How to Choose the Right Makeup Look for Your Engagement Photos

The first rule of thumb? Make sure to choose something that's within your comfort zone.

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fall engagement photo
Photo: Rebecca Yale Photography

Way before your wedding, you can use your engagement photos to start experimenting with photogenic makeup. While it might be tempting to try a new and exciting look, makeup artist Jenny Patinkin cautions against doing anything too much outside of your comfort zone. "Remember that these photos are going to be looked at for generations to come, so it's best to look like yourself (or a more polished version of yourself) as much as you can," she says. Here, Patinkin shares a few tips on choosing the right makeup look for your engagement photos.

Tweak your look based upon your location.

If you'll be taking photos near water, know that water is very reflective, so apply highlighter with a light hand and add a touch of loose powder to add a glow, not a glare, Patinkin says. Also, if you're planning on wearing black eyeliner, soften it up by smudging the edges so it doesn't look too harsh. Getting photos taken in the woods? "Forest lighting is so pretty, but since there are so many shadows, make sure you keep your undereye area nice and bright," Patinkin says. "Choose a concealer that has a slight peachy tone to offset any natural shadows you might have, and one that has a reflective finish to create the illusion of brightness. Also, curling your lashes will help lift shadows off your eyes."

For studio photos, make sure to powder your oily areas, as studio lights can accentuate your natural sheen, particularly on the forehead. (And another tip: "I also find the angle of your head to be important in studio shots," she says. "Tilt your head down a bit and slightly jut your chin forward—the tilt helps with softening shadows, and the jut ensures your jawline looks defined. It feels weird, but looks great.") For formal pictures inside, Patinkin suggests wearing about 20 percent more blush than usual, since formal lighting is often on the dark side and it's easy to look washed out. If you don't know how to tell what 20 percent more looks like, apply your blush and then step a good distance back from your mirror. Close your eyes and open them again—if the first thing you see is your blush, it's too much.

If you'll be out and about around city landmarks, "there's no time for high-maintenance makeup," Patinkin says. Layering a coordinating color of powder blush over cream blush will make it last longer and add a dewy finish. Use a powder puff to press a little extra powder over your oily spots and choose a lipstick that can be reapplied on the go without needing a mirror for touchups.

Consider what you're going to wear.

Patinkin loves pairing a feminine dress with a soft, smoky eye. If you're going for jeans and a blouse, she often adds satin nude eye shadow, extra mascara, and fresh, dewy cheeks. If you're going to wear something more playful, like a cute romper, try complementing it with cat eyeliner and a glossy, pinky peach lip.

And if you don't wear makeup in everyday life, try a no-makeup, makeup look.

A sheer foundation, like Kosas Tinted Face Oil ($42,, can even out skin tone without looking like you're wearing makeup, Patinkin says. Then add a small amount of Kjaer Weis cream blush ($56, to your cheeks, and subtly define your eyes by tight-lining with Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl Liner ($22, in French Navy . Curl your lashes to make your eyes look brighter, fill in your brows with a soft powder like Anastasia Brow Powder Duo ($23,, and finish with a natural shade of Bare Minerals gloss ($20, to add a subtle sheen. Pretty, effortless, and natural.

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