- In the pandemic, lots of people are working and socializing from home.
- Insider spoke with a range of sex workers, who are on camera frequently for their jobs, to see what works best.
- All said that big-time lashes and focusing on glowing skin, plus buying a ring light, are your best bets.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
If you want to look good on a Zoom call, you’re going to want to invest in some fake eyelashes. Just take it from porn performer Janice Griffith.
“Your eyelashes look like s**t on camera, no matter how long and beautiful they look in person,” she told Insider.
Goddess Gkitty, a medical student, OnlyFans performer, and part-time financial dominatrix, agreed. “Fake lashes are a must for pictures!” GKitty said. “I use all sorts of different kinds, but Kiss Lashes are great.”
In the midst of the pandemic, lots of people are on camera from home, including sex workers. And they have to look good.
Insider spoke with a range of sex workers to see what works best for the camera, and they said that big-time lashes and focusing on glowing skin, plus buying a ring light, are your best bets.
Porn studios have been eclipsed by the rise of the entrepreneur-driven sex industry
Griffith is one of many adult performers taking a relative sabbatical right now — she’s not doing any studio work. According to Free Speech Coalition communications director Mike Stabile, his company’s Performer Availability Screening Services (PASS) database fell from 2,000 workers before the pandemic to just a few hundred people, including adult content performers and makeup artists.
The platform OnlyFans, which allows people to produce and charge for their own content, reportedly has more than 450,000 performer accounts, and has grown during the pandemic.
One OnlyFans performer who started in 2020, Ayla Akhbar, said she loves using Fenty products and channeling inspiration from her favorite Bollywood actress, Rekha.
“As someone who spends a lot of makeup-less days in my pajamas, it only takes a bit of effort to remind myself I’m a bad bitch,” Akhbar said.
Both she and Griffith said the most popular look, at least for appealing to male clientele, is a light and natural, even innocent, aesthetic. “My everyday style definitely reflects in my filming. I love anything with girlish candor and soft colors that hints at innocence with a wink,” Akhbar said.
“I’m doing a collaboration with Pornhub right now and wearing the Pat Mcgrath mothership eyeshadow palette and the ChromaLuxe hi-lite cream,” Griffith said. “I like extremes. I like fun and crazy looks that accentuate my features. That’s where I draw a lot of the confidence and power from.”
Stripper-turned dominatrix and OnlyFans performer Gemini Baby, who has been working in the sex industry for eight years, said she prefers an edgy look for BDSM content. This often includes a smokey eye with black, winged eyeliner and red or black lipstick. Generally speaking, she said, makeup can be a tool to enhance any digital performance.
Glowing skin is everything
Across the board, the hardest part of looking great on camera, the performers told Insider, is complementing your unique skin.
“I’m on the medium-dark range of most makeup options, which is ridiculous,” Griffith said.
Akhbar and Gkitty said they face the same issue when shopping for makeup. Finding the right products and layering them effectively requires both skill and research. Gkitty said some Revlon, Fenty, and Tarte products are well suited to her complexion, while Griffith recommends Skin Fetish foundation by Pat McGrath.
Another OnlyFans performer, Princess Rose, said she accentuates her dark skin by mixing a little highlighter in with her foundation before getting on camera. She’s been on OnlyFans for less than a year, yet already discovered focusing on heavy coverage for the appearance of flawless skin works better on-camera than in her daily life.
“Our skin is radiant and turning it super matte doesn’t let the camera pick up on that,” Rose said of Black performers. “Wet n’ Wild, surprisingly, has some very highly pigmented highlighters. Of course, I’m also a fan of Fenty.”
Griffith said dramatic makeup with thick coverage is better for film, while softer makeup works well for selfies and photography. When GKitty photographs herself, she takes a biologist’s approach to skincare.
“I swear by The Ordinary serums and Belif for facial moisturizer. They’re both companies that use really clean ingredients,” Gkitty said. “Things that will scientifically benefit your skin, i.e. aloe vera, squalene, etc.”
She added that people should consider the ingredients in their products and how those chemicals interact with each other. Knowing which products work well together can be the difference between a dewy glow and a greasy sheen.
“We all have a pretty delicate skin pH, and makeup or even skincare that we think is helping can be doing something counterintuitive,” she said.
It’s not all about skin above the collarbone
“I can recommend exfoliating the bikini line. People with more melanin tend to have more issues with their ingrown hairs and discoloration and scars in the bikini area,” Gemini said.
Veteran camgirl and findom expert Haven the Great agreed.
“As someone with a darker complexion I deal with ‘dark spots,’ or hyperpigmentation, which picks up pretty drastically on camera,” Haven said. “I usually color correct dark spots on my face and bikini line with a concealer.”
Like Griffith, Haven prefers light makeup for photography and dramatic makeup for videos, even clips made with a simple webcam.
“The most important tip I have to share with other performers is to blend! Lighting brings out all imperfections,” Haven said. “Lighting also tends to make it a little hot so a good setting powder to keep your face looking matte and fresh is always a plus, too.”
As for Griffith, her final tip for looking good on camera is to get dressed (or undressed) specifically for the occasion. She said it can feel almost like a mask, which helps people be more expressive on camera.
“For my everyday makeup, I’ve been using tinted Kosas face oil instead of a full coverage foundation,” she said. “I want the hardiest, more serious products that are basically paint for shooting and more clean beauty for everyday stuff.”
For many people working from home these days, makeup routines can offer a way to create ceremonial boundaries between work and their personal lives. It’s a way of feeling normal and in control — in a world that’s anything but.
Leigh Cuen is a reporter in New York City. Her work has been published by Newsweek, Teen Vogue, Al Jazeera English and many others. Follow her on Twitter at @La__Cuen.
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