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Wedding Makeup for Beginners

Do You Need to Wear Wedding Makeup?


A reader named Karen recently asked me:

"I'm someone who never wears makeup - I've just always been a natural kind of gal. But now everyone is telling me that I *need* to wear makeup so that I won't be totally washed out in my wedding photos. I'm thinking about it, but also wondering is this true? And also, how do I wear makeup while still feeling like myself?

It is true that a little wedding makeup can go a long way in preventing photographic washouts. But I certainly wouldn't say that it's required for anyone - after all, most grooms don't wear mascara or lipstick. Here's how to decide if you need wedding makeup, and tips on how to use it while still feeling like yourself.

Are you:

  1. getting married outdoors in sunlight?
  2. having your ceremony or reception in a place with florescent lighting?
  3. someone whose lips, eyelashes, or eyebrows don't always "read" on camera (they are similar to your skin tone, or are thin/sparse)?
  4. worried about blotchy skin?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should at least experiment with makeup to see the difference. Have a friend, a makeup artist, or an expert at a makeup counter help you with a light application of makeup. Then, take photos of yourself in a variety of lighting and compare them to those of you with a naked face. (Or, if you're having engagement photos taken, experiment with makeup then.)

If in the end, you just don't feel like yourself, then there's no reason that you have to repeat the experiment on your wedding day. But, if it feels good to you, then here's the basic makeup I'd suggest:

  • Have your eyebrows trimmed and ideally also shaped (plucked, waxed, threaded).
    Many people are afraid of this one, but it's a subtle change that can make a huge difference. Well-shaped eyebrows can help frame the face, open your eyes, and add to a polished look.

  • Add a light application of lipgloss which will add some shine, and a subtle color. About.com's beauty expert Julyne Derrick especially recommends Chanel Ultra Wear Lip Colour. I'd suggest the color "rose quartz" for those on the fairer side, and "mandarin coral" for those with darker skin.

  • Choose mascara that is only a couple of shades darker than your natural eyelash color; here's no need for blondes to have super-black eyelashes. Maybelline Great Lash is the classic drugstore brand that even professional makeup artists use.
If all of that feels comfortable you, you might also add:
  • Blush or a light shimmer Get that "getting married" glow and highlight your cheekbones. Don't worry – no one's asking you to have the harsh streaks of a clown. Apply just enough that you can see a slight difference – most people won't even know you're wearing it. Tips on finding the right blush

  • A thin line of eyeliner Like mascara, this is just to make the eyes stand out. Using eyeliner can take some getting used to, so make sure you practice ahead of time, and read Julyne's tips on applying basic eyeliner.

  • Tinted moisturizer More sheer than foundation, tinted moisturizer allows you to even out your skin tone and hydrate your skin. Many people who don't wear makeup regularly balk at putting on any type of foundation, but this should be sheer enough for you to feel comfortable with it. Check out About.com's tips on the top 10 tinted moisturizers.
At the risk of being overly redundant, I want to stress that you should experiment and try makeup, but don't feel like you have to use any products. Feeling beautiful and confident – whether that's with the help of wedding makeup or not – is the most important wedding day beauty tip I can give you.
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