The Best Makeup for Brides (Do Your Own Wedding Makeup)

Updated on June 29, 2018
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Arby has been a professional writer and researcher for over 10 years, and her areas of interest are shamefully diverse.

It's no big secret that every girl wants to look totally gorgeous on her wedding day. Deciding whether or not to hire a professional makeup artist is tough. On one hand, it's nice to not worry about doing your own makeup on the big day. If you have the right MUA, you're pretty much guaranteed to look amazing.

On the other, most girls have a good idea of what looks best on them - and this may not be the same as what a makeup artist thinks looks best. Also, let's face it: makeup artists are expensive. I have great respect for what they do, and I don't think what they charge is unreasonable (like, at all) . Sometimes, though, it's just not in the budget.

So I Decided to Do My Own Wedding Makeup

My foray into bridal makeup began with a trial run by a professional makeup artist. I didn't care for the results at all, and I was out a bunch of cash. This particular artist used airbrush makeup, which I was SO excited about trying.

Unfortunately, it looked really bad. It seemed weirdly artificial, it and accentuated all the things I'd rather minimize. (This might have been a result of the particular brand of makeup she used, but that's a discussion for another day).

I could have kept on looking until I found an artist whose tastes were closer to my own. Instead, I decided to invest the rest of my wedding makeup budget into the best products I could find and just do it myself.

I've never been very good with makeup. I have used cheap, low-grade cosmetics my whole life. My wedding was the perfect inspiration to perform a long overdue overhaul on my beauty regimen.

I spent hours and hours poring over product reviews, chatting in forums with other ladies, and testing out products to get the most out of every hard-earned dollar I spent on my wedding makeup.

It was worth it; I ended up with an arsenal of game-changing products and I'm so glad to share them with you!

Dreamy bridal shots require flawless makeup.
Dreamy bridal shots require flawless makeup.
There are so many beautiful bridal looks. Browse through lots of websites and magazines for inspiration.
There are so many beautiful bridal looks. Browse through lots of websites and magazines for inspiration.

My Wedding Day Makeup

Drumroll, please. Here are all the cosmetic products I used on my wedding day.

Face

  • Coastal Scents Concealer: I bought a 16-color palette and can already tell it's going to last me forever. It takes only the tiniest little bit to cover anything. I actually didn't end up using this on my wedding day, since my skin was blemish-free! This is a huge deal for me, and I will definitely share how I got there in another article.
  • Makeup Forever HD Primer: I wasn't sold on the idea of a primer - much less one that costs thirty bucks - until I tried this. As with the concealer, a little goes a long way. A very thin layer of this product really gives my skin a more even texture and noticeably minimized the pores on my nose. I use far less foundation when I use the primer beforehand.
  • Makeup Forever HD Foundation: I am head-over-heels in love with this one. I've always had a complicated relationship with foundation. I coveted that polished look I would see on other girls, and would slather myself in drug store goop every single day trying to achieve it. (And every single day I would end up with a goopy, greasy looking face). Dramatic as it sounds, all that changed in an instant.

A Few Things About my Experience With MUFE HD Foundation

  1. This stuff totally me feel like I have way better skin than I actually do. It isn't heavy coverage, which scared me at first. That's what's so great about it, though. You look like a real person while wearing it (just a super attractive real person). Less really is more.
  2. I applied this foundation with a big stippling brush I ordered from Amazon. I just dabbed it on, a technique I learned from watching those YouTube tutorials. This was a departure from my old method of smearing it all over with my fingers. It felt more dignified to apply it with the brush. Plus, it came out looking fabulous. (Since then, I've switched to using a sponge, which I love).
  3. Even with my combination skin, this makeup goes on so evenly, especially with the primer underneath. The "HD" stands for High Definition, and it's formulated to make you look great in photos. I have honestly never used anything like it. I looked practically flawless (yet fairly natural), even in harsh lighting! I am so impressed with this stuff, and am 100% convinced that it's worth every penny of the price.
  • Makeup Forever HD Microfine Powder: The MUFE HD stuff is fantastic, and it all works really well together. This powder is far superior to any I have ever tried before (and I've tried every single drugstore brand ever). It's insanely expensive, but I'm starting to realize that the tiny $30 pot I purchased will probably still be half-full when we start driving hover cars around. With high quality cosmetics, you get so much more out of so much less product.
  • Tarte Amazonian Clay Long-Wear Blush in"Blushing Bride": This blush really is made from Amazonian clay and it's definitely unlike any blush I've used before. It is incredibly soft and goes on light. It's subtle, in a very good way. It looks so natural, like I have a rosy glow (rather than the obvious swath of chalky pink I used to get with my drug store blush). This product was expensive, too. However, I have used it almost every day for the last 3 weeks and I haven't so much as disturbed the pretty pattern etched into the top of the blush cake. It's going to last for eons.

Eyes

  • NYX Eye Shadow Base: Here's the thing. You absolutely have to use eye shadow base for your wedding day makeup. No exceptions. I didn't even know such a thing existed before. You know better, you do better. Put it on and your eyelids become a lovely, creamy canvas upon which to create your look. The result is a much more polished eye. Your eye shadow will be more vivid, and stay on longer. The NYX base was only a few bucks, and worked great for me.
  • Too Faced Naked Eye Shadow Palette: I heard the "Naked" palette was discontinued or unavailable at some point, and that this caused some major unrest among glamorous ladies (and gents) the world over. I totally see why. I LOVE the combination of colors in this cute little kit. You can go from a clean and bright daytime eye to a sexy, smoky look - and all kinds of other places - with this palette. The colors are all highly pigmented, which means you'll get a good amount of color from each swipe of shadow you apply. Like the other high-end cosmetics I used, it's just so much better than the drugstore brands.
  • Sephora Eyeliner Pencil in Midnight Black: The Sephora brand pencils are pretty inexpensive (around $5 each), and they go on really nicely. I hear good things about their liquid eyeliner, but I'm not confident enough in my abilities yet. Pencils are just so forgiving. This eyeliner lasted most of the night. I only touched it up a bit after the reception at around 10 p.m. (and I didn't even need to).
  • Too Faced Lash Injection Mascara in Black: This is my new "if I could only have one cosmetic product" product. It comes with a gasp-inducing price tag, and is totally worth it. I have used a great many types of mascara, and I didn't know it could be this good. I will save up so that I don't have to go without this product ever again. Not even kidding.


Curled lashes + Too Faced Lash Injection mascara
Curled lashes + Too Faced Lash Injection mascara

Lips

  • Makeup Forever Rouge Artist Intense Lipstick (#27): At $22, this lipstick is definitely on the spendy side. I'm not mad, though. It's gorgeous and stays on for hours, even when you're sipping drinks and eating cake. I had never experienced lipstick that actually does this, and it's amazing. They say a girl should have a really good lipstick, and I now subscribe to that philosophy myself. The way it looks and feels is far superior to the way cheap drugstore lipstick looks and feels. Like, really far.

*A note about my lipstick: the #27 was not actually the perfect shade for me. It was a little too pink for my taste. I experimented a bit though, and found that it looked pretty great with just a little brownish lip-liner layered underneath.*

Some Final Thoughts About Doing Your Own Wedding Makeup

YouTube Makeup Tutorials: Use Them

If you're thinking about going the DIY makeup route, start by watching makeup tutorial videos on YouTube. If you have an idea of the look you're going for, search for it specifically (i.e. "soft, natural makeup looks" or "glamorous wedding makeup").

There are some really talented artists on YouTube sharing all kinds of makeup wisdom. Have fun following along with them as you experiment with your own look. Note that you'll have to substitute your own products sometimes, as they always have an arsenal of high-end cosmetics to work with on the videos.

The Sephora Girl (or Guy) Is Your New Best Friend

I would highly recommend heading to your local Sephora store and having one of their $50 makeover sessions. Here's the deal: you get a full face of makeup done by a professional as long as you buy at least $50 worth of products. The makeup artists there are really great about giving you personalized recommendations and tips. Even if you don't love the final look, you'll end up going home with a bunch of top-notch makeup products.

Another cool about the Sephora makeover is that you get to experiment with different products to see how they actually look on you. They even have a gadget that will match your skin to the perfect foundation shade (for a makeup-challenged person like me, this was worth the $50 alone).

A Final Few Tips

  • Once you have your products, use them. If you want to look amazing on your wedding day, you'll need to do trial runs. I had to do lots of them before I felt confident I wouldn't mess everything up on the big day. The thing is, though, it's a lot harder to fail at makeup when you're using good stuff. Still though, practice.
  • Be sure to consider the lighting at your wedding venue. If you do all your practicing in your bedroom vanity mirror and your wedding is outside, you might be in for a surprise (and not the good kind) on your special day. Check your makeup in different lighting, specifically the type of lighting that will be used at your ceremony and reception.
  • If this all sounds too stressful, hire a makeup artist. For real. If the thought of dealing with your own wedding makeup raises your blood pressure a few notches, just hire a pro. This whole thing worked out great for me, but we're all different. I think one of the absolute most important things on your big day is that you feel as calm and happy as possible. I hired a coordinator to decorate my venue, and had a caterer dealing with the food. I also had someone else do my hair, so I had plenty of time to slowly do my makeup that morning without feeling overwhelmed.

Whatever you do, enjoy every minute of your big day. It will go by fast. Before you know it, you'll be thumbing through your wedding album admiring how fabulous your makeup looks in the photos.


This was a test run. I'm wearing all the MUFE HD products I described (plus the Tarte blush) in this shot. I was still using my old eye and lip products at this point. This photo was taken after hours of walking around in the sun at a local festival.
This was a test run. I'm wearing all the MUFE HD products I described (plus the Tarte blush) in this shot. I was still using my old eye and lip products at this point. This photo was taken after hours of walking around in the sun at a local festival.
Experimenting with a more dramatic look.
Experimenting with a more dramatic look.
Nobody has to know how much effort went in to your "natural" wedding look.
Nobody has to know how much effort went in to your "natural" wedding look.

A Few Good Makeup Tutorials

© 2011 Arby Bourne

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