Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Makeup For The DMV

The jewel in the crown of the DMV experience (for our overseas friends: Department of Motor Vehicles, also known as Purgatory) is having the glamor shot. A moment in time which accompanies us everywhere for the next four years, and it's a good idea to try and make it prettier (and less reflecting of the environment where the photo is being taken: grey walls, sour-pussed employees and the Great Unwashed everywhere).

Basically, unless you're Maria Shriver, you want your features to look more defined, thus avoiding the typical squinty-eyed blob with hair effect. Of course, an even skin is important, but it's nothing unusual. stick to your normal primer-foundation-concealer-blush/bronzer and set it all with your favorite powder. Don't make the mistake of trying to shade and contour your face. The crappy lightning won't cooperate and you're most likely to end up with mud face.

It's better to concentrate on what you want to stand out. Define and fill your eyebrows with a either an eyebrow product or a dark eye shadow (my choice is Bobbi Brown Espresso, which is just a bit darker than my natural hair color, without being quite black). Use a stiff, angled brush and work it in short, steady strokes, only where needed.

Go for the darkest liquid or gel eyeliner you own. Normally for daytime I prefer a dark brown, but this is an occasion to break out the black, and go for a heavier application than normal (once you're done with the DMV just apply a little taupe eye shadow on top, to bring it down a notch or two. Or just glam it up for the day). In my case, this is even more important than mascara, since my eyes are a bit heavy-lidded. In any case, a layer or two of black mascara add the finishing touches. Only use brown if you're very fair and you have bunny (or Tilda Swinton) lashes. Eye shadow is far less important today. Stick to natural, low shimmer colors. It's the defined outlines that you want showing, not your Nars habit.

Last and very important is lip color. You want to show color, not shimmer, so go for a dark stain or a real old-school lipstick. You you know what flatters you, so pick one of your favorites in red, plum or berry. Don't skip the (matching or nude) liner. You want a well defined but invisible outline, and it will help keep the color in place while you wait (and wait, and wait some more). My choice for the happy occasion was my trusty Fresh lip liner in Gypsy Rose and a very pigmented Givenchy gloss that is more of a liquid lipstick (in Violine Vitamine). Don't forget to take the lipstick with you, for a last minute touch up. Avoid shiny glosses for this occasion, but you can apply a plumper before putting on the color, if needed.

A zen attitude would also help.


  1. You forgot (being a sprite) the absolute most important part. If they want you to look down, bend from the knees and keep looking up. Continue to do this even if you end up as origami. Speaking as someone who will suffer with a drivers license that makes me look like Broderick Crawford until 2128 I can tell you.

    Wear Makeup and insist on the pose!

    and Gaia will tell you that I am far more Joan Crawford and Broderick in the fat content I hope.

    Humor me?

  2. I'm so glad I'm not the only one! My boyfriend laughed at me when I told him I was dressing nicely and doing my make-up for the DMV. He says that bad ID photos are part of the fun; I said that I've had one long enough, thank you, and that my passport photo is bad enough that I deserve a good DMV photo. I haven't seen the final version yet, so I hope it turned out all right...

  3. You have to have a good photo for DMV! I mean, it's on display for everyone to see! I was bummed they made me take off my hat.

  4. Tom- Definitely more Joan Crawford, and in the best possible way. I really haven't thought about the fate of the tall. It's such a foreign concept when one isn't quite 5'3"...

  5. Jeanne- I hear you. I'll need to renew my password next year and I'm already dreading it (and planning my outfit).

  6. Meredith- Yes, wearing a hat would make things much more fun!


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