This is a monster of a post, so grab a beverage of your choice, sit right back, and listen to me talk about my face.
Disclaimer: I’m presenting what I did and my tips based on my own personal experience and research. Of course these are not rules. Everyone wants a different look and everyone’s face and skin is different, but I hope that you might find something here that could be helpful to you!
It’s not exactly a secret, but my guilty pleasure is…makeup. I love trying new things, dropping by Sephora or CVS to check out new beauty products. It all started when I found beauty videos on YouTube while I was a senior in college. Seriously, you can find reviews and tutorials on pretty much anything out there! I’ve built up a pretty extensive makeup collection, so when I bought my house, I built the perfect vanity area. This is where I get ready every morning:
Just letting you know what we’re working with here. This is the kind of thing I can DIY!
I toyed with the idea of DIY’ing my makeup for the wedding, but I’m in the camp of “I want to be pampered and not stress out” with respect to my wedding makeup. Also, I’m good with my day-to-day makeup, but I don’t know about trusting myself to be that good for my wedding day.
However, with traveling for our engagement pictures, I knew that I would be doing that makeup myself. I did a lot of research on products, bought some new ones, and practiced the full face on myself a few times. So I’d like to share some of my products, tips, and favorite videos with you in the hope that you can find something useful for DIY wedding makeup, or just to look a little more special for all of those pre-wedding events!
Here’s the look I turned out with:
Hey, this is my face. Now I’m going to talk about it and hope this doesn’t get weird. / Photo credit: Concept Photography
I’d say the look was a success, because my photographer asked me “Where did you go to find a makeup artist this early in the morning?” And when I said I did it myself, she was impressed. And I was giddy. Win!
First, the style of my look. With the photos being in Florida in August, a bright pink/coral dress, and the colorful Magic Kingdom as the backdrop, I didn’t want to look overdone. I wanted to be a bit bronzed, glowing, with defined eyes and soft lips. And it needed to photograph well and hold up in the ultra-muggy weather through kissing and hugging pictures. No small order, for sure.
Let’s start with the products and tools I used.
Here’s a look at everything I used the morning of the photo shoot.
- No primer—my normal primer has SPF, so I wanted to avoid that, and didn’t think to get another one. If you’re worried about staying power or looking greasy, you should.
- Makeup Forever HD Foundation in Shade 127*. This is great for photography as it’s pretty lightweight. I wanted something sheer, to avoid a cakey look. I used this all over my face, but only lightly in those areas I knew I would come back with a concealer.
- Laura Geller Real Deal Concealer in medium. I have a tiny tube of this from Ulta, and it’s so heavy duty you only need a tiny bit. I used this on any bumps and redness around my face that wasn’t covered up by the foundation.
- MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NW20*. I used this under my eyes and around my face as my brightening/highlighting concealer, as it is a little lighter than the rest of my face. Jaclyn Hill on YouTube describes it perfectly in this video—you want the highlighted areas of your face to be like a heart from the eyebrows down to the chin. Not the whole thing clown makeup style, but kind of like this silliness:
Highlighter in a triangle under my eyes, down my nose, above my lip, on the chin, above the eyebrows, and applied like a “fan” in between my eyes on the forehead. Crazy hair is crashing the highlighting party.
- Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel. I like to use this on a duo fiber brush and contour just a little under my cheekbones, across my hairline, and a bit on the chin. I also brought this down a bit onto my neck to blend things together there. It’s really natural looking on me, and blends in really well.
- Revlon Nearly Naked Pressed Powder in medium. This is just my everyday powder, and I didn’t apply much. I added a little bit to set all these cream products, but didn’t put it under my eyes. With powders, make sure to press them into the skin, not brush back and forth, which can disturb the nice smooth foundation and make you look too dry.
- Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna. I dusted this over the areas I contoured with a big fluffy brush, just to give myself some color. I was worried about my face looking much lighter than my body, and this is a more natural look than getting a darker foundation.
- theBalm Instain Blush in Lace. This is a cool, matte hot pink. I like the glow this gives me, without any shimmer. I also thought that it wouldn’t compete with the bright pink of my dress. I applied it to the back of my cheekbones, and just blended forward to the apples of my cheeks, so it wouldn’t be too bright there. The staying power is good on this too!
- Lorac Perfectly Lit Luminzing Powder in Spotlight. This is a great highlight—not too shimmery but it’s definitely noticeable. I love the look of highlighter, but I didn’t want to look greasy in the pictures. So that’s why I went more with the highlighting concealer instead of the powder highlight. For a nighttime event, I would pack this powder on a little more.
- Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder. I used a tiny bit of this on a fluffy brush to set my under-eye concealer. I didn’t want to use too much and get flashback, but it helps to set the concealer, and it blurs the fine lines.
- MAC Fix+. After all my makeup was done, I spritzed this all over my face. It isn’t a setting spray to help make the makeup last longer, but it just helps to avoid any cakiness. (How many times can I write “cakey” in one post??)
- Urban Decay Primer Potion in Eden. A great eye primer, with a slight yellow tint. It helps neutralize any discoloration on the eyelids, and it helps make your shadow stay on longer and not crease. A must for me.
- Milani Shadow Eyez in Champagne Toast. I applied this to my lids as a base color.
- Shadows. I can’t exactly remember what I did, because I was just going with a little more here or there depending on how the shades were looking. I know these were some of my steps:
- Urban Decay “Naked” and “Buck” from the Naked Palette were my transition colors in the crease. Buck was in the crease while I blended out with Naked. I tried to make sure to get these pretty high up so that they would be visible in the pictures. A trick I use when applying transition shadows or shades in the crease is to aim for the edge of my eyebrow with the blending color, it ensures that the color will show when my eye is open (this works for my eyes which are kind of hooded—experiment to figure out what works for you!). I could have actually brought it up some more.
- Mary Kay “Honey Spice” and Urban Decay “Toasted” from the Naked Palette. I used Honey Spice all over my lid under the crease and Toasted on the outer third or so of the lid, and worked it into the crease a bit. I also used Toasted under the lower lash line.
- “Sable” from the Lorac Pro Palette. A dark matte brown, I used this to deepen the outer corner and on the outer part of the lower lash line.
- Inglot Eyeshadow #393. This is just the perfect eye highlight shade on me. It isn’t glittery; it’s just got a gorgeous sheen and a slight golden tone. I used this under the brow and in the inner corner of the eye for brightness.
- Laura Mercier Cake Liner in Black Ebony. I love this stuff, but it is a bitch sometimes. I wet my flat liner brush with Fix+, tap off the excess water, then dip into the product to make it a bit pasty. Then I applied this to my upper “tightline” and waterline. This makes the lashes look thicker and defines the whole eye. I tried to hold my eye lid up for a few seconds while it dried, but I did get some transfer to the lower waterline. Oh well, I rolled with it. Just be careful about your brush being too wet with this—the liquid can get in your eye and that’s just gross…
- Essence Gel Eyeliner in Midnight in Paris. I used a random gel eyeliner that day, but I’ve since bought this one and would highly recommend! I’m not the best with gel liner, but I just wanted to get a base of black down and this liner is pretty easy to work with. I applied a not-too-thick, not-too-thin line across my upper lash line, with a little flick at the end.
- Salon Perfect Demi Whispies* false lashes. This step was critical to the look, but I’m pretty hit or miss when it comes to applying lashes. I followed this technique and it helps a lot. I didn’t get any glue in my eyes, but please be careful if you try this! I used the clear Duo lash glue, and I applied it with a thin brush that I didn’t mind junking and added a little bit at a time, focusing on the outer corners. (And the lashes stayed on until 11:00 PM when we got back to the hotel room from a very long day.)
- L’oreal Lineur Intense Liquid Eyeliner. I used this after the lash glue had dried to clean up the lash line. I didn’t add thickness here, but it is much darker than the gel liner I put on before.
- Lash curler. I used this to merge my lashes with the falsies. Just a couple of pumps—but make sure your glue is dry!
- Mally Volumizing Mascara. This is just a new mascara I’ve picked up, I wasn’t using it for creating lash volume here, just getting some on my natural lashes so they blend with the false ones. It doesn’t smudge or flake on me, so it worked. I also added a bit to my lower lashes.
- Mary Kay Brow Definer Pencil in Brunette and ELF Eyebrow Kit in medium. I used the pencil (sharpened very well!) to draw in some definition to my brows, and a little bit extra to the end, then used the powder in the kit to darken up my brows without looking too harsh. I use the pencil every.single.day, but I noticed in my test run pictures it wasn’t coming through dark enough, so I added in the powder.
- IT Cosmetics Vitality Lip Flush in Je Ne Sais Quoi*. This lipstick is nearly clear in the tube, but it changes once on your lips to create a beautiful creamy pink color. It also doesn’t transfer, since it’s more of a stain, so it was ideal for all the kissing we had coming up! I still had to touch it up, but I didn’t see any lipstick marks anywhere.
- Beauty Blender*. This sponge is to be used while saturated with water, and it puffs up. I used this for applying my foundation and blemish concealer, blending out all that brightening concealer, and blending out the lines from my cream contour.
- Tweezerman Tweezers. For cleaning up stray eyebrows and anything else we don’t want showing up in pictures.
- Sigma Beauty Essential Brush Kit and Premium Kit. Brushes that are key for me—F50 for cream bronzer, F25 for powder bronzer, F10 for blush, F35 for highlighter, E15 for applying the cake liner, E05 for applying the gel liner, E45 and E25 for blending, E70 for eye highlighter, E30 for smudging under the lash line and applying shades in the crease, E40 for blending everything out with that transition color. Perhaps most important of all, the E50 for cleanup. This big ole fluffy brush is like a giant eraser. I use it bare on the outer parts of my eye to clean up if I’ve blended shadow too far out or down, which can make your eyes look saggy. I run this back and forth from outer corner of the eye to edge of the eyebrow. Definitely useful when doing smoked out/dark eyes. I didn’t use them in this look, but I also recommend the Synthetic Kabuki Brushes, specifically the F80 and F84 for blending your foundation, concealer, and any cream products.
- ELF Studio Kabuki Brush. Awesome for blending away any over application of blush or bronzer.
All right! What a breakdown. Although this is a TON of products, most of these are my tried and true products that I use whenever I want to look special. The products with asterisks are the only ones that I bought for this makeup look; everything else is something I already had. And the MUFE foundation is a long time favorite, but I picked up a different color for this. So the thing is, if you’ve got products that you already like, you might not need to buy everything completely new. It might just be about using them a little differently. I didn’t use too many drugstore, even though I have a lot and use them every day. It’s just what I picked for this “best of the best” look here, but you can definitely achieve this look without the $$ products. (Would anybody be interested in a followup post on drugstore recommendations?)
- Do a trial run yourself. Take pictures with and without flash, close up and far away, in different types of lighting. This helps you to know how long the process will take; you can practice anything you aren’t used to and make adjustments for the actual products and techniques you want to use.
- Apply your eye makeup first. This allows you to clean up any fallout or wipe something away without messing up your base. I’d recommend carefully applying any lower lash line shadow or pencil after you apply under-eye concealer. You want to get that concealer all the way up to the lashes to avoid any discoloration there. Also, I knew I wanted to be able to take my time with the lashes, and applying them right after my eyeshadow meant I didn’t have to rush.
- Don’t ignore your brows! Brows make SUCH a difference to a face by naturally framing them. So get your brows shaped/waxed or do them yourself beforehand, and make sure to fill them in with a pencil or powder a shade or two lighter than your brow hair color. Don’t fight the natural shape of your brows—just clean them up, trim them, and find a shape that works for you. I have very dark, thick brows but even these guys look better when I fill them in. When plucking, trimming, and filling in brows—take a step back! You don’t want them too thin, which can happen if you’re using a close-up or magnifying mirror. Use that to see what you’re doing, but step back frequently to assess the overall shape. The same goes for filling in, because you don’t want them too dark—stepping back let’s you see when you’ve applied too much.
- Apply foundation and concealers in thin layers. This will help you to not over apply, and it helps everything set better and last longer. That’s why the beauty blender works so well, because it applies everything sheerly and blends it all out.
- Get a foundation color match at Mac, Sephora, or a department store for your makeup. You can get a sample of a foundation and find a match at the drugstore if you want to keep the price down. Getting the right shade and undertone for your foundation is very important. I think wearing the right shade really brightens up your face and makes your whole look very natural.
- Add more blush, shadow, liner, bronzer than you think you need. Not a crazy amount, just work your way up. The flash will wash out a normal amount of makeup.
- Watch out for the shimmer! I’m all for the indulging my inner diva/drag queen by bringing on the GLITTER, but it doesn’t always play nice with photography. Go with matte products and add shimmer exactly where you want it—like highlighter on the cheekbones and the center of the eyelid. Too much shimmer on the face can cause you to look greasy, and too much on the eyes can look muddy.
- Wear lashes! They make all the difference in pictures! Even if they’re short or natural looking, they will help to make your eyes stand out. They’re scary to apply, I know. But you can reuse them, so you can get one pair and practice with them. If you’re really unable to get the hang of it, cut them in half and only put them on the outer corner of your eye, which should be easier and still give you the same effect.
- Don’t sweat the eye shadow. Unless you’re going for a very detailed or specific eye look, the eyes shouldn’t be that hard! I got very caught up in trying to figure out the exact way I wanted my shadow, but I ended up making it up as I went along. It’s not going to be shown or define your face as much as brows, liner, lashes, and your face makeup. A basic formula is to use a medium-light, shimmery shade on the lid, a deeper matte color in the outer corner/crease, a lighter matte color to blend it out, and a slightly shimmery light shade to highlight your inner corner and brow bone. Just play with it from there!
- Blend, blend, blend! Use a bare eyeshadow brush to make sure your eyeshadow is all blended out, and a big fluffy brush or the Beauty Blender to make sure all of your face products are seamless.
- Do what works for you, but keep an open mind. Picture makeup is much more involved than everyday makeup, but you know what you (and your FI) like on your face. I’d recommend doing a test run one day when you have nowhere to go, and try out some new techniques. You might like how they look!
If you’re looking for more info, here are some of the beauty channels I follow and my favorite tutorials overall:
- Lisa Eldridge. Celebrity makeup artist; everything she does is amazing.
- Jaclyn Hill. MAC makeup artist; her videos will teach you really good basics.
- MakeupbyTiffanyD. Great reviews and product recs, and her eye tutorials are some of my favorites.
- EmilyNoel83. All around awesome. Great for very detailed reviews, product recs, and tips.
- MakeupGeek. Great tutorials and basics videos.
- MakeupbyAlli. Really great tutorials, too!
- False Lash Trick by VintageorTacky
- Tightline vs. Waterline by MakeupbyTiffanyD
- How to Contour & Highlight by Jaclyn Hill (different than the one above)
- Choosing the Right Shade of Foundation by Lisa Eldridge
- How to Blend Eyeshadow Like a Pro by MakeupGeek
Searches on specific celebrities, a certain makeup palette you own, or just “bridal makeup” are a great way to find more tutorials. I’d recommend finding someone with a similar eye shape or skin color to you, and see what tips you can pick up from them!
And in case you were wondering, I am not so involved with my hair. I washed and dried it the night before with a large round brush, and in the morning I curled it in sections with a 1.5 inch barrel curling iron away from my face. I teased the top, and just separated the curls and sprayed everything in with a flexible hold hairspray. Halfway through the shoot, I pinned up one side of my hair, as the heat and sweat made the front pieces fall in my face (I wish I had done this from the beginning because in there are several shots from the beginning of the shoot where my hair is in my face).
Best of luck with your DIY makeup, no matter the occasion. Makeup is there to help us enhance our natural beauty and feel great about ourselves, and I think you can have a lot of fun with it!
Now who is ready to stop talking about my face and what goes on it? Me!