Let’s face it- as a bride, your wedding will be the most photographed day of your life. These photographs will stay with you for the rest of your life. They will grace the walls of your home, have a special place in albums and be favorite photos of your future children as you tell them the story of mom and dad’s magical day. While the staple of the American wedding is the dress, it is your face that will be prominent in every aspect of your wedding. All eyes are on you as you walk down the aisle, have your first kiss and share the first piece of cake with your husband. This is why it is important to plan how you will do your makeup on your wedding day.
Although weddings can be the happiest day of your life, trying to budget and balance your checkbook during the process is something that can throw the most laid back bride into stress mode. In the United States, the average wedding costs over twenty five thousand dollars! While trying to budget, many brides realize they cannot afford to hire a makeup artist which can cost anywhere from $ 60.00 to $ 300.00 per person. If you cannot afford a professional to glam you up, or would prefer to do it yourself yet have little makeup expertise have no fear! As a freelance makeup artist, the vast majority of my clients are soon-to-be brides wanting to look picture perfect on their big day. Throughout my time primping my brides I have learned many tips and tricks to doing the perfect wedding makeup. In this article I will share my knowledge and with a little practice, you can go from makeup novice to knowledgeable in very little time.
STEP ONE: Choosing Your Makeup – The Essentials.
Before you begin, it is important to get together your makeup in advance. What do you already have? What items do you need to buy? One of the questions I am most often asked is “What is the difference between drugstore vs. professional or department store makeup?” This can really depend on a number of factors. While my makeup kit contains many high end products, I also have many fabulous drug store finds that work just as well as expensive cosmetics. Foundation is essential to wear on your wedding day, even if you usually skip it. Foundation will provide long lasting coverage, make your skin tone appears more even on film, and act as a “base” for the rest of you makeup to make it stays on from dawn ’til dusk. Foundation is the one item you shouldn’t skimp on. I highly recommend using a professional product. My favorite brand I use on all my brides is Cinema Secrets. Because Cinema Secrets only has one physical store (in Burbank, CA) I order all my products online. They offer a wonderful, affordable 5 pallette foundation sampler so you aren’t stuck ordering just one shade you are unsure will even match your skin tone. Other companies such as MAC and Makeup Forever also sell great long lasting foundations. If you have a question about the correct shade call customer service- they are trained to help you in that department and can match you with the correct color.
In addition to foundation you will need lipstick/gloss, eye makeup (mascara, liner, eye shadow and eye shadow primer), blush, and appropriate tools/brushes to apply the products with. I generally find that for these products, buying from a drug store is the way to go! Although everyone has their own preference, I notice very little difference between high end products and “over the counter makeup” in these categories.
For perfectly kissable lips I recommend using a lipstick with a gloss over it. It’s very important not to make your lips too dramatic. I usually use light pink or peach shades on my brides. If you don’t have a favorite in your purse already, head to your local store. Companies like Revlon and Maybelline offer endless options you can compare in store. When choosing your lip color look for a blush shade that will complement it. Again, less is more! Light bubblegum pink and peaches in pretty, girly hues will make your cheeks pop while bringing out your luscious lips.
Onto the eyes! With bridal makeup it is important that your eye makeup is not too overpowering or dramatic. Your aim should be to look like a better version of your every day self! You will have your photos as memories forever- you don’t want to look back years from now and think “Ugh! My makeup is SO 2012!”. I always recommend a classic vs. “trendy” look. The most popular bridal eye makeup request is the brown smoky eye. This can be achieved using several shades of brown (dark/medium brown, light brown, and taupe). A vanilla colored eye shadow with a bit of shimmer is used to accentuate the brow bone and I also apply a barely there pink as the base color for this look. These colors can all be found at your area store but if you have a bit extra to spend Urban Decay makes a fabulous eye shadow set, Naked Palette which includes all the colors you need for the brown smoky eye and more! (Urban Decay products can be purchased through their website or in-store at your local Sephora). To go along with the shadow you also will need eye shadow primer. This can be hit or miss in drug stores and you may need to purchase this at a makeup counter. Wal-Mart sells Hard Candy eye primer for a very affordable price. While many may choose to skip this I feel it is an essential, as it keeps your eye makeup in place and allows a better application. With all the tears at a wedding I would not skip over this product!
With so many mascara options at the drug stores, which brand should you chose? For wedding makeup, make sure you use black mascara. The contrast will make your eye pop more than a brown shade of mascara would. Maybelline’s Great Lash Mascara in Blackest Black has been a fixture in almost all makeup artists’ kits for years. With an average price of $ 5.00 how can you go wrong?! The shade of eyeliner you use is a personal preference. While women have been using black eyeliner for decades, some feel it’s a bit too bold and prefer a dark brown liner. Since Maybeline introduced Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner to the market, I have used it on almost all of my brides. This eyeliner comes in a small pot with a brush, allowing the color to effortlessly glide on. With 24-hour staying power you won’t have to take bathroom breaks to re-apply!
Your wedding is the one-day you want to make sure you aren’t applying makeup with your fingers! I highly suggest investing in a good set of makeup brushes. Mac Cosmetics has exceptional brushes (the 224 shading brush is world-famous!). But if you don’t want to spend $30.00 per brush there are other great, affordable options at your local drug store. Two years ago I purchased Eco Tools Bamboo 6 Piece Eye Brush Set at Walgreens. For just over $ 7.00 I wasn’t expecting much, but after years and hundreds of uses they have held up incredibly. The fact they are soft, all natural and cruelty free products are an added bonus! I also highly recommend purchasing an eyelash curler. They are inexpensive yet do wonders for your lashes!
If you are in the mood to really spoil yourself and have extra to spend there are several other (yet, non-essential) items that can give you a super polished and professional look and help your makeup last the entire night. Primers you apply before your foundation helps makeup “stick”, evens out skin tone and prevent oil buildup. Body Shop offers a very affordable option; Skin Primer Matte It. Bronzing powder/compacts give you a sun kissed glow and can also be used to contour the face. For only $ 3.00 NYC Bronzing Face Power continues to surprise me with its value & excellence. Finally, a finishing powder can be used after applying your makeup to give you a fabulous, flawless finish and staying power. Makeup Forever HD Microfinish Poweder comes highly recommended! A concealer is a great item to have and can help fix pimples, dark spots, or skin discoloration.
STEP TWO: The Application
Before you begin applying your makeup you want to make sure you have a large mirror and are in a well-lit area with as much natural light as possible. This allows you to see how your makeup will look on your wedding day. Artificial lighting can be tricky and completely change the appearance and shade of makeup causing you to over or under apply. Make sure you have a fresh, cleansed face with a bit of moisturizer. Make sure your moisturizer does not contain SPF, as SPF combined with the flash of a camera can cause a “whiteish glow” in photographs.
If you are using a primer, apply this first to all areas of your face and neck. After your primer has dried, it’s on to the foundation! How you apply foundation is up to you- while on clients I usually use a sponge or brush when I apply foundation to myself I usually use my fingers. I find that my natural body heat helps the foundation go on smoother and allows me easier coverage in hard to get places such as corner of eyes. You want to make sure you apply foundation not only on your face, but down your neck as well. This will guarantee there are no subtle color differences between your face and neck (we’ve all seen photos of celebrities where we ponder why their face appears a totally different color than their neck!) A camera’s flash can make this color difference seem much, much worse and we want to prevent that. Make sure foundation is rubbed well. If you have any pesky blemishes or dark spots under your eye apply a concealer, or spot apply a foundation in a shade lighter than what you are using for the rest of your face.
Now it’s time to curl your eyelashes! While this can seem a daunting task to those who have never used a curler before, practice makes perfect. While looking in the mirror with eyes open, open the curler and lightly clamp down on your top lashes as close to your eyelid as you can get without pinching yourself. When you are sure you have just eyelashes – no eyelid! – in your curler press down harder. I generally hold it in position for 30 seconds to get the maximum curl possible! After you have curled both lashes apply eye primer. Take a small dab on your finger and rub into eyelid and above to brow bone (anywhere you will be applying shadow). Allow to dry.
STEP THREE: Creating the Perfect Smokey Eye
Applying eye makeup can be the most time consuming – and tricky – step. While there are literally thousands of ways to apply eye makeup I am going to go over the steps to the top bridal look, the brown smoky eye. If you are a visual learner I highly recommend checking out video tutorials on the subject. There are great videos all over the web demonstrating the steps to similar looks. Do a quick web or You Tube video search. After you get a feel on how to do the makeup you can take the steps below and apply.
– Apply your base. As mentioned above I prefer to use a VERY light pink shadow (so light pink it’s almost white). Using an eye shadow brush, dip into your shadow and apply over the entire lid, and above your crease.
– Using a taupe colored shadow on your brush sweep the color from the middle of lid, slightly past the outwards corner of your eye and slightly above your crease. This is laying the foundation for the rest of the colors and is going to create a shadow. No other brown color should go further past your crease than the taupe.
– Using a medium brown, apply in (almost) the same place as the taupe, however do not extend as far up into the crease or as far out as the taupe. Using a blending brush from your set blend the colors together at the crease to create a smooth transition.
– If desired, use a slightly darker shade of brown to create more contrast. Place color similar to where you placed the medium brown but not as far up to the crease or as far out. (With each of the colors we are transitioning- from past the crease (taupe), to at the crease (medium brown) to slightly below (darker brown) giving the eye color dimension. Blend.
– Using the vanilla shimmer shade, apply with brush on brow bone and under eye brow. Allow to slightly touch where the taupe extends past the crease. Blend.
– Touch up any needed areas. At this point I often take the light pink and mix it with the vanilla and blend it into the inner corner of the eye and up to the brow bone.
STEP FOUR: Mascara and Eye Liner
After you apply your eye shadow it’s time to finish the look with eyeliner and mascara. Apply liner to the top lid. Lightly extend it further than normal into a slight “wing” past the ending of your upper lid to add to the smoky eye effect. If desired apply to lower water line or lid. (NOTE: Applying liner to the lower water line and lower lid closes off the eye and makes the eye appear slightly smaller. If you have a smaller eye you may prefer to skip this step and just line the upper lid. Another “trick” is instead of black or brown liner; apply white eyeliner to the lower water line to give the illusion of a larger eye!) Apply your mascara to the upper and lower lashes. An added coat (or two!) can really help extend the appearance of long, luscious lashes.
STEP FIVE: Cheeks and Lips
Using large, fluffy blush brush apply blush to the apples of your cheeks and slightly extend diagonally upwards if desired. To find your “apples”, smile! The round, mound-like part of your face that perks up when you smile is the location blush should be applied. Finally, apply your lipstick and a gloss over it. Ta-Da! Your bridal look is done!
When applying your bridal makeup, practice makes perfect. Just like it takes time to learn all new skills, becoming a makeup super star isn’t something that happens overnight. Practice on yourself. Get your friend’s and family’s opinions on your techniques. For free professional advice go the makeup counters at your favorite department stores. The employees are not only salespeople, but also most are trained makeup pros always willing to help out and show new tricks and tips! As mentioned above it’s also great help to watch video tutorials online.
With the economy still stalling, more and more women are now taking bridal makeup into their own hands. Continue to work on your technique but most importantly don’t stress over your makeup. Just remember- no one is going to notice if your eye shadow isn’t perfect or if your blush is a little uneven. A wedding is a time of happiness and celebration when those who love you most surround you. With a little practice you can have extraordinary, professional looking makeup and look like the bride of your dreams. Congratulations!