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Top Makeup Ideas for the Best Senior Pictures

Emerald greens, striking blues, hot pinks, and neon yellows are making appearances, and the boldest fashion influencers are applying eyeshadow full circle—to both the upper and lower lids. If you're one that prefers natural makeup, definitely run with that idea and be comfortable in your own skin!

Makeup Trends for Teens: The Perfect Face for Senior Pictures

Makeup trends constantly change to make way for new ideas and new products. Cosmetics play an important role in your overall look and style, and with everything that’s on the market, it can feel overwhelming, but not to worry. There’s no reason to stress, because, just like every other step of your senior picture process, I’ll walk you through what looks and concepts will work well for you in front of the camera.

Ready to learn what’s new and trendy AND combine that with styles that will photograph well and show your very best features? Here’s what to pay attention to for the Class of 2023.

The Eyes Have It

They are the way you show expression, connect with people, and even communicate silently. So of course, when I’m behind the camera, I try to capture every nuance of your personality—and it shines through your eyes! This year’s biggest makeup trend is all about the eyes. Try some different techniques and colors for your eye shadow and eyeliner so they’ll stand out even more for your senior portrait session!

makeup ideas senior portraits

And if you only get to show off half your face, it should look good, right? Here’s how pros and celebs are adding mega glam to their gazes:

  1. Bring on the drama. Don’t be afraid to go a little darker or bolder than normal for your photos. Whatever you see in real life will look lighter via the camera lens, so that little extra boost of color will end up looking perfectly natural in your pics. Especially if you plan on wearing your glasses, give your eye makeup a little extra pop, so it will show up nicely in your photographs.
  2. Get a little catty. The cat-eye is quick and easy to create, and it adds drama to your look, pulling attention to your face. You can create this look with just eyeshadow or with shadow and liner. This year, even the cat-eye gets a makeover, however, with the trend turning toward brighter, bolder colors and more creative shapes that often extend below the eye.
  3. Ombré all the way. A fun trend is the ombré eyeshadow look, blending various shades artfully together from light to dark as you work from the inner portion of your eyelid outward. For an updated dramatic look, add a light liner and mascara after you’ve applied your shadow.
  4. Sun-kissed and glowing. If you’re a sunshine lover, check out the super-fun sunset eyeshadow look that will make you look like you’re beach bound and surf ready. For a golden-toned glow, build from a nude eyelid into a cat-eye shape, incrementally adding and darkening with a sunset palette that can include your choice of any colors under the sun!
  5. They call it the blues. Or the purples. Or even the teals. Vibrant color is making a comeback, and if you’re bold, you’ll probably give this trend a test run. Try it out first on your own at home to see if it’s your style. It’s not a great idea to show up for your photo shoot in bright yellow eye makeup for the very first time! Done correctly, bright pops of color can make your eyes stand out and help you steal the show. Just be sure to nail the look before your big day!

For the first time in a long time, we’re waving goodbye to traditional smoky eyes and heralding the return of color. Emerald greens, striking blues, hot pinks, and neon yellows are making appearances, and the boldest fashion influencers are applying eyeshadow full circle—to both the upper and lower lids.

But don’t worry if you’re not ready to brave the under-eye color trend just yet. Fashion icons are straddling trends and opting for a smoky color fusion and sticking to just the upper lid.

PRO TIP: Sephora is a hot spot for all the popular eyeshadow palettes! You can get coordinating colors that are designed to go together, so it’s easy to blend and find your perfect look.

Beyond the Eyes

Now that we’ve got your eyes covered, it’s time to move on to the rest of your gorgeous face. Here’s what to look out for this season as you prep for your senior picture photo shoot.

beautiful makeup ideas senior portraits

Natural Skin & Light Coverage

Embracing your natural beauty is so in! Foundation that perfectly matches your skin color? Hello! We’re welcoming self-confidence, good vibes, and acceptance into our lives, and that means your makeup should make you look good AND feel good!

natural makeup senior portraits

No paint spackling for you! A light, single layer of coverage is perfect. In fact, many teens have opted to shift from traditional, heavier foundations to products that offer a more natural glow—like tinted skin conditioners and moisturizers. Not only can you avoid that annoying feeling of your foundation running down your face in the summertime heat, but you’ll also get that dewy, glamorous look everyone loves right now.

natural makeup ideas senior portraits

Sparkling Cheeks & Lids

When the sun hits your skin, there’s nothing like a beautiful sparkle to catch the eye! A quick brush of shimmer over your cheeks and lids will have you looking ephemeral, angelic, and gorgeous in every picture!

Freckles…If You’ve Got ‘Em, Don’t Hide ‘Em

Freckles are THE natural accessory for the Class of 2023. Their incredible character and depth-adding abilities draw attention to your face without being overwhelming. So forget all the potions and creams you purchased in the past to try to cover them up. Go natural and let those freckles show!

Feathered, Full & Groomed Brows

Brows are this years’s power piece. Full, striking, and well-defined brows not only sculpt your eyes, but also your entire face. There was a short interlude where we all feared the skinny, over-plucked brow might be making a comeback, but we all stuck together and vetoed that really fast! Your brows frame your face and give depth to your look, so be sure to have them well-groomed and shaped for your photo shoot, but don’t overwork them.

makeup ideas beautiful brows senior portraits

Lip Gloss

Why is lip gloss amazing? It’s a quick-apply, ready-anytime makeup lifesaver, and it’s absolutely perfect for photography sessions. It can go over your lipstick color to freshen it up, or it can stand alone as a light tint to highlight your look. Keep it handy during your photo shoot and swipe it on fast to match the dewy, glistening glow you’ve created. Then slip it into your purse or pocket for convenient grab-and-apply access the entire day.

The Artistic Touch

If you thought colored mascara went out with the 60s, 70s, or even the 80s, think again. It’s back, and this time, it’s better than ever. The past couple decades missed out with their monochromatic mascaras, but color has finally made its comeback, and in 2021, eyelashes are going to pop!

The boldest and bravest will go for electric blue and vibrant violet lashes, but if you’re not quite ready for that, remember that long and luscious is still the goal. Achieve this look by gently using an eyelash curler to prep the lashes before applying a quick layer of mascara.

makeup ideas lashes senior portraits

PRO TIP: Clumpy spider-leg mascara took the last train to NopeVille, so ditch this look by avoiding excessive layers of mascara. Less is definitely more! A new tube of classic waterproof black mascara will do the trick in just two coats.

Stained Lips

Believe it or not, Kendall Jenner didn’t start this trend. In fact, the popular lip treatment owes its roots to Korea’s beloved and bustling makeup scene (the one that gave us BB cream!) It made its way to the U.S. in 2020 when lipstick was being smeared ruthlessly behind masks. (I don’t need to tell you what a mess that was!) Lip stain entered the scene and became the next best (even better!) thing.

makeup red lips senior portraits

PRO TIP: A little lip gloss on top of lip stain will give your lips a refreshed glow for pics throughout your photo shoot.

Final Thoughts

Senior photography makeup is all about enhancing your natural beauty. Here’s what you can do to make your photo shoot the very best it can be for YOU:

  • Start looking at photos of styles, outfits, and makeup you love.
  • Get ideas from others and figure out what works with YOUR style.
  • Plan photos and looks that feel natural to you.
  • Most of all, relax, know you are amazing, and expect to have fun!
  • Makeup is such a huge part of senior photos! What great tips for Class of 2022 seniors!

  • I do love these ideas for high school seniors and makeup. Sometimes less is better. I agree that clumpy spider leg mascara headed straight to NopeVille! Yours is the best High School Senior Portrait Photography style!

    • Haha, I love your comments Andrea! I hate spider lashes! Thankfully all my seniors take my advice and look amazing for their senior portrait session!

  • Wonderful makeup ideas for high school senior girls preparing for their pictures with you! These young ladies look beautiful!

  • Oh wow! These are tips I would of never even known about with the look for makeup. Senior pictures are so important and makeup is the number one thing to help you stand out in your session. Great tips!

    • Hi Shunta! I’m so glad you found these tips helpful! Having been a professional photographer for over 12 years now, I’ve accumulated quite a list of tips for seniors…everything from the best outfits, best makeup, best poses, and best locations!