Bridal Makeup

Written by Pamela Taylor, internationally-recognized fashion and celebrity makeup artist

Bridal makeup is a very specialized field within the makeup profession. When applying bridal makeup on a bride’s actual wedding day, there is a marked difference in the application. Why is bridal makeup different? When applying makeup for a magazine shoot, the application is often done for the camera. The subject is prepared using makeup that does not have to be water resistant, long-wearing, and applied to withstand hours of wear. Applying makeup incorrectly can result in the application wearing off prematurely, the makeup not lasting, the incorrect formula selection, and brightening of the bride’s face, often resulting in a shocking bright finish to the photographs, which is not apparent to the naked eye.

Bridal Trial Session
It is always important to conduct a bridal trial session. This allows the bride and the artist to discuss some ideas and go over details before the wedding. I often use social media websites such as Pinterest and suggest that the bride bookmark any look that she prefers. It is important to keep in mind that the looks are for reference and as an artist, you must be aware of color choices and looks that are appropriate for the bride. Keep facial shape and features in mind. This includes being aware of eye color and the size and texture of the
facial features.
The trial session can be done up to six months before the wedding day. This gives the artist time to analyze the skin and discuss skin care and whether the bride will be tanning and/or making any cosmetic changes before the date. Although it is improper and damaging to the skin, some people opt to tan and it is very important to note. Tanning can often result in a more textured finish to the skin when makeup is applied and I make the bride aware that I can achieve this effect with makeup. It is also important to suggest that any cosmetic fillers or treatments be done in advance to avoid any unforeseen reactions to products used.

Questions to Ask at a Trial Session
Who will be having their makeup applied? I often recommend that the bride have a professional makeup artist for the entire wedding party. This avoids any application disasters like a bridesmaid wearing too much makeup and/or the wrong shades.
During the trial, you must calculate the time, as well as the count of people having their makeup applied. I normally allow 30 to 45 minutes per person. In this amount of time, I do a complete application, including artificial eyelashes. I would safely allow one hour for the bride.
After the trial session, correspond with the bride to inquire how she enjoyed the look and ask if she has any questions. It is also a great time to discuss colors, details of the day, and how you work professionally.
Also, it is best to apply makeup in natural daylight. If natural lighting is not available, it is best to bring a lighted makeup mirror. Never apply makeup under overhead, fluorescent lights. Light should come from around the face.
As for the bride’s hair, it is very important that it is styled prior to the makeup. This allows the hair artist to spray and work around the face without touching and/or getting product on the makeup application. Veils and headpieces should be carefully applied before or following application. The foundation should never be applied so heavily that the piece leaves a mark through the foundation. Blending is key!

Step-By-Step Makeup for the Bride
You will need a selection of professional products to create an application for a bride’s wedding day.

  • Skin Preparation – A quality oil- and silicone-free pre base, which the makeup can be applied before makeup application.
  • Eye Drops and Eye Cream – Eye drops should remove any redness and a smoothing, non-oily eye cream should be applied beneath the eye area.
  • Hydrating and Setting Spray – This is used during the application as a step-to-set and to acclimate the skin to moisture. It also helps the makeup to set the face without a caked-on finish. 
  • Concealer – A highly-pigmented concealer that truly covers blemishes and discoloration. I opt for a low- or no-oil formula.
  • Foundation – Zinc-free or pearl-free is best. Foundation with zinc or a sunscreen formula will whiten when photographed. If choosing mineral foundations, it is best to test the formula. It is extremely important to use foundation formulas that offer high-pigment coverage. I use the hydration technique (water method), which hydrates while being applied. I find that this method of application acclimates to sweat and lasts without a cake-on finish. My favorite foundations are liquid- and cream-based formulas. I carry a variety of shades from pale warm ivory to deep ebony, and mix them if needed to create the perfect shade of color!
  • Cream, Gel or Color Stains for Lips and Cheeks – I opt for color stains, which look luminous on the cheek area. They also last throughout the day and into the evening without wearing off. I often use these products as a second shield against any color that may wear off on the lips and cheeks. It is important to apply and blend these products using a moistened wedge or sponge stick. Never use your fingers and or a brush. They can be patted and blended onto the area. 
  • Setting Powders – If using a second application of foundation for a matte finish, I recommend using a selection of high-quality, skin silk powders. These offer high pigmentation and coverage and result in a matte, luminous-free finish. Always remember the ears – apply makeup if needed and remove shine. For a luminous finish, choose a neutral, no-color talc- and zinc-free setting powder that is used to set the foundation. I will then moisten areas that I want to appear luminous. Many brides want a tan or bronzed look. I opt for bronzing powders, which look the most natural. If using gels, be aware of the shine content.
  • Contours and Highlights – According to the facial shape, I recommend choosing a natural palette of contours and highlights to naturally shape, enhance, or alter features. In the event an area requires change, use both a cream and powder product and blend to a natural, undetectable finish. 
  • Eyes – I use a creamy-textured, powder eye shadow that has a high payoff of pigment. When applying eye shadows, makeup artists must pay attention to using highlights at the eyebrow area and the inner corners to open the eyes. If the bride has wide-set eyes, this is not recommended. Choose and apply color that is harmonious to the bride’s features. I also highly recommend waterproof mascara and eyeliner. Some bridal traditions choose very ornate and colorful makeup. Some even choose glittery eye shadows. If a glittery product is requested, be sure to have a quality base to secure this type of product so it stays where intended.
  • Eyebrows – This is the most expressive feature and must be applied properly. I recommend choosing a clear, wax cream on a tapered and angled natural hairbrush. Then, mix and apply a colored eyebrow powder to shape the eyebrow. The look can be completed with a neutral powder brushed through the eyebrow to soften and set the makeup. If a strong eyebrow color is desired, do not powder to soften.
  • Eyelashes – In my opinion, there is nothing like a great set of faux eyelashes to frame the eyes. I use a selection of individual or clustered natural hair eyelashes. Eyelashes usually come in black/brown or deep black. Always apply waterproof mascara before the eyelashes. Choose eyelashes in short, medium and long lengths, according to the area. Use short ones for the inner one-third and longer ones as they would naturally grow toward the outer eye. Faux eyelashes should appear full, lush, and undetectable! For lower lashes, if used, I recommend applying lightly toward the lower and outer eyelashes. Normally, a light coat of waterproof mascara added to the outer, lower eyelashes is all that is needed.
  • Lips – Whether choosing a lipstick, lip gloss, and/or lip stain, long and lasting color is key! I normally custom blend a shade, then give the bride her color in a small vial for the day. You can opt for a lip stain with a touch of gloss, which appears ripe and fresh, or you can choose a cream lip color in a rich shade, using a liner to enhance or enlarge the mouth. I tend to stay away from heavily-pearled glosses and shimmery-cream formulas because they often settle in the lip lines and get captured by the camera. Choosing the correct lip color and formula is up to the makeup artist. Always keep in mind that violet and purple lip shades can often cast a yellow finish to the teeth, especially when wearing a white gown. 

Remember, word of mouth is the best referral. A knowledgeable makeup artist is also a wedding photographer’s best friend!

Login to post comments

More in Beauty

Featured Company

  • CBI Laboratories, Inc.CBI Laboratories, Inc.Description: Since 1982, CBI's Laboratories has been well known for its consumer market research which defines our client's custom product's personality. The professionalism of our entire research, production and management staff coupled with our strateg ...

Makeup Matters

Next-Level Learning

  • Christine Valmy International School of Esthetics & CosmetologyChristine Valmy International School of...Description: Christine Valmy International School of Esthetics & Cosmetology offers a quality education in the beauty industry, based on the teachings of the Founder of Esthetics in the United States—Ms. Christine Valmy. Ms. Valmy opened her very first school ...