Makeup for Passport Photo – A Guide

Does the mere thought of having to take a passport photo give you a headache? Nearly unheard of are the people who look at their passport photo and truly think they look good in them. “It must be the lighting, or camera lens, or maybe my makeup was too plain?”

If these are the thoughts that have usually come up in your past when taking and retaking your passport photos, you’ve come to the right place. Although we may not be able to physically come and change the lighting at your next photo appointment, we can make sure you get the makeup for your passport photo ready in no time!

Continue reading to learn all about the rules and regulations of makeup for passport photos, and don’t miss out on our tips to instantly amplify your look.

A passport and makeup brushes with powders

Can you wear makeup for a passport photo?

The short answer is yes. However, we have found 3 suggestions and 5 tips that you should know before going ahead and taking your passport photo. Believe it or not, there are dozens of articles available on the subject of using makeup in your passport photo, and it can be quite overwhelming, so we will try to keep it simple.

Makeup restrictions for passport photo

There are a few restrictions set by government sources regarding the makeup look you plan on wearing. To be clear, the U.S. government has not stated or given any laws, rules, or regulations about the makeup aspect of your appearance when posing for a passport photo, but simply some suggestions.

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Keep the makeup simple

The U.S. government states that your passport photo must be a clear image of your face and identity. Anything that may hinder this image, such as wearing hats, accessories, glasses, and which may include the makeup look you go for, could potentially cause your photo to be rejected.

That is why it is important not to cover or hugely modify, with makeup, any facial characteristics that set you apart, such as the shape of your eyes and eyebrows, size of your nose or mouth, and even moles and scars.

So just like filters, used mostly on social media, are not permitted, an extravagant or exaggerated makeup look will very likely have your passport photo rejected. It may restrict the authorities from recognizing the person holding the passport from the one depicted in the photo.

Maintain your natural skin tones

More often than not, when you get your passport photo taken, the photographer will use a flash, or the lighting in the studio will be a bit bright. The result is a passport photo that makes you look like a ghost.

It may help to apply a foundation as part of your makeup routine beforehand, and using a shade darker than you would usually wear could possibly improve the photo. However, you must stay true to your natural skin tone and should only use makeup 1-2 shades darker or lighter in order not to falsely depict a look that does not identify you.

Maintain your natural eye color

The same logic pertains to your eye color. You may have seen or done a makeup look where certain eye makeup (eyeliner/eyeshadow) is paired with an eye color to bring out and magnify the colors and shades. And if it is not the eye color natural to you, colored contact lenses are used.

According to the U.S. authorities, only lenses used for medical reasons may be applied for a passport photo, and in most cases, that excludes any form of colored contact lenses. So make sure to put them aside if you use them, and stick to showing off your natural orbs!

What makeup can you wear for a passport photo?

So after having gone through what the officials have to say about your makeup, we can freely explore some tips and tricks on how to get your makeup passport photo ready in no time. Hopefully, that means you will be able to look at it and show it where you must without being embarrassed for the next 10 years!

The makeup you can wear for a passport photo should enhance your features without drastically changing them. The so-called “No-makeup makeup look” is ideal in this case. You effectively portray yourself as prettier, brighter, and refreshed, effortlessly, as if not having used any makeup at all.

Tips for passport photo makeup

In terms of tips for taking great passport photos, we could probably go on all day examining every little detail of your face. So for the sake of your patience, below we have summed up the top suggestions that we consider essential.

Eye-opening makeup, literally!

Your passport is a key document for the next few years in terms of identification. That is why, although you will naturally be getting older, you want to maintain a young and youthful look. That also applies to your passport photos.

The area around your eyes immensely helps in doing so, so make sure you pay attention to it. Adding a light concealer under your eyes (to cover the dark bags), a neutral shade of eyeshadow (to enhance your eye color), and a layer or two of mascara (to make your eyes look bigger), will certainly do the trick!

Lower the SPF

Many products in the makeup market contain SPF, such as sunscreen, primer, foundation, face powder, etc. It physically creates a barrier on the skin which cannot be seen with the naked eye. Well, when taking photos with flash, more often than not, this barrier reflects the light and creates a flashback, making you look like you spilled flour on your face. And the higher the SPF, the higher the chance this will happen.

So, when using a full face of such products during your makeup routine, make sure to add a lower than usual SPF (15 or below, or none at all).

Neutral lips for the win

Previously we mentioned that any type of flashy and extravagant makeup look would not be considered appropriate for a passport picture. That includes all kinds of deep, colorful, and bright lipsticks. You are allowed to use lip tints, lipsticks, or lip glosses; it is simply advised that they are mostly in nude colors. Yes, red lips are a staple, a classic if you may, but sadly not in this case.

No shine, just matte

Just like the case of SPF, using any shining/highlighting products may produce flashbacks. And if not flashbacks, then areas with extraordinary brightness. That, of course, includes any oils or oil-based products you may use.

So, save yourself from potentially looking like a glazed donut by adding some setting powder or simply products with mattifying effects. 

Keep the hair at bay

Make sure to put some effort into the hairstyle as well, as it can enhance your makeup and so that the time you spend on your makeup does not go to waste. And as long as it doesn’t contradict official regulations, you should be allowed to fashion it however suits you best.  Great way to boost your confidence before the photoshoot!


Makeup products surrounded by flowers and two women with natural makeup looks

Makeup for passport photos – FAQ

Can we put on a little makeup for the passport photo?

Yes, you can, and the amount of makeup you put on when getting ready to take a passport photo is up to you. In fact, putting on a little makeup for your passport photo may help make sure you don’t look plain and washed out from the lighting and printing process afterward.

Are you allowed to wear makeup for a passport photo?

Yes, you are allowed. If you would like to apply makeup before getting your passport photo taken, then go ahead. Taking into account the official requirements, you may apply makeup to elevate your facial appearance. A more natural look seldom goes wrong and will take just a few minutes.

Is makeup a problem for a passport photo?

Applying makeup before taking a passport photo is not a problem. Going overboard with the amount you apply and your choice of products may result in your photo getting rejected. Still, the act of putting on makeup generally is most definitely permitted.

Can you wear makeup for a passport photo?

Yes, you can wear makeup for a passport photograph. Seeing that you obviously want to and it does not go against any official regulations, adding some makeup when getting ready should not be a problem. Try not to go overboard since it may alter some of your features.

Can I wear eyeliner in a passport photo?

There is no official restriction against wearing eyeliner in a passport photo. It is recommended you apply it in a discreet way, that it doesn’t cover or alter the shape of your eyes. If you decide to wear eyeliner, make sure it is a neutral color such as black, gray, or brown, because brighter colors may get your photo rejected.

Is lipstick allowed in a passport photo?

Yes, lipstick is allowed in a passport photo. It is recommended that you stay away from bright colors such as reds and pinks, but your nude palettes will come in handy. If you stick to a classic, simple look, your passport photo should be ready for processing in no time!

Can I wear makeup for my passport photo – closing thoughts

The best makeup look for your passport photo varies depending on your personal style. However, many of the tips and tricks mentioned above, such as making sure you don’t cover any key features or alter your skin color, will guarantee a makeup look ready for your passport photo. Thus they could be combined to form the best makeup results and hopefully perfect passport photo.

In our opinion, a combination of a low SPF base, a concealer under the eyes, mascara, a bronzing powder, and some blush are ideal for a passport photo. It’s not too exaggerated, so won’t be flagged by the officials, and still enhances your face by making it look refreshed and healthy.

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