Not everyone wants to bring in a professional makeup artist for their wedding day. Sometimes it’s not aligned with your budget or maybe you don’t feel comfortable with someone else touching your face, and you feel it would be less stressful to just do it yourself. Whatever your reasoning, there are a few key tips that you can take from the professionals to make sure your wedding makeup looks amazing in person and in photos.
I know the common idea about wedding makeup is that it needs to be, like, 10x what you’d normally do, in order to “show up in photos.” This is true to an extent; however, with the amazing photography lenses and tools available these days, cameras generally capture what’s in front of them pretty spot-on. You can turn up the volume of your makeup a bit, especially if you don’t normally wear any, but you don’t need to go full on Mimi (okay, you can tell I’m old if you don’t get that reference). It’s important to pay attention to the editing style of your photographer. If they’re more “light and airy,” yes, soft peachy blushes or pink eyeshadows might get a little washed out so consider amping it up. If their photography style is on the dark and moody side, I’d go easier on a smokey eye because it can end up looking super black once they’re done with editing. From a makeup artist standpoint, we have a knack (and the experience) for knowing just how heavy the makeup needs to be to look great across all styles, but for someone who is not used to doing makeup for photography purposes, it’s a good idea to research and check out the makeup styles your photographer’s previous clients have done. Basically, it doesn’t have to be as heavy handed as it used to be back in the day.
Here’s a few examples of what the makeup looked like from my regular phone camera compared to the wedding photos from a professional photographer. The first, as you can see, has a bright and airy feel. The second was natural lighting so not much difference at all. The third has a slightly more dramatic and moody edit which was perfect for the glam style we chose for this bride’s makeup.
(Kaitlyn Blake Photography/Noreen Nooner Photography/Jess McGill Photography)
Moisturize, but furthermore, adopt a good skin care routine a few months before your wedding and stick to it. You’d be amazed at how makeup that’s done with excellent technique can still look not-so-great on skin that’s been neglected. Skin care is the most crucial part of a good makeup application. Even if you think you’re oily, you still need to moisturize to create a balance for your skin. Your face goes through a lot in the day-to-day activities - sun damage, pollution, dehydration. It all takes a toll. So always cleanse your face, moisturize, and use sunscreen (sun damage is THE #1 reason for faster aging/unhealthy skin). Do a facial mask (one that you know you won’t have a reaction to) the night before your wedding for extra glow. You can gently exfoliate that morning for a nice, smooth base for makeup. And then on the day of your wedding, make sure your skin is nice and hydrated with a good moisturizer, and really give it time to sink into the skin before you do your foundation. Keep in mind that skin care can be different for everyone, depending on if you have sensitivities or other issues. These are very basic tips, and your skin may have different needs. That’s why it’s important to adopt a good routine months prior to your big day so that you’re not stressing over whether you’ll have a reaction to a product.
I think many of us have seen the infamous Flashback Mary by now. Flashback is what happens when your makeup causes a white cast to show up in flash photography. Your photographer may bust out the flash later in the night when the sun has gone down and everyone is grooving on the dance floor during the reception, and you don’t want to be surprised when you receive your wedding gallery and realize it’s full of photos of you looking like a ghost. So how can you avoid that?
For starters, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and silica powder are the main causes of flashback. But it can get confusing because some products may be high in titanium dioxide/zinc oxide and still don’t create the white cast effect. And my favorite setting powder ever (RCMA No Color Powder) has silica in it and yet it does not cause flashback. The reason the Flashback Mary conundrum even happened is because this particular YouTuber coated his entire face heavily in setting powder. The reflective nature of these ingredients, when used in large amounts like that, will cause the flash photography light to bounce back and create that effect. You could use the same powder he did, but in a much smaller amount, and have no issues. Really, the simple answer is: if your products contain a large amount of any of these ingredients, just use a light hand. You really don’t need that much powder on your face, so I wouldn’t stress too much about this happening.
They may be intimidating but false lashes look fan-freaking-tastic in wedding photos. My favorite are demi-wispy styles. They’re natural enough to not be over-the-top but give just enough “umph” to up your makeup game. I suggest buying a 5-pack and practicing, because applying falsies is not an easy feat and definitely not something to be trying out for the first time on your wedding day. But they’re worth the learning curve!
You’ll need lash glue, and I find a pair of tweezers helps me with placing them as well. You may need to trim the lashes to fit your eye, so before you apply any glue, put the lash on your lash line and see if it’s too long. Trim as needed. Then apply the lash glue and let it sit for about 30 to 45 seconds. If you try to put the lashes on too soon without giving the glue time to start drying enough to be slightly tacky, the glue will just slip and slide around and not actually stick. So these few seconds you’re waiting are a huge part of easy application. Pick the lash up with your tweezers and start in the middle of your eye when placing. Once the middle is secure, you can adjust the inner and outer edges. Once the lash is placed and seems to be set (you know, not lifting or moving around), carefully pinch your natural lashes and your false lash together in a few areas, to help blend them all together. And practice, practice, practice!
Here’s an example of some natural-style lashes that simply add the most perfect touch of drama to the look.
Our faces, necks, and chest tend to be all different tones. The neck is generally lighter than the others, since our head is blocking it from the sun. The face can either be similar to the neck’s tone, or more similar to the typically-darker chest, depending on whether or not you wear SPF. If your wedding outfit is low cut and shows your chest, you’ll want to keep that in mind when selecting a foundation shade. You may feel quite strange that the foundation you’re putting on your face is not the same shade as the skin that it’s covering, but take a step back and look at the big picture of it all. Scan your face from your jaw and chin to your chest - do they look similar in tone? Good! You want everything to blend seamlessly. You don’t want your face to be way lighter or way darker than your body, and in order to make everything cohesive, you may need to bring the foundation down onto your neck and even your chest, so that it blends without a solid line of demarcation. Apply your makeup in front of a window with good day light streaming in. This will give you the most accurate representation of shades.
Whether doing your own makeup for your wedding or leaving it to the professionals, it should be a relaxing experience, so put on some good tunes and enjoy that precious time!