Why It Can Actually Be A Bad Thing To Look Too Nice For Your Passport Photo

Considering you will probably have the same passport photo for the next 10 years, it makes total sense to want to get the best picture possible. TikTok and YouTube have a lot of makeup tutorials to help you look your finest — but is there such a thing as looking too nice in your passport photo? Unfortunately, depending on your definition of looking your best, the answer can be yes. First and foremost, your passport is a form of identification, and if the look you choose for your photo is too far from how you look every day, it might raise red flags for airport security.


That's not to say that you can't put on a little mascara or have your stylist give you a shape-up the morning of your photo — just don't do anything too radical. You're going to need to show your passport to people every time you get on a plane, whenever your Airbnb host asks for a copy, and even when you try to enter the National Park of American Samoa. As nice as it would be to have them think you look good in the photo, if they don't recognize you, it's going to be extremely frustrating and potentially a little embarrassing to have to prove who you are.

Changing your look for your passport photo can prevent you from getting through airport security

"They almost didn't let me on my flight because they said I don't look like my passport," TikTok user alishamarie revealed in her popular video. "This is why you should never do hot photos for your passport." In comments and replies, others confirmed the same embarrassing thing had happened to them — they went out of their way to look nice for the passport photo and then weren't recognizable when dressed normally, leaving them with the uncomfortable choice of either explaining why they don't look like their picture or getting extremely dressed up just to fly.


This is compounded by the fact that many popular passport photo tutorials focus on contouring, a makeup strategy in which you use highlights and darker shades to subtly change the appearance of the shape of your face. This technique can help you take a gorgeous photo, but unfortunately often looks quite different in photographs than it does in person. If done to the extreme, it might make it hard to recognize you when you show up at the airport without it.

What makeup is safe for your passport photo?

The most important thing for your passport photo is to look like you. Just like you might need to get a new passport after having plastic surgery, if your makeup makes you look too different from your typical travel-day appearance, you may need a different passport photo to fly. That doesn't mean you have to go completely bare-faced, unless you want to. While TikToker travelbrilliant suggests taking a photo in which you look totally exhausted so that it resembles you when you have a horrible middle-of-the-night layover, you don't necessarily have to go that far.


When choosing a makeup look for your passport photo, try not to do anything too extreme. You can definitely use foundation or concealer to make your skin seem more even, but make sure not to obscure or alter your natural skin tone. Mascara and eyebrow gel are no problem, but try not to alter the shape of your eyebrows or wear fake lashes. A little blush or bronzer can be totally fine, but avoid doing too much contouring.