With all there is to do for your wedding day, your makeup might be the last thing on your mind. Well, not the last thing, but pretty close.

In my many years of experience doing bridal makeup, I’ve noticed that makeup for the wedding day might seem almost inconsequential — that is, until a few weeks before the big event, when you remember how much you’re paying for those photos.

Fortunately, whether you’re a queen bee who’s planned this out months in advance, or a procrastinator nearing the last two weeks before the big event, your method for finding a good makeup artist is the same.

You have to know where to look. If you’re today’s typical bride with fingers afire, using the Internet to coordinate the ins and outs of your event, once again make the Web your first stop. Visit wedding websites (like this one!), and browse the beauty or makeup artist categories or for on-topic beauty articles. Most pros who work with brides will be listed on these types of sites. Often, you can easily and quickly compare pricing, service offerings, and ideally even view some snapshots of their recent work.

Now you have to ask yourself some questions. For example: do you want to go to a salon, or have them to come to you? If they do, is there a travel fee involved?

Other great questions to ask yourself — and your pro:

  • Will they do a trial run of the makeup before the wedding, and is that included
    in the fee?
  • Do they require a deposit to hold my date?
  • Will I be the only one getting my makeup done, or will other members of my party be made up too?
  • Do I want someone who can do both my hair and makeup?
  • Can I express how I want my makeup to look (natural, glamorous, exotic)?
  • Do I have any special needs I should let my pro know about, such as allergies to certain products, plants or foods, tattoos that will need covering or severe acne?
  • Are they licensed? (We’ll talk about this later.)

You’ll also probably come up with a few hundred more questions on your own.

Picking up the Phone

So, you’ve narrowed down your list of makeup artists to call and you’re armed with your questions. Now, opinions may differ, but I personally think that the most important considerations when choosing your makeup artist are whether they listen to you, answer all your questions to your satisfaction, and above all, whether you feel comfortable with them.

Sure, they’ll need to have talent, too, but if you’re going to flinch at their touch or get uptight about them “invading your space” at possibly the most important moment of your life, they’re not the artist for you. It’s crucial that you feel at home with them.

And another thing: there are makeup artists, and there are Makeup Artists. What I mean is, there are some artists out there that have no cosmetic experience other than selling makeup. “Working with makeup” and being a makeup artist are a world apart.

The latter type — a state-licensed makeup artist — is typically the one you’ll want. This is the kind of pro with schooling behind them. Plus, they’ll have worked hand-in-hand with other licensed beauty professionals, and should have acquired a sophisticated set of skills. Many states require continuing education to keep a license, so these types of artists are always learning new skills.

They may also practice sanitation more rigorously, and maybe even have OSHA certifications. (If you’ve ever gone to a makeup party where a non-professional smeared the same swab over everyone’s eyelids and come home dreading a raging case of pinkeye, you know why this is important.)

Giving Out the Signals

You’ve had the conversation. You’ve met the makeup artist; you feel comfortable (glamorous, even!). You think you’ve found “the one.” Now, how do you tell him or her how you hope to look? As always, a picture speaks volumes. Snip some personally appealing photos from bridal magazines and hand them to your makeup artist.
A good artist will give you what you want. But a great makeup artist will give you what you want, considering your assets. What I mean is, if you want to look your best, then be ready to let your artist design a look that meshes perfectly with your coloring, features, bone structure and overall appearance — while keeping your desired vision as the cornerstone. With a professional, this is hardly a one-size-fits-all process, and a pro might steer clear of giving you the precise workup that J.Lo sported on last month’s Cosmo. But that’s to your advantage. And the results speak for themselves.
Also, don’t forget to mention to your makeup artist what types of photography will be involved. Are all the photos going to be in color, or will some be black and white? This little detail can dramatically change the makeup design — and not all makeup artists are comfortable working with the black-and-white medium.
Finally, wedding makeup is an art. As the bride, you need to look natural in person, yet defined enough so that you give off that bridal glow in photos and don’t look washed out. This is challenging to achieve, and it’s truly a learned skill. This is not the task to delegate to helpful Aunt Sarah. Your wedding-day face isn’t the canvas to do test runs on.


Assessing the Results

Ideally, try to find your artist 2-3 months before the wedding. Schedule your trial about 3-5 weeks before the event. Be extra-smart and snap a photo of your trial run makeup. Also, go outside and take a good look at yourself. What might look red-carpet worthy under the soft lights of the salon might look garish elsewhere. See how long your makeup lasts, and note whether you need some touch-ups during the day.

And by all means, voice your reactions. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t like something. Remember, this makeup will live on for years and years in photographs and video. You want to love your look. Most of all, relax and enjoy the experience. It probably isn’t every day that you’ll get to enjoy this kind of pampering from a highly-skilled, professional makeup artist.

Top Trends: The wedding of the year is Keith and Nicole. Now, not every bride has her looks, but they can get her look — natural, glowing and in love. To me, wedding makeup is never about trends. No one wants to look back in 10 years to see thick purple eyeliner under their eyes (that was a call I took today from a makeup counter: bridal makeover disaster!). But if I’m forced to list a trend, it would have to be false lashes. They are hot, hot, hot in all types of makeup, including bridal.

Products to Avoid at All Costs: Glimmer, shimmer, sparkle and gloss. Stay away from “dewy” looks — they’ll look greasy and sweaty in photos. None of the above photographs well. Once again, no trendy makeup. This “wet” look is also a common (and major) mistake of the DIY bride.

Common Pitfalls of the DIY Bride: Actually, there’s nothing wrong with doing it yourself, if you’re informed and good with makeup. But the most common phrase I hear is, “I don’t wear much makeup.” When brides unused to makeup opt for DIY, the outcome’s usually so-so. DIY brides may have trouble choosing the right shades, handling the basics of application (especially with eye makeup), and knowing how to coax the makeup into lasting a little longer. Bottom line: a good wedding makeup artist will have the bride in matte cosmetics, in the right shades, from hairline to chin. This photographs extremely well.

Product I Can’t Live Without: Plain old rice powder. You need very little, it goes
with any skin tone (it’s colorless), it cuts the shine like crazy and unlike other powders, it won’t cake.

Top Wedding Trick: Eyeliner worked into lash line and black mascara. Concentrate on these two cosmetics to make your eyes “pop” in photos.


Pamela Jeschonek is the owner of Everyday Esthetics, a Wedding Makeup and Eyebrow Studio. She is a Licensed Makeup Artist, Esthetician and a Nationally Certified Eyebrow Designer who makes bridal beauty both a priority and a passion. Everyday Esthetics promotes the use of makeup that is good for you, and carries its own line of Cruelty Free, Vegan and Paraben Free mineral cosmetics. Please feel free to visit their website at www.everydayesthetics.com.
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4 Responses

  1. Kimberly West

    You have a great site; however, you shouldn’t generalize & put down the “cosmetic counter girl”. I did that type of work for 19 years before becoming burned out in retail. I spent 15 years with Estee Lauder companies, a year freelancing for Lancome & 3 years for Ulta as a prestige consultant. I now freelance on my own. I don’t have a cosmetologist or esthetician license. In fact, unless those who pay for additional courses which typically have to be taken in major cities most people who are licensed have all of a few hours of training. I know because I have friends who are licensed as one or the other or both. Guess who they call when someone is requesting cosmetic application service. Yeah, that’s right the one with years of experience, oodles of knowledge of what works best for any type of skin at any age…and why is that??? Because I play around with makeup, it just isn’t some service I add onto an updo, etc. Get your facts straight before you bag on those who truly love cosmetics. Being a makeup artist is all in what you the artist want to make of it. Either you’re creative & try new things or you’re not. You’re either good or you’re not. Since Ulta has a full service hair salon, they offer makeup applications for a cost so unless they were too busy they did many of the applications. Do you have any idea how many women would come over to us for redo’s or touchup’s because the stylist just couldn’t do what they were wanting? Just because one is great at highlights, haircuts, perms, facials & waxing doesn’t give them the skill set to enhance a woman’s face. As far as hygiene standards, I’m a stickler for them. I would go as far chasing people’s kids out of testers, throwing testers away if mishandled, busting the licensed stylists for using the mascara’s wand (not a disposable) & sticking back into a tester. Makeup wasn’t their deal so therefore they were lazy & didn’t care. I’ve seen them drop combs & straight into the barbacide they go. I would much rather have a dropped comb touch my head than a used mascara wand on my eye. What I’m saying is a license doesn’t mean squat…it’s all about know-how & passion!!!

  2. Sophie

    I had my makeup done at a Mac makeup counter, I loved the look and brought the foundation and powder. Unfortunately, by the time I got home, I had, had a reaction and was covered in spots. I was devestated as I had loved the look. I am pretty much able to wear all brands of makeup, other than Mac and Benefit, which I understand are made by the same company. I would love to find an alternative brand that gives that same flawless look, but I have not found one that I have liked. I would also love to find an alternative for the benefit blusher dandelion, which had looked beautiful, but once again caused me to break out in spots. I was suprised by both reactions as they happened in a short space of time and I have always thought I could wear any brands prior to this. Very disappointed.

  3. Pamela

    I want to know about all experiences with Mary Kay Cosmetics. And I want to know about all experiences with Mac for a research project. Tell me the good bad and ugly. Just keep it true and not what you heard through the grapevine.

  4. joanne polkinghorn

    what a great read very helpful. i have worked in the entertainment industry on stage where i used to apply my own makeup. although i was in the industry for 13 years on my wedding day i will still be investing in a make up artist.


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