Sarah Gillespie pinpoints the worst big-day beauty calamities – and suggests straightforward ways to avoid them
D-i-why?When you work out that makeup needs to look good on camera and hair needs to stay perfect for more than twelve hours, even keen beauty enthusiasts will realise that bridal hair and makeup is a different ballgame to normal party pampering. So treat yourself and book a professional. Makeup artist Susie Bloice explains why: “It’s the biggest day of your life and you want to look amazing. Trained makeup artists know about flashback from professional cameras and how to ensure your makeup lasts all day. A friend might have offered to do it for free, but if it’s not looking the way you want it, it’s much easier to tell a makeup artist than a pal!”
Fellow MUA Karen Bowen agrees: “Celebrities depend on great makeup artists to make them look amazing, so why shouldn’t you on your big day? As well as being familiar with a variety of products from the best brands, we also have the technical skills for the trickier side of makeup – such as how to do the perfect smokey eye or flicked liquid liner.”
Do your homework
Would you phone up a cake company, ask for ‘a cake’, and then expect them to explain every kind of cake they offer to you? Probably not. Doing some basic research first is always advisable, and that goes for beauty too. Search ‘bridal hair’ on Pinterest (and don’t blame us when you spend an hour scrolling through all the amazing styles) – having an idea of different hairstyles will save time, and your hairdresser’s patience. Same goes for makeup: a flick through some magazines will help you find looks you like.
Bang on trend
I’ve made enough beauty mistakes to know that trying to be too trendy will result in some serious cringing later on. Keep things classic with your wedding makeup and you’ll be spared the humiliation of explaining that wearing two pairs of eyelashes, a culturally inappropriate bindi or pastel purple lipstick was ‘a thing’ in 2014. As much as I love the look of the moment, if you didn’t have scarlet hair before 2012 and don’t think you’ll have it in 2022 then consider a brief return to your natural colour before transforming back into Jessica Rabbit after your honeymoon.
What’s inside that counts
Did your mum ever tell you that if you are beautiful on the inside, it’ll show on the outside? She wasn’t kidding! Smoking, poor diet, drinking and stress all show up on your face and body. And not eating enough counts as a poor diet too – crash dieting will leave you rundown and dull-skinned. Start simply: more water, more fruit, more veggies. Combat planning stress with a quick slick of Aveda’s Stress-Fix Concentrate, which helps relieve tension and aid relaxation. Consider cutting down on the cigs and cider – with time off for good behaviour, obviously.
All night long
Your makeup artist has done an unbelievable job of making you look gorgeous – but it’s only 10am, and there’s a long day ahead. So remember to pack a small selection of top-up products, such as a good pressed powder to banish shine. All you’ll need after that is a subtle blush reapplication and a slick of lippie after dinner to keep you looking fresh. Do not, repeat not, pack any more than that – after a few drinks you’ll always over-apply. (Trust me, I’ve seen myself in enough toilet mirrors looking like Jodie Marsh after a bodybuilding contest to be a cautionary tale on the subject.) Any makeup artist worth their brushes knows that a primer is the best way to keep bridal makeup in place.
Trial, no error
The morning of your wedding will be stressful enough without you being unsure of how you’re going to look, so having a tried-and-tested style for your hair and makeup before the big day is essential. “Trials are crucial because there are lots of different ways to create a variety of looks,” says Karen. “A consultation will ascertain the look and finish of makeup – for example, do you want matte or luminous skin?”
Already experimental and open-minded with makeup and don’t think you’ll need a trial? “It’s a mistake not to book one,” says Susie. “If you’re going for a bolder look, make sure you try it beforehand, since if you don’t like it on the day, there won’t be much time to change it.”
A trial is a chance to check your MUA’s skills too. We’ve heard of cases of unscrupulous beauty ‘experts’ plastering their website with retouched photos or images of other people’s work. If you don’t want to be just another fresh face for them to practise on, check out their skills beforehand at a trial.
Save the best ’til last
I posed the question to the BSW office: “Should a bride have her makeup done first, and in plenty of time, or last and possibly be tight for time, to look super-fresh?” We couldn’t agree, so we consulted the experts. “It depends on the size of the bridal party,” suggests Leigh Blaney. “I prefer the bride to go second or third last so there’s no rush, and she has enough time to get into her dress and relax, but the makeup is still fresh.”
Karen told us she often does the bride’s makeup last, “but I always leave enough time to refresh all the other faces.” Ask your makeup artist to be finished for the photographer arriving if you don’t want the ‘getting ready’ pictures with a bare face!
You, on a really good day
If your friends wouldn’t recognise you without perfectly lined ruby-red lips and vampy winged eyeliner, why would you suddenly decide to go all au naturale-Kate Middleton for your big day? On the other hand, if you normally wear a bare minimum of makeup, why would you bring pictures of Amy Childs along to your trial? You want to look like you, albeit you looking really, really good. “Stay true to yourself,” advises Leigh. “The best version of yourself is what you want to aim for, so whether that’s natural, glam, vintage, classic or whatever you feel best with, that’s the way to go. You need to feel comfortable and confident.”
If you want a bold lip colour but are worried it’ll come off on a white dress, try a lip stain or tint – it will have considerably more staying power and less transfer than a normal lipstick. I’m addicted to Lime Crime’s Velvetines, a waterproof, matte liquid lipstick available in seven eye-catching shades (the black maybe isn’t quite right for bridal, though). Glosses, meanwhile, should be light and shimmery. We might have loved Lancôme’s Juicy Tubes as teens, but a thick, coloured gloss is a nightmare for kissing people and even worse for posing for pictures when there’s even a slight breeze.
(Image right: Velvetine in Red Velvet, Lime Crime, available from Love Make Up)
A hair dealBridal hair stylist Louise Chrystal shares her advice on treating tresses in the run-up to the big day: “Don’t freak out about limp or dry hair and overload your hair with products. Invest in a professional shampoo and conditioner – this will massively improve the condition of your hair. It will also eliminate the need for last-minute treatments or the purchase of a multitude of expensive products.”
And, she adds, “Don’t go mad with colour. Less is always more. Don’t be tempted or talked into lightening or darkening your hair dramatically. Going too dark can age you, while going too light can compromise the condition of your hair. The same goes for your cut – it all changes how your chosen hairstyle will look.”
Ready or not?
Believe it or not, you can start your beauty prep as soon as you get engaged – and doing so can save you from having expensive treatments later on. For example, using a good nail strengthener for a year before your wedding will get your nails in great condition and mean you don’t need extensions. A gentle at-home teeth-whitening kit used regularly saves you having the harsher whitening treatments that are becoming the norm for a picture-perfect grin. Get into the routine of setting aside an hour every weekend (Sunday works for me, but Friday night is a great way to wind down at the end of the working week) and have a relaxing bath. Light some candles and exfoliate, moisturise, use a face or hair mask and paint your nails. The difference this will make (both inside and out) is worth missing an episode of whatever it is you’re Netflixing.
(Image right: OPI Matte Nail Envy Nail Strengthener, John Lewis. Pearl Drops Pure White Whitening Kit, Boots)
Treat me right
Remember the episode of Sex and the City where Samantha gets a face peel and looks like a skelped bum? It’s more common than you’d think – lots of treatments have ‘down time’ that responsible practitioners should discuss with you. To be on the safe side, undertake your own research on how long you’ll need before any side-effects subside. Of course you’ll want treatments as close to your big day as possible so the results are fresh, but not at the risk of looking (or feeling) your best. Another lesson I’ve learnt the hard way: it turns out a few mojitos after a body wrap will (a) make you very tipsy very quickly, and (b) make you feel horrible the next day. Not how you want to start married life!
Beauty expert and Fake Bake development manager Craig Alexander Wilson gives us his essential tips on w-day tanning: “If your gown flashes a little flesh, treat your skin as an accessory. It isn’t just the face that has to be made up: your legs, arms, decolletage and back may need a little bronzing too. I’ve seen some tanning disasters – orange hands, chocolate-brown heels or strap marks when the bride is wearing a strapless dress – but these can be avoided. Investigate, test and trial!
“For me, Fake Bake’s Gold is the crème de la crème in self-tanning. It contains green tea, pomegranate and vitamins A and E, and the colour guide makes application easy. My finishing product of choice is Faux Glow – once I have applied a base and finishing powder, I lightly spritz the skin with this MUA-inspired spray and it fixes makeup in place.
“And how do you know when enough tan is enough? Just think about the photos: how pale and pasty is the groom going to look if the bride has over-tanned?”
You’ll spend so much money on all the other elements of your wedding, but it’s your face that’ll be in every photograph so you’ll want to look amazing. Having a professional makeup artist allows you to relax and get pampered.
Always try out lashes before the big day – I’ve seen some great ones but also some really bad sets! Look for recommendations – I find the semi-permanent lashes look much more natural and last longer than the party lashes. The other option is having your makeup artist apply a natural set of false lashes for the day. I always use MAC Pro Glue which is stronger than the glue that comes in the pack.
Kylie McBeth, The Aisle
If your dress can only be put on over your head, use a large towel or sheet to cover your head so you won’t get makeup on the dress. Similarly, make sure to wear a buttoned or zip-up shirt when you’re actually doing your hair and makeup to avoid ruining your makeup when you’re changing.
Don’t leave it too late to book. To guarantee you get your chosen makeup artist I would recommend booking as soon as you set your date.
Don’t believe that the hair extensions you got two years ago (and wore to death before shoving them in a plastic bag at the back of your wardrobe) will suddenly wash up a treat and turn into silky soft tresses. If you plan to wear hair extensions, treat yourself to a new set.
Nothing frames a face more beautifully and gives you an instant lift than perfectly shaped brows.