How to look good on a drivers licence photo

I do the declare that is not such a horrible driver’s license photo, as such things has a way of going decidedly in the horrible direction:


And I would say the photo’s main success is due to learning how to do contouring properly. The morning of the photo in question I specifically for this event, and in hindsight i’m really glad i did (just wish I used a slightly stronger concealer on the small spots and blemishes, but meh!)

Ok a few tips to keep in mind when going for a driver’s license photo:

  1. Most photo shops (pharmacy, Kodak, etc.) will mostly likely be using a point and shoot for this rather basic task which means: the dreaded DIRECT FLASH. (most of the following tips will now flow from this one point)
  2. Direct flash is flattering to no-one (except the ridiculously good-looking variety)
  3. Direct flash flattens the contours of your face, and
  4. …it will also in all likelihood make your complexion look washed out.’

Ok so how to get around this pesky problem using make-up as your secret weapon:

  1. Firstly start with a smooth canvas. You dont want to look plastic but you do want your complexion evened out (redness, spots, blemishes and so forth). My morning routine consists of MAC’s Oil control lotion applied to the areas of my face most likely to get shiney (mostly the T-panel), followed by MAC’s Prep&Prime Visage Primer – this really makes a huge difference to my skin texture and helps the bronzer to blend in smoother, after that I’ll apply a bit of Woolworth’s Tinted concealer in green to any areas that showing redness (the affliction of most pale complexions) and lastly but not least I finished it off with MAC’s tinted Moisturiser with the added SPF. I also dabbed a bit of concealer around the eye area to hide any redness and make me seem generally awake.
  2. Keeping in mind this will be a black and white photo, you really want to play up the contrast between the different areas of your face so it shows up well on the photo. Don’t worry you will not look out of sorts or over the top if done properly.
  3. Now to get that contrast you want to contour your face to show of it’s best features. To do this I use Essence’s Matt Bronzer (Love this!!), to contour beneath my cheekbones, my temples, along my hairline (to make my forehead look a little bit smaller) and along my jawline to just define it and help camouflage any potential double chin. (there are a lot of good tutorials on the web for how to do contouring or you can check out  Make-up: The Ultimate Guide by Rae Morris ).
  4. For highlighting I used the highlighter that was part of the Smashbox Burlesque kit, but any basic highlighter should work. I applied this high on my cheekbones and blended it very well. I even smoothed it out using a normal make-up sponge the idea is it shouldn’t be as dramatic as evening make-up, you want just enough so the camera’s flash will pick it up and reflect it back, which trust me you don’t need as much as you might think.
  5. If you want a very natural look for you eyes forget the eyeliner and rather just stick to a neutral shade you can brush into the crease line to give your eyes for depth and maybe a little on the outer third of your bottom lash line to round it off. Finish with a mascara with a bristle brush (I’ve found as long as it’s a good quality mascara it gives me the best coverage without creating the false lash effect)
  6. Lastly you can line your lips with pencil matching your own lipcolour. Remember you just want to define the shape of your lips you don’t want them to over power or dissapear in comparison with the rest of your make-up. The trick I like using is applying some of the Body Shop’s Lip Tint and to really concentrate on getting a smooth line, letting it sink it so it defines my lips well and then coating it with a slick of Smashbox’s Lip Enhancing lipgloss in the colour Pop. Gives a pretty bit of colour without being too much and the gloss is just wonderful!
  7. Oh and don’t forget to groom your eyebrows. Comb them neatly and if possible apply a bit of wax or fixing gel so you know they’ll keep their shape. Well groomed brows can do amazing things for your face!

Ok and there you have my tips on how to do your make for a driver’s license photo in such a way that your best features are highlighted. If you have any questions, please comment below and I’ll try to help where I can.

Update: A friend kept the makeup tips I provided in mind when she went to get her photo taken. I think it came out stunning!

Much love xxx


2 thoughts on “How to look good on a drivers licence photo

  1. Tanya at RockstarVanity says:

    Totally love this as a concept for a tutorial. In my first ever driving license photo, I have no facial features apart from black eyeliner and am pretty much all dark hair on top of a white blob. I think technology may have come on a little since then.

    • Mareli Basson says:

      Thanks so much! 🙂 yep, it’s come along, it’s why I find it so sad that people in a photo shop still can’t be bothered to use a better setup than:
      *looks for a blank wall*
      “Please stand there”
      *pulls out a point-and-shoot; zooms out completely, then walks closer ’till your face fills the frame and takes the shot*

      (PS – I’ve been following your posts for so long, so your comment was a wonderful surprise when I logged on this morning, thanks! ^_^)

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