Real Life Vs. On-Camera Makeup


Most people understand that there is a difference between makeup for everyday life and makeup which is appropriate for on-camera.

However, the common misconception is that on-camera makeup is the same as an everyday look just, much heavier.

The reality is that in today’s high definition world (more so for 4K) the gap between real life and on-camera is dramatically reduced.

If anything, hair and makeup for the purposes of video production, needs to be more polished, perfectly applied to be seamless and almost invisible (in many cases a lighter application than an at home makeup). With high definition, the image output is pin sharp, and often viewed on screens that are larger than life exposing every flaw in makeup application.

Aside from the level of image detail that technology delivers,  it is also important when filming, to consider the effect of the sets lighting on the beauty of the subject.

Make up for video production

In real life, most women like to look fresh and youthful, and I am frequently requested to make them appear ‘dewy’. In contrast, under strong bright lighting, shine on the skin is the camera’s worst enemy, appearing more ‘oil slick’ than youthfully fresh.  Therefore, the perfect camera finish involves sufficient powder to eliminate excess shine, and the avoidance of products that contain excess shimmer or larger glitter pigments.

Furthermore, this same strong bright direct light can often make a person appear ‘washed out’ on screen. Therefore, another consideration of on-camera makeup application is colour. Soft contouring, cheek and lip colour is often necessary to reinstate a healthy appearance.

In comparison, in low, directional, moody lighting the makeup look generally needs to be light and ‘clean’ due to the presence of heavy shadows on the face. For example, too much heavy makeup under the eyes in low light can make the talent appear sunken and tired. However, as there is less light on the subject, this is one situation where a ‘dewy’ appearance is possible, so a small amount of shine can help to enhance the facial contours.

Finally, in real life we all wish to appear the most beautiful version of ourselves possible. And, we have our own individual style and ideas as to which look best delivers this. However on camera, makeup is also used to create characters.

The vixen, the sophisticated professional, blue collar worker, busy mum…this character look may be contrary to how we choose to groom ourselves on a daily basis.

In summary, on camera makeup application is different to real life. It is perfectly polished, and must include or exclude certain elements dependent upon the lighting and film style, as well as the character requirements. It is not ‘heavier’.

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