Since I started doing makeup on most of my projects, I discovered that some very basic makeup tools could have helped me in a big way on previous shoots. Before learning about makeup I had absolutely no clue whatsoever on where or even how to apply some very simple cosmetic products. Looking back now, I see how much time I have lost in Photoshop not knowing these simple things. My goal with this article is not to teach you makeup from A-to-Z but rather to give you a few easy tips you or your models can use to diminish your postproduction time. Less time in front of the computer means more time behind your camera, and who does not want that?
Cotton Swab and Makeup Remover
The two things I always bring to a photoshoot are cotton swabs and makeup remover. How many times have I had a model with mascara falling off leaving black marks, or a model with a tear that makes the liner go all blurry.
With a simple cotton swab — and if needed, some makeup remover — you can correct that very easily. No more “don't worry, I will correct that in Photoshop.” Remove it right on set and you are good to go. It is very easy to do: just rub the cotton lightly on the skin where the product must be removed.
If you are not sure how to do it, let the model do it. Just give her some kind of mirror or a phone (the front camera of an iPhone can make for a great mirror).
Speaking of mascara falling off, this is another thing I like to bring to photoshoots. Most mascaras have a tendency to wear off after some time. That is especially the case if you are working with hot continuous lighting or a strobe's modeling lighting on all the time. Because of the heat, the product has a tendency to fall.
I personally use Guerlain Cils d’Enfer and Guerlain Cils d’Enfer So Volume (Maxi Lash Waterproof if you need a waterproof one). Both are amazing and withstand the heat very well. Be careful, however, not to apply mascara before using a hair dryer or straightener. These will most likely make even the best mascara fall off.
Setting Powder and Tissues
Sometimes we have to shoot in a studio with no air conditioning or outside under the noon sun. These are conditions that make everyone sweat, including the models. Unfortunately, models are not “sweat proof,” which is the reason why I make sure to have tissues to pat off the sweat of their forehead. Be very gentle while doing that, especially on models with very light skin. You do not want them turning red. Also if they have put foundation on, do it very carefully and lightly, you do not want to remove the foundation totally.
Buying a setting powder as well as a brush to apply would be a great idea if you find yourself shooting outside or with strobes most of the time. This will diminish the shiny effect of a sweaty or oily skin. Both Nars, Makeup Forever, and Mac have a great HD setting powders. It lasts for quite some time. If you buy the white one which is meant to be translucent, apply it very lightly and make some tests with it. Putting too much of it will turn your model's skin to white under the flashes. Regarding the brush, the previously named brands have awesome brushes. If you do not want to spend too much, look at Morphe Brushes, Zoeva, or RealTechniques brushes. They are cheaper and will do the job quite well too.
Green or Yellow Corrector, or CC Cream
It is not rare to have a model turn up to a shoot with makeup on but still some red spots on the skin. There is the Photoshop way I showed you a couple of weeks ago, or correctors that are meant for these kind of problems. Red is usually corrected with green or yellow correctors. Green works the best, but if you are not used to it, you might apply too much and make the red spots turn grayish. Yellow is often easier and less “risky” to apply. Alternatively, CC creams can do wonders and are even more forgiving regarding the precision of the application.
The same brands aforementioned — NARS, Mac or Makeup Forever — have awesome correctors, CC creams, or tinted moisturizers that will do the job perfectly. If you do not want to spend too much on the products, look at NYX. They offer great products at a lower cost.
To apply correctors or CC creams, you can use your fingers to pat the product on the zone that needs it (make sure your fingers are clean though). Or if you have a bit more money, you can buy a concealer brush (such as a Nars 12 brush) for the correctors and a buffing brush such as RealTechniques Expert Face Brush.
Last but not least, and probably less makeup related, is hair spray. How many times have I regretted that I don't have it with me. I now even take it when I photograph weddings. Cleaning tiny flying hair in Photoshop is a nightmare. A good and strong hair spray can make it go away or at least limit it as much as possible. Spray it in your hand, or on a comb, and fix the problem by petting the hair of your model. You will not get perfect hair, but it will lighten the load of work in post greatly. Perfect hair is nearly impossible without some kind of postproduction. If you are using Photoshop, be sure to check out Aaron Blaise's brushes — they are a must.
These tricks are very basic and easy to implement in your workflow. Even if you are someone who has no experience with makeup or cosmetics, you will see that these can change your portraits and the time spent in front of your computer. It is important to remember that retouching is not a replacement for makeup. Retouching should be there only to enhance things that could not have been done better at the time of the shoot. When photographing portraits, makeup is a very important step of my workflow and I believe it should be for every photographer. Even if it is only simple steps like presented here. It will make your postproduction easier as well as quicker and because you have less retouching to do, you are more likely to have consistency across a set of images.
PS : Keep in mind makeup should always be applied with clean brushes and some products, such as mascara, should preferably be applied with a disposable spooly.