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Your Guide to Passport Photo Makeup

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

Got a passport photo retake coming up? There’s nothing worse then being stuck with an unflattering passport photo for 10 years! Most of us know the trend of doing passport photo makeup, but it can be hard to follow along a whole makeup routine that’s crammed into a 10-second long TikTok. So here’s a step-by-step guide on how to achieve picture-perfect makeup!


Your base will consist of your regular skincare, but make sure to have a good primer on. You want your makeup to be able to blend into your skin and melt in seamlessly. You’re then going to work with a light concealer and focus it on the high points of your face. A nice uplifting pattern to really work that Bella Hadid-realness. Avoid foundation (or use a very lightweight foundation) to avoid looking cakey in the photo. And of course, do some contouring as well. A nice cream contour can help with achieving the face shape you want. Because a passport photo is taken straight-on, you can’t angle your face to emphasize your cheekbones or jawline. Focusing your contour a little bit higher than you think can help you achieve that snatched look. Remember to set everything with your favourite setting powder and/or spray.


For some pops of colour, add your favourite blush! A pinky peach is very summery, but if you’re going for a fall aesthetic, a dark red blush is nice, too. Blush is the first makeup piece to rub off of your face, so I like to double-layer it with a cream blush underneath, and then once I’m done powdering everything, add another layer of powder blush overtop. It really helps bring that life into your face. Focusing blush high up on your face and bringing it up to your temples and brow bone is a lifesaver! You can also do a little bit on the bridge of your nose for that sun-kissed look. Bronzer can also be used with blush if you feel like you want some more warmth to your face. However, because it’s a passport photo, you might not want to experiment with too many colours. Keeping it neutral and warm is a safe bet. Popping some bronzer onto the crease of your eyelid is a great way to create some depth, but still keep it natural.


Glossy lips all the way! Gloss is huge right now. Keeping your lip colour neutral with a clear gloss is always a safe choice, but if you’re feeling adventurous, a nice deep pink or even brownish lip liner and a pink gloss is a super popular combo right now. Lip liners are so fun and you can really play around with the shape and contouring of your lips. If you’re not feeling a gloss, then a deep red chapstick that blends out nicely is a fun way to put a nice pop of colour into your face. Bonus tip: Use a cream blush as your lip colour in the centre and blend it outwards, then top it off with a gloss!


Feathery soap brows are all the rage. A great way to achieve this is with a spoolie and a brow gel or wax of some kind. If you have dark brows you may not have to fill them in, but do whatever floats your boat! Brows really frame the face, so a nice, even set can really be the cherry on top of your makeup look.


A brown shadow liner is a great look for your eyes if you’re feeling fancy. A passport photo is something that will be with you for a very long time, so experimenting with makeup looks for the picture is a risky game. Sticking with what you’re an expert on your face is a great idea. For lashes, a standard lengthening mascara is always a good idea. Curling those lashes is important too. Remember to not go too crazy with the mascara or you can risk it looking clumpy and spider-like. Some people like to do individual lash strips at the end of their eyes as well, but do whatever you’re comfortable with!


Slick-backed hair is such a trend right now. Using a middle part, some gel, and a claw clip, you really get that Y2K look. A great alternative to this is a half-up, half-down look, slick-backed with straight hair at the bottom. Or, just straight hair! Hair is such a great expression of yourself, but you have to remember that your passport photo makeup is a legal picture; keeping it more or less neutral is a good choice. And remember that the person taking your photo will make you change your hair if it’s covering your face!


Chunky hoop earrings are so fun! Earrings are a great accessory in a picture, especially if you have your hair slicked up or behind your ears. I love layering chunky gold hoops together. Also, gold necklaces are my favourite! Layering some different lengths can really add that final ribbon to your look.

So that’s it! Hopefully, this guide helps simplify your makeup routine and gives you some ideas for your passport photo. Take everything with a grain of salt, of course, and trust yourself! You know your face and hair better than anyone, so believe in yourself and stay confident!

Avalyn Kwai Pun

U Ottawa '26

Avalyn is a first year joint honours Political Science and Feminist and Gender Studies student. She's passionate about social change and feminism, and has hopes to become a lawyer in the future. She enjoys reading, spending time with her family, music, and writing!