Makeup and Hair
Though you may never be nominated for an Academy award, your wedding day is your walk down the red carpet. And at that moment, all eyes will be focused on you, so you want to choose your makeup with care. That said, there’s no need to go overboard. Approach your wedding makeup the way you would think of makeup for a date. You don’t want to load it on – but you don’t want to go bare-faced, either. Be realistic, and be yourself. If your style is fresh, healthy, and low-key, don’t suddenly transform yourself into a stylized Parisian coquette. I’ve seen grooms do a double take (and not in a good way) when the woman walking down the aisle – the bride! – is someone they hardly recognize. It’s not a great idea to go for anything too trendy, either. Take the long view. How dated will the lime green shimmer shadow looking in your photo album 10 years down the road?
Your makeup needs to mesh not only with your personal style but also the rest of the wedding. Smoky eyes, for example, might look over done at the beach or a garden ceremony, while sheer, natural shades might be too low-key for formal evening affair.
Style aside, they’re also practical concerns. Your makeup will need to last for many hours. You’ll want it to work both live and on camera. And as the star of the show, you won’t have much time to nip away for touch-ups, which means you’ll want hair and makeup to last.
Some brides choose to apply their own makeup, but most play it safe by working with a professional makeup artist. Unless you’re highly skilled, I would strongly advise that you at least consult with a pro, and, if you can afford it, hire a makeup artist for the big day. Believe me, it’s worth it!
Finding a Makeup Artist
Well-known makeup artist in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, or Atlanta book up fast. Start shopping around at least five or six months in advance if you want to have the pick of the litter; you’ll also have time for a “trial run” to experiment with different looks and new products.
Start by asking friends, friends of friends, other brides, and the stylist at your local salon for recommendations. Many salons employee makeup artist who are also trained in brow shaping. Call your local cosmetology school, where instructors may be available for private bookings; you can also hire a student at a lesser rate. Ask the staff at your bridal shop, Ella Grey Events (your wedding planner), you’re photographer, your local day spa, or the salespeople at the makeup counter in your favor department store – many do makeup on the side, or can refer people who do. Search online for local agencies that book freelance makeup artist for weddings.
Doing It Yourself
Unless you’re really a pro, you’ll want to shop around for some guidance. Even if you choose not to book a makeup artist for your wedding day, it’s a good idea to hire one in advance to create a look, make a diagram of it for you, and teach you how to do it yourself. Or you can take the bargain route. Go to the makeup counter at your local department store and find a salesperson whose makeup you think looks good. Tell her what type of look you’re after, or, better still, bring tear sheets from magazines to show her. Have her do your makeup. If you like it, buy the products and ask her to map out what she did.
If you’ve been following a healthy skin care regimen, your skin should be in pretty good shape. Your foundation can take you the rest of the way to flawless. A good foundation covers up imperfections, smooths out your skin tone, and imparts a healthy glow to your skin without feeling heavy or artificial. But you’ll have to experiment to find the right type. No one should hide behind a heavy mask of makeup, especially not a beautiful bride on her wedding day. The most important factors when it comes to foundation are comfort, that it feels (and looks) natural, and that it lasts.
If your skin is normal/dry and clear, try a tinted moisturizer for the lightest lasting coverage. If it’s oily, you’ll want an oil-free liquid foundation or oil-free “gel” foundation – look for a “semi-matte finish”, which will give the skin a luminous, velvety look. Airbrushed makeup, which you spray onto a sponge then dab onto your face, offers light, even coverage for the long-haul. Mineral makeup – a natural option made from powdered minerals – is great for all skin types, but doesn’t last as long as liquid foundation.
Some makeup artist recommend applying a foundation primer underneath foundation to help your makeup last longer. It’s certainly not necessary, but it does help to fade-proof your face and create a smooth base for foundation. But if you’re not really comfortable wearing makeup, skip this extra step and look for a water-based foundation, which won’t separate like an oil-based product, or for makeup with silicone, which feels silky and last forever.
How to apply? Unless your skin is oily, use a tiny bit of moisturizer to plump up lines and smooth over any dry patches. Use a small brush – or fingers, so your body heat can help “melt” the product into the skin - to dab concealer over blemishes or broken capillaries. Apply foundation with a clean sponge, brush, or very clean fingers. Dip a big, pouffy brush in loose, translucent powder, shake off the excess, and lightly stroke around the face, pressing lightly into oily areas, like the T zone.
A light dusting of powder helps “set” the foundation so that it lasts longer (especially if you have oily skin), but if powder makes your skin look dry, spritz your face with mineral water after you apply it or skip the step entirely.
Bronzers, Highlighter, and Illuminators
If your skin looks dull or pale and you need to warm it up a bit, these products make it easy. A bronzer is a great alternative to self-tanning, which can be a risky business unless you really know what you’re doing. Apply bronzer (cream, powder, or gel) sparingly to cheekbones, the top of your forehead, and your jawline - wherever the sun would naturally hit. If using powder bronzer, apply with a big, fluffy brush, shaking off the excess first. Apply cream or gel with a sponge or fingers, and blend really well.
Also blend your bronzer into your neck and décolletage so that you lose the lines of demarcation. But be careful not to get too close – you don’t want to stain your gown.
Highlighters and illuminators contain bits of light-reflecting minerals, which really can create a trick of light and shadow to give you that “lit from within” look, a faux glow that almost glistens. Be very judicious when applying such products. Dab a bit on your cheekbones and the bridge of your nose. If you’re gown is low cut, apply a bit along the collarbone, into the cleavage, and over the tops of your shoulders.
To build a subtle glow, try a glow lotion, and moisturizer infused with a tiny touch of self-tanner, to enable you to apply a bit each day and control your glow.
The Blushing Bride
The most important thing to remember with blush is that a little goes a long way. The second is to blend really well, and third, to choose the right color, and keep it soft.
If you’re using a powder blush, throw away the brush that comes in a compact immediately – it’s too stiff and won’t blend well. Use a fluffy, natural-bristle blush brush or a Japanese-style fan brush instead.
To avoid streakiness or stripes, smile and apply blush to the apple of the cheek in short, vertical strokes, outward and upward toward the ears.
For cream, gel, or cheek satin, use your fingers or a makeup sponge. Dab a tiny bit on the apples of your cheeks, and massaging in round, gentle, circular movements. Blend very well.
To choose cheek color that compliments your skin tone, look for light pinks if you’re pale, brown-pink or peach if you’re medium, or golden brown, burgundy, or deeper peach if you have a darker complexion. Red shades that look too dark in the palette or tube may look really soft and subtle on your cheek – these can flatter all skin tones, but the only way to know if they work for you is to try them.
Eye Openers: Three Great Looks
Even the subtlest eye shadow should, if applied correctly, make your eyes look bigger, brighter, and more beautiful. Here are three looks, all simple, that signal totally different moods while managing to complement any eye color. A note: Lighter color eye shadows make eyes pop, while darker shades add depth. If your lids are translucent or veiny, you should apply an eye base – which is really just a concealer for the eyelids – before applying shadow.
A soft, natural look is perfect for an outdoor or daytime wedding and looks beautiful with either strong or subtle lip color.
1. Brush a light or neutral shade - vanilla, suede, pale lilac, buttercream – on your upper lids and into the crease with a medium, natural-bristle eye-shadow brush.
2. Stroke on black or brown mascara.
A subtly shimmer shadow is perfect for evening and adds a gleam and sparkle to the eyes. It works especially well with a matte or sheer lip color.
1. Choose a light shimmer shade with a hint of copper, bronze, gold, champagne, pink, or silver and brush onto the upper lids and into the crease with a medium, natural-bristle brush. (Don’t overdo it.)
2. Use a brown or charcoal gel eyeliner (these have staying power) and a small brush to press the line close to your lash line.
3. Stroke on black or brown mascara.
This graphic, sophisticated French style manages to be bold but not over the top. It looks beautiful with a simple matte-red lipstick.
1. Brush a light, pale shadow on the upper lids and into the crease.
2. Use a black or charcoal gel eyeliner and a small brush to press a line close to the lash line.
3. Stroke on black mascara.
Most brides who want a fabulous fringe reach for a magical mascara wand – waterproof, of course! But before you do so, try an eyelash curler, which is easy to use and really opens up your eyes. (Always curl lashes before applying mascara: if you decide not to wear mascara, simply curling your lashes will make them look thicker.) Apply two coats to the top lashes (let them dry for a minute in between) and one coat to the lower (to minimize smudging). Go through your lashes with a lash brush/comb immediately after application, as waterproof formulas can be clumpy.
If you’re worried about raccoon eyes and your budget allows, you may want to consider professionally applied eyelash extensions. Unlike false eyelashes, they look subtle and natural. False eyelashes also run the risk of ending up on your cheeks if you cry and the binding glue dissolves.
Eyelash extensions take 2 to 3 hours to apply, last for up to two months, and cost anywhere from $150-$500. They’re labor intensive: Unlike false lashes, which come in a strip, each lash is applied individually with a tweezer and surgical glue. Though the results are beautiful, sitting through the procedure requires patience. Afterward, you can’t shower for a day and must initially be careful about not getting too much water around the lashes when you wash your face. Of course, you can’t (and won’t need to) wear mascara.
A beautiful arch not only frames the eyes, but also creates a polished, well-groomed finish to the face. Even if you usually do your own brows, it’s a good idea to consult a professional before the wedding. If you don’t already have a brow routine, start five months in advance for the big day, in case your brows need time to be reshaped. In most large cities you can find “eyebrow experts” or “brow salons” where talented brow shapers have carved out their niche; makeup artists are also trained to shape brows. Brows can be tweezed, waxed, or threaded. I recommend tweezing. It’s the gentlest, least irritating method and offers the greatest control.
Your last shaping should be a week before the wedding. If you choose to wax, you don’t want any residual redness. If you wax your brows and they do get red, apply lavender oil directly to the area or take an antihistamine to reduce redness. If you’re brows need extra definition, lightly go over them with a brow pencil or a bit of shadow one to two shades lighter than your brows, and blend with your fingers or a Q-tip.
Layer on that lip balm in the week before your wedding to avoid waking up with chapped lips on the big day. If you do experience chapping, apply Vaseline or lip balm and gently massage your lips with a soft toothbrush to loosen dry skin.
As for lipstick, makeup artists have lots of clever tricks to keep it where it belongs (a major concern with so much hugging, kissing, eating, and drinking going on throughout the day!). Color in your lips with a nude lip pencil before applying lipstick. The color will adhere to the pencil and last longer. Applying your lipstick with a lip brush will also help it last, and the brush offers more precision.
Lip stains are another great option but can stain fingers, so use a lip brush. Long-lasting lipsticks will keep you covered throughout the day, but can be drying. Layer a bit of clear or tinted gloss on top to help keep lips looking moist and add a lovely bit of shine.
Skin Dos and Don’ts
Although skin condition is largely genetic, there are simple things you can do (and some no-nos to avoid) to stack the odds in your favor:
Do you drink lots of water - 6 to 8 glasses per day.
Don’t sleep with your makeup on; it can make your skin break out.
Do keep hands away from your face – dirt and oil cause blemishes.
Don’t squeeze a blackhead or pimple.
Do build in enough time – at least a week – to give your skin a rest after a facial and waxing.
Don’t booze it up or eat salty foods the night before the wedding – you’ll look puffy.
Do try on your makeup a month in advance to make sure your skin doesn’t have a negative reaction.
Don’t try a new skin-care product within a month before the wedding- you may have an allergic reaction.
Do use sun protection, every day, even when the sun doesn’t shine. And if you go to the beach, be extra diligent.
Don’t get a spray-on tan or apply self-tanner the day before. You can develop streaks or orange palms.
Questions to ask your makeup artist:
Do you have experience working with brides?
Ask about her philosophy – what does she think a bride should look like on her wedding day? What do you think would be best for me? She may be completely in sync with you, or she may come up with something totally different – and you may love it!
What if something happens and you can’t make it at the last minute? Do you have a back-up person to send?
Find out if she’ll bring her own supplies (brushes, tweezers, etc.), or if she expects you to take care of it. Most bring their own – one less thing for you to worry about.
Will I need to purchase and bring my own makeup?
How do you charge - by the hour? By the job?
How many events do you do in a day? (Will she be rushing off to someone else?)
Will you come to me?
Will you stick around for touch-ups? If not, can you teach me how to do my own?
Most brides want their hair to look soft, healthy, beautiful – but not too trendy. And most stylists agree. Beyond that, there are several other things to consider: your personality, the location, your headpiece, and your dress. If you’re getting married on the beach, a loose, natural style may feel more appropriate than a chignon. But it’s hard to predict what your hair will do when you wear it loose – especially in the great outdoors. If you’re the type of bride who needs to have everything under control, you may be more comfortable with the structure of an updo. And remember your dress: If you’re wearing a full-skirted Cinderella gown, for example, a style that’s tight to the head may not create the most flattering proportion.
Finding a Hairstylist
Like makeup artist, good hairstylists can get booked up months in advance. If possible, start checking out your option six months ahead of time to give yourself enough time for a “style trial” where you’ll consult with the stylist, discuss ideas for your hair, and actually have her style you. Most hairstylist charge separately for a consultation and trial run.
It’s always less expensive to go to the salon then to have a stylist come to you, though having your stylist “on location” can be a worthwhile splurge. If you aren’t going to the salon, find out whether the stylist will bring tools and products or if you need to supply your own. Some stylists also do makeup, which is not only convenient but can cut back on the cost. Once you’ve found your stylist and negotiated the rates, you’ll need to get a contract and put down a deposit. The contract should cover the date, arrival time, number of hours, price, location, and any additional expenses (parking, products, touch-ups for pictures, veil removal, etc.).
Six Great Wedding Hairstyles
The following hairstyles aren’t just great looks; some are also “convertible,” giving you the option of changing your style between the ceremony and reception. So it’s quicker and easier to put your hair up in a loose ponytail or twist than to take out all those pins and let it down. Everyone’s hair texture is different, so give your style a test run before you decide. An updo is easy, elegant, cool, and comfortable – especially if you plan on working up a sweat on the dance floor or your wedding is taking place in a hot, humid location; on the other hand, for some brides, nothing says romance like flowing locks.
A chignon is an easy, elegant style for a more traditional bride who wants to look impeccably groomed. It’s also perfect if you’re a worrier - it’s a long-lasting style with great hold.
A French Twist
A French twist is a structured, sophisticated style that keeps your hair off your face and works beautifully with a veil or tiara.
A French Braid
It may sound retro, but for a wedding, a French braid is a simple, romantic style that works well with straight or wavy hair.
Half Up/Half Down
This is a romantic, almost universally flattering style. It’s less controlled than an updo, but still keeps your hair off your face.
It used to be that women would start to grow their hair out for their wedding as soon as they got engaged. I still see many brides doing the same – seems like there’s just something about a short, choppy do that doesn’t look right with a full-length ballgown. If you’re very patient or are planning on a really long engagement, growing your hair out may work. But now there’s a much easier way: extensions.
Extensions are synthetic or real hair that’s braided, sewn, woven, bonded (glued), or clipped into your hair to make it look longer and thicker. There are extensions available for all hair types, from silky, straight Caucasian strands to curly African-American hair. Aside from clipons, popular for brides because they’re so easy to remove, extensions can be left in until they fall or are cut out. Braided extensions have a shelf life of about 3 to 4 weeks, after which they need to be redone because they pull on the hair.
Most stylists agree that loose, flowing hair is an extremely pretty, romantic look for a wedding. But it can be hard to control, especially if the weather is hot or humid, or if your wedding is at the beach. If you’re planning to wear your hair loose, consult with a stylist who will advise you on how to control your locks and create the best style for your hair texture. In general, heat-styling – blowing your hair out and making sure it’s not the slightest bit damp – will help control the texture and prevent frizz before you set it, curl it, or straighten it with a flatiron.
Hair jewelry can add an elegant, unique touch to your style, but it’s important to make sure that whatever accessory you choose doesn’t compete with your veil or your headpiece. Many brides go over the top with crashing hair accessories, jewelry, veil, etc. Make sure to bring your hair jewelry choices – brooches, hairpins, combs, barrettes, ribbons – to your consultation and the style trial with your hairstylist. If you haven’t selected any yet, be ready to discuss your ideas and, of course, ask your stylist for hers.
Coloring Your Hair
Hair color can be heavenly, but your wedding is not the best time to experiment – especially not with the do-it-yourself product from a box. If you do decide to color your hair, go to a professional colorist. Start slowly and give yourself a six-month trial period: See how you like it and correct things if necessary. Highlights around the face catch the light and give your skin a glow. If you plan to wear your hair up, give your colorist a heads up so she can put a few highlights in the bottom layers, too. To add extra shine to your hair, consider asking your colorist to put a glaze or gloss in your hair along with the color. These clear treatments coat the hair cuticle and add amazing shine to colored hair. Visit her again two weeks before the wedding to freshen up your color.
Dull Hair and the Frizzies
One thing you don’t want is to wake up on the morning of your wedding to find you’ve stumbled into a bad hair day.
If you’re planning a summer or outdoor wedding and your hair poufs up when you sweat, you’ll need to plan for frizz control. Starting a month before the wedding, use a deep conditioner once a week, but have the last treatment a week before the wedding, or your hair will be too soft to style. On the day of the wedding, pat a bit of styling cream on damp hair if your hair is curly. If straight, mix a dab of gel in your palm with pomade and pat through. Spray towel-dried hair with hairspray, which acts as a barrier to humidity.
Give your hair extra shine with a shine-enhancing spray. Look for ingredients that end in – one, which contains silicone. Unless your hair is greasy, you can also pat a shine serum or botanical hair oil lightly through your hair.
Hair Dos and Don’ts
Because healthy, shiny hair never goes out of style, get yours in mint condition for the big day:
Do give your hair a deep conditioning treatment in the months leading up to your wedding.
Don’t wash your hair the day of the wedding if you’re going for an updo – unless you have fairly oily hair; it won’t hold a style as well. Shampoo and lightly condition the night before.
Do go for your final haircut 1 to 3 weeks before the ceremony, so that it looks natural and not too-new.
Don’t dig the comb in too deep – you’ll get a headache.
Do use a heat-protection spray when you style your hair to reduce dryness and damage.
Don’t get your hair permed less than a month before the wedding. A bit of time will soften the style.
Do bring a picture of your dress to the consultation with your stylist.
Don’t do anything drastic – for example, Japanese straightening, perming, chunking, relaxing – in the weeks before the wedding.