Everybody wants to look good in their passport photo. After all, you’re going to have that picture on your passport for the next five years. However, unlike your Instagram pictures, you can’t add a filter on this image. Don’t worry, we have all the tips to help you look amazing in your next passport photo.
Wow, we never thought we’d ever say that because sun protection factor (SPF) is such an integral part of any skincare routine. But the same ingredients that are meant to bounce the sun’s rays off the skin also cause the camera flash to bounce off, rendering you with a white cast or ghost face. So for the purpose of this photo, skip sunscreen or any foundation that has SPF in it.
Lay off the Instagram makeup
Strong brows, heavy eye makeup, bold lips—while these look great on Instagram, they don’t exactly translate well onto the printing quality that ends up on your passports. Plus, no one really looks like that in real life, and unless you want to go through immigration with heavy makeup all the time, we suggest going with natural-looking makeup.
While you want to avoid any heavy makeup, you don’t want to look completely washed out either. Opt for a soft, matte blush to add a healthy flush to your complexion. If you have a round face, apply the blush starting at the temples and blending downward so there are no harsh lines. If you have an oval face, you can apply the blush to the apples of your cheeks. Don’t forget to blend.
Skip transluscent powder
Celebrities have been victims of powdery patches underneath their eyes thanks to translucent powder. While they’re great at mattifying and setting makeup, they’re also highly reflective which spells bad news for flash photography. If you have to reduce shine, use loose powder and dab it on with a powder puff.
Some colour is fine
Although strong colours should be avoided, there is a fine line between creating contrast and too much contrast. As passport photos are usually monochrome, too much contrast on the lips and brows will cause other facial features to disappear. Opt for peach, pinks and corals for the lips and cheeks and avoid darker colours like burgundy and plum.
Tame your hair
There are plenty of regulations concerning hair when it comes to passport photos, and instead of fumbling with it while you’re at a photo booth, style your hair before taking the photos. Don’t be afraid of being more heavy-handed with the styling products. Heck, if you have to do it at the salon, go ahead! After all, you have to stick with this photo for the next five years.
Skip the highlighter
More often than not, flash photography isn’t very forgiving on shiny faces. Lay off the extra glittery highlighters (we still love you, BECCA Champagne Pop), and opt for highlights with soft matte finish if you want to contour your face.
Avoid dark eye makeup
Your kohl-rimmed eyes may look good in a colour photo, but since Singapore’s passport photos are in grayscale, you might just end up looking like you didn’t sleep for days. Go for neutral eyeshadow colours to brighten up your look and stick to a slim flick of eyeliner for subtle definition.
Fill in your brows
If you have thin, overplucked brows, there’s no better time to start filling them in than when taking your passport photo. You might be able to control the lighting if you’re taking it yourself, but ICA will still adjust the contrast/saturation to match their system’s and sometimes, your thin brows might just disappear. So, it’s best to fill them in just to make sure you don’t look like you shave them all off—unless that’s the look you’re going for.
Know your lighting
It’s not uncommon to take your own passport photos now thanks to the popularity of apps like “IC Photo Singapore“, but photography rules still apply and light is one of the most important aspects. Natural daylight is the most flattering so it’s better to take your photos outdoor against a white wall. If you have to, a photo taken along your HDB corridor with a piece of mahjong paper taped to the wall as your background would make for a much better photo than one taken under fluorescent light.
Text: Arissa Ha / The Singapore Women’s Weekly / October 2017
Additional text: Hidayah Idris, Smita DeSouza
Images: Unsplash, 123RF