Ever wondered which products beauty gurus can’t live without? Nicole Conner asked some of the best to open their makeup bags and spill their secrets…
When it comes to holy grail brands, Urban Decay scores pretty highly with Nicola Denham, makeup artist at Honey and Violet Weddings. She doesn’t let her brides go anywhere without its All Nighter setting spray, adding a good spritz to guarantee makeup stays in place from vows to vinos. The same company’s Stay Naked foundation is also one of her faves as the buildable vegan product creates a flawless base which she uses on the majority of her brides.
Doll Beauty’s pro palette is never far from reach when Nicola is creating bridal looks, and there’s a reason for that: it has all the essentials to create a high-end look. The mix of highlighters, bronzers, blushers, eyeshadows and lipsticks makes it a key addition to any mobile kit without compromising on quality, and means you can keep all the shades you loved from your big day in one place to dip back into for evenings out once married life begins.
“An amazing product for finishing a fresh-faced look is Vieve’s lip dew,” Nicola tells us. It’s non-stick and is loaded with skin-loving ingredients including Vitamin E and raspberry seed extract. It’ll keep your lips hydrated and your pout in great shape.
Does your skin need some TLC as the big day approaches? Arm yourself with a gua sha which will serve you well for lymphatic drainage and facial definition. Simply hold the tool to your face with some light pressure and stroke it across the skin to soothe and de-puff.
There’s a direct connection between smell and memory, so picking a scent for your wedding day could be a lovely way to bring it all back with a simple skoosh. For Heidi McLachlan, The Body Shop’s Japanese Cherry Blossom perfume is “a must have”.
She recommends Bondi Sands self-tanning foam to get a sun-kissed glow without the need to board a plane, and offers her top tip to minimise streaks: apply the product with disposable gloves instead of a tanning mitt.
Rimmel London concealer is always in her makeup bag: “It’s the best out there,” she says. “There’s nothing it won’t fix, and it won’t break the bank. It doesn’t go cakey. Apply just a little on areas with redness or darkness under the eyes. You can thank me later!”
Another purse-friendly product Heidi swears by is Vaseline’s lip balm. “It has been my number-one product for lips for years. Use it on its own for a healthy gorgeous pout or under lipstick to keep your smile hydrated,” she advises.
As for Soap & Glory’s mascara, she says, “It’s like magic in a bottle! I couldn’t face a day without it.” She uses it on her brides for a volumised eye look: “Three coats are all you need for outstanding results.”
Keeping your locks in luscious condition ahead of the big day will be high on any bride-to-be’s agenda, so it’s little wonder Eileen Nugent calls salon-fave brand Davines’ A Single Shampoo “an absolute must”. With no sulphates or parabens, it gives hair a mild and gentle cleanse while keeping it looking shiny.
The Gama IQ Perfetto hairdryer, she says, is an investment piece, but admits she “cannot live without the powerful wee gem”, and rarely does a hairdo minus one. If a more tousled look is what you desire for your nuptials, Davines’ texturizing spray could be your new BFF. Simply spritz on freshly dried hair for an instant full-bodied look that won’t weigh your tresses down. Bonus point: it smells delicious, too!
Charlotte Tilbury products are firm favourites among beauty gurus in the know, so they pop up in many a bridal kit. For defined, voluminous lashes that would give Twiggy a run for her money, slick on some of the brand’s Pillow Talk mascara.
“My go-to primer, which gives flawless, luminous skin, is Airbase’s Perfecting Platinum primer,” says Eileen. “I absolutely love it. It minimises imperfections and fine lines, and keeps makeup in place from dusk until dawn.”
Prepping the skin before you apply makeup is key to getting a flawless natural base, and Georgina Kane calls Bobbi Brown’s Face Base primer a “staple” in her kit. Besides the fact it smells like heaven in a tub, she says, “It works for everyone to provide nourishment.”
Rosalique’s Anti-Redness Miracle Formula is a relatively new addition to her makeup bag, but Georgina says she couldn’t do without it now, and finds it particularly useful for clients who have rosacea. “A little goes a long way,” she says approvingly.
Prepping doesn’t stop with the skin. Georgina likes to correct the darkness under a client’s eyes before she applies concealer. For this, there’s one product she always reaches for: MAC’s Prep + Prime highlighter. She finds the Peach Lustre version with its bronzy orange hues particularly useful, and admits her makeup bag is not complete without it.
To ensure makeup stays in place the whole day, she gives her clients a light misting of Benefit’s The Pore-fessional Super Setter.
“I’m a bit of a brush geek,” laughs Georgina, who is obsessed with her My Kit Co brushes. “I get so excited when buying new brushes and have way more that I’ll ever need. These ones are so good they almost do the work for you.”
If there’s one thing all brides want, it’s bouncing locks for their big day, and Lyndsey Love at Love Hair Glasgow has picked five products to help get exactly this. “Even the least experienced person can achieve salon-perfect styles with the Dyson Airwrap,” she tells us. The “crème de la crème of heated stylers”, as she calls it, this tool comes with attachments that let you create voluminous curls or a smooth blow-dry. The “intelligent temperature control” means less chance of heat damage too.
To speed up blow-dry time, use Olaplex No.6 styling cream, she advises. It will do three amazing things to your hair: strengthen it, moisturise it and eliminate frizz for up to 72 hours.
Keeping your ’do in place is crucial on the day, so arm yourself with Moroccanoil hairspray and you can rest assured that everything will stay in place. It is infused with argan oil, so it has the added benefit of fighting frizz and humidity.
Another tool in Lyndsey’s armoury is Wet Brush’s detangling brush, which does exactly what it says, removing tugs and tangles without causing any pain. Give your locks a spritz of moisture beforehand and the brush will glide through.
And finally, the part we all know too well: trying to get another day out of your hair without washing it. To refresh your style, spray some Batiste dry shampoo at the roots to give a lift. You can even go for the coloured options to help blend your roots between hair appointments.
If you can’t inject a little bit of luxe into your makeup bag before your big day, when can you? Maureen Crolla at the Bride to Be agrees, and always has Dior’s Backstage Glow palettes in her kit to create some dewy bridal skin.
“Another hero product for gorgeous, glowing skin is Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter foundation,” she tells us. She finds this pairs beautifully with Illamasqua blusher – a “gem of a find” – as the blushers blend beautifully to give that sought-after fresh, flushed complexion.
Another product Maureen really rates is an impressive serum from The Ordinary, which she recommends to ensure flawless skin before the big day. The serum’s mix of niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) and zinc regulates blemish-causing bacteria, giving the user a clearer complexion and, as a result, a better base on which to apply wedding makeup.
Weleda’s Skin Food Light has cemented itself in Maureen’s top five most-loved products for one simple reason: it just works. “I love this moisturiser,” she tells us. “It creates the perfect base for makeup and keeps the skin hydrated all day long.”
“I’m addicted to Morphe palettes for eyes – the pigment is fantastic, and there’s such a great selection of shades,” says makeup supremo Leigh Blaney. “I particularly love the Jaclyn Hill palette, as it has lots of highlight shades – browns, nudes and pinks. To me, that’s perfect for bridal glam.”
To keep the eyeshadow in place, Leigh would dab on Benefit’s Stay but Don’t Stray primer which will prep and set your lid to perfectly blend shadow.
Once she has the eyes sorted, Leigh goes on to add blush and highlight, and Charlotte Tilbury’s Beauty Light Wand does the trick. Her top tip for a sumptuous glow is to dab some on the apples of your cheeks with your beauty blender after you’ve applied bronzer.
To revitalise a bride’s skin, Leigh keeps Lush’s Eau Roma Water handy. The infusion of lavender and rosewater helps keep the skin cool and refreshed – very useful if you have rosacea or you’re worried about overheating. “I like to use sprays rather than moisturisers as I feel it makes the makeup last longer,” she tells us. The toning water is actually a knockout two-in-one product: just spritz it onto a cotton pad and use to wipe away any traces of makeup at the end of the night.
An old classic is her top pick for a body moisturiser: Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula. She recommends you slather it on all over for a silky-smooth feeling in the run-up to the big day. “It’s so lovely for your skin,” says Leigh. “And I find the cocoa scent delicious.”
If makeup artists use a product on themselves, you can bet it’s something special. One that Mairi MacDonald loves to wear is e.l.f’s Hydrating Camo concealer. She gets dry skin under her eyes, and this, she says, is a wonder product that doesn’t stick but ensures the area is hydrated.
Another staple in her kit are the 3/4-length lashes from Eylure, which Mairi calls “a personal favourite”. The reason she holds them in such high regard is down to how light they feel on the eyelids: “The shorter length also means no irritation from the inner corners,” she explains.
Milk Makeup’s Hydro Grip primer is another must-have for Mairi. It’s “suited to all skin types”, she says, and does a wonderful job of ensuring makeup stays put once it has been applied.
To give your skin a golden glow, she swears by Utan facial spray and chooses the lightest shade for just a subtle touch of colour. “It’ll leave your skin looking healthy and glowing,” she adds.
Once the fun is over, Mairi reaches for The Body Shop’s camomile cleansing butter. Although it’s gentle on the skin, it’s powerful enough to melt off everything from stubborn mascara to highly pigmented lipstick in a matter of seconds.
“I am a huge fan of Danessa Myricks – I think her cosmetics range is phenomenal,” says Lori Walker. “My pro kit has too many of her products for me to mention each one individually here, but I’d say my absolute must-have is her Vision Flush in the Bread N’ Butter shade.”
It’s a multipurpose liquid colour product that can be used on the eyes, lips and cheeks – Lori uses it on all her clients, and loves the way the “formula blends beautifully and is very pigmented”.
A little tool she keeps handy is the lash guard by Natasha Denona. She positions it under the lower lashes before painting them with mascara using a flat brush. This helps clients find lashes they didn’t even know they had, and Lori loves these guards so much she has six of them.
When doing eyebrows she prefers powders and pencils (as opposed to pomades), and Anastasia Beverly Hills comes out on top for its range that helps define and shape brows.
“I’m loving Glow Recipe moisturiser as well,” she tells us. “The brand is affordable and has expanded to cater for many skincare concerns.” The watermelon moisturiser smells so good, she adds.
To pamper her clients, Lori uses Kopari’s body butter: “I like to use this on a bride’s shoulders and decolletage. The subtle coconut and vanilla scent is just gorgeous.”
Many a bride-to-be will be hoping her makeup look will feature a dewy glow, and to achieve that, Danielle Dickson turns to ICONIC London’s Illuminator Drops for a helping hand. “It’s my favourite makeup product of all time,” she smiles. “It is the secret to my glowing brides. Apply under the foundation for a lit-from-within glow. It is simply stunning.”
She keeps MAC’s Love Me lipstick in the colour Très Blasé handy as well, as the peachy pink is “one to tie in with every eye look” – you can rely on it for whatever makeup style you fancy.
If eyes are the windows to the soul, Danielle’s makeup bag has plenty of products to make your peepers the centre of attention. For tired eyes, pop on some eye cream and sweep Revolution’s cooling roller ball over the area.
If your eyeshadow tends to crease, she strongly recommends P.Louise’s Eye Base. It makes the powder “stick amazingly” to the lid so it’ll last all day, she says.
Another product to give that at-home spa feeling is Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. Danielle calls it the “most incredible-smelling body cream” she has found, praising it for keeping skin soft and hydrated all day. “I have seen a difference over time in skin texture and firmness,” she adds.