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Female Headshots: Tips For Great Profile Photos

Preparing for female headshots is an art that goes beyond simply posing in front of the camera. In this detailed guide, I share my expert tips to help you achieve a captivating look in your profile photos. We’ll cover everything from choosing the perfect outfit to mastering the subtle nuances of hair and makeup. By adhering to these recommendations, you can be confident that your headshots will reflect the high-quality standard showcased in my portfolio, ensuring you look absolutely stunning.

What Should I Wear For My Headshot?

Female headshots

Choosing the right attire for your headshot session is crucial, especially for female headshots. The clothes you select can significantly influence how you are perceived and can either enhance or detract from the professional quality of the headshot. This guide is designed to help you make the best choices in clothing, ensuring your headshot is both professional and flattering. From well-fitted garments to the right color choices, each aspect of your outfit plays a vital role in creating the perfect headshot.

  • Well-Fitted & Tailored Clothes: Clothes that fit loosely will often make you look larger. Properly tailored tops will look flattering and professional, making them ideal choices for women’s headshot outfits. It’s important to focus on the fit, particularly around the shoulders and arms, to ensure a polished look. Avoid any tops that fit loosely, as they can detract from the overall appearance in a professional setting.
  • Solid Color Tops: Loud patterns and textures will grab attention away from your face, which is why I think solid color tops are the best things to wear for headshots. For professional headshots, the main goal is to draw the viewer’s attention directly to your face without distractions from busy patterns or textures. By choosing the right solid color, you can enhance your appearance in a headshot, ensuring that it looks both professional and engaging.
  • Sportscoats & Blazers Are Most Professional: If you want to appear more professional, consider layering a blazer or sport coat over a shirt as part of your headshot outfit. This combination strikes the right balance of professionalism and style. Notched lapels are generally seen as more professional, while peak lapels tend to be more flamboyant. Choosing the right jacket for your headshot can significantly impact how you are perceived professionally.  
  • Avoid Low Cut Tops: When photographing female headshots, we photograph below your clavicle but above your chest. This framing makes choosing the right headshot clothes crucial, especially in terms of neckline. If you decide to wear a low-cut top, it can be very distracting if the entire neckline isn’t visible in the photo. Therefore, it’s important to select tops that look professional and appropriate within the frame of the headshot.
  • Long Sleeves are Flattering: Short sleeves can show arm skin in the shot, which can take attention away from your face. This is a key factor to keep in mind when choosing your headshot clothes. Additionally, short sleeves are more prone to looking crooked while being posed, potentially impacting the overall look of your headshot. Opting for longer sleeves provides a more uniform and distraction-free appearance.
  • Pair Proper Undergarments with your Outfit: 
  • Bra straps showing in your headshot is very unprofessional. Make sure the straps are properly tucked away and hidden. To avoid this, choose a top with a conservative and professional neckline, which is a fundamental aspect of selecting headshot outfits. The right outfit will not only prevent such mishaps but also ensure that your appearance is polished and appropriate for a professional setting.
  • Avoid Transparent Tops: When looking through your clothes, make sure to double check the opacity of your shirts. This is crucial for female headshots, where clothing opacity is key to ensuring undergarments remain unseen. If you decide to stick with a see-through top, make sure to bring a blazer or your favorite top for layering.
  • Vibrant Colors Stand Out: Depending on your profession, wearing vibrant colors will make your headshot stand out. More formal professions would do better to stick with timeless colors.
  • Darker Tops Are More Timeless: If you decide to stick with darker colors, the most timeless and easiest colors to coordinate are: Charcoal, blue, navy and gray. 
  • Avoid Tops that Blend With Your Features or Background: when color coordinating your outfit, keep in mind the background of your headshot and how these colors will look with your features and accessories. For example a black blazer on a black background is generally a poor choice.
  • Jewelry is Distracting: Jewelry should be discrete and subtle so it doesn’t draw attention away from the face. Opt for smaller earrings to maintain a clean, simple, and timeless appearance. In most cases we recommend that you not wear a necklace for your headshot.

How Should I Style My Hair For a Headshot?

Female Headshot

How you style your hair for your headshot significantly impacts the quality of your profile photo. That’s why I highly recommend adding the hair and makeup services for female headshots. My hair stylist will come to your headshot location to ensure you look your best. Working with our regular hair stylist ensures that your hair will look great both in person and in photos.

Over the years I’ve found that the following hair tips will make a big difference for your headshots:  

  • Taming Flyaways: Most flying hair can be addressed with hair spray. The rest will be retouched for your final photos. 
  • Pre-Session Haircut and Color: Getting your haircut before your headshot is always a good idea. Just remember to not try any new styles before you photoshoot. Also, If you decide to get your hair colored, make sure to schedule your appointment 3-5 days in advance to allow any hair dye to fade from your skin.
  • Opt for a Natural Hairstyle: I do not recommend trying a new hairstyle on the day of your session. Go with a style that you know works well for you and keep it consistent with what people will see when they meet you in person.
  • Choosing Between Hair Up or Down: Putting your hair up can have a slimming effect and can open up your face. On the other hand, leaving it down can be a flattering way to frame your face. I recommend you wear your hair as you normally would when people meet you.
  • The Benefits of Curling:  Curling your hair can be a good way to add volume to your hair if you need it. If you have a lot of volume, keeping your hair straight can also be flattering. My makeup artist can curl or straighten your hair to your preference for your headshot.
  • Consider a Blowout: A blowout can give my hair stylist a better starting point for treating your hair. If you decide to do a blowout, you’ll want to schedule it on the same day as your headshot session for best results. Please note: we do not offer blowouts as part of your headshot session.
  • Wash Your Hair the Night Before: If you don’t do a blowout, wash your hair the night before your session for best results.

Should You Wear Makeup For a Headshot?

Headshot examples female

For female headshots, a natural makeup look is recommended. It enhances your features without appearing overdone. Remember, makeup’s role is to subtly improve, not mask your true appearance. After choosing your headshot, we’ll fine-tune it with light Photoshop retouching. This process ensures your headshot is both professional and authentically you, with makeup and post-production working together to present your best self.

The following are some makeup tips to help you get the highest quality headshots from your session.

  • Applying Your Own Makeup If you decide to do your own makeup it’s very important that you don’t over apply. It’s also very important that you also properly match your foundation color with your true skin color to avoid disparities in skin tones. I also strongly recommend you use mattifying products without gloss or SPF as these products will actually reflect off of your skin in unflattering ways.
  • Hire a Professional Makeup Artist: Even if you are really good with your own makeup, hiring a professional that knows what products look best under studio lighting makes a big difference. I highly recommend you opt for my professional makeup artist as part of your headshot with me.
  • Natural Looks Are Best: For your headshot, achieving a natural makeup look is key. I recommend opting for a subtle, understated style, particularly suitable for formal careers. The aim is for the makeup to enhance, not overpower, your features, ensuring it complements your appearance without being distracting.

Makeup Before your Session: If you added hair and makeup services to your headshot session, please do not apply any products including sunscreen on your face the day of your headshot. These products can negatively affect your final headshots by making your skin reflective.

Beauty Tips For Female Headshots

Female Headshots

If you’re wondering how you can look better for headshots, the answer lies in the little things you do for your skin and overall well-being. These simple but effective beauty tips can significantly enhance your appearance and upgrade your headshot more than any makeup can. Try and do the following as much in advance of your headshot session as possible. 

  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water and consume adequate amounts of salt. Salt is hydrating and helps your body retain water which is excellent for your skin. Also try to avoid sugary drinks and soda as these can contribute to acne. 
  • Facial Waxing: If facial hair waxing, including your eyebrows, is necessary, it’s best to schedule this at least a week before your headshot. This timing allows your skin, which can be sensitive and prone to redness after waxing, adequate time to calm and recover. To ensure the best results for your headshot, avoid waxing a day before or on the day of the session.
  • Get a Facial: Pampering yourself is always a great idea, and there’s no better way than indulging in a facial to ensure your skin looks its best. To prepare for your headshot, schedule your facial a week in advance. This allows your skin ample time to settle and recover, particularly since it might react unexpectedly to new products. This precaution ensures your skin is radiant and picture-perfect for the camera.
  • Exfoliate: For best results I recommend you wash and exfoliate your face the night before your session. This will give my makeup artist the best canvas possible to work with as she applies your makeup. 
  • Moisturize: I’m sure you have your beauty routine down and know what you are doing. This is just a friendly reminder to love your skin extra the week of your headshot and use lots of moisturizer.
  • Sleep: Sleep plays a vital role in your body’s natural repair processes, greatly impacting your health and the appearance of your skin. Ensuring you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep, is crucial for looking refreshed and vibrant. To prepare for your headshot, aim to go to bed earlier the night before, giving your body the rest it needs to present your best, rejuvenated self for the camera.

How Can I Look Better in Headshots?

Female headshots

In summary, preparing for female headshots isn’t difficult but id does involve a few key steps. With careful attention to these details, you can significantly enhance your appearance in front of the camera. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Select Tailored Clothing in Timeless Colors: Fitted and appropriate attire enhances your professional image.
  • Use Natural Makeup: Subtle makeup enhances your features without overpowering.
  • Stick With Safe Hair Styles: A hairstyle that suits you best will complement the overall look.
  • Stay Hydrated and Rested: Good skin care and adequate sleep contribute to a fresh, vibrant appearance.

For an extensive guide and more detailed advice, remember to check out our comprehensive headshot session checklist. This resource is designed to prepare you thoroughly for your photo session, ensuring every aspect of your appearance is impeccable.

Jason Guy

I am a portrait photographer based out of Sonoma, California. I create portraits for people of all ages with the goal of making images that are timeless. Portraits you will look back on decades from now, and still love them just as much then as you do today. While flattering lighting and pose are important, capturing how others see you is what I ultimately strive for.

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