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How to Take the Perfect Passport Photo

Your government-issue I.D. just got a serious makeover.

See recent posts by Siobhan Reid

These days most everybody knows how to snap an amazing selfie. But taking a perfect passport photo? This undertaking remains as elusive as ever—especially without the 21st-century luxury of lighting, angling and filtering to perfection. And given that this photo is something you’ll have to live with for the years to come, making your makeup work for you becomes your only defense against the fluorescent lights and minimal creative direction at your local Walgreens. In the interest of getting it right, we rang up Jeanine Lobell, the founder of Stila Cosmetics and makeup artist to stars like Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman for her tips on getting camera-ready. So long Mug shots!

Step 1: Pamper your skin
“Take the time to exfoliate and moisturize in the days leading up to your photo. I’d recommend using the hydrating mask from SKII the morning of the photo shoot—it will really plump up the skin."

Step 2: Keep the oilies at bay
"Use a great pressed powder and a foundation that’s on the matte side. Also: be sure to check your makeup and powder up right before they snap the photo."

Step 3: Blend, baby, blend
"Stay away from bright colors (like blush) and hard lines, as they tend to make colors appear harder, sharper and more vibrant. Blending is key."

Step 4: Be bold
"Most passport photos end up looking over-exposed once they are printed, so I always advise going for a look that is a little bolder than what you’re used to. Giorgio Armani’s Lip Maestro will give you that extra edge."

Step 5: Pony down
"Make sure to wear your hair down. Hair up will make your head look small."

Step 6: Stick to wardrobe basics
"Stay away from patterns—simple neutral colors and necklines work best."

Below, Jeanine shares her go-to products for achieving a stellar photo.

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Sk-ll Facial Treatment Mask

Containing over 90% Pitera (the miracle ingredient derived from the fermentation of sake), Japanese brand SK-II's sheet mask transforms even the driest and ruddiest of complexions into clear, dewy perfection. Slap one on the night before the big photo shoot and you’ll wake up to luminous, picture-perfect skin.

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Nars Velvet Matte Skin Tint

Get photo-ready fast with this luxurious tinted moisturizer from Nars. It's long lasting, oil-free (no shine!) and formulated with transparent blurring powders, so you won’t have to double down on any heavy powders or cakey cover up.

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Chanel Poudre Universelle Compacte

A pre-photo touch up is a must. And this Chanel compact imparts a translucent, matte finish that'll keep your skin looking radiant and shine-free under a harsh camera flash. Added bonus: the compact has a big mirror, which means you can touch up wherever, whenever!

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Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro

High impact? Check. High drama? Check. Long-lasting? Check. This Giorgio Armani lip stain does it all. Swipe the velvety lipstick on in the AM and you'll have a bold, smudge-free pout all day.

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Chanel Inimitable Mascara

They didn't call this mascara inimitable for nothin'. Its innovative bristles align in perfect symmetry, producing a curled, lengthened, and fanned-out effect. Plus, it's clump and flake-free, so you won't have to worry about any dark, raccoon-like residue left under your eyes.

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