Can You Wear Makeup in a Passport Photo? UK Rules Breakdown

woman applying make-up to look fresh on camera

Once you get a new picture for your travel credentials, it’ll stay with you for the next ten years. So it’s only natural if you want to look your very best in your passport photo by all means available. By using face makeup, for instance.

Where do we draw the line, however? Is makeup allowed in the first place? If it is, what amount will be too much and what’s the happy medium? This post includes a useful list of dos and don’ts—follow our beauty tips and you’ll become an expert in passport photo makeup!


HMPO on Using Makeup in a Passport Photo

Surprisingly, the most reliable source—the official government website—doesn’t give us any information on whether cosmetics are acceptable or not.

The most trusted info page mentions nothing specific, so let’s use our good judgment. Wherever you’re going to have your photo session (say, you may want to get the passport photo Boots offer), the best practice is to use the same amount of makeup as you would for a job interview. In other words, keep things simple and neat.

Cosmetics in UK Passport Photos: What You Should Do

  • Apply foundation to create a proper base. Don’t make it too heavy though—just even your complexion. Use BB or CC cream (to hide blemishes or correct your skin tone respectively).

Make sure the colour of your face, from chin to forehead, matches your ears, neck and shoulders. Also, your skin tone shouldn’t match the white background. If otherwise, it’ll look downright weird.

  • Use a cover-up stick if you need to. Say, if you’ve got temporary imperfections or persistent acne, you can go on and cover them up: your passport photo doesn’t have to have them.
  • Put on concealer on dark patches. Had too little sleep or feel tired after a busy week? In any case, those dark circles are hardly here to stay, so it’s more than okay to conceal them.

wear makeup that will complement your hair colour and the clothes you're wearing

  • Mattify your complexion with face powder. If your skin is oily, it will help eliminate all possible shine (which is a solid no-go for a passport photo) by absorbing excess oil.
  • Contour your facial features by applying contouring powder. You can make more pronounced lines around your nose and cheeks—this will lightly contour your face into a more balanced shape.
  • Highlight your features further with bronzer. If applied evenly (and in a reasonable amount), it will give your skin a natural look. And natural works best in passport photos!
  • Feel free to use some neutral blush. Surely, it’s not that natural but it will freshen your face a lot. Being too pale won’t help you look better in your picture.
  • Put on low-key lipstick. Make sure it doesn’t make your mouth overly visible: using flaming red lipstick isn’t a good idea when it comes to official-looking passport photos. Instead, use a lip balm or stick of a less pronounced shade: you can’t go wrong with these.

lips of a similar colour will be perfect for a passport photo

  • Make up your eyebrows. The safest way to go is to apply your everyday mascara—it will both accentuate the beauty of your eyes and help maintain your tried-and-true casual look.

Make-up Ideas to Avoid in Your Passport Photo

  • Don’t use false eyelashes: even if you wear them daily, they won’t do. It’s very important that you should be your usual self in your passport picture, and fake eyelashes will change your overall look way too much.
  • Don’t use any glitter. Your passport photo session is not the time to sparkle and shine, so avoid using anything that shimmers, whether it’s lipgloss or some shining eye makeup.

woman with bright glitter on each eye lid

  • Don’t go too heavy on eyeliner (or don’t use it at all). Overly expressive wings at your eyes will create an unnecessary dramatic effect. Such cosmetic is only acceptable when used within reason.
  • Don’t try to hide your permanent imperfections (moles, for instance). They are an integral part of you and, as such, should stay in your passport photo.
  • Don’t use products with an SPF of 15 or higher. Cosmetics with a high sun protection factor may create unexpected white flashbacks on your face in the resulting photograph.

Closing Thoughts on Passport Photo Makeup

By now, you may have guessed the main rule: don’t overdo it. Opt for a moderate style instead—wear make-up that you normally wear on a usual day.

Better spend 30 minutes on natural makeup than waste a few hours creating a pop star face: the latter won’t do for a passport photo anyway.

When you’ve created your perfect look (hopefully, by using the tips in this post), make no delays and use the most convenient passport photo option: our web tool. Whether you wear makeup or not, our UK service helps make sure your photo complies with the official rules and requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you wear makeup when taking passport photo?

Yes, you can. You won’t find any specific requirements allowing you to do so, but it’s allowed in the UK as long as your features aren’t obscured.

How much makeup can you wear in a passport photo?

Although HMPO doesn’t give a specific answer to this, it’s better to use the common sense rule: use natural makeup that matches your everyday look, and you’ll be fine.

What makeup can you wear for a passport photo?

Foundation, concealer, face powder, contouring, bronzer, blush, lipstick and mascara—all of these are allowed if used reasonably. However, excessive modifications like fake lashes and glitter aren’t recommended.

How to do makeup for passport photo?

There’s no need to complicate things: your everyday look will do the job perfectly. If you’re still unsure what to do, use the tips given in this post.