Beauty and Photography Tips

This is a blog post that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time, but knew it would be time consuming and so I kept putting it off.  But no more.

I’ve received quite a lot of questions from my fellow female friends who have asked “Where did you find that dress?”, “What type of foundation do you use?”, “How did you get your hair to do that?”, Etc.

Here it is – a whole lot of beauty/fashion tips and secrets that I’ve learned through having to do many photo shoots, stage performances, and red carpets. I am NO EXPERT, but here is what I know


Before I start, I just want to say that I used to be of the train of thought that “You are what you are and there’s not much you can do about it.”  But then usually someone else has come along (a beauty professional) and shown me that I don’t have to just “deal” with what I have, but there are tricks to improve oneself, or hide things, or what have you.  And since I am far from perfect, here are some of the things I’ve learned.



#1 – Properly prep your skin beforehand.  The best way to get awesome looking skin is to have your “canvas” all prepped.  The biggest thing is exfoliating all the dead skin off and moisturizing afterwards.

My make-up artist usually has me apply a vitamin serum, moisturizer, and under-eye cream.  The under-eye cream helps the makeup to not settle into those fine lines. It also works great to pat on even after you’ve put your makeup on for touch-ups.  I had to do this when I was filming in the desert for my “Requiem” video shoot.  After 3 days of shooting and not getting enough sleep and having the dusty desert sand get all over my face, my eyes were looking really “tired”.  Noelle (my makeup artist) dabbed some under-eye cream and it fixed the problem right up.

#2 – Use a good HD Foundation for a flawless natural look.  I was only introduced to “High Definition Foundation” last year when I was in Los Angeles.  And now I’m hooked.

Because most cameras all film in HD now, the clarity of the way peoples skin shows up on camera is super enhanced.  You don’t want to look like you are wearing cakey foundation.  But you also want to still get coverage for little flaws.

These are a couple of my favorite foundations and I’ve used them for the last year, so I know they work really well:

Givenchy Photo Perfexion


Smashbox HD Healthy FX Foundation


I also use this foundation “prep” formula underneath, which helps prevent the makeup from settling into fine lines as well. A “BB cream” is actually something you can wear alone without foundation – it is a combo of serum, moisturizer, SPF and it’s tinted so you can wear it as a sheer-type foundation. OR you can wear it underneath a foundation for more coverage, as a base.  It has been used in the Asian market for years, and a lot of women actually use it as their cream and it has improved wrinkles and dark spots.

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream


#3 – False Eyelashes.  Use them.  They make a huge difference in your look.  Being a fair-haired person myself, my eyelashes are very blonde and short.  I have to wear a whole lot of mascara to get them to stand out, and even still they are not very impressive.  So if I’m doing a photo shoot or an event, I will use false lashes.

Katy Perry has a great line of false lashes that I’ve used many times before, and they are definitely some of my favorite.


Here is a great shot where you can see my eyelashes (and Viktoria’s too). We are both wearing Katy Perry false lashes in this photo shoot.


#4 – Don’t be afraid of the “Wet Line”.  I admit I feel really dumb saying this, but I only just learned how to do this a few months ago when I did my photo shoot for “Illumination”.  The eyeliner “Wet Line” look.

Typically I’ve always applied my eyeliner underneath my eyes close to my under eyelashes and above the top eyelashes.  But there is a certain dramatic look you can acheive by applying the eyeliner to the wetline of your eye – especially if you’re going for a smokey eye look.  The key is to using a quality eye liner, preferably with beeswax.

This is the type of look I’m referring to:


Here is a fantastic eye liner that works great for this and actually stays on the wetline for a long time before wearing off (as you usually have to touch it up quite often, especially if you have watery eyes like me).

Loreal Extra Intense Liquid Pencil Eye Liner


#5 – Applying shadow in the right places.  You can add years to your face by applying eye shadow incorrectly. But you can also reverse your age by applying it correctly.

You open your eyes up more and look younger if you put a lighter shadow in the upper outer corners under your brows, like this:


It depends on your eye shape, but sometimes when you put a lighter shade above your eye with a dramatic color in the crease of your lid, you can sometimes look older than your years.  This is a beautiful model, but I just wanted to demonstrate the look I’m talking about (see below). I think the reason is it creates a sort of heaviness to the lid.


I actually had to look extremely long and hard to find an actress in today’s Hollywood with the above makeup look on the red carpet (lighter shade on eyelid, with dramatic shadow above it), and after looking at Google images forever, I did find Ashley Greene:


Here is Ashley Greene again but with a darker shadow on the eyelid. I think she looks much more youthful in the 2nd look:


#6 – Rule of Thumb:  If you have dramatic eyes, less color on the lips and vice versa.  If you want to have a dramatic smokey eye look (like Ashley above), then you need to do a pink or nude lipstick.  You never want your eyes and lips to compete with each other, or else you will look like you should be working the street corner 😉

The same goes for if you want to sport some really red lips, you should do a simple eye look.  Here are some great examples:

Big dramatic Eyes, Nude lips:



Luscious red lips, minimal clean eyes:




#7 – Best way to Conceal...I have always had stuff to “conceal” on my face.  For example, I was born with a birthmark on my chin.  Even though I had it “removed” via laser surgery when I was 14 yrs old, some of it has come back.  And so I’m always having to conceal it on my chin (or later Photoshop it out).

Here is me before a video shoot (for Requiem) with absolutely NO MAKEUP on, and you can see the two little red spots on my chin from my birthmark:


Here I am (with Noelle – my makeup artist) after getting my hair halfway done, and my foundation/eyes done. Notice birthmark is no longer there:


The only way I’ve found to cover up stuff like birthmarks (or zits, or whatever) is to put a little more concealer on than you THINK you need (because it comes off), and make sure to powder it afterwards. The powder will set the concealer and hold it on longer. I like to use a colorless powder (usually “white”).  And then my biggest advice after that is just DON’T TOUCH THE AREA. 🙂


734329_10151183712396689_1706873005_nMy hair is the thing that I get the most comments on.  I have a TON of it.  Not only is it long, but it’s thick and I just have an ample amount of it.

My hair is naturally curly and so I have the option of wearing it curly or straight.  It takes a LOT of effort to straighten my hair though, and so I don’t usually wear it straight very often.

Some of my favorite hairstyles have to do with curls, and so I will share some of my tips and tricks to get great looking hair.

#1 – Curling Iron + Pinning = Awesome curls.  Over the years I’ve curled my hairs all sorts of different ways from using a curling iron to hot rollers.  But probably for the past year or so I’ve been just using my curling iron because I discovered a new way of using it that creates really great shaped curls.

I used to roll my curling iron from the ends of my hair up. This way of curling is okay for the underneath layers of hair that people aren’t going to notice. But for the top layers and the front of my hair, I use a technique that is shown here in this awesome Target hair ad:

Basically, you take strands of hair and about halfway down start rolling the curling iron and slowly turning as you go, then pulling the ends up and around.  What you achieve is a very rounded out spring curl. AND as you will notice in the video, the stylist pins some of the curls to her head. This is my best secret for getting great hair!  After each strand I curl, after taking it out of the curling iron I roll it back up and then use a bobby pin and pin it to my head.  I do this will all the outside curls and leave them pinned up until I’m ready to get dressed and go.

#2 – Herbal Essence Spray Gel to Hold Curls.  I spray my dry hair with this stuff before I curl it, and it is my best secret for getting curls to last all night long.  I’ve used this product for like 10 years and I swear by it.


#3 – Teasing – To get some volume to my hair, I usually take a comb and tease it underneath.  For ponytails, I will tease the hair before I put it into the pony, and then afterwards I will also tease just the top layer of hair in the pony (next to the rubberband). You always want to be sure to sort of comb down the tease afterwards so your hair doesn’t look too messy.


I admit I am a total bargain shopper.  There are SOME things that I am willing to fork out a little more cash for (like dresses), but for the most part I like to find deals. And even still, my definition of “paying more for a dress” is still pretty inexpensive compared to some women out there.

And because I am a mom of two little energetic boys (who do NOT do well inside department stores), I do most of my shopping online.

Here are a few of my favorite places that I usually find really cute clothes from:

DRESSES – This is a sample sale site.  They only have whatever clothes are available for about 24 hours and then they move onto the next designer.


The white silk Nicole Miller dress that I wore for my Illumination CD Release concert last Fall was a dress that I bought off of ideeli. It regularly sold $1100, and I got it for $250.


I also bought the red dress from my Illumination photo shoot off of It’s a wrap dress that you can wear like 20 different ways.  I bought a red one, and a turquoise one (that I wore at last year’s Indie Music Channel Awards).


524217_10150706062916689_203026319_n – This is a site where I’ve gotten MANY dresses from.  I try to stay modest in my dresses – which means I need them to have sleeves, backs and fronts 🙂  This website has THE most variety of “modest” dresses that I’ve ever found, and they are not the cheesy bridesmaid kind either (you know what I’m talking about, right?)


Here are a few of the dresses that I have gotten from



Both Viktoria’s and my dresses are from this website in this photo:



I also just bought one more from them for the ZMR Awards show that is happening on May 11th. I won’t show you which one though – just to keep it a surprise 🙂

Casual Clothes – This website has some pretty cute stuff on it, and usually for good prices.  I LOVE long maxi dresses, and they always have a lot of those. And I love that they are super long – because sometimes they just don’t always make them full length for us tall people (I’m 5’7″).  I recently bought this red maxi dress from Alloy…

580394_10151411533383425_1937527978_n – LOVE Express. Probably one of my favorite stores in the world.

Untitled – This is a new site for me that I just discovered not too long ago, but they’ve got some really cute stylish pieces on there for low prices.



Again, some of these things I feel dumb for not knowing before, but all I can say is there are always solutions to “problems”! You just have to be “in the know” 😉

#1 – Spanx.  Wear them.  Even skinny girls sometimes need them. Katy Perry even wears them!  I own like 3 different kinds of Spanx. One with shoulder straps, ones without, and ones that are like a tank top that you just wear underneath a shirt.   Spanx totally hold you in, and get rid of any wierd curviture that just should not be there….like the following model who was brave enough to show us all the difference:


I will also say that I have tried many different kinds of brands of these types of “things”, and Spanx is the only one that really works.  A lot of other roll down, stretch out, rip, or don’t cover all the right places.  Just trust me and go with Spanx.

 #2 – Sally Hanson Airbrushed Legs. ‘Nuff said.  I have used this on my arms to get rid of freckles or “red dots”.



All right. This is the last thing I will talk about.

My friends are always telling me “Jen, you are so photogenic.”  I am actually NOT, but I just have learned the best way to pose for pictures and some great tips on how to look better in photos.

#1 – Stand up straight.  It makes a huge difference in how you look in a photo, and will also make you look thinner if you aren’t hunching over.

#2 – Create some space in between your arms and your waist.  In other words, if you want to LOOK like you have a waist, then don’t let it disappear into your clothing or arms.

A great example of both #1 and #2 is this photo that fitness model Amanda Adams posted on Facebook a while back.  These two photos were only taken a few moments apart, but look how different she looks based on two different poses. She is totally slouching on the left and holding her arms close to her.  In the 2nd photo, she is standing up straight, hip out, and created some space between her arms and waist.


#3 – Take photos where the camera angle is HIGHER than you.  A big mistake a lot of people make is having their photo taken from an angle where the camera is below them.  This is not the most flattering angle for anyone! It only accentuates anyone’s double chin.  Here are two examples from a photo shoot I had for my first album:


#4 – Pose Correctly. When standing, I’ve found the two poses that make me look the slimmest (because let’s admit, I’m a curvy girl!) are the following:

Hand on Hip – great way to make waist look smaller


One Foot in Front – Great way to narrow hip and leg area


#5 – Know what you want, and don’t be afraid to say so.  I think a lot of people get photos back and are unhappy because they didn’t express their ideas or concerns to the photographer.  If there are certain angles you don’t like, be sure to bring those up.  If you favor one side of your face over the other, then if you do profile shots make sure you tell your photographer that.

#6 – It’s also a great idea to do a run-through of your hair, makeup and your outfit BEFORE you do an event.  For example, the dress that I wore in my Illumination Paramount Theater photo shoot – while it was a GORGEOUS dress, I didn’t take into account that it didn’t work well when I sat down at the piano.  It completely POOFED out and made my stomach look pregnant or something.  So you will see that there ended up being no official “sitting down at the piano” shots from that photo shoot because the dress just didn’t function well sitting down.  This was something I didn’t exactly practice doing with the dress before the photo shoot.


Anyway, I’m going to stop here.  This is a lot to take in.  The most important thing to remember is that YOU are beautiful without all the makeup, hair, and fancy clothes. 🙂 Truly you are.  But if you must get all dolled up one day for anything special in particular, I hope that these tips help you out. These are all things I wish someone had told me a LONG time ago. 🙂

P.S. If you have any more questions about anything I didn’t cover, please leave a comment below!


7 responses to “Beauty and Photography Tips

  1. This is an awesome post. There are a lot of things I am going to start trying out! The photo tips are so good. After taking a lot of really awful pictures for a really long time (my whole life) I finally figured out a couple years back the difference finding your best pose, turn head, etc. It makes such a difference! I still get the occasional bad shot, but now so many people say “you are SO photogenic”. I just say, “Nope, I just stood in front of a mirror for a long time and figured out how I look best!”

    • Aby! I’m so glad you found some of this helpful! And you’re totally right – figuring out the best way to pose in photos makes all the difference! So glad you discovered your way! 🙂

      • The leg make-up looks really natural – will be getting it for myself. And your even answered my question that it can me used on the arms! ❤

  2. So many practical ideas + links to recommended sites. All the makeup tips were great & made total sense. Lighting from above flatters & how to stand when photographed – who knew? Thanks so much for taking the time to share these tips. I almost didn’t take the time to read them ~ I didn’t think the info would benefit me!!! 🙂

    • Daria – I’m so glad that you found some great tips in my article. 🙂 Whew! Makes me feel like it might do someone some good. Thanks for letting me know! Most of these things I just think most people already know, but then I realize actually a lot of people DON’T know them.

  3. These are really helpful hints. I’ve heard to photo take from above, but only that. I so appreciate them all!

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