Makeup for a Passport Photo

makeup for passport photos
makeup for passport photos

Ah passport photos, those two words combined conjure up connotations of bad lighting, lego shaped hair and lifeless expressions thanks to that old rule of not being allowed to smile seriously who came up with that?! As the years tick by one act that is sure to remind you of that youth passed is the renewing of your driving licence. The piece of pink plastic you got back in your teens that allowed you to hit the road and gain a piece of independence praying for the day it would become green.

Mines up for renewal and instead of sobbing over the number of years that have passed me by I thought I’d take a more pragmatic approach and turn it into a blog post! What makeup do you wear knowing you will be sat on a twistable stool in front of a piece of unflattering glass? With passport photos lasting decades it’s vital you opt for something timeless, you don’t want to be looking back on blue liner paired with a purple lip.

For my latest runin with a passport photo machine I started by prepping the skin with a bucket full of hydration. The Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Primer gives a boost of moisture and prevents foundation from holding on to any dry patches. I then went it with my base of choice making sure it doesn’t contain SPF and paired this with a hydrating concealer and under eye brightener. Stop that shine from breaking through by powering your t-zone and now it’s all about adding contour and shape to your skin. Passport photos tend to make everything flat and lifeless so I used the Tom Ford Bronzing Powder dusted all over to give colour to my skin and added the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder to give natural definition.

To bring the cheeks to life it had to be my much loved Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in the shade Luminous Flush which I enhanced with a soft dusting of the failsafe Stereo Rose MSF. Lids were kept fuss free, a layer of MAC’s Paint Pot in Vintage Selection followed up with a thin layer of liner close to the lash line to give the appearance of fuller lashes. Don’t forget to curl those lashes and go in with a voluminising mascara to ensure your eyes stand out in the picture. Initially I had my Marc Jacobs New Nudes Sheer Lip Gel slicked across my lips but sadly this didn’t show on camera. I grabbed the nearest lipstick in my handbag which unfortunately has come across a tad orange but at least my lips can be seen! Brows were all thanks to a recent trip to a local Blink Brow Bar and overall I’m pretty happy with how the pictures came out. Take that passport photos!

  • This post is genius! I seriously look so terrible in my passport photo. I’ve come to believe that it isn’t possible to have a half decent photo, but you’ve proven that this is certainly not the case – you look amazing!

    I guess I should have thought more about my makeup that day, but hey, what can you do? Next time I’ll be revisiting this and taking a few pages out of your beauty book.

  • Great post, I haven’t had a passport photo taken in years but will definitely use your tips when it does come round!

    alice x // beautybyalicee

    • Hope they help you out – anything to stop me from look like Caspar the friendly ghost in my pictures!xx

  • Allie Cleve

    Your passport photo turned out looking so good! My passport is up for renewal this week, which on one hand makes me sad because I feel old, but on the other hand I’m so happy that I can finally get rid of 15 year old chubby Allie with a fringe! Some great tips, thanks for the post :D

  • Is it weird that you posted this the day I was going to get a passport photo shot? But thank god you did, this is at least something I can do for such a restricted kind of picture! Thanks!

    • Our brains must have been in sync! It’s nice to still enhance your features even when you can’t smile or use flattering lighting!xx

  • Great idea! My last passport photo is not too bad, way better than the first one I got when I was 18 and I was sick with a cold! Yours look good, way to go!

  • So bookmarking this post! It will totally come in handy, thanks for sharing! :-)

  • I’m always afraid of wearing makeup when taking those kind of photos but with this suggestions and looking at how amazing you are on the paper I sure will think twice and follow the advice!

    Sara |

    • I think just enhancing the right features and not going overboard it can make a great difference xx

  • i Dorottka

    I look like a murderer out on parole in my passport photo. And my makeup was fine, it’s the stupid no smiling rule – who came up with that? Lol ;) I love your selection, and I’m tempted by the primer. Forever looking for hydrating products :)

    • Haha me too! Poor younger self!xx

      • i Dorottka

        I’m scared that every time I have to exchange it it’ll be even more scary ;)

        • Gosh that’s true! If I’m stressing this much about my first renewal imagine the next one!xx

          • i Dorottka

            I think I’m a passport pessimist – I’m already imagining the 4th renewal. Thank god you can actually get them photoshoped ;)

  • Blush is definitely a must! And avoiding too much eye liner or dark colours :)

    Erin | Erin and Katherine Talk Beauty

  • Unfortunately I’m saddled with my hideous shot for about another 7 years D: however I will take these recommendations on board for natural and photogenic makeup (there’s always my new work pass!) Luminous Flush is an absolute favourite of mine xx

    Jasmine Talks Beauty

    • Good point people like to sneak up and take a dodgy photo for all kinda now – my gym pass is horrible!xx

  • ninegrandstudent

    Love this. For my later travelcard photo the only lipstick I had was Mac Lady Danger. A little bright, but I love it!

  • Rochelle Naylor-Iyayi

    why didn’t i do this?! -.-

  • I find that you kind of have to go a little dramatic to get it to even show up! For my passport photo I opted for bold brows, some winged liner and a bronzed complexion so the flash didn’t wash me out completely – but it still kind of did. I think I wore MACs Velvet Teddy on my lips too, which I might groan about ten years on, when the 90s lip trend is dead (or perhaps it will come back around by then?).

    • Let’s say the trend will come back so in 10 years time you will have the most trendy passport photo! :D xx

  • I really look awfull at my passport photo. Must keep this post in mind when I need to renew mine. It’s Always such a hassle! And it follows you around for at least 10 years! NOOO…. :-) Yours look really great! And your hair is also looking very nice in these pictures, another thing that didn’t work out in mine :-D

  • Tiger Lilly

    You look so lovely in that photo! Literally the only attractive passport photo I’ve seen. In my opinion laughing at passport photos is the best way of getting through tedious airports ;)
    I was wondering any of you have any tips for dupes? as a teenager my ability to spend lots on makeup is limited! x

    • Aw you are too kind! In terms of dupes the Max Factor blushers are great dupes for the Hourglass Blushers. L’Oreal True Match Foundation would be fab for this with the Maybelline Sensational Mascara and Maybelline Dream Lumi concealer!xx

  • I work at a drug store and we offer passport photos. Luckily not too many people come in to get them done. They are a pain to take!

    • Thats why I like the machines – means I can retake the photo lots!xx

      • Yes! We need a machine at my store. I had a lady come in for a retake yesterday after her initial photo got rejected and it took us like five or six tries!

  • eliza

    Oh this would have majorly helped me when I needed to get my photo taken last year! Yikes it was not very pretty:/ Anyway, I just came across your blog and have been loving all of the detailed beauty posts! It really gives me a lot of inspiration! Im new to blogging and recently launched my blog I would really appreciete it if you checked it out at ! thanks so much <3

  • I’m going to keep this post in mind for when I renew my citizen card next year! I seriously hate the “no smilling” rule because I look like I’m going to kill someone on my current photo, it’s not pretty to look at! Amazing post! Xx

  • Chisayuki

    I know this might be a bit later or smth but I really love this blogpost! There’s still some time ’till I need to take new pictures for my passport as it still has some time left ’till it gets old but I’ll definitely use these tips!
    The current one isn’t too pretty and with some makeup I’m sure I’d look… less murderous. </3 thank you!

    • So glad you enjoyed it :) xx