We've all been there: Makeup applied, confident in our appearance—when a FaceTime request comes through or you realize you lost track of time and your Zoom meeting is about to start, shattering everything. Suddenly, we're looking at angles we didn't know existed and wondering if anyone feels their best in the light of a camera phone. Sound familiar?
Seriously though, video calls can feel more like looking into a fishbowl or funhouse mirror than at your real-life reflection. Blemishes appear more pronounced, features seem distorted; in other words, it's no fun for anyone.
But don't fret! We caught up with experts Maria Vargas and Dillon Peña, who gave us the scoop on everything from concealer tricks to colors to avoid.
Keep scrolling for the best, expert-approved tricks on how to look great during your next FaceTime call.
Meet the Expert
- Maria Vargas is the on-set makeup artist for E! News, and she regularly preps Catt Sadler and Ali Fedotowsky for their screen time.
- Dillon Peña is a makeup artist based in LA and NYC. His work has appeared on countless red carpets and in magazines.
Spruce Up Your Space
This isn't a makeup tip, but Vargas says the first step is to stand in front of a cute background. It makes your set-up more interesting, so that the sole visual focus during the call isn’t on every single aspect of your face. Got a pretty painting or tapestry? Park yourself there. The background can be a distraction from any insecurities you may have about yourself to the opposite party (though we can guarantee they aren't paying attention).
Pay Attention to Lighting
“Choose good lighting,” says Vargas. “The brighter the better. You want to avoid dim lights that cause shadows.” In other words, you don’t want to look like you’re filming a low-budget horror movie. Avoid being backlit—don't set yourself up with a window or wall lighting behind your head, which will create awkward shadows and temporarily blind the other participants. "Raise your camera to be eye level and find your light!" adds Peña.
Invest in a Ring Light
While perhaps not necessary for the casual FaceTimer, investing in quality lighting can be a game-changer if you're conducting important business at home on a regular basis. "Light is the most important part of looking good on a FaceTime or Zoom call," reiterates Peña. "I have a small ring light that works amazing and helps blow out imperfections." As a bonus, this will really up your selfie game.
Find Your Good Side
“Angle is key. We all have a best side; choose your favorite ‘selfie’ side,” Vargas says. This works better for calls taking place on a phone rather than a computer, since handheld devices give you more flexibility for playing with angles. But even if you're sitting at a desktop, consider angling your hair one way or the other so you're not staring at the camera dead-on. Hey, at least it’s an excuse to practice taking more #selfies, right?
Define Your Lashes
“The picture is not sharp on FaceTime, so you want your lashes bold enough to show,” Vargas says. Volume is really the key here–the ideal formula will really pump up your lashes and make them appear thick. “Studio Fix Bold Lash by MAC is my go-to mascara. (Note—this product has been discontinued. Try Buxom Lash Volumizing Mascara, $22, as an alternative). The brush combs and separates every single lash and gives amazing length. Your lashes will definitely look sharp on that blurry screen.” It'll make your eyes stand out, too!
Don't Skip Blush
“Apply a cream blush on the apples of your cheeks to add color and a healthy natural glow. FaceTime tends to wash you out,” Vargas says. “I love Jouer Cosmetics’ Tint in Petal (Note–this product has been discontinued; try Glossier Cloud Paint in Puff, $18, as an alternative). It's a soft rose pink. You can apply it with your fingertips, it's easy to blend, and it won't look too harsh on screen. It gives your skin a fresh dewy look.” Cream products are a great option for avoiding that garish clown vibe, which can be extra jarring on camera.
Avoid Neon Lipsticks
Vargas warns against using any neon pinks and oranges: “If you want to stay more natural, simply use a sheer shine lip gloss.” If color is more your thing, Vargas suggests choosing a coral-pink lipstick shade shade, which she says “looks great on everyone. My favorite is Niagara ($26) by NARS." Bottom line: more subtle, natural lip colors are best for FaceTime or Zoom. Another option? "Moisturize using lip balm," says Peña.
The last thing you want is to cake on heavy foundation for a low-resolution video call. Instead, strategically apply concealer. “Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer will make the toughest dark circles disappear as well as any blemishes or scars,” says Vargas. “A little goes a long way! You can apply it with your fingertips by lightly pressing it on the skin. You will look like you've had eight hours of sleep.” Peña suggests applying concealer only where needed.
Focus on One Feature
Let's be real–how many of us even want to take the time doing a full makeup beat before a work call or a virtual happy hour with friends? If you're pressed for time or just can't be bothered, Peña suggests focusing on just one or two features. He recommends keeping the skin hydrated, which can be accomplished by massaging in a moisturizer just before your chat for a glow that translates though a grainy camera, and curling your lashes to "open they eyes."
It might sound cheesy, but bear with us—if you feel good, you look good. Don't go out of your comfort zone and wear bold lipstick or loads of blush (or go all-natural) just because you feel you should, otherwise you'll spend the whole call staring at the little version of your face in the upper corner instead of focusing on the person you're talking to. "At the end of the day, makeup is about individuality. If it makes you happy and comfortable, do what you feel is best for you," says Peña.
Up next, learn 8 celebrity secrets for taking better selfies.