Wedding day make-up is one of the most important parts of your wedding. First, of course, you want to look like yourself, but more than that, you want to feel confident and comfortable in your own skin on this very special day.
Getting your make-up done for a wedding is an exciting and stressful experience. So many decisions need to be made, from choosing the perfect shade of lipstick to picking which hairstyle will work best. To make sure you have the most flawless look possible, here are some tips that every bride should know before their big day!
The day of your wedding is the most important day of your life. It’s a time you want to feel beautiful and confident, but it can seem overwhelming with so many decisions that need to be made.
Whether you prefer natural beauty or a more dramatic look, we have all the tips you’ll need for not only getting ready for your ceremony but also taking care of those pesky skin problems like acne or rosacea.
Our expert team has put together everything from make-up tutorials to helpful skincare advice in one place! So go ahead and start browsing through our posts because whether it’s what type of foundation works best on oily skin or how to cover up dark circles under the eyes, we’ve got you covered!
1. Start Early with Skin Prep
If you haven’t been diligent about your skincare routine, now’s the time to begin. “Getting regular facials makes a big difference in your skin’s texture and helps you have the best base for make-up,” says make-up artist Tiffany Patton of White Rose Collective in New York City.
Schedule monthly treatments (aim for at least three) that will illuminate and firm your complexion, says facialist Regine Berthelot of New York’s Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa at the Plaza Hotel. To prevent any last-minute irritation, skip extractions the month before.
Drink Lots of Water Before the Big Day.
“Hydrated skin will allow for the best application of make-up,” continues Miglino.
2. Take Your Wedding Season Into Consideration
“A bride should absolutely tailor their foundation selection to the elements she’ll be in for her wedding,” says celebrity make-up artist Amber Dreadon.
“If it’s winter, you will want a foundation that won’t look too dry or flat… if it’s summer, you don’t want anything that gets too shiny too fast. If your wedding takes place from daytime to nighttime, opt for something long-wearing.”
“For summer brides, I’d suggest prepping the skin with an anti-shine water-resistant primer like Becca’s Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector,” advises make-up artist Chauntal Lewis. “I’d use a fuller coverage foundation, like La Mer’s Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation for fall or winter weddings.”
Get Glowy (Not Shiny) Skin
“Luminous skin looks ethereal,” says Davis. “But you don’t want a strobe-light effect across your face in photos.” To control shine, translucent dust powder across the forehead, sides of the nose, and on the chin with a powder puff.
Then apply a soft, shimmery highlighter (Davis loves Nars Copacabana Illuminator) to just the temples and tops of cheekbones. “To brighten eyes, you can also dab it on the inner corners and under the brow bone,” she says. “It’s so sheer. It looks natural.”
Don’t wear an SPF
‘If you have any flash photography, it is recommended not to wear an SPF as the flash will bounce off the skin, making you look washed out. However, be sure to test at your trial by taking a photo with your flash on.’
Use Waterproof Products
“Waterproof everything!” pieces of advice Miglino. “And if you tear up, try to have a beauty blender on-hand to blot. That will press the product into the skin instead of leaving streaks or wiping the product away.”
3. Have a Make-up Trial
“Most freelance make-up artists will offer a bridal trial separate from the actual wedding day,” says make-up artist Tabby Casto.
“The trial is so important. Both for the make-up artist and you. Having the chance to try different looks means that on the day you are going to be feeling confident and happy in the knowledge that the look you are wearing is right for you and is going to last.”
Have your trial 3-5 weeks before your wedding
‘Make sure you have your trial at least three weeks, but no more than five weeks, before your wedding. Then, if you plan on using fake tan for the big day, have a test run before your make-up trial so that your artist can see what colour your skin becomes with the tan,’ says M·A·C Senior Artist, Rebecca Butterworth.
‘Be your best self on trial day. Do feel your best self on your trial day. Make sure that your hair is done, and you are wearing jewellery so that you can see how the total look will come together on the day,’ adds Zara.
Kate Middleton (a literal princess) is rumoured to have done her wedding-day make-up — and she nailed it — but many brides prefer to bring in a pro. To find someone who understands your style, consult a few different make-up artists early on.
“You want to see if you work well together,” says make-up artist Landy Dean. Book at least six months ahead, then schedule an additional trial two months before the wedding. “You’ll be more settled in the planning and will have a better feel for how you want to look,” he says.
Bring references to your trial
‘Start looking for images of make-up that you like and bring them with you on the day. Try to identify what you like about the make-up in the image and consider that if you have the skin colour of Dita Von Teese, then the make-up of Kim Kardashian won’t necessarily translate to you,’ says Rebecca from M·A·C.
Don’t have your make-up test done anywhere with overhead fluorescent lighting
‘If you have a professional make-up artist coming to your home, arrange a time when it’s still daylight outside,’ says Caroline Barnes.
Wear a t-shirt in a similar colour to your dress
‘… if you have your make-up test in a store, so that you can see how the make-up looks against it and take a picture of yourself in daylight (with no flash) to see how it looks before you purchase anything,’ says celebrity make-up maestro Caroline Barnes.
4. Choose a Lipstick or Balm You Feel Comfortable In
“The lip is very important,” says Smith & Cult Beauty Ambassador Elena Miglino. “I always tell my brides to spend some time at the make-up counter and try on all the possible shades, and ‘when you know, you know!'”
She continues, “I personally love a natural lip. First, you want something that will stay all day, like Smith & Cult’s The Tainted Lip Stained Flatte. Second, I love the colour “Kissing Tiny Flowers.” It’s pretty much the natural lip colour we all want, not too brown and not too pink. If you want to amp it up a little, try adding Smith & Cult The Shining Lip Lacquer in the colour “Now Kith.”
5. Find Balance in Your Look
“If you’re going for a smokey look, go light on skin make-up and opt for a natural colour on the lips,” says NYC-based make-up artist Min Min Ma.
“For bold lips, go light on the skin make-up as well. I prefer using a matte lipstick, for it’s more long-lasting and requires less maintenance. Try Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk.”
Don’t go for anything too trend-led
‘It’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll have to live with photos from your wedding for the rest of your life, so it’s best to avoid statement looks and opt for something more classic; that glittery eyeliner you saw on a Parisian catwalk might look super pretty and modern now, but chances are it’ll look tired and dated in twenty years.
This isn’t to say that you’ll have to make yourself up in a symphony of beiges though if you’re used to a punchier make-up – vintage wedding dresses can look breathtaking with a classic old Hollywood lipstick colour,’ says Alex Babsky.
6. Apply Moisturizer Before You Self-Tan
“Your secret weapon when applying self-tanner is using moisturizer as a barrier,” says St. Tropez Celebrity Tanner Sophie Evans. “Apply before application on problem areas so that they don’t go any darker (this is always elbows, knees, hands, feet, any severe dry areas).
Never moisturize the whole body, as it will dilute your self-tan colour. We also use a moisturizer to blend afterwards around the crease in the wrist, heel’s back, and hairline to make the tan look natural. Your tan is your paint, and your moisturizer is your water, so we are blending and fading for perfection.”
7. Don’t do a special skincare routine the night before
While you may be tempted to treat your skin to new, high-end products the night before your wedding, I recommend sticking to your daily cleansing regime. New products = new ingredients that your skin isn’t used to, which could potentially irritate. Use your normal cleanser followed by a gentle night cream.
8. Don’t let a make-up artist hijack your look
‘For a lot of people, their wedding is a time when they can take pleasure in having someone else do their make-up, but I think there can be a temptation to take on all sorts of suggestions from the make-up artist – someone who may not know you or how you like to look particularly well.
I’d advise real caution here; you don’t want to surprise you’re intended at the altar by turning up looking like someone else.
Whether you’re hiring a make-up artist or doing your own, I generally think that the best bridal make-up is simply the most exquisitely polished version of how the bride usually looks – after all, you want to look beautiful rather than your make-up,” says make-up artist and Lancôme UK Make-up Artist Ambassador, Alex Babsky.
9. Conceal Last-Minute Breakouts
So, your rehearsal dinner lasted until dawn—no big deal. Put foundation on first. Then, to mask under-eye circles, dot a creamy formula on the inner corners of your eyes with a brush and work it outward. Finally, use your fingertip to gently press (not rub) the formula onto the skin where it seems darker.
To camouflage a zit, tap a slightly tacky concealer right on top of it with a synthetic bristle brush, says make-up artist Chrisanne Davis. “Don’t sweep it back and forth,” she says. “It will build up around the blemish.”
Make friends with cortisone
First things first, if the unthinkable happens and you get a spot in the run-up to your wedding, don’t touch it! The bacteria on your hands will only aggravate it.
The best quick-fix, if you can, is to visit a dermatologist, who will give you an injection of anti-inflammatory cortisone. Alternatively, apply a topical prescription of cortisone.
10. Don’t fear going a bit brighter
‘Neutral, brown, and pale lip colours can look washed out in photographs, so choose a lipstick that’s one or two shades brighter than what you would normally wear. If you usually wear a neutral hue, it should be worn as a base, with a pink or rose colour on top.
If you typically wear dark lipstick, use that as the base, and apply a brighter pink on top to give the colour a lift. Pinks, roses, and plums are all great, classic choices for brides,’ says Bobbi.
Don’t trowel it on
‘It’s a total myth that your make-up has to be plastered on for the photographs. Lots of wedding photography is done in natural light, and if you choose a heavy base, the make-up will look obvious.
In terms of flash, you need to ensure that your T-zone is matte, which can be achieved with fine translucent powders and blotting powders, not layers of make-up,’ says Caroline.
Emphasize your eyes
‘Brighten any darkness under them with a corrector and concealer,’ says Bobbi Brown.
‘It’s all about choosing the right tone to compliment your eye colour. You want the make sure the stand-out feature is your eyes and not the make-up. Another technique for making your eyes pop is to keep the intensity and depth of the colour closest to your lash line,’ adds Zara.
‘Remember that bridal make-up needs to have enough colour to compensate for the whiteness of the dress. There’s a big difference between everyday clothes and a wedding dress, so there should be a difference in your make-up, too.
Start by making sure your skin looks even and smooth, and then add colour to your cheeks and lips to give them a glow,’ says Bobbi Brown.
Make Sure Your Foundation Is a Perfect Match
“Your foundation should be as close to your skin tone as possible or the tone of your neck,” says Miglino. “You will be photographed nonstop that day, and the last thing you want is for your face and neck not to match.”
Use individual false lashes
‘They’re a brilliant way to make your eyes stand out and look far subtler than a full strip. Go for differing lengths to create a natural fluttery look and nestle them in between your natural lashes rather than fixing them on top,’ says Rebecca.
Don’t skip the basics
‘Focus on the most important elements of your look, such as beautifully natural-looking skin, softly groomed brows, and feathery lashes. If you get these basic factors right, the rest of your make-up will fall into place,’ says Caroline Barnes.
Research application methods
‘They might differ slightly from your everyday make-up routine. For example, if you prefer to line with a shadow, make it last longer by applying it with a slightly damp eyeliner brush,’ says Bobbi.
‘The best wedding make-up should last as long as you do so I love M·A·C’s Pro Longwear range which includes foundations, concealers, lip and eye products that provide superior wear that will see you through your wedding day and night,’ says Rebecca.
Highlight the brow bone
‘Finish your make-up off with a highlighter shade on the brow bone to make the eyes pop. Next, go for a light matte shade, and pat onto the outer corner of the brow bone so subtly draw attention to this area of your face,’ says Bobbi.
Don’t just apply make-up to your face
‘Instead, extend down your neck and over your shoulders if necessary; this will ensure your face is not a different colour or even texture to your body. Everything should look uniform to create the most natural look possible.
An easy way to blend uneven skin tones is to use a light fake tan. Do this the day before your wedding, not the night and beware of darkening your skin tone too much as the effect it deadens the look of your complexion,’ says Caroline.
11. Keep a Few Products On-Hand Throughout the Day
Your wedding day will be all smiles, kisses, champagne toasts, and even a few happy tears — so basically, a giant love fest through which even the most well-applied make-up is bound to fade.
“Don’t expect your initial make-up application to last eight hours,” Dean says. Instead, pack a touch-up kit with the essentials — blush, translucent powder, cotton swabs, and tissues — and stash it in a bridesmaid’s clutch.
And since you’ll be on your groom’s arm for most of the day, ask him to carry a gloss in his pocket. “A pretty lip gloss in the shade similar to the lipstick you were wearing at the beginning of the day makes touch-ups quicker and easier,” Davis says.
“I always leave my bride with her lipstick and blotting papers,” says Lewis. “Translucent powder or blotting papers in the for shine is key to keep on-hand.”
“Blotting papers are a must, pressed powder in a compact, so you have a mirror on-hand and a lipstick or lip gloss to touch up throughout the day,” continues Dreadon.
Keep cleansing wipes on hand
Worried about getting stains on your dress, probably from excitable aunty hugs? Stylists and make-up artists keep make-up removing cleansing wipes on-hand to remove any cosmetics from garments gently.
Use a Teeth Whitening Product
“A smile is something you’ll be wearing that day, and you’ll want your pearly whites white,” says Miglino.
12. Keep Your Manicure Simple
Truly, your matrimonial manicure is up to you, but a reason why you may want to keep nails neutral: a bright, punchy polish will distract from your beautiful white gown.
Plus, chips are much more noticeable on bright nails (something you do not want to be fussing over on the big day). Stick with softer shades and make sure they’re sheer, not chalky. Those whose skin has pink undertones should choose a sheer pink polish, like Smith & Cult’s nail polish in Ghost Edit.
Women with olive undertones look good in warm beiges, like HIPPxRGB nail polish in S3. For dark skin tones, either one works —steer clear of whitish colours, which can come off as grey.
13. Aim For Looking Like Yourself
Whether you normally wear minimal make-up or whether you prefer more avant-garde looks — “Your wedding day is not a time to experiment,” says Dean. “You want your photos to be timeless.”
One look that never fails: radiant skin, rosy cheeks, flushed lips, and some definition on the eyes.
Using a gel eyeliner, work it into the base of your lashes, and then apply it to the upper waterline, says Davis. “It gives you intensity without looking overdone or needing a ton of eye shadow. Plus, the wide-eyed effect is dreamy.”
Leave Enough Time
Save yourself from any last-minute rushing and tack on a few extra minutes to your prep time. “However long you think your make-up will take, add 30 minutes,” says Dean says. “The fear is that you’ll be sitting ready, but that rarely happens.”
Once you’ve achieved the desired look, relax and forget about it. This is your big day, and the last thing you want to be worrying about is how your make-up looks.
If you are concerned, chat to your maid of honour in advance and ask her to let you know if you need a retouch; otherwise, forget about your make-up and focus on enjoying yourself.