6.8 Creating different looks

Now that you have learned the basic makeup application techniques and various styles for each feature of the face let’s go a step further and look at the types of looks you will be trying to achieve as an MUA. In this course, we will be focussing on bridal makeup because it is the bread and butter speciality for all MUAs, but we also want you to understand the wide range of looks you can create once you have mastered your skills.

Bridal makeup

Bridal make up has a wide scope because each bride is unique and will have different looks in mind. Bridal trends have changed over the years, and you only need to look at wedding photos across the decades to see the differences. These days, because we now have better products and photography, many brides opt for timeless looks that will stand the test of time. You absolutely do not want your bride to look back at her photos in twenty years and have any regrets. Timeless styles for brides range from natural, boho and glam. See a few examples of timeless bridal makeup below:

Boho bride

Natural bride

Glam bride

The styles above are not the only styles – some brides might want a 1920’s look, or if your bride is having a themed wedding, you might even need to create a character!

If you are interested in learning more about some other bridal makeup techniques, check out the below links:

Day and night looks

At a very basic level, makeup can be categorised into ‘day makeup’ and ‘night makeup’. If you think about the workplace, for instance, it might not always be appropriate to rock a bright blue eye and false lashes in your day job, but it would be totally acceptable for a night on the town! As MUAs, we need to be able to create looks that are acceptable for the day, night or both if the client is attending an afternoon event. The images below show the difference between a typical day and night look:

Day makeup

Features include:

  • More of a ‘no-makeup’ look
  • Subtle eye makeup
  • Minimal contouring and highlight
  • Carefully placed pops of colour
  • Dewy skin with a lighter application

Might makeup

Features include:

  • Dramatic eyes or lips
  • Contour and highlight
  • Eyeliner and lashes
  • Bold colour choices
  • Can be a heavier full coverage application

With makeup, there are no rules. If you want a rock a smoky eye for your 6am shift – go for it! Similarly, if your client wants a more natural look for an evening event or they want to live their Kardashian dream in the morning, that is absolutely fine. It is important to remember that evening looks can look quite bold during the day, and daytime looks may not always show in photos. Ultimately, you need to practice both styles and work with your client to determine what look they are after.

If you would like to learn more about day and evening looks, watch the tutorials linked:

Photography makeup

Let’s face it, with everyone having camera phones, most makeup looks will be photographed! When makeup is photographed, it can look different to what it does in person due to a range of factors, including lighting, studio conditions, the photographer and camera flashes. If we use Instagram influencers as an example, their makeup in real life will look really cakey and packed on, but when photographed, it can look seamless and on point. The use of filters on Instagram also has an impact on the overall look, so you need to bear this in mind as well. As an example, look at the difference in the comparisons below:

As you saw in the examples, the same makeup can look completely different depending on the lighting. Now, makeup photography is a completely separate area of expertise, but at a basic level, you need to understand that lighting will impact how your looks will look. Examples of when you will need to do makeup looks specifically for photography include, but are not limited to:

  • Business headshots and website images
  • Wedding
  • Fashion
  • Commercial shoots
  • Catwalk
  • Social media

The best way to learn about lighting and the impacts is to take photos of yourself and clients in varying lights. When you begin taking photos of your work, you will soon see that colours may appear different in certain lights, and specific angles will make the makeup appear better or worse. Earlier in this module, you learned about colour theory and the hues of colour. This is relevant photography makeup. If the hue of lighting is too warm or cool, colours will appear as different shades. The image below provides a basic guide for lighting to choose depending on the makeup look:

Of course, lighting in your work area will also impact how colours look when you are applying makeup. Where possible, applying makeup in natural lighting is always preferred, but if you work in a salon or you are working in the evening, this is not always possible. When selecting lighting for applying makeup, as a general rule, remember the following:

  • Yellow lighting may make your client look tired, causing you to over-apply concealer
  • Red lighting may cause a fake healthy glow, and therefore you could be under applying concealer on your client
  • Fluorescent lighting may cause your client’s skin tone to look washed out, and as a result, you may over-apply bronzers or blush

As you refine your skills, you will learn what works for each situation. For black and white photos, you will really need to consider shadows and contouring. If you do not apply enough contour, then the makeup will simply not show up. Another important factor to consider is something in the industry which is known as ‘flashback’.

Key phrase | Flashback: the white cast that can appear on your skin in photos after using certain products.

As the definition suggests, a makeup flashback is a white cast that looks like white splotches when a photograph is taken. In real life, the makeup can look perfect, but under flash photography, it can look awful. To give you perspective, check out these examples:

The biggest culprit for flashback is the use of sunscreen or moisturisers, which contain Sun Protection Factor (SPF). If you think about it, SPF is designed to reflect light (the sun), so it does the exact same thing with flash photography. In addition to SPF, you also want to avoid any products that will reflect light, such as setting powders, sprays and anything that contains light-reflecting ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. If you are ever worried about potential flashback, use the flash on your own camera to test out a look and see if it shows. The last thing you want is for a bride to have white splotches throughout her wedding photos! Should any flashback occur, it isn’t the end of the world because photos can be edited; it just makes the photographers job a lot more complex.

If you would like to learn more about photography makeup, access the resources linked:

Mature makeup

As you learned earlier, mature skin tends to be drier, thinner, may have age spots, and there will be some wrinkles to manage. Anyone coming to you for a makeup application wants to look and feel beautiful, and no one wants to look older than they are! Gorgeous mature makeup looks are all about skin preparation, product choice and placement. As you can see from the examples below, a correct makeup application can enhance your client’s natural beauty and can result in a youthful glow:

Because mature skin tends to be on the drier side, starting off with a hydrated base is an absolute must. You want to select products that are water-based, and you will want to choose richer creams in your kit. When you are applying your base, you will want to ensure that you really work the product in to warm up the face and to ensure that the product has time to settle into the skin. When selecting foundations, less is usually more. A light to medium coverage is preferable, and you may find that a foundation brush will be easier to get a nice coverage to help work in the product. A beauty blender may not be the best choice because it may not get into creases. In addition to this, you should use powder sparingly as it can actually emphasise creases.

In terms of eyes, you may need to lift the mobile lid and gently move any skin that is sagging. As you learned earlier, mature clients will usually have sparse eyebrows, so you will need to fill in the brows and be mindful of the techniques you use. Natural look brows will look a lot more flattering on mature clients in comparison to insta-brows! A defined brow will make your client look more youthful; you just need to ensure that you select the correct shape in accordance with their face shape (arched, straight, rounded etc.)

When you are doing makeup on mature clients, another important factor to consider is that your client has likely been doing their makeup the same way for many years. If you have ever had your eyebrows tinted and shaped by a professional, you will know the feeling of how weird it looks until you get used to it! This is the same when we do an application on a client who has not had their makeup done in that way before. So, to prevent any shocks at the end, explain what you are doing throughout the process and give them a sneak peek if needed.

If you would like to learn more about mature makeup applications, access the resources linked:

Camouflage makeup

There are times when you will need to camouflage certain parts of a clients face or body. Client’s may want to cover up tattoos, birthmarks, scars, vitiligo and a myriad of other factors when having their makeup done. While camouflage makeup isn’t for the standard client, it is good for you to know how to do basic camouflaging so you are prepared.

As we covered earlier, colour correcting can be a great way to naturalise certain colours and will help to camouflage any discolouration. For big black tattoos, colour correcting will only get you so far! These days, there are a range of products on the market specifically designed for camouflage. Essentially, camouflage makeup is usually full coverage, and it is all about building up layers. When you build up layers, you will also need to use setting powders to help ensure each layer has set before moving onto the next. Camouflage makeup takes a bit of practice, so if you have friends with tattoos, freckles, age spots or birthmarks, see if they will let you practice your skills!

If you would like to see some camouflage makeup in action, watch the videos linked:

Creative looks (basics)

As you have learned already, there is no end to how creative you can get with makeup. If you are working with fashion designers, in theatre productions or on movie sets, then knowing how to create super creative looks is a must. Common creative genres have been shown below:



Period or decade



Optical illusion

If you want to specialise in a particular area, be sure to create your mood boards and keep practising your skills. It is always good to look at others work for inspiration, but always ensure that you put your own twist to it. Throughout this resource, we have given you examples of lots of artists work so that you can see a range of different styles and sources of inspiration. As a professional MUA, you will form your own style, and signature looks as you progress throughout your career. For specialised areas, you may consider doing further study or attending specialised workshops.

Male makeup

Many men like to wear makeup, and the stereotype that only women and drag queens can wear makeup is slowly shifting. On the stage and screen, absolutely everyone wears makeup. Just like female clients, when performing a makeup application on a man, consultation is key to determining the look they are trying to achieve. For film and TV, most applications will be a barely-there look which controls shine and some men like a bit of sculpting as well!

Did you know… a large personal care company in Japan, Shiseido, says one of its male makeup lines has seen double-digit growth during the pandemic. Company officials give a similar reason: Men, confronted with the sight of their faces repeatedly during online meetings, want to improve what they see.

One area you need to master when working with male clients is covering facial hair, particularly beard shadow. Women can also have facial hair, especially woman with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but it is more prominent in men. Drag Queens know this technique all too well, and for the best beard shadow coverage, you should follow these steps:

  1. Prep your clients skin
  2. Apply a primer
  3. Apply colour corrector (usually orange or pink/peachy tones)
  4. Apply concealer
  5. Apply foundation
  6. Set foundation with powder

For some clients, having noticeable facial hair can be distressing, so it is important that you learn how to apply long-lasting coverage.

If you would like to learn more tips and tricks for applying male makeup, access the resources linked: