22 Jan 2012

Recommended Products & Brushes for Brides

Bridal Makeup is becoming a bit of a minefield.  I know a lot of makeup artists who do bridal makeup as their "bread and butter" work, but it's hard work; there is at least one and sometimes five or six faces;  there can be large cross-section of ages (if you're doing mother of the bride/groom as well as bride and bridesmaids) and skin types;  all of the makeup needs to be "perfect";  all of the makeup needs to be done to tight time-restrictions;  all of the makeup needs to last from early in the morning until late in the evening;  all of the makeup needs to look good in daytime light, indoors and night-time...

For those makeup artists starting out, or for those brides planning on doing their own makeup on the day, here are the products I use and recommend, and the tools that you need to apply them.

Note for Brides
This is for a standard, polished, "your skin but better", neutral, "clean" bridal look;  in other words, the most popular look chosen by brides the world over.  The reason that most brides pick this look is because they want to look like themselves on their wedding day, and they don't want to buy into trend makeup that will date in photographs.  Read on if you're interested in creating this look, for hints and tips on products and tools, and for some information on how to amp it up if you want to go a little madder!


You really don't need to go crazy with a hundred different brushes of varying shapes and sizes.  I recommend just the following handful of brushes for standard bridal makeup:
Recommended Tools
  • A powder puff and a sponge
  • A concealer brush (this one is a great brush)
  • A brush for your bronzer & blusher (eg MAC 129 or Bobbi Brown Blush Brush)
  • Three brushes for your eyeshadow: a dense flat brush for your base (eg MAC 252), a flat lay-down brush for your outer corner (eg Makeup Forever 5N or MAC 239) and a fluffy/blending brush for your crease (eg MAC 224, Laura Mercier Ponytail brush, Inglot 6S brush, Illamasqua Blending Brush #1)
  • An standard eyeliner brush (see here)
  • An eyebrow comb (pick up any drugstore one)
  • An angled liner brush (for brows) - a natural hair version is best eg MAC 266
  • Optional: a lipliner brush & a powder brush

Recommended Bridal Products

Here are my guideline products.  I've chosen these because they work with most brides, most skin types and tones;  you will obviously have to play around to see what suits you the best however...

Recommended Products
Primer: Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch is probably the one I use the most
Foundation: MAC Face & Body (old/young/dry/combination skin), Chanel Perfection Lumière (oily skin)
Concealer: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer (under-eye), MAC Studio Finish Concealer (blemishes)
Powder: Bobbi Brown Translucent Loose Setting Powder, Chanel Poudre Universelle Libre, Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Loose Powder
Bronzer: Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder
Blusher: Any pink-based matte or satin blusher from MAC, Chanel, Sleek...
Eyeshadow: Base colour: MAC Vanilla, MAC Mylar, MAC Brulé
Crease colour: MAC Cork, MAC Saddle (Pro colour), MAC Swiss Chocolate (warm-toned browns)
Inner Corner Shimmer: Urban Decay Sin (or MAC Grand Entrance, more or less the same)
Liner: Clinique Brush-on Cream Liner
Brows: Clinique Superfine Liner for Brows (pencil).  Powders: MAC Omega (blonde hair), Charcoal Brown (brown hair), Mystery (black hair), Espresso (red hair)
Lips: I don't recommend specific lip colours as everyone's idea of what they want to wear on their lips varies.  Click here for overall lipstick recommendations.

Things to Avoid

Avoid: abuse of shiny, shimmery, frosty things (do you want to look like C3PO?)
Cautiously avoid: strip lashes
Definitely avoid: kohl pencil
Probably better if you don't: cream products (eyes, face)
Not the best idea, although it might seem like it: Long-lasting lip stains - they dry out your lips
Definitely don't: Decide that your wedding day is a good time to try out a new product you haven't used before

Shameless Plug

And now for the shameless plug - don't forget, I do bridal trials and wedding makeup.  Or, I also do a bridal masterclass so you can learn how to do your own makeup for your big day, using all the tools and products of my kit, so you can play with the colours you like and then go get them yourself.  If you're very nice to me, I might even be able to get some of them at a discount for you :-)  This post may seem a little early for some, but as brides know, "wedding season" tends to pick up, in earnest, from May - September in Ireland and at this point I am already being approached for trials and advice for summer weddings.  Contact me here!

More Product Information, Tips & Tricks

Read on if you plan on doing your own bridal makeup and need a little more information on what to use, and where and how to use it, from your foundation right down to a sample eye makeup look...

Only use it if you need it, but it can give a really lovely base especially if your skin is not perfect, or has a few lines and wrinkles, or some larger or open pores.  Apply it about ten minutes, with your fingers is fine, after your moisturiser and before your foundation - let it sit for a few minutes before you apply your foundation.

Pretty much everyone will benefit from foundation to even-out their skin shades and tones.  I almost always use MAC Face & Body for most skin (old/young/combination/dry).  It's buildable (from sheer-medium) coverage, doesn't flash-back in photographs, feels light on your skin, is waterproof, can be used on the rest of your body as well if you need, is long lasting, works on most skin types, works really well in the heat (as it is water-based).  The new Chanel Perfection Lumière foundation is great for more oily skins.
        Put it on, one layer at a time and build it up, according to the coverage you need, making sure to blend it out, down your neck if you need to, on your ears if they're a different shade to the rest of you... it's called F&B because you can use it on your face and your body; I have used this on brides who have redness at the backs of their arms or ears for example and it hasn't budged.
        This is one foundation that goes on with fingers, sponge, flat foundation brush, stippling brush, you name it.  My personal recommendation is to pat it on with a dry sponge.

FoundationMake sure you finish up by patting everything downwards to make sure that the hairs on your face are flush to your face (these can be picked up in close-up photographs)

I personally think that concealer is the one part of the makeup that's going to make or break your look.  You can look finished, and polished, and fresh and awake, and clean and neat and tidy with judicious application of concealer.  It can be used under your eyes to wake them up.  On your lids to even out your skin tone.  On your blemishes to make them disappear.  Concealers and correctors can be used on pigmentation or high colouring to help even out your skin-tone if your foundation isn't enough.  They can be used to sharpen up your eye makeup, your lipstick, give you a more defined brow...
        As a minimum, though, you really need to get to grips with using concealer under your eyes and on your blemishes.  Put it on with a good brush.  Pat, don't rub, it in with your fingers.  Set it with powder, and you're done.  It's not rocket science, but you need to know what shade and tone to use (I have a bunch of concealer-related blog posts, just do a search for them if you need more help).

Fake TanIf you are going down the fake tan route, take pity on your makeup artist and your photographer and get it applied to your face as well as the rest of your body.  It will make things so much easier to match up later, and ensure that your face doesn't photograph differently to the rest of you;  if you have fake tan everywhere and even if you have (or your makeup artist has) no difficulty colouring your face up to match, it may appear the same shade in the flesh, but under flash photography it often appears a different colour.

Used to remove shine your face, set your foundation and concealer and help your makeup last longer.  Loose powder (translucent) is probably best.  Make absolutely certain you remove any creases in your  concealer before you powder or you'll just cement those creases in-place!
        Everyone except people with extremely sahara-dessert dry, flaking skin will benefit from setting concealer and diminishing shine.  Powder adds a finish and polish to makeup that foundation alone won't achieve, and helps it to photograph well.
        Apply using a puff and a rolling motion on your face.  If you need to dust the excess off, then do so very gently with a powder brush.  Use it as a minimum (a) wherever your makeup needs to be set (eg concealer, under-eye concealer) and (b) wherever you tend to be oily e.g. T-zone (forehead, nose, chin)

Use bronzer to warm up the face and give it some shape and definition; foundation evens everything out but can leave the face looking a bit flat.  Matte products are better than shimmery ones.  Apply it to shape and warm-up your face (forehead, temples, tops of cheekbones, underneath the chin, approximately in a 3/ε shape on either side).  Use it to warm up your neck if necessary, and if your under-eye concealer is a touch too bright, dust the tiniest most imperceptible amount there too (not so that you'd know you'd bronzed there, just to take the white cast out of your concealer).

I don't usually contour brides; most brides want to look natural and pretty with a nice haze of romantic colour, not angular or contoured.  But if you are going to contour, just do it very gently, just under the cheekbones.

Even if you are not a huge blusher fan, you will be photographed a lot, and it looks better to have some colour in your cheeks.  I generally recommended pink-based blushers, they look best in photographs, as pink gives a natural flush and a slightly rounded-cheekbone appearance .  Go with a matte, satin or slight shimmer colour (but stay away from highly pearlised/frosted blushes in general).  Very peach-toned blushers can look a little yellow especially if your skin undertone is sallow; if you want a hint of peach I would generally mix a tiny bit in with the pink blusher.
    Dust it on gently at the tops of the apples of your cheeks, with a blusher brush, build it up as you need.  Use the same brush as your bronzer, you don't need to get a second brush.  Don't wear it very far down if you have a long face, or very close to your nose if you have a small or narrow face, or very far out if you have a round or broad face.

Shiny ThingsStay away from them in general.  The camera doesn't like them.  Flash photography hates them.  If you're going to do shiny, do the tiniest little bit, say, patted down the centre of your eyelid, or on the inner corner of your eye.  Or perhaps a non-frosty illuminator (fluid rather than powder) at the very tops of your cheekbones.  But if you do it everywhere you will just look shiny and greasy and oily.  In real life and in the camera.  Plus, overly-frosty shadows will age your eyes and crease much faster... If you want illuminator recommendations, look here.

The most simple, elegant, polished bridal look always uses - you've guessed - matte shades.  You don't have to use a huge amount of colours.  To create a beautiful, simple, clean look, following these steps:
  • Apply a base shadow in a pale matte colour all over from lashline to brow
  • Apply a warm brown into the crease and the outer corner.  Blend it across the lid very subtly, with the concentration of colour at the outer corner
  • If you really want shimmer, apply a tiny amount down the centre of your lid if you like, and/or perhaps at the inner corner of your eye
  • Create a really thin black gel/liquid liner along your upper lashline with the tiniest "tick" at the outer edge to "lift" your eyes (this is not about creating a cat-eye flick)
  • Use (waterproof is a good idea!) black mascara, combed through so there are no clumps whatsoever
  • Add a tiny amount of a more cool-toned brown just under your lower lashline (a very warm-toned brown under the eye can look red in photos)
Amping-up your EyesTo add a hint of colour  Put a haze of a coloured shadow across the lid and just at the very centre of the lower lashline

To make this slightly smokier  Add a slightly darker brown colour into the outer crease

To make this slightly more retro  Create a more obvious flick, add a flesh-coloured (or white, yellow or pink) eyeliner to your lower waterline and some longer false lashes at the outer edge of your eyes

Everyone should shape their brows.  Generally for brides I recommend powder products, as the look is softer.  If you have very very sparse brows, I recommend using a pencil first, then a powder over it.  In general, a more ashy toned light brown works for most brides (blonde, brown, black hair colour) and a slightly more warm brown for red hair.

EyelashesStrips lashes can sometimes peel away, especially when you consider that you'll be wearing them from around 11am until very late that night or even the next morning.  Individual lashes look more natural, can be built up and customised to the shape that you want, and are less likely to fall out, or peel away, or irritate you in any way, especially if you're not used to wearing lashes.  The flip side of individual lashes is that they can be a little harder to apply on yourself.  Practice is key.  You want them sitting side by side, not overlapping, not criss-crossing, and all sitting correctly on top your lashes, not off at weird jaunty angles.

At the very start, when you're applying your foundation, apply some lip balm.  Your future self will thank you, as lipliner will apply so much more easily to lips that are not dry, and your lipstick will look better on lips that are not chapped!

Use your lipliner to shape your lips, but be careful about over-drawing though.  Make sure that your lower lips "tuck in underneath", very slightly, your top lips at the outer edges.  Lining all over your lips will help provide a more long-lasting base for your lipstick.  If you are wearing a bold colour, make sure your liner is the same shade or a tiny bit lighter, or perhaps consider using a nude liner.

You can apply your lipstick using a brush or the bullet, but you will get a bit more of a polished finish with a brush.  And remember to apply, blot, apply, blot, apply... to make it last.

The usual rules for gloss apply: use the tiniest bit of lipgloss, only in the centre of your lower lip.  Don't apply it all over your lips, or you'll look like you've been at the chicken wings.  And if you already have shimmer elsewhere on your face, skip the lipgloss; you may like glossy shiny things, but the camera doesn't.

That final polishYour face will look uniform, polished and elegant is if you ensure that your eyeshadow, blusher and lipstick are not competing for attention.  One simple way to achieve this is to use the same shade lipstick and blusher.  And when you're finished your look, run your eyeshadow blending brush faintly over your blusher and add the tiniest hint of your blusher over your eye sockets;  this helps everything work together in an understated way that you can't explain (because you can't actually "see" the blusher on your eyeshadow, but a tiny bit of it is there, helping the colours all look like they match). 

Thanks for reading!


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