Wedding Makeup… For Minimal-Makeup Wearers
Disclaimer: I don’t hate makeup—I actually really like it—but I am bad at it, and bad at applying it at regular intervals, especially since I work at home/out of a hotel most of the time.
So, the week before I got married this summer, my sister and I walked into a Sephora and the salespeople first shrank away from the ponytail/no makeup/leggings and hoodie style I was sporting at the moment (it was in the middle of a full day of errands, and yes, the hoodie was black, as were the leggings. Sue me.).
But after I said, “I do’t know anything about makeup and I’m getting married next week and I want to look nice,” you could see their eyes do that cash register thing and land on money signs.
And yeah, it was not cheap. But I did come away with a few takeaways, both in terms of things I didn’t end up needing and things that I now use regularly.
Start with a Smart Foundation
I learned, after my whirlwind buying spree in Sephora, that foundation didn’t have to be cake-y or even crazy-full coverage. I actually went with Nars tinted moisturizer and translucent powder on top, plus a bit of concealer for my ridiculous undereye circles—just enough to even my skin out without feeling like it was going to all wipe off if I touched my face, or start cracking, or just look generally overdone in person, even if it would look great in photos. The same stuff will absolutely not work for everyone, but if you’re not a normal foundation wearer, my advice is to skip traditional primer-concealer-foundation-highligher-blush-powder and keep it as simple and light as possible. Last word on skin: if you have an outdoor wedding like I did, make sure something in your skincare has SPF in it. My moisturizer did, and I also got talked into getting a rosewater setting spray with SPF 50, and I have to admit, it did keep my makeup in place even in the heat!
Keep Lips Neutral
I know some women can rock red lipstick at a wedding, but I knew that for me, it would be mostly wiped off before I even make it halfway up the aisle (and by aisle, I mean off-camber backyard that I walked with tip-toed heels). So, I picked a shade that was just about half a shade darker than my lower lip, which is slightly darker than my top lip. The only reason I used the lipstick was to even everything out so they looked uniform in photos.
Find a Mussed Updo, Not a Smooth One
Again, we had a very DIY wedding, so I knew that my hair had potential to get completely messed up over the course of the night. So rather than the smooth, perfect French twist I had originally considered for my hair, we did a mussed-up version of it by twisting pieces of my hair and pinning them back. Then, we just curled a few of the front strands and straightened my bangs. We used texturizing spray instead of hairspray too. Again, I don’t think a messy French twist is perfect for everyone, but generally, it makes sense to opt for a hairdo that can handle some wear-and-tear of the evening ahead. Plus, this messier style meant that when I took it out at night, it actually was more wavy and relaxed, rather than stuck in place.
Pick a Focus
I knew I wanted my focus to be my eyes, but I also knew I didn’t want to look like a raccoon by the end of the night. So, waterproof mascara, brown eyeliner, and a coppery-shimmer eyeshadow. Super simple. But this is actually where Sephora really got me. I ended up with a really pricey mascara and eyeliner when, to be honest, Rimmel’s waterproof options would have been just as good. I already had a great shimmery eyeshadow from a department store in The Netherlands last year, but ended up with a five-shade palette that I absolutely didn’t need since I frankly cannot handle doing a multiple-shade smokey eye. But the dumbest was the $40 eyeshadow primer that went under my eyeshadow. Sure, it was nice that it didn’t smudge throughout the night, but I haven’t touched it since, so it was a serious waste of money. At least everything else I got for the day has been reused!
Keep Nails Neutral
If you’re doing a DIY-style wedding and planning to be doing the gruntwork yourself, don’t go for a dark nail polish unless your manicure comes right before the ceremony. I went the morning before, so I knew it would be tough to keep my nails un-chipped. So… the manicurist must have thought I was insane, but I got a completely clear manicure. Not a neutral or light pink—those chips would still show. But clear, no problem. And having a professional do your nails does, in fact, make them look super nice, even with a clear coat instead of a cool color!
I’m not a major makeup person anymore, so I’m super glad I didn’t get my makeup or hair done so I wasn’t sprayed and coated into oblivion. I felt like myself, and even as the night wore on, I didn’t feel like I was sweating off layers or losing false eyelashes all over the place, and bonus, I didn’t go to bed feeling gross or wake up completely coated in crap with my hair standing on end thanks to hairspray. Myself is my mom, my sister and I hanging out, laughing and making me look like a slightly fancier version of myself. Which, actually, leads me to the reading my sister did. It’s a passage from Little Women, and I’m putting it here because it’s exactly how I felt that day.
The June roses over the porch were awake bright and early on that morning, rejoicing with all their hearts in the cloudless sunshine, like friendly little neighbors, as they were. Quite flushed with excitement were their ruddy faces, as they swung in the wind, whispering to one another what they had seen, for some peeped in at the dining room windows where the feast was spread, some climbed up to nod and smile at the sisters as they dressed the bride, others waved a welcome to those who came and went on various errands in garden, porch, and hall, and all, from the rosiest full-blown flower to the palest baby bud, offered their tribute of beauty and fragrance to the gentle mistress who had loved and tended them so long.
Meg looked very like a rose herself, for all that was best and sweetest in heart and soul seemed to bloom into her face that day, making it fair and tender, with a charm more beautiful than beauty. Neither silk, lace, nor orange flowers would she have. I don’t want a fashionable wedding, but only those about me whom I love, and to them I wish to look and be my familiar self.
So she made her wedding gown herself, sewing into it the tender hopes and innocent romances of a girlish heart. her sisters braided up her pretty hair, and the only ornaments she wore were the lilies of the valley, which `her John’ liked best of all the flowers that grew.
You do look just like our own dear Meg, only so very sweet and lovely that I should hug you if it wouldn’t crumple your dress.