Avoiding Photo Flashback

Hey everyone! I know this post is a week later than I had planned, but I had company so I didn’t have a whole lot of time to blog recently! Today, as promised, I’m going to talk about the dreaded photo flashback and how to avoid it!

What is photo flashback?

Have you ever taken a flash photo and for some reason your makeup just looks too light? Or you have weird a weird white cast over parts of your face? Congratulations! You’ve experienced photo flashback!

Essentially what’s happening is that there’s something in your makeup that is reflecting the light from the flash. Depending on what product is causing the flashback, it may cause your whole face to look light or it might just happen on parts of your face. The good news is that by avoiding certain ingredients in makeup, you can easily prevent flashback from ruining your photos!

What causes flashback?

There are two main causes of flashback: silica and SPF.

Silica is a mineral powder found in a lot of finishing powders. You can generally spot these powders a couple of ways. If it says “mineral finishing powder” it’s almost always going to have silica in it. If it’s a stark white powder, it’s probably silica-based. And of course, the easiest way to tell if just to check the ingredients!

SPF in makeup is great for every day, but should really be avoided if you know you’re going to be photographed. Most often SPF in makeup comes from the addition of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These are both incredible for absorbing UV rays, but unfortunately can give your skin a white cast. Some SPF makeup has so much of these ingredients that it can give your skin a white cast even outside of flash photography. Fun fact: titanium dioxide is the pigment used to create Bob Ross’ beloved Titanium White paint!


For makeup, just avoid foundations, concealers, primers, and powders that claim to have SPF protection if you know you’re going to be photographed. I love SPF in my products for everyday running around, especially if I’ll be outside a lot, but I avoid wearing it on dates or at events.

As far as avoiding silica, be sure to check your ingredients! Avoid those stark white powders! If you’re looking for some good options, I list some of my favorite loose powders in my Laura Mercier powder review and talk a little bit about flashback there as well!

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