Company GlamourShots: How to Work with a Hair & Makeup Team for Your Company Headshot

Does anyone else remember the GlamourShots trend of, like, 1992? (Ah: apparently the company is still in business!) It was the envy of every high school girl. The idea was that you’d go and get crazy cool makeup, awesome (read: big) hair, a super flattering soft focus, and WHOA: glamour! Well, the trend may be back — for company headshots. Reader S wrote in with a troubling trend: company headshots where they bring in a hair and makeup team to redo your makeup for your professional portrait  Here’s her email:

I just had an insane conversation with some friends from my former law firm. Apparently the firm had a photographer in to take headshots…but also brought in a hair and makeup team. Evidently it was not optional; men and women had to get makeup. They went so far as to pluck one woman’s eyebrows! Our friend who switched firms said the same thing happened at her new job, and in fact they removed and totally redid her makeup for the photo. Is this a thing now? Because it strikes me as totally nuts.

MAN. I HATE THIS. I love being pampered and glammed up as much as the next person, but a) dang it takes a long time if you’ve got a makeup artist who’s really into blending (or straightening! or curling!) or eyebrows or whatever, and b) you don’t always look like yourself when the GlamourShots team is done. I forget which sponsored post it was (maybe my JC Penny video back in the day), but for one of my early “introduce myself to the readers!” shoots I was really upset because when the makeup artist was done with me, I barely looked like myself. I could never quite figure out what was wrong with the makeup — too little eyebrow pencil? too much bronzer? not enough blush? — but it. bugged. me.  I even had a thought at some point that TV personalities/talking heads surely must have some way of ensuring that they have a consistent look, makeup artist to makeup artist — but I could never find anything on point.

Actually, hmmn: one of my newer mom friends, S, used to be a television reporter. Here are her best tips for working with a makeup artist in a professional capacity (assuming you can’t dissuade your company or firm from this course of action):

  • bring your own makeup in to show the makeup artist exactly what products and colors you use — particularly foundation if you like your own!
  • take a recent selfie of yourself — or show him or her another picture you like — and show it to the makeup artist as evidence of “this is what I look like”
  • be specific in your requests — if you barely wear make up, make sure they know to use a light hand; if you always wear a ton of makeup, let them know that too
  • if you’re very particular about one aspect of your makeup, ask if you can do it yourself — my friend S always does her own eyelashes

In the past, we’ve shared makeup tips for interviews, as well as how we feel about the studies that say “makeup helps you be perceived as more competent” — and we’ve also talked about company headshots before, but this is a new one.  Readers, are you seeing this trend of law firms bringing hair and makeup teams in for company headshots? How are you dealing with it?

how to work with a hair and makeup team for your company headshot | how to work with a makeup artist for a professional portrait | makeup tips company headshot | corporate headshot tips for lawyers

Corpoorate Headshot Tips for Lawyers: How to work with a hair and makeup team to get a professional portrait you love! | Corporette


  1. Anonymous :

    Here’s a thought. Say no. Guarantee you can.

  2. My old firm did this 8 years ago, so it is not something new. I was on maternity leave when the initial shots were taken and had to do the back-up session a few months later. They did not have hair and make-up for the back-up session and our pictures were noticeably different (and not in a good way) from the prior photos where the hair and make-up team were involved. I don’t think anyone will be surprised that the older male partners had the biggest issue with the make-up.

  3. We had a professional photographer come in last month to take all of our picture’s which we are going to place on our NEW website, which is going to be in the “cloud”. I like my picture and asked the photographer for a DIGITAL copy which I sent on to Dad and the Judge. I do NOT understand the “cloud” but at least this means that our old teck guy will not be lookeing over my shoulder at my PC while peekeing where he should NOT be any more, b/c the manageing partner has also vended out our teck pages to the cloud provider. YAY!

  4. Be as specific as possible in your requests – don’t just say “use a light hand”. That’s like going to your hairdresser and saying, “I need a haircut, but use a light hand.” It’s hard to know what that really means.

    Tell them not just how much makeup you usually wear, but what specifically you wear. Again with the hairdresser analogy, you wouldn’t just say, “You can cut a lot off, that’s what I usually get done.”

    If you don’t usually wear much, share what features you do and don’t like, and what you would ideally look like in the picture – for example, “I don’t usually wear much makeup, so please just even out my skin tone and maybe lightly emphasize my eyes so I look awake?”

    Lastly, don’t assume that just because it’s taking a while or feels like they are putting on a lot of product, that you’ll wind up with a clown face. Makeup that looks really natural and neutral can still take a while and a fair amount of product.

    • Shopaholic :

      +1 to your last paragraph. The last time I got my makeup done for a friend’s wedding, it took forever and my face looked flawless. But not necessarily unnatural. The only thing that was really done up was my eyes but everything else looked pretty natural even though it took a while.

      • Anonymous :

        Another ditto. My wedding make up was done by a professional artist who does local television work. It was not quick, but it really did look natural.

        • Yup, I had my makeup trial for my wedding and the makeup artist in addition to event makeup also does photoshoots and tv/film makeup. It took her an hour and felt like soooo much makeup was going on but in broad daylight, my most scrutinizing aunt staring at my face could not tell I had foundation on or false eyelashes. (Obviously I had noticeable eye shadow because it was ‘event makeup’, but the point is a professional can make you look fantastic and natural/normal even for professional work shoots.

  5. BabyShark :

    We’ve used hair and makeup for our headshots but also our commercials (I’m a PI attorney, we have lots of commercials). It never really struck me as odd but I guess it is now that I think of it. The men were definitely the most annoyed by it but (the only) female partner, who never wears makeup, was also pretty irritated because a few years ago they made her look way over done. She gave me the heads up that they’re really good at taking direction and so going in with a clear plan was important. I’d show up with how I essentially wanted my hair done and they just perfected it, ran a flat iron over it a few times and put in some shine cream to help with flyaways. A coworker of mine insisted on them curling her hair and it took FOREVER.

    Don’t be afraid of asking for what you want, it’s you that gets represented on the website or in the marketing materials, you don’t want to hate it (like I do mine but that’s because I let the marketing department pick the picture instead of choosing for myself).

  6. We probably don’t have any hair/makeup professionals on this board, so I’ll speak up on their behalf: it’s a little offensive to them as professionals that you would equate the work that they would do for “teenage glamour shots at the mall” with what they would do for a corporate shoot.

    These are paid professionals who understand that they are there to make people up for corporate headshots. Especially if they are making up both men and women, they will have a good understanding of how to apply makeup in a way that is neutral and flattering without being obvious.

    If you are really concerned that they are going to make you look like Mimi from the Drew Carey Show, just tell them that you don’t really wear makeup and can they please do for you whatever they’re doing for the men.

    • Anonymous :

      The letter may well be about my firm, as we recently went through this. My issue with the whole thing was with my firm, and not at all with the people they hired, which is why I did not point out that there was no reason that I needed eye makeup so I would not “fade in the lights” if a male associate would be fine with just powder. People are going to be so disappointed when they meet their lawyers once the new website is up.

  7. Anonymous :

    I would honestly love this.

    • Anonymous :

      I was thinking the same thing. My company (not law, but a field that needs headshots) recently brought in professional photographers (which was already a huge improvement over having someone at the office take them, which is what we had up to that point) but I know many of us would have liked to have someone make us look like good versions of ourselves in the photo that will follow us for probably the next five to ten years.

    • S in Chicago :

      I worked for an association serving c-suite level and we offered this at our annual conference in the exhibit hall and at a smaller conference. Folks were booked solid. I’m in marketing and had “glam squad” for a project and was the best thing ever. I was nervous and honestly it’s one of the best pictures of me. I’ve used it a TON since from LI, speaking gigs, writing articles, sending out letters on behalf of the company that I work for. I think this is wonderful and benefits the person beyond the specific purpose.

  8. Anonymous :

    I think this is insane. I think making a hair and makeup artist available to people who want extra help in that regard is really nice, and I’d take them up on the hair-styling for sure, but FORCING people to do it? No way. I might let someone put a little lipstick on me, but there is no way in H*LL I would let anyone near my bushy, caterpillar-like eyebrows. They don’t conform to traditional beauty standards but I love them.

  9. Anonymous :

    My company went the other way – they hired a photographer, who posed each person and took multiple shots without giving people any time to do their own hair/anything else. I think the photographer took more than 25 photos of each person. They were all pretty consistently terrible. Provided the hair/make-up people will take direction well, and the attorneys understand how to give those directions, I think that this is a great idea.

  10. Anonymous :

    I never wear makeup and didn’t wear makeup at my own wedding, so there’s no way I would wear it in a professional head shot. The idea that the firm would insist that I wear it so that I looked nice enough for their webs!te is beyond nauseating. It’s not about a natural/unnatural look for me. I don’t wear it on principle and would refuse to even let the makeup artist touch me.

  11. I need to place a jcrew order – including a couple swimsuits. Wait for a site-wide discount or buy at full price? How often do they have those?

    • It depends on how soon you need it… I usually wait until I can, provided it’s not something you know you will need soon.

  12. Hi, Reposting from other thread in case this gets more traffic . . . no coffee break thread today? Anyways, long-time lurker. First time post. Anyone been to St. Louis, MO? Will be there for a couple days in early June for an ABA conference. Looking for shopping/dining tips for the day before and/or after the conference. Solo traveler. Loves thrift and vintage clothing and shops. Thanks in advance!

    • I lived in STL and loved it, but I’ve been gone for 20+ years so I don’t have any specific recs. But the Central West End and the University City Loop are/used to be fun places to shop/eat/people watch.

      I don’t know why the coffee break posting was so late today but I’d suggest reposting in the morning.

      Have fun

    • Second go to the loop; stay on the main drag, though.

      • Also The Grove (the LGBT neighborhood) has some fun local bars, and CWE as noted above has good restaurants. I’ve heard downtown itself has more restaurants now but am less familiar; you’ll need a car to go pretty much anywhere (though uber exists there now too.)

  13. My firm does this – makeup only, men and women. The claim is that the makeup (airbrush no less) saves time and money on touching up the photos. the first time I did it, I looked weird and eventually realized it was the thick eyeliner all the way across – I usually taper it (basically only liner at the outer corner). She redid it and I was pretty happy with the photos!

  14. Anonymous :

    My firm did this, its small and I’m the only woman associate. I asked for “no-makeup makeup/natural”, and it was honestly the harshest makeup I’ve ever had. Really dark eyeliner that was used on my bottom lids, too red of a lipstick. And then oddly they left my eyebrows unfilled in. It looks awful and very aging, adds 10 years.

  15. Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

    I wish my firm did this. Instead, they hire a photographer that doesn’t seem to actually make people want to look good and doesn’t retouch at all. Fortunately, I was out for a depo the day the photographer came so I got to just go to a headshot place in LA to get mine done. I did my own hair and makeup, although they applied a little more blush and powder. I liked how they worked with me to get it just how I wanted it using PhotoShop-I sat there and OKed changes and suggested things I wanted changed.

  16. Last year my boss was very excited about publishing photos of the team on the company website and in emails to clients (small firm). He had a photographer friend who was totally incompetent: she had no idea about composition (monitor taking up one third of the picture, distracting backgrounds etc.), made us do completely​ unrealistic poses at our desks (folder in one hand, phone in the other), pulled all of my hair to the front (like in my high school yearbook 15 years ago) and for the headshots, she quickly applied some makeup before I could say anything about it. To say my smile was unnatural is an understatement…

  17. We had a makeup/hair person whose job was to make sure nothing was out of place for the photograph. She would touch up shine, smooth down your hair, adjust a ruffled collar, etc. If you wanted more, she could do it if you asked. I got pictures that looked like me.

Add a Comment

Thank you for commenting. On the off chance that your comment goes to moderation, note that a moderation message will only appear if you enter an email address. If you have any questions please check out our commenting policy.

work fashion blog press mentions