We all have at least one cringe-worthy passport or license photo in our portfolio—whether it’s the “dead eyes,” “prison mugshot” or “I-smell-a-skunk face”—but you never have to be a victim again. Get your photo taken on the weekend when you have time to ask the tech to take several quick snaps and choose the best of the bunch. Also be sure to follow our tips for styling your hair, makeup and clothes. We visited Domenico & Drea salon in Toronto’s Yorkville with FLARE.com intern Meghan to get suggestions from the pros. Guaranteed, you’ll be able to smile as you hand over your “I’m sexy and I know it” photo on your next trip to the club or out of the country—every time for the next five years!
Tip #1. Wear Your Hair Down
Even if you have supermodel cheekbones, head-on non-smiling shots taken in haste generally aren’t good for the self-esteem—and wearing your hair in a messy ponytail is only going to make matters worse. If you’re really organized, plan your snaps for a day when you’re already getting a haircut or blowout. Trust us: When your hair looks good, you look good.
Domenico Sanelli, co-owner of Domenico & Drea, offers blowouts starting at $35, but if you plan to style your hair yourself, he suggests focusing on the roots first and making sure they’re completely dry. “They’re the healthiest and they hold the most water,” he says. “If your hair starts to frizz and poof an hour after you blow dry, it means you missed some of the water in your hair.” Taking better care of your locks will also result in a better hair day. Deep condition or slather your strands in coconut oil once a week and try to shampoo your hair less often. Only shampoo every three or four days and on the other days “give your scalp a good scrub with your fingers [when you’re in the shower], then add conditioner on the ends.”
Tip #2. Neutral Makeup Is Key
Whether your photo is in colour or black and white, bright makeup often looks garish and unflattering when photographed under fluorescent lighting. Instead, apply neutral shadows, a soft blush and a little rosy lipstick or gloss. Makeup artist and co-owner Andria Mendocino-Sanelli used a BB cream on Meghan’s whole face, including as a shadow primer for her lids, and blended it into her neck. She suggests using a concealer duo to mix your own perfect shade. “For your under eyes, it’s always good to go a little lighter if you have dark circles,” says Andria. “But if you have an imperfection, you want to go a little closer to your skin [tone].”
“Keep blush close to the natural colour of your skin,” says Andria, “And choose a matte [formula] to avoid any sparkle.” She also dusted a rose-hued shadow on Meghan’s lid and applied a neutral lip liner and gloss to Meghan’s lips. She suggests filling lips completely with liner to prevent a visible line when your gloss or lipstick wears off.
Skip harsh eyeliner, because if your line is even a little off (say there’s a slight wiggle on one eye, or the left flick ends slightly higher than the right), your eyes will look wonky in your pic. Andria chose to tightline Meghan’s upper lid (meaning, she rimmed the inside of the lash line) with a brown liner and only applied mascara to the upper lashes.
Tip #3. Get Matte Fast
“Even if you don’t wear powder, today is the day,” says Andria. She set Meghan’s makeup with a loose powder and suggests soaking a makeup sponge in water, squeezing out the excess, and dotting your face with it to blend and prevent a cakey finish. Bring along blotting papers and dab your face before getting snapped to remove excess oil and shine.
Tip #4. Stick To Wardrobe Staples
If you have dark hair, wear a light coloured shirt and vice versa. Since the background is often white, choose a coloured top in a hue that flatters you. If you always get complements on the shade of your teal sweater, for example, wear it!
Tip #5. Practice Your Smize
Tyra Banks has often been mocked for her tendency to “smize” (smile with her eyes) in photographs, but the woman knows how to work a camera. The big benefit of the “smize” is that it brightens up the face and prevents sour or angry expressions (even without an actual smile). Practise relaxing the tension out of your face muscles and smizing into the mirror. The goal is to look calm and confident, without appearing bug-eyed.