, pink, golden, silver, and greenish hues are all wise choices for enlivening the eyes. Apply the shadow to the upper lid and brow bone; to make your eyes appear larger, apply it only to the inner corners and complement with a light eyeliner on the inner rim of the lower lid. Follow with two coats of mascara. This elegant Dior Eye Essentials Kit contains everything you’ll need to make your peepers pop. 

Step 7: Lip Color

Clarins’ Joli Rouge Lipstick

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To make your lips stand out in pictures, wear a lipstick (and matching lip liner) or gloss that’s at least one shade darker than what you’d choose for everyday wear. Stay away from frosted colors, which barely show up on film. Clarins’ Joli Rouge lipstick is an intense, universally flattering shade of red with a gel-soufflé texture that moisturizes continuously. 

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