I did my first bridal freelance job 7 years ago, I was so nervous before hand not quite knowing what to expect. I went armed with my whole kit (incase) and a bottle of water because it's thirsty work! What I wasn’t prepared for was the amazing atmosphere that would surround the hotel room she was getting ready in. Everyone was beaming with happiness and on edge with excitement! I witnessed tears of joy and moments only close friends and family were lucky enough to see. I felt beyond lucky to be a part of the whole morning, and it was that first freelance job that sparked my true love for bridal make up.
For me, bridal make up is so much more than making someone feel their best, you have the power to make that woman feel empowered and confident on the most important day of her life - that is priceless!
So, before we enter the wonderful world of make up, make yourself a hot drink and get comfy, this is a long one.
Ok, so what look is best to go for? I have met countless brides over the years and the resounding request I get is that they want to look like themselves, only better. To be honest, that is like music to my ears.
Here’s some important do’s and dont’s I’ve learnt over the years.
DO make sure you are 110% happy with your make up on the day (or after a trial), sounds obvious but the amount of ladies I’ve heard saying they had a make up artist do their wedding make up but they weren’t *that* happy with it, this is heart breaking! If you’re having a trial, and aren’t happy with the outcome, either be specific as to why so the artist can alter it or don’t book her/him for the actual day. Find someone that gets what you want.
DO what you usually do. If you don’t usually wear a lot of make up, don’t feel the need to suddenly wear lots more on your big day, you will end up not feeling like yourself, which can translate in your body language and let’s face it - those wedding photos are gonna be around for the rest of your life, so make sure you look and feel like yourself.
It’s ok to listen to advice from your friend/mum/daughter/husband to be (ok John, thanks for your input hun) on what make up you should do, but DON'T let it determine what you end up with. You know yourself better than anyone and what’s right for Alice/Jane/Lauren might not be your style. You do you and if they’re a good enough friend, they won’t take offence when you tell them you disagree.
DO set aside 1.5-2 hours for your make up, whether you’re doing it yourself or someone else is coming to do it. It’s unlikely the make up will take any longer than one hour however, you will be pulled away to say hi to someone, perhaps you’ll need to run downstairs for something or take a call from your aunt in Australia and before you know it, time is moving fast. Rushing is what you want to avoid, so set aside that time just for you to relax, champagne in hand and there will be no need to panic, hopefully!
DON'T sit in uneven light. Park yourself directly face on to a window, curtains or blind wide open with a good mirror in front of you. Sitting side on or too far away from natural light will make it hard to see if the make up is looking even on both sides and any good make up artist will make sure you sit this way too. Tip : if you’re doing your own make up, have your make up set out how and where you want it the night before so its all ready to go come the morning!
On to the make up! Obviously everyone’s preferences will differ, but this is a general over view on my fail safe options for a long wearing, fresh and timeless make up starting with skincare.
What’s important here is that you understand your skin type so you’ll know how it will be after a long emotional day. For most, the skin will gain a little bit of shine during the day and that’s nothing to worry about. Getting into a good skincare routine a few months ahead of the day will help to get the skin balanced as much as possible. If you know me, you’ll know I’m a huge advocate of Bobbi Brown skincare, it’s just the best. Here’s a couple of my faves for pre-wedding day prep..
Soothing Cleansing Oil ; removes all make up without stripping, perfect for all skin types - use at night
Extra Repair Eye Cream ; rich, super hydrating, de puffs and smooths like nothing else - use day and night
Nourish Mask ; a beautiful hydrating & plumping leave on mask for all skin types - use twice a week
Skincare on the day is key, the right formulas can make or break the make up. I like to opt for lightweight, hydrating formulas and I usually layer two or three base products before adding any make up.
Hydrating Face Tonic ; helps to calm and soothe stressed skin, and will gently remove any dirt on the face
Hydrating Gel Cream ; oil free, hydrating, lightweight
Extra Illuminating Balm ; gives a soft pearlised finish to skin, while acting like a primer too
Lip Balm ; put plenty on when you begin your make up and blot the excess off when it comes to applying your lipstick - lips will feel nourished and will hold the lip colour better!
I like to go straight into base as soon as I have prepped the skin with skincare. This way, the skincare and make up have time to melt together and therefore look more like skin as a result. I have a few kit favourites when it comes to evening out the skintone.
Bobbi Brown Skin Stick Foundation ; versatile coverage to suit you, semi matte finish and long wearing without feeling like a mask. It is also very handbag friendly! Win!
Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation ; does what it says, looks like skin! Oil free, very light weight as offers a soft glow.
Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser ; light coverage for those who want their skin to really show through, oil free and looks beautiful in photos.
Bobbi Brown Instant Full Cover Concealer ; creamy but not wet, long wearing and covers very dark circles nicely
Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer ; ideal for pesky blemishes and stubborn areas that are hard to conceal
Bobbi Brown Creamy Corrector ; everyone carries discolouration under the eyes, and corrector is designed to counter act it. This one is amazing, especially for brides!
Nars Pressed Powder ; sets without appearing too chalky or heavy. I love to press (not sweep) for the most effective longest wearing finish.
Bobbi brown Brightening Finishing Powder ; comes in 3 shades for every skin tone. Designed to ‘finish’ and brighten the make up, has a slightly alarming sparkle however when on the skin, it appears just like a pearlised soft focus finish. Dreamy!
Wow! Now the hard bit is out of the way, let’s talk about colour. Adding colour is my favourite part because it has the power to bring the face to life! Like we spoke about above, it’s important to not stray too far from what you usually do, i.e. if you don’t normally contour then now is probably not the time to try. The only area that I would highly suggest considering using a touch more of, is blush. Let me explain..
In flash photography, the camera tends to pick up less colour, therefore a little extra in the cheeks can go a long way. For that beautiful fresh, ‘I got 8 hours sleep last night and wow I’m feeling amazing’ type vibe (and who doesn't want that?!), I find layering two or three formulas can give the most stunning flush of colour. P.s. pink or rose shades flatter most skin tones and look the most like a genuine pop of colour versus a peachy tone that can appear flat in photos.
Start with something creamy such as Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge in either Pale Pink (light-med skin tones), Fresh Melon (very fair skin tones) or Rose (med-deep skin tones), buff high onto the apples of the cheeks (now is the time to smile at yourself). I’d recommend using the iconic Beauty Blender for this.
Layer over a powder formula to ‘set’ the cream. I like Bobbi Brown Brightening Blushers for this. Keep smiling at yourself and sweep over apples with a fluffy brush such as this one. In the same skin tone order as above, I love either Pink, Pastel Pink or Cranberry.
Bronzer! Don’t skip bronzer, this stuff suits everyone (shade dependant) and can give dimension and warmth to the face. With a chunky brush, sweep through forehead, cheekbones and for that authentic sun kissed look, pop some onto the nose and over the brows too! These two (here and here) are my usual choices.
Eyes are very personal, they’re what your partner will see first and what need to stand out all day so it’s important you get them right. My favourite bridal eye (if you will), is defined without being over kill. However this is probably the one part of the make up that you can play up a bit more than your usual. Here’s a step by step of pretty stand out eyes that suit everyone.
1. Start with a base colour in powder form - something flesh colour will do. Sweep all over the lid up to the brow to create a blank canvas.
2. Apply a cream colour base, in either a champagne type shade, a bronze shade or a soft peachy shade. I love the Cream Shadow Sticks from Bobbi, they’re long wearing so you won’t have to worry about creasing or colour fade during the day. Pop this all over the ‘mobile lid’ and blend up toward your crease.
3. Next apply a transition shade through the crease to add depth, usually any medium matte warm brown will do, anything too dark will appear harsh so keep the colour and the application soft. I like to take this same shade under the lower lash line too.
4. Add a touch of sparkle! My favourite part. Sparkle can take the eyes from pretty to stunning. With your finger, press your desired shade over the top of the shadow stick. These are my most used sparkles, they’re like glitter for grown ups.
5. Liner! Liner is your friend. Black is good, but dark brown works well if you don't fancy black. I love gel liner for its long wear reputation. and ability to make the eyes pop. Take this along the lash line on a small liner brush from the inner corner to the outer corner, add a wing if this is your style.
6. Soften the liner directly over the top with a dark brown or black powder shadow, this will keep the liner looking intense but will take away the harsh finish of the solid line.
7. Lots of waterproof black mascara!
8. Brows - keep them groomed and defined without ending up being too heavy. I love using a mixture of powder, wax and gel (excessive I know but you better believe they aren’t going anywhere!) Make sure the colour is the same shade as your roots for the most authentic look.
One of the hardest decisions for a bride to make is what lipstick to wear. This comes down to what you feel most comfortable wearing. I once met a bride that just wanted to wear her favourite lip balm, and in fact it really suited her look. I also met a lady who wore a Hollywood red lipstick every day so thats what we opted for! I have also meet ladies who wish to try out a bright lip for the day and my best advice is not to, this isn’t the day to experiment however perhaps consider changing your lipstick for the evening reception.
The majority of brides like the ‘my lips but better’ feel. Here is some of my ultimate go to’s -
Bobbi Brown Blondie Pink
Bobbi Brown Pale Pink
Bobbi Brown Sandwash Pink
Hourglass Girl Lipstick in Activist
Nars Velvet Matte Pencil in Walkyrie
Nars Lip Gloss in Chelsea Girl
Once you’re happy with the result, step back and make sure your face matches your body (more bronzer could be added if the face looks a little paler), also have a look to see if any shine or oily bits are poking through, if so press some powder in those areas right before you leave to head to the ceremony. Also I usually add a pop more blush right before the bride leaves.
Lastly, it's worth having a setting spray to lock everything in, I like this one for setting without drying. Handbag essentials will be your lippie obvs, powder and cream blush. Good to go!
I hope this has helped anyone getting married or someone just wanting to learn more about classic bridal make up! I'd love to know your favourite bridal looks or how you did your make up on your day.
Until next time, Sophy x
Photo credits : Photo of Charlotte by Chris Giles Photography / Photo of Katie by Hayden Rydings Photography / Photo of Chloe by Focused Images / all other photos are my own
Follow me @sophy.jane