Skip Nav
Beauty Tips
Too Faced Founder Jerrod Blandino Says Ditch These 5 Bad Beauty Habits ASAP!
Beauty News
F*ck Unicorns — We Want Makeup Revolution's New "Dragon" Highlighter
Beauty Products Review
The $10 Eyebrow Pencil I Swear by For My Thin, Light-Colored Eyebrows

How-To: A Driver's License Photo That Doesn't Stink

How-To: A Driver's License Photo That Doesn't Stink

UrbanBohemian recently dropped me a line to ask a good question: How can you look good in your driver's license photo? That might sound silly, but how many people actually like their ID photos? I rest my case.

Unlike the women on Top Model, you don't get dozens of chances to take the perfect shot. You get one—two, if you're lucky. On top of that, you're likely to be photographed under DMV-standard fluorescent lights, which have the unfortunate effect of zombie-fying just about anybody who enters their cold glare.

But fear not: There are a few pointers for taking good photos. For my list of dos and don'ts, just


  • Wear foundation or a tinted moisturizer. That'll help diffuse the light more evenly, and blemishes won't pop out.
  • Wear blush on your cheeks. I can't stress this one enough. Without a little color in your cheeks, that fluorescent light will make your skin look sallow.
  • Apply neutral eye shadow and mascara to make your eyes stand out. A little black eyeliner on the inner lash line of your top lid will help define them without looking too Amy Winehouse.
  • Wear a flattering, natural lip color. I recommend wearing a rosy pink lipstick with a dab of gloss on the middle of your bottom lip.
  • Groom your brows. It takes five seconds, but you'll be glad you did.
  • Wear your hair in a way that keeps it off of your face. Better to prepare with a style you like than to have an overworked DMV worker insist that you pull your hair back with a rubber band.


  • Go in bare-faced. Seriously, even if you're a sunscreen-and-Chapstick girl, you'll be glad if you use a dab of blush and lipstick just this once.
  • Go overboard with the makeup. Natural is best.
  • Wear a bold lip color like red, unless that's your signature color.
  • Forget to give a little smile. The hint of one—whether on your lips or in your eyes—can keep b***hface at bay.
  • Wear a shirt whose color is close to your skin tone. It'll wash you out.
  • While we're at it, stay away from turtlenecks. (Trust me, I have the horrifying passport photo to prove it.)
  • Change your hairstyle dramatically. If you have naturally curly hair, don't straighten it just for the photo.
  • Freak out too much. It's just a driver license, after all.


ren_kr ren_kr 8 years
oh man, i've never had a good license picture. First one, couldn't smile, so I looked like I wanted to murder someone. Second one, not bad not bad, ....but for some reason my picture came out with a big red blur across my face. So, last year I was determined to go in with a better picture. No such luck. Didn't do my hair, waited for 4 hours, no makeup, and the dmv lady told me "oh my, you certainly look like you're still 12 *SNAP*" great. i can't wait to get a new license picture. in 8 more years?
niicoley niicoley 8 years
Nice tips Bella!
Calekey Calekey 8 years
Here's another tip if you CANNOT smile in your driver's license photo- smile with your eyes- makes it less mug shot-ish. And if you don't do it often, practice in front of a mirror if you can before your picture is taken?
bonniebonnie bonniebonnie 8 years
It's funny that you bring this up because I have to get my license this week! I lost my wallet this weekend. Durrr
koreansugar koreansugar 9 years
thanks! taking one for school today. will let u know how it turned out!
Candyhunnie Candyhunnie 9 years
Yeah, apparently "People don't walk around smiling, it has to be practical. Gordon Brown wants to take a leaf out of old Bush's book (Wait, did I just say that?) Lol. Seriously though- it's totally unfair. Lucky a]American so- and so's. (:
BlairBear BlairBear 9 years
My license is good til I'm 65, so I'm good for another 40 years. I'm so happy that I actually like my photo:)
lilstacylou lilstacylou 9 years
Umm you ARE allowed to smile for passport pics.
astello astello 9 years
my picture on my work ID is fab (i tried really hard), but i just found out i'm relocating after using it for only 2 weeks! now i have to give it back. *sigh*
Arnage_RL Arnage_RL 9 years
after taking a horrible photo at 16, i vowed i'd never take another crappy ID photo again, especially since our licenses are valid for 6 years (or unless your name changes). i lurrrve my driver's license photo - the last 2 licenses have been great because i totally prepped for them. i know it sounds vain but i took polaroids of myself in harsh lighting to see what sort of makeup scheme worked best. i ended up going with a darker eye than usual, more subtle on the blush/bronzer, and a shimmery nude lip gloss applied over nude liner that was slightly darker at the borders (without the liner trick my lips disappeared into my skin). oh and i added lush false eyelashes, too - that made a heck of a difference. and not to toot my own horn, but every time i have to show my license, i always get a compliment on the picture, from both men and women.
kEsLy06 kEsLy06 9 years
hahahah....u should see my DL hahahah everybody looks at it twice they dont think it's me hahah :rotfl:
nikecold nikecold 9 years
My ID photo looks like a mugshot :s
starlingbird starlingbird 9 years
A trick to help avoid the double chin (I'm a size 4 and still get them): When smiling, press your tongue up against the roof of your mouth. It tightens the skin below your chin. While you feel nuts doing it, you will look normal in a photo. While my license photos have never looked great, it does help in giving me one less thing to cringe over. (Ditto on avoiding the red lipstick: I did that once in Nebraska and looked like a drag queen on my license until I moved to North Carolina.)
actorgirl21 actorgirl21 9 years
I wore an off the shoulder top when I got mine done last time. I look naked...but otherwise I saw the Tyra show about this same subject before I went and must admit, it's my favorite id pic yet!
caramelqtee75 caramelqtee75 9 years
Good advise
pink_magnetism pink_magnetism 9 years
I actually ended up with a great one, so I'm hoping the next one will be good too.
silver-wings silver-wings 9 years
mi i.d photo is the most horrible thing ever haha
sugarbecky sugarbecky 9 years
My current license has the WORST b***hface EVER. I went in a few years ago expecting just to get a new copy of the previous license (what was I thinking, really) and thus had no makeup on, I had a bad attitude that day, etc. I haven't had a person yet who could look at it without cringing. I call it not just my mugshot, but my felony mugshot.
bugness bugness 9 years
I desperately need to get a new one, because I always get paranoid that someone will think it's not actually me. 2 summers ago, my hair was chopped off, and it was brown, and that's what my picture looks like. Now it's back to my normal style, long and blonde... I haven't gotten any trouble, but I'm still paranoid. I have been known to dress up and fix my hair for a new student ID when I "lost" mine. Someday when I have nothing to do, I'll probably go through the works and get a new one done and say mine was "lost."
almostloli almostloli 9 years
hahhaa nice tips.. i hate my driving license pic to death
Food Food 9 years
danig - omg, that is so true about the new us passports! i had to renew mine recently and the photo i brought it was decent looking, lips normal color, just a little gloss. when i got it back it looked like i had on deep deep burgundy lips! PartySugar even asked me what was up with the dark lipstick!! I was like, um there wasn't any!? *sigh* oh well it's good for what only 10 years??? *sigh*
books-and-shoes books-and-shoes 9 years
Another tip is to practice your smile in front of the mirror. That way you know exactly how much to cheese and how much of your double chin shows! lol
ella1978 ella1978 9 years
Okay, these tips are wonderful, but I am convinced that nothing helps. I have wonderful hair and eyes. If I had to pick my great assets, those are my best. My hair is a honey blonde w/ light highlights & my eyes are two different colors.. one blue & one green, but doe shaped & bright. My photo turned out like crap. My hair looks like absolute straw. I doesn't look well coiffed like it was that day.. it looks dry and frizzy. My eyes look dimented & like another poster says, it looks like I put on about 20 lbs, it's really stretched in the long direction. I am convinced that there is NOTHING you can do to make these look better. And forget smiling, try a smirk maybe, a grin? Smiling makes your teeth look terrible & your face wider.. ugh, another 4 years with a terrible picture!
BriaAdele BriaAdele 9 years
hahaha i have a turtleneck passport picture too! i HATE it!
stayplus stayplus 9 years
I think I have trouble gauging the way my face looks when I express certain emotions, because I was trying to convey a natural face with a faint smile when I took the photo for my driver's license and ended up looking like a startled owl. =(
Wet n Wild Fantasy Makers Review
Halloween Costumes Using Eyeliner | Tutorial
Disney Elena of Avalor Makeup and Hair Tutorial
Halloween Special Effects Makeup Tricks
From Our Partners
Latest Beauty
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds