#Skinfit2016 | How to brief your bridal makeup artist

Pat McGrath created bridal perfection to suit for Dolce and Gabbana at Milan FW2015 (Image credit: Dolce & Gabbana)

If there’s one thing most makeup artists can agree on, it’s that bridal makeup should be fresh-faced and flawless. The perfect bridal look enhances your natural features in a sophisticated and elegant manner.  Of course, all women want perfect skin on their wedding day, yet as we see so many heavily retouched images in magazines and media. These are created in a studio with controlled environment, lighting and post-production perfecting. Naturally, many brides-to-be think that the only way to achieve this perfection is full coverage. This is not always so...

 A great artist can work wonders with many types of foundations, layering them to create a harmony that works just for you. But that’s provided you know how to brief them. It’s said in the industry that makeup artists work with brushes - not magic wands. So, here’s how to find the balance between your expectations and your artist’s talent.

Finding your light

Your bridal makeup needs to look fresh long into the evening and wear evenly after a very long day of stress, dancing, drinking etc. In truth, it pains me to see over-caked, heavy or matt foundations or over-powder bases (I am actually wincing as I write this). This is the quickest way to add years to your face, highlight those fine lines you’ve never noticed before, and wear unevenly at the slightest variation in temperature. I recently spoke to a bridesmaid who said that she was mortified by a cake-face she was forced to wear to her friend’s wedding. Although it looked good in photos, it completely covered her youthful dewy complexion, left smile lines in place and cracked under her eyes. It also left her with a breakout the next day. So, how do you find the balance between coverage and glow?

The skin perfecting method

The real secret to skin perfection on your wedding day is the hand that applies it. A good makeup artist has a variety of foundation options, but more importantly, they have the skill to find the unique balance that meets your skin’s coverage needs, the makeup as it meets the eye and the camera lens.

I often use a lighter formula to even out skin tone, and then layer this with coverage and powder only where needed. I can use up to three of four different foundations and powders on a single client, and I need to know exact which ones work together or else the result can be unsightly. It's also important that I use formulas that are hydrating but won't slip, so they stay all day but still look dewy. And for oilier complexions, it's about finding a balance between shiny and radiant...If that brief explanation makes your head spin, you'll understand why it pays to find a professional. And why the testimonials I receive exclaim surprise at lasting makeup for the first time in their lives.

It should also be said here that when a photographer prepares the final shots they will often retouch them so that the skin looks flawless. However, it is not wise to expect your ‘real-life’ makeup to look one hundred percent airbrushed. More often than not, the person waiting for you at the altar is expecting to see a vision of woman they know and love. They want to see the best, polished version of you - not a caked-up imitation of a celebrity or glamour pin up, no matter how great in looks in that selfie.

The right fit

Of course, weddings are an expensive affair and every cost has its moment of heart-palpitations – especially for those brides on a budget. I know ladies who thought their makeup didn’t deserve much consideration in the scheme of things, even though they forked out about $50,000 for the day. That’s until they received their wedding photos and realised that a lifetime is indeed a long time to look wistfully at yourself, wishing you had done it differently.

I cannot tell you how many women have expressed their regrets at booking the wrong makeup artist for their day. Would you skimp on your gown, only to find that during the day it does not fit or tears up the back seam because it has been sewn incorrectly? The same caution should be used when you book your makeup. Why risk using an artist who promises to be cheaper but creates an inferior product? Chances are they are able to charge less because they are using cheaper products, are less experienced (which can have repercussion for your skin’s health as well as your bridal album), or even expect you to travel to them. Brides be warned: You get what you pay for. Just sayin’…

Trial and error

Whilst we can make recommendations based on experience and trends, it’s the makeup artists’ job to make sure that ultimately you are happy and comfortable. So, it is imperative that you know what you want and are able to work with your artist to articulate this.

I’ve had brides who have had as many as four failed trials with different artists before they book with me. I truly believe that this is because it’s all about the consultation process. I invest in getting to know my client’s personalities before we start so that I can deliver a look that they will be proud of. After all, I want them to glow with happiness that comes from feeling good in their own skin – achieving their ‘best face’, as I like to put it.

So, what can you do to help the process?

1.     Choose an artist based on their portfolio. It sounds obvious, but many brides go to studios that create looks they would never wear in real life and walk away wondering why they were the wrong fit. Most artists have a signature style, so choose the one you connect with the most, rather than hoping they can change their style to suit you. Look at their website and past shoots to get a feel for the style of makeup and finish on camera that you will most likely get.

2.     Provide inspiration and pictures. These can be professional looks that you like as well as photos of you where you have been happy with your makeup, so we can see how it wears on you. The more the better. It may seem like a lot to you, but will be able to see the trend quickly and help you decide which path to take.

3.    Go with what you know works for you. Yes you want to look spectacular, but a spectacular version of YOU. Your wedding day is not the time to experiment with a smoky eye and dumbo eyelashes if you have never worn this look in your life. I can assure you that you’re likely to send your beloved running for the hills, not saying, “I do”. If you’re a statement lip kinda gal, this is a great time to make your mark, but you’ll need to commit to maintenance. We can show you how to make it last.

4.     Be honest about your expectations. If you have a particular concern, let your artist know so that they can make sure they pay special attention to this and you are happy on the day. Likewise, if you don’t like a particular makeup look or style, make sure you say so from the outset so you don’t waste valuable time and money on multiple trials.

5.     Listen to our recommendations. Bridal artists have worked with hundreds of beauties in your shoes and we’ve learnt a thing or two along the way. Not the least of which is that we are all different in our own, brilliant way. What looks good on Miranda Kerr may not necessarily suit your eye shape, just because it’s a trend doesn’t mean it’s for you (yes, I’m looking at you contouring). You’re paying us to guide you, so sit back, relax and then you can make an informed decision.

6.     Natural doesn’t mean no-makeup. Yes, I know you want full coverage, but as we now know, that doesn’t mean cake-face. Ask your artist to use foundations that have an elastic quality and are luminous and radiant. It should move with your facial expressions, not settle in your forehead creases. Amazing bridal makeup glows as if you’re lit from within, is airbrushed in all the right places and never looks dull or masked. It’s you, only better.

7.     Get #skinfit before the big day to get the most from your makeup. It’s no secret that makeup is only as good as the skin that lies beneath, so it makes sense that your bridal preparation should include a regime to nourish your body from within. I recommend my clients a simple yet effective skin prep that includes trusted skin and nutrition professionals to reduce inflammation, promote radiant skin, and exercise that gets the blood pumping. After all, when you glow with vitality, the makeup is the easy part!

At the end of the day, it’s your day and your stage. Your makeup artist is there to ensure that you look like the very best version of you. Being open and honest is the key to getting what you want in the trial and wedding day, with realistic expectations of the make-up to be achieved.

Take a peek into a world of beautiful brides and get the inspiration you need for your big day! Contact us to tailor a bridal package to suit your needs.

Want more tips and tricks on bridal beauty? Sign up to The Makeup’s Illuminati to receive exclusive invitations, birthday gifts, rewards, samples, email updates and more.