It’s your ‘big day’, and yes, you can nail your own makeup. Here’s what a bridal makeup artist keeps in her kit, and why doing your own makeup could make you more, not less, chilled…
It’s one of the questions I’m asked most frequently: “I want to do my own makeup on my wedding day, but where do I start?!”. I’ve also started mulling this one over more intensively of late, and not because a certain Royal wedding is imminent, but on account of the fact that I’m getting married next year, and unsurprisingly for a beauty editor, I love doing my own makeup on a daily basis. Some mornings are rushed ‘mascara only’ affairs, while other days offer up more potential for a Geisha-esque makeup ritual, but on the whole I find applying makeup meditative, and most importantly, I know what I like. I love to to feel out my skin when applying foundation, have a second-sense for where eyeshadow might crease and therefore require a good prime and extra blend and I’m well aware that I wear more blusher than the average person and get nervy about strong brows. I want to be fully in control of not only my eyebrows when I walk down the aisle, but my mood and sense of self.
If I find a makeup artist I click with and who gets my blusher thing, I definitely wouldn’t rule out professional intervention on the day, but the thought of going DIY doesn’t scare me, and it shouldn’t scare you either. Here’s what to prioritise, what to avoid and the failsafe products that a bridal makeup artist would never be without (they basically do the hard work for you).
I expect that you’re not wearing your old grey granny pants today. Don’t scrimp on your makeup base layers either. At the recent Jenny Packham 2019 Bridal Collection show, lead Bobbi Brown makeup artist Hannah Martin prepped models’ skin with Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm , £44.50, for a halo-esque glow with no sharp edges. This is not the day for sharp, social-media style highlighting- you want to play it soft and ethereal. Think champagne, not shots.
Makeup artist Nathalie Eleni takes By Terry Cellularose Brightening CC Serum in Apricot , £31, to every wedding she works at- she declares it to be ‘a stunning naturally illuminating serum that flatters everyone - it’s hands-down the most used product in my kit.’ As for how to apply it:
“It’s perfect under foundation for ‘lit from within skin’. Another incredible option, with more glow and less shimmer, is The Body Shop Drops of Glow , £12, which is happily quite a bit cheaper- key if you’re flying solo at the dressing table to save money.”
It’s fair to say that not everyone wants or needs lightbulb skin on their wedding day- if you’re prone to shine and makeup slippage, Nathalie recommends a more velvety underlayer:
“If you need to keep excess oiliness at bay, choose a high-tech mattifier (avoid waxy textures at all cost). AlumierMD Matticlear is extremely lightweight and sheer, so your makeup will stay stay in place with no caking. You can apply it alone or over an illuminating serum, but most brides only need it on the t-zone.”
You’re not done with the priming yet:
“You want your eyeshadow and liner to stay in place all day and night, so if you’ve never used a lid primer before, now is the time. Trish McEvoy Eye Base Essentials , £24, is my go-to for prepping lids- your eye makeup will work twice as hard afterwards.”
Photographer: Tonje Thoresen
The perfect foundation not only ensures that skin is photo-ready, but modern formulations make skin looks fresh, alive and well-rested, even if you had a shaky night’s sleep and intend to wear your makeup for nigh-on 24 hours straight (on your wedding night, of all nights, you can get away with not washing your face, but I didn’t tell you that). Nathalie has a few foundations on the go at any one time, as foundation is the most personal step of your makeup routine- it’s entirely skin tone, skin type and taste dependent. Do a beauty counter safari well ahead of the day to explore as many options as possible, ravenously acquire testers and give different foundations a good dress rehearsal. The following foundations are the most popular and high performing among Nathalie’s bridal collection:
“ Chanel Vitalumiere Foundation , £40, and Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation , £63, consistently deliver when it comes to giving skin a red-carpet finish. The former is an excellent option if you love a but of luminosity, while Chantecaille offers slightly less glow, but a more flawless, “perfected” final result.
“Another good option for oily skin is the new Wunder2 Last and Found(ation) 24 Hour Foundation, £24.95 or Marc Jacobs Shameless Foundation, £32, both of which have a slightly more matte finish. Don’t be afraid of this, as these days matte foundations are generally not flat or mask-like as they once were, and you can add your glow to cheekbones later. Foundations such as this are also really long-lasting, which is particularly ideal if you are someone that tends to ‘sweat’ your makeup off. Let’s face it, you may get a bit clammy pre-ceremony…”
As for Hannah’s matrimonial must-have, she uses Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick , £31, and nothing else:
“It’s customisable, offers medium coverage that can be built up to whatever finish a bride desires and it doesn’t contain SPF, which can trigger a ‘white out’ or flashback in photos.”
Apply where needed with fingers, or buff in with a foundation brush . Possibly before reaching for something stronger…
Whether a charming bridal breakout has bloomed (wedmin is well known to provoke eruptions), or you’re prone to undereye shadows or blotchiness after a glass of wine or five, having a highly pigmented but blendable concealer to hand is essential. Nathalie favours the following, depending on the lay of the land:
“If you’ve got a few pimples or light shadows, Glossier Stretch Concealer, £15 bounces light (and attention) away when patted under the eyes or onto affected areas. It’s also really light and portable so easy to slip into a pocket/ a bridesmaid’s bag on the day. If more coverage is required, I turn to Bobbi Brown Instant Full Cover Concealer, £23 or Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer, £21, both cover immaculately while still looking like skin (key) and are waterproof. The classic Estée Lauder Double Wear Waterproof Concealer, £24 will survive rain, shine and happy cries too.”
“To bring light and space to the inner eye area, a brightening concealer is called for- Sensai Highlighting Concealer, £32 works beautifully.”
You don’t need to paint the town pink as I'm wont do, but a bit of blusher blended into the apples of the cheeks will make skin look beaming and healthy, plus it’ll pay off during your photoshoot. At the recent Jenny Packham bridal show, Hannah blended two shades of Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge , £22, together (Pale Pink and Fresh Melon, but mix it up as you wish), taking colour back towards the cheekbone and temples and working into the skin with the fingertips to keep the flush natural rather than clown-like.
Nathalie also turns to good old Pot Rouge regularly, often topping it with a subtle powder blusher for longevity. Pot Rouge in Fresh Melon plus Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Blusher, £30 in Ecstacy or Love Glow is a classic peaches and cream combo, but this is another case when doing a sweep of the beauty counters will pay off, for life, not just your wedding day.
Stark brows go straight to Room 101 in my book, and this is another area where it pays to prep beforehand. Take Nathalie’s lead:
“Treat yourself to a shape and tint but steer clear of waxing too close to your wedding date, just in case burns or mishaps present themselves. Closer to the day, you can tidy them yourself with tweezers and follow the shape that your brow tech has already created for you. As for makeup, Benefit are the nation’s bestselling brand where fantastic brow products are concerned, and for good reason. I often book in for a shape with one of their brow bar experts - they are extremely helpful and will give you a little masterclass on how to apply brow makeup, plus you’ll leave with a perfect colour match should you buy anything.”
Photographer: Tonje Thoresen
This isn’t the time to experiment with trend-led graphic liner- the look of love can achieved with easily blendable shadows, an eye-defining tightline and a lick of mascara, plus some individual false lashes at the corner of the eye to subtly up the ante with very little effort on your part. Investigate eyelash extensions and lash lifting treatment options in the run up to your wedding, and consider investing in some luxe shadow that doesn’t require a ‘paint by numbers’ tutorial to look awesome. Nathalie adores a bit of Tom Ford (and don’t we all…):
“ Tom Ford Eyeshadow Palettes glide on brilliantly and enhance the eyes with very little effort, or if you want something even simpler that doesn’t require a brush to apply, the brand’s cream shadows are beautiful and easy to blend- try Tom Ford Cream Colour For Eyes in Opale, £30.”
Hannah opts for cream shadow sticks for her brides too- at Jenny Packham’s 2019 Bridal show she smoothed Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick in Truffle ,£23, all over the lid and along the lower lash line, finishing with Highlighting Powder in Bronze Glow , £35.50, through the eye crease and along the lower lash line.
Mascara wise, Nathalie reckons that you can’t beat Lancôme’s offerings , and if you’re feeling forensic she advocates adding some individual lashes at the outer corners of the eye.
This is one area where ‘you do you’ particularly applies. You need to feel as comfortable as possible, and that begins with your mouth. If you rarely wear a red lip, as with the quirky liner, now ain’t the time to be breaking that out. If you’re known for a slash of scarlet, however, as you were. At Jenny Packham’s show, Hannah pulled a quirky move by adding light-reflecting powder to the centre of the lips to create fullness and dimension:
If you’re after something more traditional, Nathalie regularly uses Laura Mercier lipsticks, liners and glosses on entire bridal parties, and don’t shy away from sparkle per se- a dab of shimmer lip gloss or balm in the centre of the lips pulls the same trick as Hannah’s, but the balmy element keeps lips soft and moisturised.
Try Dolce & Gabbana Sheer Shine Gloss in Shimmer, £25 if the thought of spangle would normally make you shudder.
If you’re going to go there, be light handed, play it down and keep things soft and subtle. If you’ve never tried contouring before, don’t even. Here’s Nathalie’s tentative guide:
“ Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow, £49 is the best product I’ve found for creating a natural-looking DIY contour. Suck in cheekbones and apply the bronze to the hollows, adding a touch of highlighter to cheekbones, the brow bone and the Cupid’s bow. This does look beautiful in photos, but don’t go overboard.”
If all of the above has you flummoxed, I can’t recommend Bobbi Brown’s in-house bridal makeup experts more highly- book a makeup lesson to suit your style as Kate Middleton did , and you can even arrange for a Bobbi pro to do your makeup on the day if you decide against going it alone. Failing that, take inspiration from Mary Greenwell's bridal makeup tutorial , which, by the way, is just as handy for job interviews, public speaking events any other ‘best face forward occasion’...
Not got the budget for a pro bridal makeup kit? Here's how to make makeup the least expensive part of your day , and check out the makeup artists' favourite budget beauty buys to save funds while still looking phenomenal