Not every bride wants a makeup artist to paint her face on her wedding day. No one knows more about your contours, your skin texture, or how makeup tends to settle on your face like you do. That being said, it’s not absurd that you want to take control of how you look on your special day.
As with anything wedding-related, doing your own makeup for your wedding just takes careful planning and a little practice to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible on the big day. We called on makeup artists Cassandra Garcia and Kelsey Deenihan for their top tips on doing your own wedding makeup. Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about DIY wedding makeup, in the words of a pro.
Here are some expert tips you should know before doing your own wedding day makeup.
Do a Test Run
“On the day of the event, choose lightweight, hydrating and illuminating skincare products that will create the perfect canvas but won’t be too slippery that your makeup won’t stay put,” Garcia says. Add a bit of Hourglass Vanish Flash Highlighting Stick ($42) just on the cheeks and temples for that coveted lit-from-within glow. “Avoid adding shine to the T-zone, centre of the forehead and cheeks, as this will look too shiny under a camera flash.” Don’t just do one run-through, do two or three.
Keep It Real
Your wedding day pictures are going to be with you forever, and trends come and go. So unless it’s totally against your personality (in which case don’t listen to us), stay away from trends and put your effort towards looking like the best version of yourself. Your focus should be on emphasizing the things you like about yourself with simple wedding makeup.
Wear the Right SPF
“SPF can affect how the photographs come out, but if you’re getting married in the height of summer or on the beach, it will be a must,” says Garcia. To avoid using a SPF that will create a white cast in your photos, test out a few different sunscreens in the weeks leading up to your wedding.
Consider the Weather
Presumably, you planned what your dress or suit will look like based on the weather. Similarly, you should consider the weather in your plan of how much makeup you’re going to wear and what it will be. If the ceremony is long and outside in the dead of summer, you’re not going to be able to get away with as much makeup as you would if you’re doing it in winter indoors; it’s going to melt off. Have a primer on hand either way.
Match Your Complexion
“Blend your bronzer really well, and make sure your face matches your neck and shoulders. If you’re going to wear a spray tan on the day, be sure to have tried the spray tan before, and use a foundation that matches the color of your tanned skin,” Garcia advises.
Take Care of Your Skin
Don’t presume any and all imperfections can be covered up by makeup. In fact, go into this process as though you have no intention to wear foundation at all. Get your skincare routine all set months before your wedding day and don’t change it. A mask every so often is fine, but if you want your makeup to be consistent, the canvas has to be as well. As for your wedding day, Deenihan suggests using a moisturizer that will help keep excess shine at bay. “Use a moisturizer that has a matte finish to combat shine throughout the day.” She recommends the Embryolisse Hydra Mat Emulsion ($30). “It has a lightweight, non-greasy formula that will hydrate your skin and keep you picture perfect all day.”
Don’t Overdo Blush
If you don’t typically wear blush because you don’t feel you need it, don’t change that for your wedding day. Otherwise, Garcia advises that you, “Apply slightly more than you think you need—it tends to get washed out in photos.” We’ll re-emphasize that you should blend well, as you don’t want to look like a clown. “An easy way to see how much you need is to get your photographer to take pictures as you’re having your makeup done in the morning to check if you need more added,” Garcia suggests. “In fact, during your makeup trial, try to take photos in different lights (indoors and outdoors) and also with and without flash to give you an idea of how much makeup you need to apply.”
To find your perfect blush shade, look for one that matches your lips.
Color-Correct Your Eyes
“You should neutralize any uneven color on the eyelids,” says Garcia. “Use a color corrector or concealer that’s a little lighter to brighten. Your eye base should double as a primer and make your eyeshadow waterproof and longer-lasting. Use a white shade for pale skins, a bone hue for medium complexions and a banana or taupe for dark skin tones. It’s trial and error, but the idea is to brighten and neutralize your eyelids.” We’re huge fans of MAC’s Pro Longwear Paint Pots ($23) for this purpose.
Keep Lipstick to a Minimum
Don’t go heavy on the lipstick. “Shiny or creamy lipsticks will transfer onto your other half and your champagne flute. Take a red lipstick and use your finger to tap and buff the color onto your lips for a longer-wearing stain,” advises Garcia. “It also looks less done than a full-on lip.” Use a powder to set the lipstick, and put on a primer like LimeCrime’s Ghost Veil ($16) to ensure it sticks.
“If you really want to go for a more glossy lipstick, split a two-ply tissue and use one thin layer to blot. Just remember that anything glossy won’t be kiss-proof,” she adds.
Worried about your color fading throughout the festivities? Deenihan says to use lip liner to cover your entire lip as a first coat of lipstick, even if you’re using a more natural shade. “Your lipstick might wear off after the first kiss, sipping champagne, and eating cake, but you’ll still have some color from your liner,” she says. “My go-to are the Kevyn Aucoin Unforgettable Lip Definer pencils ($30).”
Use Quality Products
If there’s one time you shouldn’t go for the dupe versions of your makeup, it’s your wedding day. All eyes will be on you, and there will be a ton of pictures. If you really trust your drugstore buys, like Maybelline Great Lash Mascara ($7), we get it, and go for it. But this isn’t the time to pursue quantity over quality if you’re unsure about the products. This is particularly important for lipstick (our Byrdie fav is MAC’s Lustre Lipstick), foundation, and eyeshadow, the latter two are both items you want to blend seamlessly, and often cheaper dupes end up chalky. The last thing you want is uneven eyeshadow or foundation creases.
Keep Your Brows Simple
“At Bobbi Brown, we recommend using either gel or pencil to fill in your brows—it really comes down to preference. A tinted gel will help to shape and groom, while a pencil can add depth and shading for a more groomed brow look,” says Garcia. How filled-in eyebrows should be is a strong personal preference, so go with what you think looks best and will age well.
Use Your Arch as a Guide
This especially applies when you’ve chosen to wear a smoky eye, or a bolder shade. However, most brides will probably find themselves using a neutral. Garcia suggests taupe for brides. “Taupe eye shadow suits everyone and is a great everyday shade,” she says. “For brides who find liner to be too much on their wedding day, use the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick ($30) in Taupe under your lower lash line instead. It will add a hint of depth without the full-on look of liner. A mahogany or brown liner pressed into your lash line will also define your eyes but won’t be as heavy as black.”
Use an Eyelash Curler
Always use an eyelash curler before applying mascara—never after. It’s a really easy and quick way to pull out your eyelashes. “If you need more bend once your lashes are coated, then use your thumb to gently push your lashes back and coax more of a bend,” Garcia suggests as an alternative.
Layer Your Mascara
“For standout lashes, you should layer a cream (non-waterproof) mascara, which will give fullness and thicken the lashes,” says Garcia. We love this option from IT Cosmetics. “Before that first layer has set, apply a gel-based (waterproof) mascara over the top to help them last.”
Deenihan recommends finishing with a waterproof mascara even if you don’t think you’ll cry. “It’s sweat-proof when you’re dancing the night away!” She recommends Almay’s Multi-Benefits Mascara ($9) for “volume, length, and definition.”
Test Out Fake Lashes First
“Wear them on a night out—maybe even your [bachelorette] party—if you haven’t worn them before but are tempted to wear them on your big day. Once you know the mascara or false lashes you want to wear, I recommend you watch a sad movie and assess the damage,” Garcia says. We’re big fans of MoxieLash’s magnetic eyelashes (such a game-changer). That said, some people don’t want to wear false lashes, and those people should absolutely still road test their mascara at the bachelorette party.
Be Mindful When Wiping Your Tears
When applying eye makeup, hold the mirror in front of your chin so you are looking down into it. “Keep your eyes open so you can apply your eye shadow and mascara onto an open eye and see exactly how it will look as you go,” says Garcia. “Otherwise you’ll get a tear line, which will travel down through your blusher and foundation, which is harder to blend away.”
Apply Your Smoky Eye First
Then, Garcia says you should take a big brush and “buff away any shadow that could have dropped before applying your corrector and concealer under your eyes.”
“I’m not a fan of using a nude or white eyeliner in the waterline to brighten the eyes,” she adds. “Instead, I recommend using eye-brightening drops. If you want your eyes to look bigger, line outside the waterline, and use shimmer on the outer corners to brighten the eye area.”
Do Your Makeup Before Getting Dressed
This feels intuitive, like putting on your makeup before you get dressed every day, but it’s easy to get caught up in the whole wedding day fuss and space on it. Unless you have no other choice, put your makeup on before you get into your clothes. Eyeshadow has fallout sometimes and lipstick might get on your hands! And, of course, don’t let your face touch the clothes lest your makeup smudge or any color get on them.
Plan It Out
Garcia has a set, freakout-free plan for brides:
“Practice your wedding day look a few times, wear it on a night out (your bachelorette party is a good place), and take lots of pictures inside and outside with flash and no flash. On the day, the bride should be the last person to finish her makeup. If you need to be in your dress by, say, noon, then aim to have your makeup done by 11:30 a.m.
Cleanse, tone and moisturize as you normally would, and then let your skin sit to allow the cream to fully sink in. Start with your eye makeup, and then move onto your complexion, followed by your lips at the end.
Some people enjoy doing their own makeup; others find it stressful. Think about clearing the room so it’s relatively calm, and just having one person on hand, like your maid of honor.”
When shopping for foundation, get the shade color matched and applied in the store. Before you buy, take a photograph of yourself in different lighting (inside, outside, etc.) so that you can see how the foundation adapts and looks on camera in different settings.
Set Your Look
To keep your makeup looking fresh, Deenihan suggests having a powder on-hand. “Have a great powder you can reapply throughout the day, if necessary. I love the LORAC Blurring Translucent Pressed Powder. It’s great for all skin tones, keeps you looking fresh in photos, and never looks chalky.”
Have a Wedding-Day Makeup Bag
“Take a foundation stick in your clutch bag; it is perfect for touch-ups around the nose or if there are tears on the day. Pack blotting papers as well to take down any excess shine. Then pop your lipstick and blusher in there, too,” Garcia says. We’d also suggest you take a retractable kabuki brush, in case your makeup needs a bit of evening out.