Your Step-by-Step Guide to Natural Wedding Makeup
How to DIY it for the big day.
Weddings can get expensive very quickly, so if you’re looking to cut some costs, one of the easiest ways to save some money is to DIY your own makeup. For a lot of beauty junkies, this is the thrill of a lifetime — but for plenty of others, it can feel like the pressure is on, just another stressful component of a frenzied day.
The truth is that if you can do your makeup on a daily basis, you can absolutely nail your bridal beauty look. There are only a few concepts to keep in mind as you work, with the most important being to put your best and truest self on display. “I personally feel that a look that doesn’t transform you into a completely different person is going to be something you’ll be able to look back on and feel content,” says celebrity makeup artist Natalia Thomas, who has worked with Karlie Kloss and Zazie Beetz. Here, we share the top tips for how to do natural makeup for your wedding so you can walk down with aisle positively glowing and confident — with zero stress.
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How to do natural wedding makeup
As you plan your look for your wedding day, think about how you normally do your makeup. “When working with brides, I always make sure to ask them what their aesthetic is when they do their makeup for a night out, as well as how they do it from day to day,” explains Thomas. “Generally, the key elements are represented in both of the styles of makeup you choose to do for yourself.” For example, if you’re always rocking a red lip, regardless of time of day or year, there’s no reason not to do so for your wedding. It’ll make you feel true to yourself and at your most comfortable.
Start With the Eyes
While it might sound counterintuitive, you’ll want to start with your eye makeup in case of any pigment fallout when dusting on shadows — that way, you can clean up anything that gets under your eyes or on your cheeks without starting from square one with your concealer or foundation. And even if you’ve never used one before, this is the time to bust out an eyeshadow primer. “Using an eyeshadow primer to make sure that your shadow stays on all day and doesn’t crease is very important,” says Thomas. She recommends Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer, which she says will ensure your eye makeup won’t budge.
For eye makeup inspo, use your eye color and select hues that will enhance their natural beauty. Thomas recommends using rusty tones to help blue eyes pop, warm up brown eyes with soft blues, mauves, and golds, and soft purples for green eyes. “The key to all of these is applying the colors on the eyes as a soft wash, so that they are not in direct competition with your features, but making your natural beauty shine,” she says. You can find shades across all of these color categories in ColourPop’s It’s a Mood Shadow Palette.
Top this off with a gently-smudged swipe of eyeliner close to the lashline to make your lashes look denser. Just pick the color of your eyeliner — as well as your mascara — carefully. “If you are a natural blonde or redhead, consider opting for a deep, chocolate brown rather than black,” says Thomas, who explains that this will enhance your look without making your eye area look heavy. “Black mascara also ages people who are naturally fair and have lighter hair, so opting for a brown will give you a more youthful and fresh appearance,” she adds.
For those who have naturally straight lashes, Thomas always recommends getting an eyelash lift and tint right before the wedding, which will give them a lasting curl while making them appear longer and thicker without the need for falsies. If you feel comfortable using false lashes, try using a natural strip that will fill out rather than bulk up your own lashes — or better yet, individual lashes — but don’t wear them if you never have before, advises Thomas, as they won’t look natural to you. “You’ll want to look back on your wedding day photos and think, ‘Wow, I really looked like my best self,’ not, ‘Who is that?’”
Finish your eye look with the feature that frames them — your brows. This is not the time to go for a very bold brow or a trendy, laminated look; use a color that either perfectly matches your hair or is one to two shades away from it, darker for blondes and redheads or lighter for brunettes.
Continue With Your Complexion
Then, it’s time to get into the, well, foundation of your makeup look. “The easiest rule of thumb is to choose a foundation with buildable, sheer to medium coverage,” says Thomas. This type of formula is much more forgiving when attempting to match your skin tone, and will help even out your complexion before applying color corrector or concealer to hide blemishes or anything else that you can see through the foundation. While we understand that some brides may be wary of this, especially if they have acne-prone skin and wear full-coverage foundation on a daily basis, a buildable, sheerer formula is best for photographs. “Full-coverage foundation with full-coverage concealer on top results in far too many layers, and ends up photographing very mask-like,” warns Thomas.
If you want to apply contour and highlighter, go for the “soft sculpt” trend rather than the heavier look of the early 2010s — your goal is to create a flattering effect that makes your facial structure pop. “The camera tends to distort one’s features,” explains Thomas. She recommends placing your contour product of choice on the hollows of the cheek just under the cheekbone, beneath the jawline, a bit in the temple, and along your hairline to create dimension. If you choose to contour your nose, try Thomas’s hack: “Begin where the brow starts and follow the bridge of the nose down the side, finishing by highlighting the bridge,” she says. This will create the most realistic look; don’t put highlighter on the tip of your nose as it reads greasy on camera. “Even without highlighter, your nose tip should have a natural shine — she doesn’t need help in that department,” she quips.
Finish your complexion with blush, smiling at yourself in the mirror before applying it to the underside of the apple of your cheek, blending upwards towards your temple for a natural-looking flush. If your face tends to “eat makeup,” Thomas recommends layering two formulas: “Try using a cream blush and setting it with a powder blush on top for a longer, more vibrant look,” she says. Lock it all down with a setting spray so you don’t have to think about touch-ups at any point of your busy day; Thomas likes Skindinavia The Makeup Finishing Spray Bridal Formula. “It is perfect for any climate and locks your foundation in, even if you are prone to crying or sweating,” she says.
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Finish With the Lips
Your very last step in your bridal makeup routine is your lipstick. You’ll want to select a product that offers a longer wear (but not one of those super-dry longwear matte formulas, which will make your lips look flat on camera). If you are prone to dryness, Thomas recommends applying an intensive lip mask while you do your makeup — we love Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask — then blotting it off before you apply your lipstick for more comfortable wear. “It’s also very important to note that no matter how expensive your lipstick is, you can get a crusty line on the inside of your lips if you are dehydrated,” she says. “If you are dehydrated, the only way to fix that crusty line is to wipe it off, drink some water and reapply.”
If you’re nervous about picking a color, don’t overthink it. You can opt for a bolder lip if you want to create a statement, but you can also just enhance your natural beauty with a shade that is a pumped-up version of your natural lip color, which will read well on camera. Pair it with a lip liner that is just the slightest bit deeper in hue. “It will not only pop and enhance your lip shape, but also keep your color on longer and keep it from feathering out,” says Thomas. Know that if you want a glossy lip, it will start breaking down any lipstick applied underneath immediately, which can cause it to run. Instead, try a tinted lip oil, says Thomas. “If it does come off, you won’t have to worry about reapplying it, and there is a lovely tint left behind,” she explains. Try Ilia Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil.
Best Tips For Looking Natural on Your Wedding Day
Stay Hydrated, Inside and Out
While getting rest and drinking plenty of water are common pieces of advice for soon-to-be brides, those aren’t only essential for feeling your best — they’re so you can help your skin quality be as healthy as possible. “If you have dry skin, make sure to layer up your normal moisturizer, and perhaps consider sealing in that moisturizer with an occlusive like squalane oil, which is the naturally plant derived version of what your skin creates and you create less of as you age,” says Thomas, who frequently uses Brush Beauty Balm Squalane Face Oil. That said, don’t think you get to skip out on moisturizer if you have oily skin. Keeping the skin’s surface hydrated will help prevent it from producing excess oil.
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Keep Your Wedding’s Location in Mind
You likely put a great deal of thought into selecting your venue; take it into account when you’re planning your makeup look. The color of different lights (whether it’s coming from candles, the sun, or even fluorescent bulbs) can have an effect on how the tint of your foundation appears on skin. We highly recommend testing multiple shades of foundation in the setting that closest matches your venue to find the right match.
Then, consider the climate. If you’re opting for a destination wedding in a tropical locale or are getting married on the water in the thick of summer, you simply won’t be able to wear a heavy, matte foundation formula. “It’s the impossible dream,” says Thomas. “If it’s warm out, there will be a natural sheen to your skin, and it’s absolutely unavoidable.” Trust us — that glow will translate as healthy skin, while a matte finish won’t. “While it seems like matte would be beautiful and give a blurred, glamorous finish, it reads as dry skin on camera and in person,” warns Thomas. Instead, blur or matte out the parts of your face that could appear greasy with a powder like Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder, which you can even buy in a mini size if powder isn’t a part of your regular routine.
Factor in Other Prep
If you’re warming up your skin with either a professional spray tan or an at-home self tanner, your go-to, everyday foundation won’t be a good match for your enhanced complexion. Thomas recommends purchasing a foundation that is several shades darker than your typical shade or even buy it after your spray tan to ensure the tone is correct. You can also go to your favorite beauty retailer and ask for samples of several different shades — that way, you can mix and match to create a custom (and perfect) color for you. Remember to blend it down your neck so your face and neck match your chest and any other skin you have exposed.
Just Be Yourself
Above all, the easiest way to look natural on your wedding day is to stay in your comfort zone, applying an enhanced version of your signature look, whether that’s no-makeup makeup or full glam. If you go for something wildly different, you may end up feeling self-conscious or distracted, which will damper your ability to fully enjoy yourself on your big day. By not transforming yourself into someone you don’t even recognize, you’ll be able to look at your bridal portraits completely satisfied for years into the future, “knowing that your look was classic, timeless, and that you looked like the most expensive version of yourself,” says Thomas.
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