Beauty experts tell us how to achieve that must-have bridal glow

Getting that gorgeous bridal glow has never been easier. Scottish makeup artists tell Nicole Conner how to prep the skin for the perfect base

A model poses with flowers and heels, her makeup is done by Heidi McLachlan Makeup Artist
Heidi McLachlan Makeup proves a bold red lip will look fab with the right base (Photo: Bear and Butterfly Photography)

If you’ve ever embarked on the laborious (or therapeutic) task of painting and decorating, you’ll know that if you want a flawless finish, the walls must be prepped and primed before a paintbrush goes anywhere near them. Cleaning the surfaces, removing debris and applying a sealer are all essential steps in the process. What has this to do with our complexions? Everything! Cleansing, exfoliating and priming the skin, the beauty experts assure us, is the only way to get a glow that will last from aisle to dancefloor.

All about that base

All the advice we’ve heard suggests it’s worth establishing good skincare habits at least a year before w-day. Makeup artist Leigh Blaney suggests visiting a skin specialist around this time, alongside the usual tips: drink plenty of water, take vitamins, maintain a healthy diet and get plenty rest so your skin has a chance to rejuvenate. “Book some facials and spa days as the wedding approaches, but don’t test out any crazy treatments you haven’t tried before in case your skin reacts badly,” she adds.

MUA Susie Campbell agrees, but also suggests brides try using a facial scrub once a week to get rid of dead skin cells, and apply a facial oil at night to keep everything hydrated.

Left: I Do Makeup by Geo Kane worked her magic on this bride; right: a smiling bride with makeup done by Makeup by Leigh Blaney
Left: A gorgeous bridal glow by Makeup by Leigh Blaney; right: I Do Makeup by Geo Kane gave this bride a dewy complexion

“Achieving the ideal glowing complexion is so much easier when your skin is looking and feeling good underneath,” Megan Doherty of MD Makeup Design says. “However, on your wedding day I would suggest a simple hydrating moisturiser (which your MUA will apply) and an SPF. You would not want a serum or any other steps in your pre-wedding skincare routine to affect how your makeup sits on the day.”

If you’re a bride with sensitive skin and are keen to try a new product, do so at least eight weeks before the wedding, according to makeup artist Danielle Dickson: “If you have a reaction, this allows plenty of time for your face to calm down before the big day.”

This is something Georgina Kane of I Do Makeup by Geo Kane agrees with: use a product well before you walk down the aisle not only to see if it actually improves your skin but to rule out any problems. “Brides should stick to things they know work well for them. If it’s a hydrating product with hyaluronic acid in it, for example, there’s less chance of a bad reaction. Read reviews and do a bit of research before you try anything new.”

A smiling bride with makeup by KJN Appearances
This bride is all smiles after KJN Appearances does her big day makeup (photo: Louden Photography)

Show you care

Sometimes, your skin needs some extra TLC, and for this reason Sumera Hussain at Sculpt by Sumera recommends a Cryofacial: it soothes acne and inflammation, promotes blood circulation, smooths fine lines and reduces puffiness and dark circles, creating a superb base for applying makeup. “This treatment boosts collagen, so you see a reduction in pore size,” Sumera adds.

Another treatment proposed by our experts is dermaplaning, where dead skin cells and peach fuzz are scraped off with a scalpel. Susie Campbell is a fan of the treatment: “It helps to smooth out uneven texture, leaving a polished base for your foundation.”

It should be done a week or two before the wedding, adds MUA Heidi McLachlan: “This will allow for flawless makeup application, and improved skincare absorption for up to four weeks.”

Left: MD Makeup Design painted this bride's face; right: Susie Campbell Makeup Artist's client flaunts her makeup
Left: MD Makeup Design demonstrates a lovely w-day look (photo: ANG Photography); right: A touch of blush and bronzer by Susie Campbell Makeup Artist has given this bride a pretty flush (photo: Casey Stewart Photography)

One treatment to steer clear of too close to the big day is facial waxing, as Georgina Kane explains: “The skin can react – plus I find makeup doesn’t adhere well to freshly waxed skin,” she says. “If you get a spot, treat it immediately, but please don’t squeeze it! A picked spot is so much harder to cover.”

Flare-ups are probably going to happen as the big day draws close (thanks, stress!) but when this happens, take a ‘less is more’ approach, advises Megan Doherty. “Do as little as possible to aggravate the affected area. If you have a blemish, you could use a cream to try and calm it down but nothing too harsh that might irritate the rest of your skin,” she says. “Spots can be covered as long as the skin isn’t broken. If your skin is getting dry or flaky, use a gentle exfoliator and a moisture mask to give it a boost.”

Kirsty Nisbet at KJN Appearances also urges brides not to pick spots. She applies a green foundation to neutralise any redness: “Once this is blended out, I’ll add foundation and set with powder to keep the blemish at bay.”

Get the glow

On the morning of your wedding, your MUA will apply products to keep you looking dewy and fresh. “Liquid blushers and bronzers can be great for giving a hydrated flush to your complexion, compared to powders which can sometimes make the skin look dry,” Heidi McLachlan tells us. These liquid products sit nicely on the skin and are buildable, she adds, meaning they can be applied without the skin starting to look caked. She’d personally choose to use liquid products over their cream counterparts, as the latter settle into the skin’s creases and tend to move more.

Left: One of Danielle Dickson Makeup Artist's clients; right: a patient of Sculpt by Sumera getting a treatment
Left: A swoosh of highlight keeps this look by Danielle Dickson Makeup Artist chic; right: A client enjoys a Cryofacial from Sculpt by Sumera

Leigh Blaney agrees, admitting that although she loves cream products, she prefers to dust light layers of powdered products on top of a bridal base: “This definitely lasts longest. Anything cream-based eventually slides off.”

For dewy skin, Heidi prefers to start with a good primer (her go-to is Charlotte Tilbury’s Brightening Youth Glow, which is great for dry skin) before adding her foundation: “This primer is fantastic – any makeup applied will not move.”

Your MUA will leave you looking your best as you prepare to tie the knot, but it’s always wise to have a product or two up your sleeve to top up with throughout the day. “A little bag of minis is the ideal accompaniment: mini perfume, hairspray, deodorant and setting spray are a must, plus concealer in case you cry,” Leigh Blaney suggests.

If you get a little shiny as the day goes on, calm oily areas with some blotting paper, suggests Danielle Dickson: “Add a primer that will control shine and finish with some matte powder, focusing on the areas where makeup might move so your base sees you through to the wee small hours.”

Want more expert tips? Discover our MUAs’ favourite cosmetics.

Beauty products recommended by experts
Left: Susie recommends Nudestix Nudies Face Colour, £23. “A dream to blend, this product will give a lovely sunkissed look” ; middle: Megan recommends Weleda Skin Food, £13.50. “This moisturiser is one of my favourites. I just love it!”; right: Danielle recommends Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Blurring Primer, £34. “This is amazing for oily areas as it controls shine and smooths pores”
Beauty products recommended by experts
Left: Megan recommends Illamasqua Skin Base foundation, £33. “This is medium coverage and never leaves skin looking cakey”; middle: Danielle recommends Paula’s Choice liquid exfoliant, £11. “Dead skin cells can leave your face looking dry, so exfoliating is a must. This is my go-to”; right: Kirsty recommends Charlotte Tilbury Dreamy Superstar Glow Kit, £24. “I just love these products. They always give a lovely glow to the skin”
Beauty products recommended by experts
Left: Leigh recommends Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter, £36. “Use to boost your complexion and give the skin a glossy look”; middle: Heidi recommends Elemis Pro-Collagen cleansing balm, £46. “It melts away makeup and impurities, leaving skin deeply cleansed and soft”; right: Georgina recommends Hourglass Ambient Lighting Infinity Powder, £49. “Dust this over your face for a gorgeous glow”