The wedding season is in full swing and you’ve planned the dress, the venue and the menu to perfection. But what about your hair and make-up? Here’s our guide to doing your own wedding make-up, advice on how to get your skin in its best shape, what to ask your hairdresser for on the day and how to achieve the most timeless manicure…
How to do your own wedding makeup
There are more and more brides choosing to do their own wedding make-up because of budget constraints, and it can work out really well – who knows your face better than you? Here are Ruby Hammer’s top tips for DIY brides.
Plan a trial
I recommend my brides put together a little moodboard of looks they’ve seen before so they at least have a sense of whether they want a bold eye or something more subtle. Keep aside all the bits of make-up you want to use on the wedding morning in a separate case, so you don’t get distracted on the day by make-up you haven’t tested. You can also go to a make-up counter such as Bobbi Brown in a department store and ask them to try some make-up on you.
You need a good primer on the day to make sure your make-up stays in place. I really like the Laura Mercier ones, as there are different primers depending on your skin type. You will also need a good foundation – I use Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, £39, which makes the skin still look like skin. You’ll also need a concealer and some powder – By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder, from £16, is a favourite. Then of course lipstick, blush and mascara. A waterproof one is a must. It’s vital if you’re buying new make-up that you trial it first and see how to best use it.
Set yourself some adequate time to actually do your make-up and cordon off a quiet area to do it, with natural daylight, as this will create the best-looking make-up for pictures. You need to set aside a minimum of an hour on the morning of the wedding. If you need to pluck your eyebrows, do this well in advance of the wedding day so you don’t get any surprise patches of redness on the day. Make sure your sponges, tools and what you’re going to use on the day are all clean and keep some tissues and Q-tips to hand. Have everything you’re going to use – all saved in a bag from your trial – laid out so you can see it all. And keep some eye drops to hand, too – it will take the redness out of the eyes, especially if you get hayfever.
At the wedding
You’ll likely have a small clutch bag, so keep some beauty essentials to hand. I always advise my brides to keep some blotting papers with them, the lipstick you’re wearing plus a blush. These are the things that are quick to reapply and keep your make-up looking fresh and glowy. If you have space, I’d also recommend a mini translucent powder and a slim magnetic brush, such as my Ruby Hammer Makeup ones, £28, which means you can quickly touch up your make-up under the eyes and around the mouth. It’s a long day, so even if you’re not particularly oily you will need a bit of powder.
How to do your own nails
Whether you plan to book in an at-home manicure, or seek a professional, dedicated time for nail preparation is key. Manicurist Michelle Class (who does Jennifer Lopez, Naomi Campbell and Gemma Chan), suggests seeing a manicurist a couple of times a month in the lead-up to the wedding.
Cut and colour
Consider growing out your nails more than usual to help elongate and create an “elegant Hollywood look”, Class recommends. An “almond” shape is universally flattering. Another popular style is the “squaval”, a short, softly curved square. In terms of colour, pinky-nudes will complement the skin especially (depending on skin tone) while for the more experimental, pillar box red still wins (save the rainbow hues for a later date). When picking your colour, think about the colour of your outfit, flowers and overall colour scheme of the wedding.
What to do at home
Manicurist Harriet Westmoreland says: “Scrubbing and hydrating your hands and cuticles is vital to getting the most out of your manicure.” She likes Chanel’s vanilla scrub, £110, and recommends Weleda’s Skin Food, £8.25, for a burst of hydration and swears by moisturising cuticle oils. Emilie Hill
Five shades our beauty editors love
From left to right: Bio Sculpture ‘Baby Heart Confetti 162’ gel polish (available in salon); Dior Base Coat Abricot, Base Coat 800, £22, John Lewis; Sally Hansen ‘Colour Therapy’ 340 Rediance nail polish, £8.99, Boots; Bio Sculpture ‘Sweet Candy Breath 2065’ gel polish (available in salon), and Essie 15 Sugar Daddy nail polish , £7.99, Superdrug.
All about the skin
A bout of Covid before my wedding in May made me worry that I’d be the one bride who wasn’t described as glowing or luminous but as haggard and wan. I booked a Sarah Chapman bridal package for £300 after I got engaged – it gives you three skin consultations, facials and LED light treatments, which are done six months, three months and two days before the wedding.
It was the skin scanner I appreciated the most: issues it picked up included open pores, fine lines around my eyes, sun damage and dead skin. Armed with this knowledge, I started using retinol, a vitamin C serum and hyaluronic acid, and an Eve Lom exfoliation pad twice a week. I was also shown by the team at Sarah Chapman how to massage the skin around my jaw to prevent sagging.
Three months before wedding
Being closer to 40 than 30, my skin wasn’t jumping to attention quite as fast as I wanted it to, so I decided to get the big guns out and went to KX, a private members’ club in London with a spa attached. Their facial included a medium to deep skin peel and a hyaluronic acid mask and the combination of these two treatments with LaserGenesis Plus, which gently heats the skin to encourage the production of new cells, left me with a month-long glow I hadn’t seen since my 20s. I would have had this treatment closer to the wedding had I not been going on honeymoon to Greece and been told to strictly avoid the sun afterwards.
Six weeks before wedding
I saw more results from my second Sarah Chapman consultation than my first as the 20-minute laser treatment started to take effect and made my pores smaller, my fine lines less visible and started to correct a small dark patch on my forehead. This treatment came right after my bout of Covid and the combination of the LED lights and the Sarah Chapman massage – which feels like a gentle pummelling on your cheeks – made it look like I’d never been ill.
On the week
The week before the wedding was a whirlwind and I felt like my skin needed a deep clean, which I got from Augustinus Bader at the Bulgari hotel four days beforehand. It started with a double cleanse, using the cleansing balm and gel, followed by lymphatic drainage to get rid of any puffiness and a fascia release massage because of the tension in my jawline.
Going back to Sarah Chapman for my final treatment two days before the wedding, I felt that my skin was prepped to get the most out of the LED lights – and it really did. Crucially, nothing I did the week before the wedding could have aggravated my skin and everything was designed to promote the sort of glow even the best make-up can’t give you. Melissa Twigg
How to do bridal hair
Wearing your hair up for your wedding day, either in a bun or chignon, is considered the classic choice. Though, celebrity hairstylist Luke Hersheson says avoid being too decorative. “Your bridal hairstyle should be an amplification of your usual style, it shouldn’t look theatrical unless your style is usually flamboyant,” he says. “Every woman has their own quirks, whether that be a few pieces that fall around her face when she puts her hair up, or some height at the crown. Whatever your signature, ask your hairstylist to incorporate it into your updo.”
Messy pleat or a slick bun, Hersheson believes in keeping it simple and says the placement of your bun will depict your character. “A high updo portrays a regal and formal vibe, a low bun is soft and whimsical and if you pull it back in a straight line it shouts easy and relaxed,” he explains. A can’t-go-wrong example of a timeless bridal updo is Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s; a low-slung messy bun that matched her slinky Calvin Klein gown effortlessly.
“If your bun or pleat is too slick it can look quite unforgiving. There’s nothing more flattering than a classic shape that’s been distressed a tiny bit.” Though he advises, “If you’re going for root lift, keep the sides tight. You don’t want volume equally distributed around the head or it will look old-fashioned. A great wedding updo should have a sense of ease. Elevated but effortless.”
As worn by the Duchess of Cambridge and Nicola Peltz for her wedding to Brooklyn Beckham, it suits everyone, says Hersheson. “There’s no face shape, age or hair texture that doesn’t look good with a half-up hairstyle,” he says.
The most universally flattering option is to incorporate long curtain bangs that caress the cheekbones and lend softness to the face.
As for placement, Hersheson says to pin the sides at the back of the head adjacent with the ears, leaving the bulk of the hair to sit behind so all eyes are on the dress. “The secret is to plan your haircut ahead of your wedding to accommodate the shape you’re aiming for, especially if you want some soft face-framing pieces cut in,” suggests Hersheson.
He says: “Ideally aim for layers that sit no longer than the chin for the most eye-pleasing look.” As for texture, a slight bend looks good on everyone. “It’s all about creating a style that emphasises what you’ve got, to give you the most confidence on the day,” says Hersheson.
All the way down
Of course, if you have never worn your hair up, styling it down is the best way to shine. This is particularly true of those with short or bobbed hair. Though, don’t be tempted to overcompensate with accessories. “If you have short hair or a bob, let the haircut do all the talking. Plan it with your hairdresser and have a really flattering shape cut in a couple of weeks before so it sits beautifully on the day,” advises Hersheson. Though a head dress or tiara can be stunning, it can look out of place. “An ornate hair accessory can look great if accompanied by a dramatic gown but otherwise it’s too fussy.”
Doing it yourself?
Practise blow-drying your hair to a good finish and get to grips with heated tongs, weeks before the big day. If you don’t often use styling products, it’s time you did. “If you’re putting your hair up, especially if it’s fine, you’ll need some styling product to give it grip and hold which will help it stay in place and allow you to manipulate the shape better,” points out Hersheson. “Think of styling products like a make-up primer for hair to take away the puffiness and prepare the canvas,” he adds.
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