As a photographer, I’ve seen and experienced first hand the difference that professional makeup can make in portraits. It adds to the experience of your day, makes you feel like a million bucks and translates beautifully in your final images. For the last few years, I’ve been blessed to work side by side with THE best makeup artist around, Crystal Colson, of Merle Norman of Elizabeth City, NC. She is the exclusive MUA (makeup artist) to all my clients. I believe in this woman so much and wholeheartedly believe in the power of professional makeup that it’s complimentary with High School Senior & Boudoir Sessions. My main goal when photographing women is to make them feel empowered, the most beautiful they’ve ever felt and worthy. Makeup alone doesn’t do this…but it sure adds to the experience and overall feel of the day. After they hop down from the makeup chair, of them has a little bit more pep in their step and sparkle in their eye. And I love it. 

My mom, Lois, visited Crystal last week for professional makeup for pictures and I tagged along to document the process from fresh face to the completed look. I’ve watched Crystal apply makeup and interact with clients on many many different occasions and every time I’m with her, I pick up a new tip or trick. Whether it be which brush to use for the brows or what’s the best mascara to use, I’m always learning something from her and I wanted to share a few of her tips and tricks on how to prepare your face, the why behind why it REALLY has to be that dark and what to expect when you sit in her chair. 


  • The beautiful natural light of both outdoors and indoors can dramatically fade out and soften the appearance of your makeup. For this exact reason, we recommend going a few shades darker than you are used to on your eyes, cheeks and lips. Our main goal is to accentuate your eyes, magnify your natural beauty and hide any blemishes or problem skin you may have. 



  • Days leading up to your session, we recommend moisturizing your skin. Often times, we see customers with rough or dry skin patches and this can cause the foundations to not lay properly on their skin. In the event of rough or dry skin patches, we can use a gentle exfoliation to try to correct the issue. Knowing whether or not your skin type is oily, dry or a mixture of both is key. On the day of your session, arriving with a fresh face is always recommended. 



  • Once you arrive, we will get to work on preparing your face for the makeup. Priming is SO very important. Primers are pretty much our best friend here at Merle. Not only do they allow the foundation to lay smoothly on your skin but they also allow your makeup to last through the elements of being outside or waiting till later in the day for your session. 



  • Foundation is super important. We recommend using a foundation that is a matte finish and one without zinc oxide (which can give you the appearance of an opaque mask). The Merle Norman Lasting & Perfecting Foundations are used the most often, work with most skin types and photograph absolutely beautiful. One of our most important jobs is matching your skin to the foundation properly. Pictures can really show “true colors” when it comes to matching foundations so you can bet your bottom dollar we take our time to get it absolutely perfect. 



  • Picking colors and hues for your eyes and lips will be based around the colors you plan on wearing. So, if you have a picture of your outfit on your phone that always works better than trying to describe the actual colors. With that said, Crystal is absolutely a color goddess when it comes to picking colors that will compliment and not clash with your wardrobe. Keep in mind, these colors will be applied darker than you are used to wearing.



  • Brows are boss. Their job is to frame those beautiful eyes and act as a frame. By filling them in and making them appear darker with a brow powder it will draw all the attention to your eyes. Filling in your brows might not be something you normally do on a regular basis but it is an absolute must for pictures. 



  • Lips. Using light exfoliation and a good chapstick to prep your lips a few days before the session will help your lipstick lay properly and not appear flakey with dead lip skin. Crystal will always send you out the door with a “lip bubble” in your lipstick color and an application stick. Please make sure you bring this to your session as we will more than likely apply mid way through as a touch up. 


 If I’m being totally honest with you, I’m more of a paint by numbers kinda gal who rarely wears makeup (except for during pictures or super special occasions). The sheer fact that Crystal will create custom eye swatches (like the one pictured a few up) of the makeup she used during your session as a key for you to have as a guide at home is SUPER important. She isn’t there to just slap some makeup on your pretty face. She’s there to offer support, ease any nerves you may have and help add to the overall experience and pampering of your day. She’s the best. 

And here’s one of the images from my Moms session below 🙂 

To schedule your Professional Makeup, please call Crystal at Merle Norman of Elizabeth City, NC. They are located at 406 South Griffin Street, Suite A4, Elizabeth City, NC. The phone number you can reach them at is 252-335-5021 and you can visit their Facebook page here

Special thanks to the FABULOUS owner, Holly Luther Brothers, for always being so awesome and fostering a truly wonderful business to business relationship! 🙂 You rock! 


Professional Makeup Tips & Tricks and WHY Makeup is so important for your Photography Session–Merle Norman of Elizabeth City, NC– OBX Senior, Wedding & Family Photographer–Katie Myrick Photography




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