Welcome to Skin Deep with Louise McSharry, my opportunity to put years of obsessing over beauty products and techniques to good use. I won’t tell you something is good if it’s not. I won’t recommend products I haven’t actually tried. As the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge said, I only speak the truth.
This week my friend Bethany was debating on Twitter whether or not she should do her own makeup for her wedding, or hire a professional makeup artist. To me it was a no-brainer.
She’s really into makeup, and is someone who very much knows her own style and what she does and doesn’t like. I said as much, and then a lovely reader named Yvonne suggested the process of planning and prepping your own wedding makeup might make a good column subject. She was right! So here we are.
For me, doing my own makeup for my wedding was an obvious choice. First, I enjoy the process. I love the planning of a big makeup look, the practicing, and the application itself. It feels like mindfulness to me, and I knew it would be a great way to centre myself on the big day.
Second, I’m rarely happy with my makeup when I let someone else do it. It’s not always that I feel they haven’t done a good job, more that I know what I like and what I’m used to and what works on my face. I’m good at it, and I’m usually happy with what I do, so why change it up on a day when the stakes are elevated?
Also, doing your own makeup means you have a perfect excuse to buy yourself loads of new #product with the money you’ve saved by not paying a makeup artist. (What do you mean that’s not what saving means?!)
I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to do as soon as I chose my dress: Perfect skin, a classic red lip and lots of lashes. It was a look that I wore on a fairly regular basis, but as it was my wedding I needed it to be immaculate, and to last (which is something makeup artists know all about), so some research was required. I was pretty happy with the foundation I was using at the time (YSL Touche Eclat), but thought there might be a better one out there for me, so trotted around Brown Thomas asking for samples of some others people raved about (Nars Sheer Glow, Armani Luminous Silk), testing them out over lots of nights out.
I treated myself to Kevin Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer which I had been coveting for quite some time because I knew it could double as a foundation and a concealer, and that I could layer it over my foundation to ensure a perfect finish and more lasting coverage than what I usually needed from my makeup. The only other product I felt I was missing was a kiss-proof red lipstick. I didn’t want my husband to be walking back up the aisle with lipstick all over his face, so intense research commenced. These days, it would be relatively simple to sort given the range of long-lasting liquid lipsticks available, but at the time I was struggling.
Fortunately, my pal Lorraine got married a few months before me and road tested Limecrime’s Velveteen in Red Velvet which did the trick! It’s quite drying though, so after the ceremony, I got rid of it and wore Charlotte Tilbury’s Red Carpet Red instead. Also a new treat!
Once I’d chosen my products, I practiced the full look three or four times to see how long I would need, how well the look lasted and to be sure that I knew exactly what I was doing so that there wouldn’t be any stress on the day. Honestly, my makeup was the only part of the wedding I enjoyed researching, planning and preparing. In fact, my husband will tell you I didn’t do anything else which is fairly accurate. Hey, I’m not an event planner for a reason. The makeup, however, was a joy, and on the day, I felt completely calm. I didn’t have any hair, so I didn’t need to worry about that. Doing my own makeup meant I was completely in control. I sat for a full hour in front of a window in my room in our venue watching people arrive as I applied my beloved product. I’m actually feeling zen just thinking about it!
I didn’t do any special skin preparation, but I know that lots of people do in the run-up to the big event. I am lucky with my skin, so didn’t feel like I needed to, but if you are unhappy or self-conscious about yours, then six to nine months beforehand is probably a good time to make some changes. I would recommend seeing a dermatologist or skin expert to get some solid information about what your routine should look like, or if perhaps some facials or other treatments might be a good idea.
The Skin Nerd offers a thirty minute online skin consultation for €50, during which they prescribe a tailor-made skin routine to help you get to ‘long-term skin health’. A friend of mine recently did one via Skype and was very happy with the results. Try to have your skincare routine down pat three months before the wedding, so that you feel safe and secure in it and it’s not something you have to think about. Don’t even think about getting an untested facial or treatment in the weeks before. You want to be sure that your skin will react well to anything you do, in those final weeks, so why take any risks?
Of course, I know that there are people who don’t feel confident in their makeup skills, who love nothing more than to hand the job over to a professional. If you’re going the professional route, I have some tips.
First, book well in advance, and don’t book until you’ve done a trial. I have friends who left the trial to a few weeks before their wedding, only to discover that the ‘professional’ they’ve booked is nothing more than an amateur with an amped up sense of self-belief.
Literally anyone can call themselves a makeup artist these days, so do your research, and test them out before you book so that you know you’re on the same wavelength. Aside from the actual makeup itself, you want to know that the person is sound and isn’t going to be annoying or awkward on the day of your wedding. You don’t want the stress of having to find a new makeup artist at the end of the planning process, so get on it, and get booked.
Second, be clear with the makeup artist about what you want. If you can, have picture references so that you’re both on the same page. If you’re not 100% happy with what you look like at the end of your trial, say so, and give specific feedback. Makeup artists are not psychic, or at least most of them aren’t, so unless you’re direct and clear with them it’ll be hard for them to give you what you want.
Third, be sure to take photographs of your finished look at your trial. This will be a helpful reference on the day, and will also serve as a security blanket for you any time you start to wonder if you’ve made the right decision between the trial and the wedding itself. Then, enjoy it! If you’re splashing out you deserve to revel in it.
Finally, as I always say – you do you, babes! All that matters when it comes to your appearance on your wedding day is that you feel happy. If you feel happy it will beam out of you and you won’t be able to help looking absolutely beautiful. With this in mind, plan carefully to reduce stress, and remember that the love you’ll feel on the day will be the best beauty product you’ve ever encountered.
Next month Clinique are launching Blackhead Solutions ‘Self-Heating Blackhead Extractor’ which got people really excited when I posted about it in my Instagram stories this week. It’s essentially a cream which heats up when combined with water, ostensibly opening your pores. You then massage your nose (or wherever you keep your blackheads) with the rubber bumpy bit on the end and hey presto, the black gunk is gone! This product will be exclusive to Boots, so will only be in certain stores, but don’t forget you can order online and have it delivered to the Boots nearest you.
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