10 expert tips for DIY wedding make-up

Insider cheats to help your make-up look fantastic whether you're the bride or a guest

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By Elle Turner on

If last weekend was anything to go by, wedding season is truly in full force. And, if your diary is booked out for the foreseeable with weddings – yours and others – panic not. As far as make-up goes, many us feel most comfortable doing it ourselves. After all, we know our face better than anyone, do our own make-up every day and know what we like (and where we like it), so who better to nail it than us? That said, some expert knowhow from top make-up artists Charlotte Tilbury, Amy Conway (pro make-up artist at Bobbi Brown), Lydia Sellers (Meghan Markle's Suits make-up artist) and El Said (national make-up artist for Laura Mercier) can't hurt in order to spruce your look into something a bit more special. The consensus from them is to concentrate on the types of products you regularly wear and enjoy. However, here's their top pick of things you can do at home to help your make-up look more polished, stick around longer and photograph beautifully.

The Experts' top tips for DIY wedding make-up

Tip 1: always exfoliate

"A flawless complexion throughout the day starts with a good base," says Sellers. "Exfoliating is key – it creates a healthy canvas for your make-up to sit on beautifully, without a barrier of dead skin on the surface, which causes make-up to slip off or become absorbed."

Try: Sarah Chapman Skinesis Liquid Facial Resurfacer, which contains an effective blend of multi-fruit acids to lift away dead skin cells, while vitamin A, vitamin E and hyaluronic acid soothe and add radiance.


Tip 2: try a sheet mask

“Skincare is always so important but especially in the lead-up to your wedding day. I always say you can’t have a beautiful painting without a beautiful canvas,” says Tilbury. For lovely-looking skin, she recommends using a nourishing sheet mask on the morning of the wedding "to prep your complexion before applying make-up".

Try: Charlotte Tilbury Instant Magica Facial Dry Sheet Mask, which quickly quenches skin, provides a soft, supple base on which to blend make-up and contains time-released ingredients that keep skin hydrated for eight hours. It works in 15 minutes, so you can throw it on and let it do its thing while you're doing your hair.

Or try Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels, which feel very cooling and fresh. Plus, they take down puffiness super fast.


Tip 3: Use a primer

"Always opt for a primer," says Conway." A primer is essential for your base to add longevity on your wedding day, for all skin types – it acts as a barrier between skin and make-up." 

Try: Laura Mercier Radiant Primer, which has a creamy texture that glides on to skin, makes make-up look fresh and glowy, and keeps make-up in place throughout the day.

Tip 4: stick to cream eyeshadow

"Cream eyeshadows create the perfect longwear base for the eyelid, absorbing any excess oil and priming before any eyeliner or added shadow," says Conway.

Try: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick, which comes in a brilliant range of shades and has a beautiful creamy consistency that blends easily but stays put once it's set. Plus, it's impressively long-wearing. 

Or try 3ina The Cream Eyeshadow, which has great pigment and is a soft base to push powder eyeshadows into.


Tip 5: try a foundation sponge

"Use your fingers when applying your base, or a slightly wet make-up sponge," says Said. "Applying your base with your fingers is effortless, quick and such easy application, which delivers a very natural result. A damp sponge is also a great tool as it really pushes the products inside the skin and can be used to build coverage as well." 

Try: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, which, used damp, gently bounces product into skin for a natural-looking finish. The flat surface at the top is great for covering wider surface areas (like the forehead), while the fine point at the bottom is perfect for crevices (like around the nose and under eyes).


Tip 6: don't be scared of powder

“Once your make-up look is complete, it’s important to finish it off with a finely milled powder to lock in your make-up and keep everything from slipping. It also removes any unwanted shine for all of your wedding photos," says Tilbury. "I only like to use powders on the T-zone, down the nose, on the chin and across the forehead. I always keep the cheekbones free of powder so that they remain dewy and catch the light.”

Try: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Filter Powder, which blurs imperfections, softly mattifies and creates a lightweight veil over make-up to keep it in place.

Or try Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder, which has an almost invisible finish and sits lightly across skin.


Tip 7: amp up your bronzer

"The camera tends to pick up less colour, so we would advise wearing just a little more bronzer and blusher than you usually would day to day," says Conway, "but not to a point where you feel uncomfortable! You need to feel confident all day." 

Try: Chanel Soleil Tan De Chanel, which, unusually for a bronzer, comes in a silky, balm texture. It blends well across skin and gives skin a more natural finish than a powder.


Tip 8: remember: creams, then powder

"Apply creams first, then powders on top, to avoid an over-done look," says Sellers. "I love using cream blushers as they deliver hydration to the skin and are perfect to create beautiful flushed cheeks without adding weight to a make-up look," recommends Said.

Try: Laura Mercier Creme Cheek Color, which sticks around on skin and gives cheeks a really fresh-looking wash of colour.

Or try Glossier Cloud Paint, £15, which can be dabbed on with your fingers, distributes a sheer-but-buildable swoosh of colour and can fit in your clutch bag for top-ups. 


Tip 9: waterproof your mascara

"Always raincoat your mascara," says Conway. "Waterproof mascara is a must-have, but is known to be softer in curl, length and volume, so do be sure to layer the waterproof formula on top of your usual formula."

Try: Bobbi Brown No Smudge Mascara, which gives a natural finish but can be built up to something more defined. It coats and separates each lash and is waterproof, so won't budge.

Or try Lancôme Hypnose Waterproof Mascara, which slides through lashes easily and works wonders at elongating and volumising.


Tip 10: pack a face mist

"I think a great face mist is a great way to refresh the skin every few hours and to reactivate your make-up for a fresh glow throughout the day," says Sellers.

Try: ICONIC London Prep, Set, Glow, which smells delicious (just like peach), feels lovely and cooling, and has a very subtle shimmer that leaves skin glowing. Apply from arm's length away, then pat the moisture into your skin using the warmth from your fingers. 



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