Before Your Session: Beauty Checklist

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Guest Post from Hannah Kuhary, Professional Make-Up Artist & Business Owner

You've made the excellent decision to hire Jessica to shoot your portrait or family session. Congrats! While she will capture your unique character and beauty, it's up to you to prepare for your moment behind the lens. As a professional makeup artist, I work with hundreds of clients and help get their skin, hair and makeup picture-perfect before their session. And while I will always highly recommend seeking out a professional artist to help you, sometimes timing or budget doesn't allow for that luxury. 

Preparing for your photoshoot might seem overwhelming, but I promise you that it's not. A week before your session (or more, if possible), is the right time to start considering how you want to look, which outfits you will wear, and what steps you need to take to look your best.

One of the most important gifts you can give to yourself prior to your session – and for your well-being in general – is investing in an effective and thorough skincare regimen. I cannot tell you how many clients sit in my chair and complain about dryness, breakouts, and uneven texture and then proceed to tell me they do very little to care for their skin at home. Making the conscious effort to properly cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize will give you amazing results in regards to your skin's clarity and tone, but also your self confidence! Beautiful skin also means less makeup and post-editing work for your photographer.

SKINCARE

It is essential to remove your makeup and cleanse your skin every night before bed. Some of my favorite inexpensive cleansers come from La Roche Posay and can be easily found at Target or the drugstore.

Exfoliation is the secret to smooth, radiant skin. I am obsessed with these Reveal Peel Pads from EVER Skin because they are fool-proof, effective, + packed with good-for-you ingredients. The alpha-hydroxy acid in this product remove the dead, dull skin from the surface, giving your skin a fresh glow. If you are new to alpha-hydroxy acids, start by using them twice a week and work up to every other night. You will notice a huge difference in how you complexion looks and feels!

Every skin type needs moisture – yes, even oily skin! A hydrated base will look better under makeup and cause your products to last longer. I use the Hydralift Moisturizers from EVER on myself and clients because they are so nourishing without being heavy. The original formula is for normal to dry skin types, and the oil-free version is perfect for combination and oily skins. If you are on a budget, check out the Priming Moisturizer from Glossier, which works well for all skin types. Choose a moisturizer that is right for your skin type and use it after you exfoliate, both morning and night.

Don't neglect your lips! So many of my clients come to me with dry, peeling lips, which are hard to cover. Keep yourself well-hydrated and use a lip balm nightly. If your lips are particularly chapped, try a lip scrub or a baby toothbrush to gently buff away flakes.

Finally, if you have a pimple, don't pick! A blemish is easy to cover with concealer, but an angry, oozy scab is not.

MAKEUP

Less is more when it comes to makeup for lifestyle sessions or headshots, especially if you are not used to wearing it on a daily basis. This not the time to try out a new smokey eye or winged liner. Choose a look that is classic to you and your style and focus on bringing out your favorite features.

Starting with a well-prepped base (clean + moisturized skin), apply a foundation that best suits the coverage you desire. For most of my clients, I choose something with a medium coverage that helps neutralize redness and imperfections, but still looks natural and fresh. I carry Estee Lauder DoubleWear Light in my kit, which is great for oily skin, and Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk for normal to dry. Apply with a brush or a beauty sponge from the center of your face and blend outwards and down your neck. Don't forget your ears and along your hairline! The trick to a really natural base is taking your time to really blend and work the foundation into your skin.

Concealer can cover a world of imperfections and fake eight hours of blissful sleep. Be sure to choose a shade that is the same or one shade lighter than your natural skin tone. If you go too light, it will look ashy and washed out on camera. Apply the smallest amount of concealer you need to cover your dark circles or blemishes. I have used the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in my kit for years and it has a very inclusive shade range. Maybelline Fit Me Concealer is a great drugstore dupe. 

Set any areas that tend to move or become oily with a translucent powder, like the CoverFX Perfect Setting powder. For most women, that means setting under the eyes and through the t-zone (forehead, nose and chin). Avoid the urge to pack on a lot - this can cause your foundation and concealer to look dry and cakey. Use a fluffy brush and gently pat the powder into the areas you want mattified or set.

I prefer not to do any heavy contouring for natural, daytime makeup. Instead, add a bit of depth and dimension to your complexion with a light wash of bronzer across the highest points of the face where the sun would naturally hit (forehead, backs of the cheeks and cheekbones, across the nose and down under the jawline into the neck). A peachy pink blush is flattering on most skin tones and creates a very natural flush. Add a little bit to the apples of your cheeks and blend back into your bronzer. I love the bronzer and blush from the Elegant and Empowered palette from EVER, but another favorite universal blush is Melba from MAC.

Keep the eyes simple and defined. If you are not eyeshadow savvy, something like a shadow stick or cream eyeshadow is a great option. Apply it all over the eyelid and blend up and into the crease with your finger. A neutral bronze or pearly champagne shade is beautiful on all eye colors and looks very natural. If you prefer a powder shadow, use a lighter shade all over the eyelid and blend a mid-tone brown into the crease with a fluffy brush. The Out the Door palette from EVER makes it so easy to create a beautiful look because the shades are beautiful on everyone and they come numbered, so you know exactly where to put them.

Eyeliner is optional, but mascara is a must! Curling your eyelashes first really helps to open them up and then put on plenty of mascara to define your eyes and make them look awake. 

Lastly, having defined lips makes such a difference on camera. I always have clients tell me they don't want anything on their lips, but I really encourage you to choose a natural, "your lips but better shade" that will highlight your smile and pull the whole look together. Avoid anything too light or nude. 

Some of my favorites are:

Brave, Velvet Teddy, and Cream in Your Coffee by MAC

Pillow Talk, Very Victoria and Penelope Pink by Charlotte Tilbury


FINAL THOUGHTS

Aim to get a solid 8 hours of sleep, if possible. Keep yourself well hydrated and don't forget to eat before your session! And lastly, remember that you will look gorgeous, no matter what kind of lipstick you wear or outfit you choose. Own your unique features and give yourself a little self-love. Confidence, above all else, is the best beauty secret around!

About the Author:

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Hannah Kuhary is a professional makeup artist and licensed esthetician. She provides luxury bridal and on-site makeup services throughout Louisiana and Texas. In addition to training at the Paul Mitchell Academy in Sacramento, California and the International Dermal Institute, Hannah has worked with Cosmopolitan and Seventeen Magazine. She is a wife and mother of two little girls and calls Shreveport, Louisiana, home.