Men Get Makeup For Their Photos Too

Before I go into why the answers to all those questions are the same, let me start by defining “men” as individuals who present as male and wear little to no makeup on a daily basis, at least for the purposes of this particular discussion.

Question: should men have a makeup artist for their photoshoot? Answer: maybe.
Question: should women have a makeup artist for their photoshoot? Answer: maybe.
Question: should people have a makeup artist for their photoshoot? Answer: maybe.

The reason men have a makeup artist at their photo session is the same as everyone else’s: to look like you at your best. And in photography, makeup is just one of the many tools that can be used to achieve that, along with lighting, angles, lens choice, background and wardrobe choices, and retouching.

The primary purpose of makeup for men is usually to even out skin tone that looks uneven (areas of mismatched darkness and lightness), blotchiness, redness, and to reduce shine (including the top of the head if you’re sporting a hair optional look). When a makeup artist has someone who presents as female in their chair, they usually first ask how much makeup, if any, they wear on a daily basis, and what their daily look is. For people who present as male, the question is the same: what is your goal for your look in this photo?

Who should get men’s makeup for their photoshoot? If you haven’t liked photos of yourself in the past because of shine, redness, blotchiness/uneven skin tone, or unruly hair, then having a makeup artist at your session is going to be especially worthwhile, since they’ll correct for that.

Men’s makeup is usually referred to as the “no makeup” makeup look, or “male grooming.” Makeup is used to direct the viewer’s eye away from what we want to de-emphasize and toward what we want them to see, such as looking past redness and blemishes to focus on your confident smile. And makeup application isn’t all or nothing. It’s a scale. Think of just a little powder for forehead shine on one end, and full-blown Kardashian-style contouring on the other: you can use as much or as little as you want.

So if we’re getting down to brass tacks here, if a man opts for a makeup artist for his photo session, will he end up wearing lipstick? Not likely. For male grooming, the goal is to NOT look like you’re wearing traditional makeup. Powder and mattifying creams are usually used to remove shine, and spot concealer or corrector expertly matched to your skin tone might be used to remove unevenness and blemishes.

How about some more brass tacks: If men get only a wee bit of makeup compared to women for a photo session, why do they have to pay as much as women? You’re not paying for the makeup itself or even the time spent applying it. You’re paying for the expertise and the extra insurance that the photo will be the best it can be. A professional makeup artist is someone trained to translate your goals into the look that will achieve them.

What’s the difference between makeup and retouching if they’re both used to correct skin tone and blemishes? Both are tools. It’s like using either a wrench or vice grips to remove a stuck bolt. Both get the job done in different ways. It’s personal preference, or using a combo of both to achieve the look you want, and both methods have strengths and weaknesses. For example, makeup is better than retouching at correcting uneven skin tone, and retouching is better than makeup for correcting uneven skin texture.

Tips for men before their makeup session: Come to your photo shoot rested and drink lots of water beforehand. Filling your skin cells with water for 24 hours before photos will plump and hydrate those cells, reducing wrinkles. And a good night’s sleep always helps with those undereye areas, which get darker when we’re tired and dehydrated.

And take care of your usual grooming beforehand, such as shaving and moisturizing and trimming your eyebrows or other stray nose and ear hairs, since that won’t be part of the makeup session.

Wondering if you should tip the makeup artist?  Read about that and more on how to prepare for your session here.

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