The Ultimate Beauty Secrets that will Completely Transform Your Photos


So people have been asking me, how did the feel of my photos get so different suddenly.

I’ve been travelling. A lot. Just this year alone, I’ve been to Bangkok (twice), Phuket, Hong Kong and Perth. Before the year ends, I’ll be in Vietnam.

As my travel appetite increases and my wanderlust brings me on more adventures, I realise that looking good and feeling confident in real life doesn’t always mean that my make up is enough to make a visible difference in photos.


Travelling to Perth (Blue Boat Shed)

I can walk out of my house without any makeup on – no foundation, no shadow, no blush, no lipstick and feel like a million bucks – I don’t necessarily need it to feel comfortable in my own skin, but once I’m in front of the camera, all that natural glow from my cheeks and lips just disappear, because when it comes to being on camera, new rules (and makeup techniques) apply.

“What Happened to All My Makeup?”

 A lot of product may still not be enough if its not what you need

Ever have on a face full of the perfect natural makeup and then the moment you take a photo, you wonder to yourself, “Where did all my makeup go?”

Here’s the deal, in the world of photo shoots and cameras, it’s all about catching light on your subject. Minute changes in the way light falls on the face or subject in general can totally transform a photo.

You see, the naked eye just can’t tell the difference between a tiny change in light temperature or the way it falls onto us, but once the shutter closes and the photo has been captured, that’s when you’ll notice a world of difference.

And you know what, your makeup also plays a part in helping to influence how light and colour is reflected from your face.

It really doesn’t mean that the more foundation you put or the more eye shadow you pile onto lids, the better the result. It’s also about what kind you use and how that works with light.

I’m going to share with you my newfound “beauty secrets” that I discovered recently that helped to create that three dimensional glow on my face.

An Almost-Photoshopped Glow

Priming and highlighting your face helps “catch the natural light”

When it comes to taking great photos, the quality of light is important, but most imperative of all, is to understand that it’s all about that base. Repeat after me one more time: It’s all about that base. Thank you Meghan Trainor.

When you have on a good base, it helps get light onto the subject and reflect it at certain areas creating that ethereal glow everyone thinks makes your skin look photoshopped. This is what I’m talking about.

To achieve this, it is important to use makeup products that help “catch” light from any light source, be it daylight or warm indoor lighting, and to reflect it back and the first step is to use a good primer for the face and a long-wearing liquid foundation.


All about that base with VDL, Ingrid Cosmetics and Elizabeth Arden (not shown)

I never believed in primers until I tried applying the VDL Lumilayer Primer ($36, 30ml) as a base under my liquid foundation for shoots. It has Violet Lightflects Pigment which is made by combining several skin-brightening ingredients for that clear and illuminating finish. The pigments help reflect light off different angles of the face. Don’t worry about feeling icky when using a primer because the VDL Lumilayer Primer absorbs well compared to a lot of cream textured products.

I’m using the VDL Perfecting Last Foundation SPF30, PA++ ($42) in a 1:1 ratio to the Lumilayer Primer. It has a semi-matte finish and provides pretty good coverage. The pearlescent glow from the Lumilayer Primer shows up beautifully under liquid foundation.

Trust me, I’ve used quite a number of liquid foundations and while I’ve found one or two good ones, this is by far the best combination for photo shoots. The feel is good, not too sticky or greasy, and still offering good enough coverage that has that gorgeous Korean dewiness everyone’s in love with now.

Use a highlighter pen, I’m using Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish Correcting and Highlighting Perfector ($40), which also has reflecting pigments, on the T-zone, cheekbones, cupids bow and a spot on the chin. I dot them onto those areas before evening it out by hand. If you have oily skin, it doesn’t mean you should skip highlighting. Balance it out by avoiding your oily areas and only applying it where there is less oil and where light is supposed to fall (as mentioned earlier). 

I then use a powder to set my base makeup. The one I’m using now, Ingrid Cosmetics Transparent Powder (฿590/$23), which contains nourishing argan oil, is a gift from my friend, Nui. I know it feels like one too many steps, but trust me, if you set your makeup, you don’t have to reapply too much makeup when the time comes to strike a pose.

If you want some extra oomph (and if your skin is a little towards the dry type) just before I take a photo, I use my Laneige BB Cushion ($59 with an extra refill) for added radiance. I just press it on with the cushion sponge provided, concentrating on the nose bridge and cheekbones. If your skin is naturally more oily, dab away excess oil and skip this step.

Unreal, ethereal, almost-photoshopped glow

This is the same routine I used to achieve that ultra radiant and almost-photoshopped look on my face in Hong Kong (see photo above). Totally worth the effort. The light wasn’t the best and even at golden hour, rather weak. It was my makeup that saved the day, maximising every bit of natural light and reflecting it off my face even on this very grey day in Central.

Having a good base saves me plenty of time trying to correct a dull complexion in photoshop. I barely took 3 minutes to edit the above photo by the way.

Draw Attention to Enlivened Eyes

Priming eyes for colours that just pop and make you look more alive

Once you’ve got the base right, make your eyeshadows work harder with the right primer for eyelids. Eyeshadow is one of those makeup products that either fall onto under eyes too easily or just disappears as the day wears on.

Sometimes, light (especially harsh lighting) can wash out even the most outstanding colours. A good eyelid primer minimises unnecessary touch-ups (and potential shadow fall-out) and makes the colours on your lids a lot more vivid and enchanting.

Air Patrol

My “secret weapon” of choice: Benefit Air Patrol BB Cream Eyelid Primer

I highly recommend the Benefit Air Patrol BB Cream Eyelid Primer ($51). It definitely is a little on the pricey side, but this has proven to be a really handy “secret weapon” of mine when it comes to accentuating my eyeshadow colours and making them pop.

Air Patrol comes in an easy-to-use twist-click pen which dispenses the product through a super soft CushionCalm™ tip which is marketed as “softer than your pinkie”. It also boasts an EnviroDefend complex that helps protect sensitive and delicate eyelids against sun damage, smoke and pollutants, all while extending the wear of eyeshadow for long-lasting colour.

Apart from the whimsical and extremely adorable vintage “modern-vintage” packaging, what I really liked about the product was how a little of it goes a long way. I simply dab dots of it on my upper and lower lids and gently blend it out. The yellow-beige shade it comes in, instantly brightens the lid area and neutralises any redness and provides excellent colour correction.


Half the challenge is in racking up your confidence to pose, the other half is your makeup and getting the right light.

For the best photos, always avoid glitter eyeshadow. Most people also advise against shimmer, but I find just a little bit at the inner corner of eyes to create a really alluring effect. As far as possible, use matte or satin shadows if you can help it and use colours that play up your eye shape and colour.

I find brown or deep purple shades work very well for me and I now frequently use my Lancome L’Absolu Palette ($98) because it has the perfect combination of satin shades that complement my Asian skin tone.

Spending a bit more time on my base makeup makes such a huge difference to my photos. I can usually be done in five minutes if I want to, but to really work it on camera, takes a bit more effort.

While it feels too lengthy for everyday, with practice, a full face makeup look will take you, at the very most, thirty minutes.

If you have any questions, please feel free to fire away in the comments and I will try, to the best of my abilities, with my humble makeup knowledge, to answer them. Go forth and make absolutely stunning photos, ladies!

Disclaimer: Some products in this post were sent to me for review purposes. All opinions shared are honest and my own based on my personal experience.

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