What is Editorial Makeup?

An editorial shoot involves a lot of people working together to produce an illustrative story through their vision. It is a highly creative process often involving endless interpretations. They all work for the purpose of being published and credited not forgetting valuable tear sheets to be added to their portfolios. Editorials don’t put money into artist’s pocket but are essential to get the ad jobs and campaigns. Having tear-sheets in portfolio play an important role in getting paid works. No editorial can happen without a makeup artist. Makeup is a key factor in the fashion world and every editorial spread. As fashion editorials are used to tell a story, create a fictional reality or awaken a certain emotional state, it is crucial to have professional makeup application as it gives a continuation of the theme or story. So, what is editorial makeup?

editorial fashion photography by photographer Tamara Hansen
Editorial fashion photography by photographer Tamara Hansen

Editorial makeup is makeup that is usually not worn everyday and used for magazine spreads and runway. This type of makeup has to interpret fashion and provide a look that will help to achieve the image a client, brand, photographer or art director requires. Throughout an editorial shoot a client will tell what they want, it might be something new or with a very specific look. In this case, a good conversation with the make-up artist (and hair stylist) is absolutely essential. Additionally, some  makeup artists like including fragrances in their beauty kits to create a more pleasant working atmosphere while on set.

Flawless Skin & Professional Contouring

what is editorial makeupThe most important thing about editorial makeup is skin. It must look amazing, prefect and flawless without any blemishes or imperfections. In most cases whole look must be quite effortless and minimal. Understanding skin types and choosing appropriate makeup products is essential. If you go through fashion editorials you will notice that models skin is faultless and embodies perfection. If you want natural flawless skin you can use a Celluma device. Its devices are used to carry out LED light therapy for acne and improving your skin.

Another important notion in editorial makeup is face contouring. The purpose of contouring model’s face using makeup is to improve bone structure and give a mode dimensional look. It involves a definition of cheekbones, making nose look thinner, making a forehead bigger or smaller and creation of an overall face glow or bringing out eye color. In other words, a professional contouring involves highlighting and shadowing the correct areas on the face in order to prompt and emphasize best look of a model. An experienced and skillful makeup artist understands exactly how to bring out dimensions on face in the most attractive way. If you want to achieve that by yourself, you can use the products of Innisfree.

A professional makeup also eases post-editing process. All editorial images undergo photo-editing procedure to remove small skin blemishes and other disparities if talking about makeup retouching in particular. Make up is a huge component of the end result and will save hours of retouching time, hire someone who is experienced in beauty or editorial make-up, uses appropriate products and understands how to achieve a perfect complexion.

Prettiness & Trends

Another important factor in editorial makeup is prettiness. Here prettiness is everything and in everything. Editorial makeup has to give perfection at its finest, including earlier mentioned flawless skin.

Editorial makeup also involves a sophisticated understanding of current trends and shifting these trends from catwalk to magazine pages. Editorials are styled in a way to give a feeling of the upcoming trends for the latest collections. This is how catwalk looks are moved to paper and reaches bigger number of trend-hungry followers. A good makeup artist should know what is coming up next season, be able to interpret it and set a wide range of techniques to create innovative effects and ideas while maintaining delicateness. Makeup artistry helps to create a look that gives an opinion of the direction of beauty.

what is editorial makeup pretty skin
Photographer: Martin Higgs Model: Hayley J Thomas Hair and make up: Amy Prifti Corset: Chrissie Nicholson-Wild Retoucher: Stefka Pavlova Hairpiece: Annabelles Wigs

Story, Mood & Concept

As mentioned earlier a purpose of editorial is to tell a story. Makeup as a mean to enhance the desired mood has to capture the feeling and continue telling the story through interpretation of that look. It is important to know the balance in a story. Do we want classic pretty or avant-garde makeup? Will photographs be colorful or in muted colors? Do you want viewer to feel excited or melancholic? If a story focuses on clothes it becomes fashion editorial. When a story focuses on makeup it becomes beauty editorial. If a story focuses on hair – it is hair editorial. Nevertheless, all three (clothes, makeup and hair) are highly related and always complement each other in every type of editorial. Here a fictional reality has to evoke an emotion in the viewer and makeup should reflect surroundings, atmosphere and overall nature of the scene.

Your make-up artist, no matter how experienced, will need to have a direction to go in. Do you want glossy or matte make-up? What elements of the model’s face are you trying to accent? Is the make-up the focal point, is it the model, or is it jewelry? You will need to communicate on your goal and concept for the shoot so be prepared to show some sample images for makeup artist. Usually art director or editor prepares moods board or brief as guidance to the team in order to get a idea of the theme/concept and what every creative is expected to bring out to it. In early stages discussing with makeup artist (and hair stylist) how a concept can be interpreted is absolutely necessary.

 mood concept
Photographer/Retouch: Hartmut Nörenberg www.hart-worx.com Models: Yulha (cocainemodels.com) & Lea (shine-management.de) Hair & Makeup Artist: Carina Musitowski www.musitowski.com Concept, Grooming, Styling: Carina Musitowski Stylist Assistant:
 Elisa Schlütter

Beauty Editorial

Beauty editorials are usually head and shoulders shots (or even much closer) highlighting makeup (or hair), and emphasizing facial beauty and perfection. Here the main story is makeup and prettiness. It can be colorful and highly creative makeup but still enhancing the natural beauty of the face. In beauty editorial makeup usually accents the strength and masks the weakness of model’s facial features. Basically clean look is most common.



Beauty shots (or editorials) are crucial to makeup artist’s portfolio as potential client gets a chance to have a closer look on makeup artist’s works and find out how skillful and versatile she or he really is.

If an editorial is focusing on jewelry, accessories or hair products a typical makeup is minimal to draw attention to products. Such spreads are usually shown with a detailed list the products that are used on the model.

Hair Editorial

In hair editorial hair is the main story and usually provides fashion-forward styles. Editorial hair is hair that is not really wearable on the street and is far from practical: exaggerated and expanded shapes, exotic and ornamental sculptures or polished curls. Stylists usually do that cannot be done on normal basis giving them an opportunity to be creative. Hair needs to look perfect in high-definition. To create a beautiful finish on editorial styles, products which create shine and fight frizz are often put into use. Styling tools, pins and grips are also amongst the equipment needed to create striking looks. If editorial’s main story is clothes the hair is styled in a simple way mostly. Much like the make-up artist, great hair can really take editorial photographs to another level.

Fashion Editorial

The main focus in fashion editorials is fashion, clothes or, in other words, wearable art. Fashion editorials showcase the situation the products would be worn in. No doubt, in fashion trendy looks are most important. Fashion is all about clothing, accessories and even makeup being “in” style. We all know that fashion makeup has no rules. It can be something bold, very dramatic, creative and edgy. It can be anything from classic pretty to avant-garde.

However it is not quite the same in fashion editorials. Even though clothes are the main point of interest here once again you will notice how pretty and flawless models are. Very natural looking makeup indeed and it does not take the attention away from fashion (clothes) or wearable art. Fashion editorial showcase a lifestyle and how products or pieces can be worn. Makeup has to emphasize the clothing worn by model but in a sophisticated way and very often perfection comes to light as well.

Once again it is important that the makeup artist communicates and understands the viewpoint of the photographer, director, or designer, and is able to bring that vision to life.

fashion editorial what is editorial makeup
Photographer/Retouch: Hartmut Nörenberg www.hart-worx.com Models: Yulha (cocainemodels.com) & Lea (shine-management.de) Hair & Makeup Artist: Carina Musitowski www.musitowski.com Concept, Grooming, Styling: Carina Musitowski Stylist Assistant:
 Elisa Schlütter

Durability & Flexibility

Editorial photo sessions can take from several hours to several days depending on location, weather conditions, how big and complex the project is. Editorial makeup and hair styling require seriously strong hold to keep them in place throughout a long day of shooting. Sometimes makeup and hair can be changed five times a day to flow with the wardrobe or story changes. It is important to mention that in most cases a makeup artist has to share time with hair stylist while working on the same model. Usually fashion editorials are fast paced and few alternate makeup looks can be required. Experienced makeup artist knows that transitional looks should be applied in order to build on it helping to capture clients vision. Starting with a clean look and then working a way up to editorial can be a lifesaver. Nobody of the team wants to sit and wait hours for makeup to be done.

To conclude, editorial makeup is flawless and camera prefect look that gives a favorable impression. Beauty is always of central importance. Editorial makeup must work in tandem with wearable art to achieve the desired effect and be without any blemishes to perceive perfection across printed media. Depending on clients requirements it can be very creative, trendy or even experimental but it always has to complement fashion and reflect a mood or idea of the story being told in editorial.

Author: Sheeba Magazine|Cannot be copied or republished without written permission by Sheeba Magazine.

Read More:

What is editorial fashion photography?

How to submit editorial to fashion magazine?

Make your morning makeup routine faster

Must-have skills and tips for aspiring makeup artist


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