I did my wedding makeup! And you know what? My hair stylist was SHOCKED that I hadn’t had it professionally done. I don’t say this to brag, just to illustrate that I think professional results are really achievable if you figure out what products work for you, and practice. I have been passionate about makeup for a long time, and kept up a blog on the subject for several years (as well as following others’ blogs and learning from them), so I felt like I had a good baseline of knowledge. That being said, YouTube tutorials are invaluable, and really getting your hands dirty with lots of different products to see how they work on you will be great.
I spent a long time experimenting with which products stayed put on my skin, looked good with my skin tone (I had to mix foundations to get the right color; this isn’t unusual!), and gave me a natural finish. I got a ton of samples from makeup counters and Sephora, and tried applying with fingers, brushes, layering with other products, etc… Until I had a combination I was happy with. Take this with a grain of salt, since I have very dry skin, but here are some products that work really well for me. I don’t exclusively use high-end or mid-range products (i.e. not drugstore), but because of my pale skintone and problematic dry/sensitive skin, I really haven’t found less expensive alternatives that work as well on my skin for a lot of my basics. I figured my wedding was not the time to try to skimp on the cost of makeup, and I’d much rather invest in good makeup that I could re-use than pay a makeup artist and only have it for one day (and probably not love the result).
-Tarte Amazonian Clay Loose Powder. It’s great for setting foundation and making it look natural. It’s not too “powdery”.
-Eye and face primer!!! Face primer will help your foundation go on smoother, more opaque, and to stay a bit longer. You may have to try a few formulas to find one that works well with your skin type. I prefer NARS’ eyeshadow primer to Urban Decay’s more popular formula. I find it lasts longer and eyeshadows apply more smoothly over it.
-MAC Prolongwear concealer. It’s pretty heavy duty and doesn’t settle into my fine lines like some creamy formulas do on me.
-Make Up For Ever foundations; their skin and body is light coverage but buildable. I love this finish, but they don’t have a color range that works great for me. Their Liquid Lift formula has worked well on my skin, and I’ve heard great things about their Mat Velvet foundation for oily skin. I dislike their HD foundation, and I have heard mixed reviews about it, but it may be worth a try. On my wedding day, I ended up using a mix of Smashbox, Lancome, and MUFE foundations to get the right color; if you just need to mix foundations to get a flawless color match for your wedding, ask for samples!
-NARS blushes and lipsticks; they have a lot of really unique, flattering colors that look great on different skintones.
-Maybelline cream/gel eyeliner (in a little pot); it stayed put all night, and didn’t smear even though I cried during my vows.
-I used Dior eyelash primer, Dior Overcurl waterproof mascara, and false eyelashes. They also stayed put during my crying episode!
-I used a Sephora brand lipstain and it didn’t transfer at all onto my husband when we kissed. I touched up once the whole night (it had begun to wear off a bit after about 3 hours), and it didn’t dry my lips out. I forget the name, but it looks like it’s in a test tube, not a traditional lipgloss or liquid lipstick tube.
-Highlighting/ Contouring: This will help your face look more natural and help define your features on photographs. It’s easy to get washed out. On my wedding day, I used a taupe sculpting color for my contour (some people use bronzers; I find a color that has more taupe mimics shadow better and looks more natural), and a matte pale pink for my highlight. I only used shimmery highlight around my eye, in a C-shape on my temple blended out onto the top of my cheekbone and just above the edge of my eyebrow. Be careful of shimmer in photography! I only used a smidge there, and then just above my eyeliner to brighten up my eyes. I also contoured my jawline and my nose very lightly to help my features not disappear in photos. I promise all this contouring won’t make you look like Kim Kardashian. Use a light hand and practice, but it will make a big difference in how you photograph.
-Don’t forget your brows! I prefer filling in my brows with a powder. It will make a big difference, even if it’s not a step you usually do.
Go more dramatic than you think you’ll need to! You will end up looking more washed out in photos than you do in real life. This is not the day to do a nude lip.
All of this being said: be careful to streamline your products as much as possible. the more layers you end up with, the more prone to ending up with an unnatural finish you’ll be. I had started off experimenting with two primers (one hydrating, one “normal’), foundation, concealer, setting powder, setting spray, pressed powder, finishing powder… It wasn’t pretty. I ended up using just one primer, foundation, concealer, setting spray, and setting powder. This worked for me; it isn’t the day to use one product to cancel out another.