Ready to put a ring on it? After planning every last wedding day detail—from selecting a dress that flatters every bridesmaid, to writing a speech that’ll give your guests all the feels—it’s time to get primped to perfection.
Once your hair is styled and mimosas are poured, you’ll take a seat in the makeup artist’s chair. You may have some grand expectations, but the last thing you want is to turn away and not recognize your own reflection. Even worse? You end up loving your makeup, but it barely shows up in photos. We met with Toronto-based makeup artist Tara Leydon to find which tools and techniques she gives a hard pass when it comes to bridal beauty.
Don’t wing it
When everything else is organized, why leave your makeup to chance? “Have an idea of what you want to do,” says Leydon—and test it out before the big day. Some of her previous clients have learned what they don’t want at initial meetings. “You might realize you don’t like the way the cat-eye looks, so maybe a better way to go is painting the lash line and then smoking it a bit more. You’ve got to have trials because you don’t want any surprises.”
Furthermore, if you’re planning on having any waxing or facial treatments done, get those out of the way at least a week in advance in case of any bad reactions.
Say no to trends
Leydon says the key to wedding day makeup you’ll love now (and won’t regret later) is to opt for a timeless look, which means skipping those trendy colours. She cites red eye shadow—a look we’ve seen Emily Ratajkowski and Orange is the New Black’s Danielle Brooks rock recently—as an example of something to definitely skip. “I love that look, but I’d never have someone do it on a wedding day. Keep it classic.”
Rethink attention-stealing lipstick
Some brides have a wardrobe change for their reception, and Leydon suggests doing the same with your makeup. Always walk down the aisle sporting a neutral lip colour. If a client wants something like bright pink or deep merlot, she recommends adding it after the ceremony and family photos. “That way you can have fun reception photos and incorporate a trendy element into your wedding.”
Try: Kat Von D Studded Kiss Crème Lipstick in Muñeca, $23, sephora.com
Be wary of cream contouring
For a day that’s guaranteed to be filled with selfies and camera flashes, Leydon favours contouring and highlighting powders over cream formulas. Using powder makes it easier to control the product’s intensity and helps create a subtle, more flattering look for those Insta shots. “I wouldn’t do an intense contour or highlight,” she says. “If you do, it might be distracting in photos.”
Avoid overdoing your brows
Resist the allure of overdone arches. Leydon always recommends filling in sparse brows, but the intention is never to create a shape that’s not naturally there. She uses a pomade and shadow to create fullness and definition. “I’ll usually go one shade lighter. You want it to blend as naturally as it can.”
Try: Benefit Foolproof Brow Powder, $32, sephora.com
Don’t rely on your everyday mascara
“The most important things for photos are something on your lips, brows and eyelashes,” says Leydon. Finding mascara that’s waterproof and not dried out are both priorities. Her advice to brides is to test out your options beforehand and rule out those that run or flake off. And the brand you’ve relied on since Beyoncé was in Destiny’s Child may not do the trick on the big day. Consider amping things up with extensions or false lashes (just be sure to keep lash glue with you).
Don’t cut corners
There are no shortcuts when it comes to applying bridal makeup. “If anything, I do extra steps,” says Leydon. Her job begins with prepping the skin for more long-lasting, high-pigment formulas than a day or night out typically call for. “If a client has dry skin, I might have them sit with moisturizer before I start their makeup,” she says. Another not-to-be-missed moment is finishing with setting spray that will help your makeup stay put from the first look to the last dance.
Keep it real when looking at celeb inspo
One thing Leydon says consistently comes up is the desire to transform into a celebrity. “If you don’t have the same skin type or bone structure, I cannot make you look like Kim Kardashian.” For this makeup pro, the sign of stunning bridal makeup is that you end up looking like one person: yourself.