Bridal Beauty Essentials

In This Article:

Every bride wants to look absolutely beautiful on her wedding day, but many women fall into the trap of following misguided, outdated, or just plain bad skin-care and makeup advice. Using our simple, tried-and-tested beauty tips for your wedding, black tie affair, or any other special occasion, all you'll have to do is smile when the cameras start flashing!
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Skin-Care Dos & Don'ts

  • Practice smart skin care well in advance of your event. Don't experiment with new products a few days or even a few weeks before the event so you don't risk having a reaction to any of them. Start good skin care now, and you'll feel great about how you look! For more details follow these basic skin-care guidelines.
     
  • If you need help determining your skin type and how to treat it, this article is a must-read!
     
  • Have a well formulated salicylic acid (BHA) exfoliant on hand in case a blemish pops up the night before. The antibacterial and anti-redness properties of salicylic acid can rescue your face overnight! In a pinch, an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream can help, too.
     
  • Steer clear of facials and dermatological treatments shortly before the event. It can be tempting to splurge on an exotic facial treatment or chemical peel right before the big day; however, a day (or even a week) before the big event is not the time to experiment! You never know how your skin may react (even if you've had the service done in the past), and the last thing you need right before your wedding day or special occasion is a blotchy reaction from a treatment gone wrong! Pamper yourself with a massage or pedicure instead, and book all other skin-related appointments several weeks in advance of your big day—especially any procedures you'll be trying for the first time.
     
  • Avoid tanning salons or laying out in the sun. Countless brides insist on getting a tan before their big day, but what they don't realize is that overly tanned skin often looks uneven, mottled, dry, and flaky. It also doesn't photograph well. This is the last thing you want for your close-up shots, not to mention the sun damage that you are doing to your skin in the long run! If you have to be tan, book an appointment for an airbrush spray-on tan or use a sunless tanner in the days leading up to the event.

Bridal Makeup Done Right

  • Book appointments with at least two different makeup artists to see what kind of look you are most comfortable with. If you are hiring a professional makeup artist for the big event, get your makeup done in advance to be sure you end up looking the way you want. Any reputable makeup artist will offer this service as a test-run before the event.
  • Find your perfect foundation. Special occasion or not, foundation is essential to a complete, formal makeup application. Your foundation should match your skin exactly, with no obvious lines at your jaw or hairline. Few things are worse than looking back on photos and realizing your face and neck are two different colors. In general, liquid foundations with a soft matte or subtle satin finish work best because they are most flattering and beautifully mimic a healthy skin tone. For more foundation recommendations, visit Beautypedia Reviews.
  • Have a friend or bridesmaid carry your pressed powder or blotting papers for you. Having pressed powder on hand for shine control is imperative for oily skin types, but those with normal to dry skin can also benefit from touch-ups in the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin), especially before pictures. Your powder should have a silky texture with a skin-like finish that closely matches your natural color. Always apply the powder with a brush, not a puff or sponge (which can make your skin look over-powdered and cakey, an effect you'll see as dull, flat skin in photographs).
  • Be a blushing bride. Don't underestimate the power of a beautiful blush, especially for indoor photos. Powder blushes with a matte or really subtle shimmer finish photograph best and hold up well during long days. Apply more than you normally would for day-to-day makeup.

    Experiment with colors ahead of time, but if in doubt, rose and pink shades are great for fair to medium skin, or choose rosy-plum tones if your skin is in the medium to dark range. Also, make sure your blush complements your lipstick (for example, pair your pink blush with a pink, berry, or rose-toned lipstick).
  • Emphasize your eyes. Keep eyeshadow tones muted and matte so that they emphasize, not compete with, your natural eye color. You can't go wrong with colors that have a brown, tan, taupe, or neutral beige base. Think earth tones (slate, shell pink, bronze) and "food" tones (cream, caramel, and coffee).

    If you want to add a touch of shimmer to your eye makeup, find the sheerest product possible, use a brush and apply sparingly to highlight your brow bone or the inner corners of your eyes. Make sure you like how the shine looks in photos before the big day arrives. Beware: Flash photography always magnifies shiny makeup!
  • Liven up your lashes. Long, luscious lashes can make a woman feel sexy and confident so make sure your mascara can go the distance. Opt for waterproof mascara if you know the tears will be flowing.
  • If you want to actually grow longer, darker, and fuller lashes before your big day, splurge on Latisse, a prescription eyelash enhancement product. For best results, you'll need to start applying Latisse daily and begin doing this couple months in advance.

    Fake eyelashes or lash extensions are alternative options without the side effects possible from Latisse, but you'd need to experiment with these ahead of time so you're sure you like the result. Most makeup artist-driven lines offer false eyelashes and counter personnel to show you how to apply and remove them. Lash extensions require a trip to a salon that offers this service. Do not go for lash tinting, as the dyes used for this service as not approved nor considered safe for use right next to the eyes.
  • Easy access to your makeup is a must! Between tears, kisses, eating, and burning up the dance floor, your makeup is bound to need a touch-up. Find a cute clutch bag to stash your basics or have a trusted bridesmaid or friend keep them in her purse. At the very least you should have quick access to your lipstick or gloss, pressed powder, and a small, retractable powder brush. Also include a clean makeup sponge in case you need to smooth any areas of your makeup. Oil blotting papers, cotton swabs, and Kleenex complete your list of must-haves.

Get Ready for Your Close-Up!

Outdoor Photo Tips
For the most flattering lighting during outdoor photography, try to schedule photos in the late afternoon as the sun begins to set. Often referred to by photographers as “the magic hour,” this is the kind of outdoor lighting that makes almost anyone look their best. Outdoor photos at midday are the worst, because the sun is directly overhead, casting unflattering shadows on your face.

Getting married outdoors during daylight hours? Less makeup is preferred for outdoor weddings so follow these tips:

  • For your complexion, use a sheer, satin-matte foundation; medium coverage concealer for trouble spots; a light dusting of pressed powder; and powder blush.
     
  • Eye makeup can include soft eyeshadow colors that are matte or barely shiny, and eyeliner that is medium to dark brown or slate gray rather than black, which can look too harsh in daylight. Too much shine can make your skin look sweaty and greasy in photographs, not the glowing luminous look you were going after.
     
  • Apply at least 2–3 coats of a lengthening mascara that leaves lashes softly fringed.
     
  • Lips can be any color, but keep in mind that opaque lipstick with sheer makeup can look too harsh. Pair a sheer lip stain (which will last for hours) with a soft shade of cream lipstick.
     
  • Keep lip gloss to a minimum because a heavy or vinyl-shine gloss can make your lips look unnaturally wet or glaringly shiny in photographs (and your groom will thank you for not making his mouth feel globbed with gloss!)
     

Indoor Photo Tips
Because indoor flash photography tends to emphasize pink or ruddy skin tones, proper camouflage with a neutral- to yellow-toned foundation is a must for indoor ceremonies.

  • Avoid foundations and powders with high concentrations of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These ingredients have an opaque, reflective quality that can make your face look whiter than your neck in photos. Foundations or powders that list titanium dioxide under the "May Contain..." list generally have a much smaller amount, but be very careful with anything labeled 'mineral makeup', as such products tend to contain a lot of titanium dioxide.
     
  • Do not use overly shiny products to give your skin a glow. Even when applied sparingly, shimmer can make skin look slick and greasy instead of luminescent in photos. A great way to add a hint of shine is with a sheer highlighting powder. One to try (being sure to apply sparingly): Clinique Fresh Bloom Allover Colour. The Hourglass brand, sold at Sephora, has a gorgeous shimmer powder, too.
     
  • Don't forget to use concealer to camouflage under eye darkness, red spots (especially around the nose), and other minor discolorations. Apply concealer after foundation or you'll risk applying too much. Top picks for both are listed in the Beautypedia Reviews section. Highlighters can be great, too, and work over concealer or may be used on their own. Yves Saint Laurent's Radiant Touch is a classic brush-on highlighter.

Follow these tips and you'll look like a million bucks on your big day, whether it's a wedding or any other special occasion where you want to look gorgeous!

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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