As a bridal make-up artist outside of my day job as a Beauty Editor, I’m told the same thing time and again by brides-to-be: they don’t want to look like they’re wearing the tonne of make-up that many claim is essential to look good in pictures, but would instead like to look ‘like myself, but better.’
That’s where I come in – working with a bride to enhance her features, without the appearance of wearing ALL the make-up. I call it the anti-instagram make-up, as it were, wanting to make the bride look good IRL, as well as making features pop in photos. And, of course, find a look that reflects her personality.
That’s where the bride comes in – before I’m booked, I always remind them that, if they’re confident in their make-up skills and if it won’t make them feel more stressed on the day, that doing their own wedding make-up is a surefire way to feel like themselves. It’s also a nice way to grab an hour to yourself before walking down the aisle – I did my own wedding make-up (and that of three of my bridesmaids) and found it gave me a much-needed moment of quiet before all the merriment.
Now, onto the nitty gritty – here are all the steps to creating a classic bridal make-up, and some suggestions of products that I use in my kit all the time:
Before the big day /
This bit’s key – you want to invest in getting your skin the best it can be beforehand, either by having regular facials or at home by using face masks and good skincare. Also, do a few test runs so that you feel confident in what you’ll be applying.
Finally, if your wedding dress is white, wear white when you apply your make-up – it’ll give you a clearer idea of how your make-up fares next to the fabric.
To prep skin /
Opt for a lightweight serum or moisturiser that doesn’t contain an SPF to avoid looking pale in pictures as some SPFs reflect light. If you’re getting married somewhere very sunny, try an SPF 15 for minimal flashback. If you like to use a primer, pick one that works with your skin – if you get oily over the course of the day, try a magnifying primer, or if you find your make-up settles into dry patches, go for a hydrating one. Apply lip balm at this point to give it as long as possible to soften your lips.
Bobbi Brown’s Pro Make-Up Artist, Hannah Martin, advises starting with a thin layer of foundation and then building it slightly only where you need it to make it last for as long as possible – and to give you a natural finish. Think of your base as a veil – not a mask. Try applying with a brush and then patting your base to make it fuse with your skin. Top tip: buff over the edges to make sure you don’t have any lines where the foundation finishes.
Blemishes, dark circles and discolouration /
While foundation will even out skin to some extent, concealer is there to do the big job of covering spots and any other tricky patches. Dodge concealers that are light and reflective under your eyes to avoid that reverse panda look and instead use something that provides a good wash. Remember to apply it from your inner corner.
Next, take a precise brush and apply concealer where needed, remembering to pat the edges to blend it into your base.
If you’re applying a cream blush, now’s the time to do so – just tap it onto the centre of your cheeks and blend it with your buffing brush. This is a really good way to infuse a face with life – see Kate Middleton’s wedding make-up above, which was really fresh thanks to the addition of blush.
Next, powder. A sparing amount will set your make-up, make it last throughout the day, and take down shine. Just make sure you only apply it only where you need it – most people get oily around their t-zones. You’ll also need a very fine layer on cheeks if you prefer a powder blush and bronzer.
When you apply your blush, run whatever’s left on the brush through your eyelid socket for a harmonious wash of colour. Bronzer should go where the sun would hit your face in a very fine layer – this is not the day to try contouring as photography will pick up the lines during the day unless you’ve blended it exceptionally well.
Highlighter should go on the highest planes of your face – aka where a light directly above your head would hit. This is usually on the tops of cheekbones, in the cupid’s bow, and a tiny dab on the inner corner of your eyes and down the bridge of your nose. It’s always a good idea to grab your buffer brush and blend out the edges properly with it.
The last thing you want is for your brows to smudge, so go for a waterproof formula. Take your time here – little strokes in the direction of hair growth will give you the most natural finish – and remember to stick to the natural shape of your own, enhancing the contours of your brows like Kate Winslet has in the above photo. Set them with a good setting gel.
Enhancing your eyes is crucial – but lots of black eyeliner isn’t the best way to go if you’re after a classic bridal look. Instead, grab a good palette and apply a wash of colour to your eyelids before taking more into your socket line. A little gel eyeliner across your lash line will open up eyes, and curling lashes before applying a waterproof or tubing mascara is a must. If you tend to overload your lower lashes, try a baby wand to apply a thin layer of mascara.
Hopefully you’ll be doing some kissing on your wedding day, so you want your lipstick to last for as long as possible. Try using a lip liner all over your lips before using a highly-pigmented lipstick or gloss for colour that’ll stick around all day.