Engagement Photo Makeup Do's and Don'ts, According to Experts

Nail your engagement photo makeup with these expert tips.
Woman holding makeup brushes in front of pink background
Photo: Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock
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Jenn Barthole
jenn barthole headshot
Jenn Barthole
The Knot Fashion & Beauty Contributor
  • Based in New York City, Jenn Barthole is a Freelance Editor for The Knot, where she contributes fashion and beauty content.
  • Jenn also contributes wellness, interiors, celebrity, fashion, beauty, and travel content to notable publications including ELLE, Refinery 29, Domino, TripAdvisor, EBONY, Cosmopolitan and PopSugar.
  • She graduated with a major in Communications and a minor in Spanish, from Loyola University in Balt...
Updated Nov 29, 2023

Celebrating an engagement with a romantic photoshoot is a great way to honor the momentous occasion and break the news to your family and friends. To ensure that you look and feel like the best version of yourself, it's important to strategize your engagement photo makeup look in advance, so you feel and look your absolute best.

Whether you hire a makeup professional or decide to do your own glam, makeup for engagement photos shouldn't drift too far outside of your comfort zone. Minimalist brides should opt for natural engagement photo makeup that subtly amplifies their natural beauty. On the other hand, glam-loving brides can go for a bolder look, without going too extreme. The goal is to choose a style that feels true to your personal aesthetic and boosts your confidence.

We've consulted top-rated bridal makeup artists and a bridal photographer to create the ultimate engagement photo makeup guide, complete with their top do's and don'ts.

Meet the Experts

  • Joy Adenuga, Pro Makeup Artist, Beauty Expert and Educator, owner of By Joy Adenuga Makeup Line

Engagement Photo Makeup Mistakes to Avoid

Steer clear of these 3 makeup mistakes to ensure that you look flawless during your engagement photoshoot.

Experimenting with Trends

Tempting as it may be, going all-in on the latest makeup trends may overshadow your photoshoot and look outdated in a few years. Considering that you'll look at your engagement photos for decades, it's important to choose a makeup style that doesn't have an expiration date. Adenuga explains, "Do not overcomplicate your look by trying to imitate what your favorite influencer did on YouTube. Trends can be fun, but they may not stand the test of time." Instead, she suggests, "Choose timeless makeup styles that will look elegant and sophisticated in your wedding photos, for years to come."

Applying Heavy Makeup

When it comes to your engagement photoshoot makeup, remember, less is more. While the drama of a bold look or smokey eye can help you 'pop' on film, it can also come across as incredibly harsh; especially for a shoot in natural lighting. Remember, pared-down makeup doesn't equate to boring or looking washed out. When it comes to eye makeup, stick with a soft, neutral palette and subtle lashes. Agostino warns, "Oversized, extremely dense false lashes make your eyes actually look smaller. Instead, apply a few coats of mascara or individual artificial lashes to emphasize the lash line". For blush and highlighter, aim for a rosy, flushed look that will give you an effortless glow. Lastly, go easy on the foundation and minimize any harsh contours. The last thing you want is for your makeup to look caked on or too stiff.

Neglecting Your Skincare

In order for your face to look radiant during the shoot, "proper skin prep is the key to great makeup" Adenuga states. She warns, that neglecting your skin can result in flaky patches, uneven texture, breakouts, and excess oils, which can negatively affect the look and longevity of your makeup. "Aim for a daily regimen that keeps your skin well hydrated and clear of congestion. Whether you have oily, dry, or combination skin, only use products that work for your specific skin type". Additionally, the experts agree that exfoliating regularly, using sun protection, drinking enough water, and applying moisture-boosting products are universally beneficial. As a result, you'll create a smooth canvas for makeup application.

Engagement Photo Makeup Tips From the Experts

Whether you're doing your own makeup or hiring a professional, our beauty savants break down the easiest ways to upgrade your glam and guarantee that you look picture-perfect.

Do a Trial Run

If makeup isn't your forte, it's a good idea to hire an experienced makeup pro who can bring your desired look to life. Confirm that they can execute your vision by scheduling a practice run. During your consultation, show a visual of the look you want by "finding inspirational pictures of people who have similar skin tone, eye and hair colors, so they can envision the look on you" instructs Agostino. This will help you pinpoint exactly what aesthetic you want, align your vision with their skillset, and determine if the makeup artist is right for you.

Prioritize Preparation

To ensure that you'll be photogenic on the day of the shoot, narrow down which palettes and products best complement your skin tone and improve the look of your complexion. This is especially important in determining which foundation, blush, and eyeshadow you should use, even if you're going for a natural look. Start by determining if you have dry, oily, or combination skin "so you don't end up with excess shine or dryness in pictures" Adenuga explains. "If you have oily skin, use matte foundations, oil-free products, and finishing powder. If your skin tends to be dry, opt for hydrating products." Once you've narrowed down your options, test which of these products blend well and make your skin look impeccable.

Highlight Your Best Features

Use the photo shoot as an opportunity to accentuate which features that you love most about yourself. By highlighting your unique beauty, you'll avoid a generic makeup look that doesn't celebrate your individuality. "You want your makeup to enhance your features, not mask them" states Adenuga. Whether it's your eyes, lips, or cheekbones, embracing your features will make your natural beauty shine through. Also, you'll still look and feel like yourself, even if you're wearing a full face.

Test Your Makeup's Longevity

Prior to your shoot day, apply and leave on your test makeup for a full day to ensure that your glam will stay put and look fresh for hours. Document the process by taking photos to be certain that your makeup won't budge is sweat/weather-proof and won't result in smudging, melting, or fading away. If you're doing your own makeup, invest in long-lasting products. Make sure that your essential products, like mascara, eyeliner, and foundation, are up for the challenge. Also, use setting sprays as your secret weapon to prolong the life of your makeup. The last thing you want to worry about is touching up your makeup constantly in between shots.

Match the Vibe

Whether your shoot is indoors or outdoors, your makeup should be in sync with your venue, the weather, and your wardrobe. During your makeup trial, be sure to "provide your makeup artists with as many details about the shoot's location and theme" says Agostino. "For an outdoor, casual daytime shoot, a natural, fresh, and flirty look is always a great choice." However, "If your shoot is more of a sexy, evening party aesthetic with moody lighting, don't be afraid to go a little more glam." Overall, the idea is to mesh with your backdrop without blending in.

Engagement Photo Makeup FAQs

Below, engagement photographer Ash Fox delivers some pearls of wisdom on how to choose the right makeup look for your engagement photos.

Should you get your engagement photo makeup professionally done?

Choosing to get your makeup done versus doing it yourself is truly a personal decision based on your skill level, ideal look, and budget. The only rule is to choose an option that makes you feel like the best version of yourself. "Some of my clients, who normally wear very little makeup, want an understated, effortless look. Typically, they prefer to do their own makeup and they look incredible because they feel relaxed and confident" mentions Fox. "On the other hand, I have other clients who feel their prettiest when they are wearing a full face of makeup that's been done by a professional". Whichever route you decide on, Fox advises, "It's most important to know yourself and what look makes you personally feel your most beautiful. This authenticity will make you feel relaxed and at ease during your shoot."

Where can you find a makeup artist for your engagement photos?

Finding the right makeup artist for your engagement shoot can be a tedious process. Thankfully, there are a few effective ways to locate a skilled artist in no time. Start by seeking recommendations from friends and family who have recently had engagement shoots. Next, check online reviews from previous clients so you can gain some insight into the artist's skills, professionalism, and customer satisfaction. Then, visit the artist's Instagram page to view their portfolio. Check out platforms like The Knot Vendor Marketplace which conveniently lists the top-rated makeup pros and stylists based in your city, with reviews from other brides.

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