Guest Post: How to Prep Your Skin for Headshots (Men)


This is Part 2 of 2 awesome guest posts by one of my talented makeup artists, Dana Arcidy. You can view Dana’s works by visiting her website at and follow her on IG: @danaarcidy

As a makeup artist with over 7 years of experience doing headshots and photo shoots, I’ve seen firsthand how the skin someone shows up with dictates everything about my makeup process, from the type and amount of product I use, down to the end result. While many would like to believe that a good makeup artist can make anyone’s skin look perfect, this, unfortunately, is wishful thinking (and any retoucher can vouch for that.) Makeup can correct color (think redness, age spots, and undereye circles) but cannot correct texture (think wrinkles, bumps, and flakes.)

Many of my male clients are less than excited about wearing makeup in the first place. What if I told you that the better you take care of your skin in the days leading up to your shoot, the less I have to put on you, and the more natural it will look? Read on to see my five best tips for prepping your skin for photos.

1. The number one issue I see with male clients is skin flakiness. Adding makeup to flaky skin only calls attention to it. Dry skin in general, even without flakes, causes makeup to look heavier and less natural. The solution is simple: use a gentle moisturizer. I like this one from Cerave. Aim for twice daily, but at the very least, moisturize at night. If you already have a moisturizer you like, make sure it doesn’t have any added fragrance or alcohol in it. Unfortunately, these irritants are very common in men’s skincare. 


2. Proper exfoliation will also keep the flakes at bay. The key is to be gentle. Most scrubs you buy at the drugstore are too harsh and cause micro-tears in the skin. Over time, this leads to dehydrated, red skin, and even causes premature aging. Instead, use a gentle cleanser like this one from Neutrogena with a washcloth.

3. Lips need to be exfoliated and moisturized too! You don’t want everyone’s eyes to be drawn to  your chapped lips in your new headshot, do you? At the end of your shower the morning of your shoot, use a warm, wet washcloth and gently rub it over your lips. Follow up with lip balm or Vaseline.


4. So far, we’ve talked about what’s known as physical exfoliation. But to eliminate ingrown hairs, which many men have from shaving, you need chemical exfoliation. Not only will scrubbing away at ingrown hairs not work, but it may make matters worse. Salicylic acid treats and prevents ingrown hairs. Paula’s Choice PC4MEN is a great aftershave since it has salicylic acid as well as soothing ingredients. If you have an aftershave that gives you a cooling sensation, throw it out now! Cooling ingredients like menthol may feel good, but they are sensitizing. Whether or not you have sensitive skin or can see any irritation, scientists have shown that these ingredients reduce skin’s barrier function, which leads to problems down the line.


5. Tidy up your facial hair. After shaving, consider using a beard conditioner, like Clinique’s 2 in 1 Skin Hydrator + Beard Conditioner. Trimming eyebrow hairs that have grown too long, or, everyone’s favorite, nose hairs, will also help you look more put together in your photos. If you forget to do this or are unsure of how, your makeup artist will be happy to help.

These are all steps that would be great to add to your regular hygiene routine, but even adding them in a week before your shoot will make a difference. I promise that your pictures will look better as a result—and you’ll be out of the makeup chair faster!

Dana Arcidy | IG: @danaarcidy