There are the obvious two camps wedding make-up falls into. Do it yourself or get a make-up artist to do it for you.
Choosing isn’t all that simple. And if you decide to go it alone, it can be quite nerve-wracking. But don’t let that put you off.
I did mine and it went FINE. See?
I have never liked how I’ve looked after having my make-up done by someone else, I’m on a limited budget and I’m fairly level headed so not expecting to be having histrionics on the day - which add up to my choosing DIY. Plus I want to spend the money on nice make-up I get to keep, not a one-off.
If you choose this too, follow me, you’re in for a crazy beauty ride.
The first thing you need is self belief. Do not listen to all the friends/magazines telling you that you can’t ‘risk it’. Even if you’re no beauty junkie, never buy any new make-up and have never been interested, you can still do it. It’s not a risk. You deal with your face everyday so that is a serious advantage.
And don’t be scared into spending a fortune on a so-called expert who might make you look like someone you don’t even recognise.
Plus, of course, there’s YouTube tutorials.
Keeping It Natural
I want to look natural, however I was concerned about looking washed out in the photos if I didn’t put lots of slap on. But my photographer made me promise I would go easy on the foundation, as skin reflects the light better than any foundation.
So stick to as natural and light coverage as your skin quality will allow and you’ll get better pictures.
How To Actually Make Up Your Wedding Face
As someone not especially interested in make-up and beauty (I’m totally nuts about skincare but that’s a bit different), I haven’t done a load of experiments to know what suits me, or know what products would work for my skin type. So I decided to call in the experts to make sure I didn’t mess it up for the big day.
I headed to the top end, to the Urban Retreat Make Up Salon at Harrods, where I met Selina, my make-up artist for the afternoon, who gave me a lesson on product choosing, skin prepping and applying.
My favourite thing about her was she had total confidence in my ability to pull this off, without even looking at any of my attempts at getting a smokey eye. (Perhaps that’s why.)
The Make Up Salon was ideal for me because it has a range of good quality brands to choose from so you can mix and match your ultimate wedding bag, and you can take products off the cost of the lesson so you get expert tips AND products. Score!
So here is Selina’s definitive guide to wedding make-up:
First of all, don’t use anything with SPF in - from moisturiser up. It can give an ashy look to the skin in photographs.
One of the biggest things about wedding make-up is that it has to last for longer than most applications. My wedding starts late - at 3pm, but as I expect it to go on until at least 3am, we’re talking 12 full hours of make-up needs.
First - moisturise with the right product for your skin type. This is where having someone like Selina really helps - she gave me specific advice based on my skin type, colouring and concerns. Oily and combintion should opt for a gel, while drier skins can go for a thicker cream. Give your skin enough time to get used to it if you’re changing, though, you don’t want your wedding day to be the first time you realise you break out with a new product!
Then prime. Primer gives you a smooth base for make-up. It refines pores, helps reduce shine and evens out colouring. You don’t need much so just use a tiny bit and rub from your T-zone outwards until you have everything covered.
Contrary to my beliefs, you don’t need to put MORE foundation on for a wedding - either for lasting issues or photographs.
You just need enough coverage to even your skin out so you feel confident, but not so much that it blocks your natural glow from coming through.
My skin is good (I will explain why in a later blog) so I can go fairly light, but I tried on tens of foundations before I found one that felt comfortable and breathable and matched my colouring well (Laura Mercier).
Selina’s foundation rules:
- Make sure your foundation perfectly matches your skin to avoid tide marks around your chin and looking too 'orange’ on the day
- Look at the foundation in natural light, even if that means getting it done in a department store and wandering outside
- Start from the cheeks and work outwards (either with your fingers or a brush). Put a small amount of foundation on the skin right next to your nose
and work outwards, then round and up to your forehead and down to your chin. If you need more product, put a small bit on your forehead and work it outwards towards your hairline
The final touch for the skin is a sweep of translucent powder over the face - particularly on the T-zone - to set the make-up and keep the face shine-free in all the right places.
This is also the only thing Selina reckons I’d need for top ups to combat shine.
Typically I use whatever powder I have to hand but Selina recommends Chantecaille HP Perfect Powder and I believe this may be the beginning of a slightly expensive love affair on my part.
EYES AND EYEBROWS
Here’s where you do have to put a little more oomph into make your eyes really pop in the photos. The point of eye make up is to widen and accentuate your natural eyes so it’s worth playing with the shape you want to achieve (cat eye, smokey, etc) and choose shades that will bring out your natural colour.
Selina’s eye make-up rules:
- Prep your eyes with a light cream and good primer to make sure the shadow doesn’t crease or smudge- - Start light, you can always build up but taking off dark shadow is much harder
- Use the lightest colour of your set as a base and layer up darker colours on the outer corner of the eye in a < shape
- To really widen them, try a lighter colour along the bottom waterline
- Try out your mascara to see how long-wearing it is. (I went for Clinique’s Lash Power - amazing!).
For the eyebrows, I get mine threaded (though my amazing threader at Trevor Sorbie Covent Garden has gone on holiday right before my wedding - drama!) so they just need brushing through and a few dabs of eyebrow pencil (I like the Body Shop’s in dark brown) to give me a proper arch.
Selina also has a trick with concealer to really define the eyebrow. She uses Hourglass concealer in Vanilla just on the brow bone to hide any wispy hairs and give the eyebrow line a really crisp edge. And it really works!
With your eyebrows, beware the scousebrow (obvs) and again check in natural light that your eyebrow pencil blends into the hair colour.
BLUSH, BRONZE AND (if you’re brave) CONTOURING
Blush is another thing where it really helps to speak to an expert about your colouring, your dress, your hair and how the whole look will come together. It also involves a lot of trying on to get the right shade. And as with eyes remember you can layer up to get a deeper blush look so start light.
Selina tried to show me how to do contouring and it actually looked kinda great. But I’m not risking a Kim-K gone wrong situation on the day itself so I’ll probably just stick to a sweep of bronze.
Selina’s bronze and blush make-up tips:
- Start light and blend in with a good brush to avoid doll-like patches on the cheeks
- Blend from your cheek bones upwards towards your hairline
- Sweep a little bronzer on you forehead, nose and chin where the sun would naturally hit
My lips were in a right state when I arrived. To try and get them into some semblance of working order, Selina applied the gorgeous Hourglass Lip Oil (something of a cult buy and I can totally see why) to smooth them out. Moisturise them at the start of your make-up application so they’re ready for colour at the end.
For a natural lip look you need to try on plenty of colours because they will feel 'unnatural’ if you’re not used to wearing lipstick - so give yourself options and time to get used to it.
And when it comes to application keep it simple.
Selina’s lip tips:
- Use a liner the same colour as your lipstick to stop it bleeding out of the lines during the day
- Try a variety of shades - even those you don’t think you’ll like - because they all look different next to different skin tones
- Start light, build up the colour and blot, blot, blot
There’s also that trick where you suck your finger to stop the lipstick coming off on your teeth.
And that’s it!
One of the loveliest things about doing your own make-up is getting to buy a whole new set of gorgeous products you can use in the future, and learning how to make them work for you. It’s very individual and will depend on the look you’re hoping to achieve, your skin type and what you’re willing to spend but my new Ultimate Wedding Make-Up Bag is now my Absolute Favourite Thing Ever.
These are the products I’ve chosen after masses of research, expert tips, trial and error and loads of experimenting. I’ve spent the money so you don’t have to. Enjoy.