Help! Why Does My Face Turn White In Photos?

white face flash photography

© Prometeus | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

You have a special occasion to go to, and you know you’ll be photographed, so you obviously want to look your best. You prep your skin, apply sunscreen (unless it’s an evening event of course) and do your makeup… A touch of mascara to bring out the lashes, foundation to even out the skintone, a dab of lipgloss to make your pout shine…

You look in the mirror and you’re happy with what you see. You go out, have a great time, have your picture taken and… you look like a ghost! You take a quick look in the mirror and your face looks fine, but in the picture it has an unattractive, ghoulish white cast. What went wrong?

Why your face can turn white in photos

Certain white powders, which are widely used in sunscreens, foundations and other makeup products, can reflect light. Because of that, when you take a photo with flash, your face turns white. One of the most common culprits is Titanium Dioxide. This ingredient is used as a colorant to add whiteness to colour cosmetics, especially those for the face, and increase opacity so that they can better cover flaws and imperfections. It is also a very effective sunscreen ingredient that protects from all UVB and most UVA rays, by creating a barrier on the skin that simply scatters light away. Zinc Oxide is another ingredient to be wary of when taking photos. This ingredient is used in cosmetics for the exact same reasons as Titanium Dioxide. The only difference is that it protects, on its own, from the entire UV spectrum.

What can you do about it?

These ingredients are usually a concern only when they are used in high amounts to create SPF. But of course that doesn’t mean that you should skip the SPF! Simply opt for makeup products without it and use a chemical sunscreen instead. I know that many people don’t like them, and I much prefer a physical one myself, but I always have a bottle of chemical sunscreen around to wear on those occasions when I know I’ll be photographed. That way, I can both look good and stay safe. If you really wanna keep using products with these ingredients, instead, you’ll simply have to apply them on all exposed areas of your body such as your neck, cleavage, arms, etc. That way your face and body will look the same pale colour and you’ll at least avoid a mask-like effect.

The Bottom Line

Although very effective at protecting your skin from the sun rays, Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are two white powders that will make your face look white and ghoulish in pictures taken with flash. If you know you’ll be photographed, it’s best to opt for a chemical sunscreen and SPF-free makeup products.

Has your face ever turned white in photos?

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  1. Janessa says

    Haha such a happy photo it makes me smile. I still remember just four years ago when I wasn’t aware of this hahaha I looked soo white like I was the only one in bright daylight. I’ll keep up with your posts this Thursday. I have finals this week! I want to let you know why I’m away. :)

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