Make-Up Artist’s Advice: Doing Your Own Wedding Day Make-Up

Make-Up Artist's Advice: Doing Your Own Wedding Day Make-Up

With more and more couples choosing to get married on a budget, it is no surprise that a large percentage of brides are making the brave choice to apply their own make-up on the big day. If you have chosen to take the plunge, then don't even think about picking up that powder brush until you've read these helpful tips from a make-up expert! We have been chatting to talented make-up artist Elle Binks-Swain who has been kind enough to share her expert tips to ensure you look and feel the best version of YOU when you say 'I do'!

Check out Elle's Instagram for more of her fabulous make-up looks!

Preparation for the day

It is important to do at least one trial run of applying the make-up that you want to wear for your wedding day. This means that if you have any issues with timing, colour, consistency or application of the products then you have time to change them or vary your technique. It is also a great idea to wear the make-up out for the day to see how it wears. Do any areas need touching up? How do the colours look in natural daylight? It is much better to find out now than having any nasty surprises when you look back at those wedding photos!

Time wise, 45 to 90 minutes should be plenty of time to allow you to complete a full face - depending of course on how much make-up you plan to wear. If in doubt, allow more time and allow time to touch up any mistakes and for slower, nervous hands.

If possible, apply your make-up in natural daylight so that you can see the colours and facial shape properly without any distortion.


If you want to go for the ‘no make-up make-up’ look, then don’t just go barefaced! It takes quite a few products to achieve that natural glow, and you will most likely look washed out in your wedding photos. Medium coverage BB creams and liquid highlighters will be your best friends for the ‘barefaced’ or ‘natural’ look. Lots of skincare is required underneath first in order to achieve this look, however.

Proper skincare is absolutely essential! Always cleanse, tone and moisturise twice a day in the run up to the event. Drink plenty of water in the weeks before as well, to plump and give a glow to the skin. Try to use natural ingredient-based products such as rose water for toning, and an exfoliator that is not too harsh or chemically-based to avoid the skin looking red or dry. Double moisturise on The Day, including the eyelids, lips and neck, and allow it to settle into the skin for at least 30 minutes before applying your primers and foundation.


Primers should be mandatory. Always use a face primer on top of your moisturiser but underneath your foundation/base. They will help to even out any fine lines and refine pores, as well as helping the foundation to have something to stick to; and therefore last much longer, even through lots of cheek kissing and the first dance sweats. A great result can be achieved through using a combination of different primers: use a hydrating and pore-refining facial primer all over the face, and then an anti-ageing or satin-textured dewy primer on the cheekbones to create a dewy glow and contrast in skin texture which can later be enhanced by putting highlighter in the same place over foundation. Always use an eye primer on the eyelid as well, to minimise eye make-up creasing and spoiling your look. This is especially important if you are prone to having oily lids.

Match your foundation to your collarbone, not your jaw. Most people are not the same colour on their face as they are on the rest of their body. It’s usually safer to match your base colour to your neck, collarbone or even the shoulders if there is a noticeable difference in the shades. Beware of ending up too orange-based though!! Look for the colour undertones in your skin, e.g. olive, red, blue, yellow, green, warm, cool, neutral, or a mix of any of these. When you do your makeup trials, try to wear a white/ivory/cream T-shirt so that you can see what the base colour looks like against something so light and reflective. Extend the foundation gently down your neck and décolletage to blend with your natural skin-tone (but powder the chest area well if you do this to avoid ruining the all-important dress!)


Try mixing your foundations. Mixing a dewy and sheer-medium coverage base with a heavier-coverage matte-satin effect foundation will enable you to achieve buildable coverage that lasts a long time without looking flat. This technique also helps to create a better colour match of your skin in case you can’t find a single bottle that is the correct colour. Never apply it with your fingers, always use a domed, fluffy buffing-brush (or a damp sponge if preferred, but not necessarily recommended.) This helps to eliminate streaks, patchiness and fingerprint marks. Put more than you’ll need onto the back of your hand and apply most, but not all of it from there, like a mixing palette.

Only apply concealer if you really really need it. Skin-toned concealer goes over foundation if needed, but colour correction goes on before it! Use an emollient-based peach-toned concealer under the eyes to hide dark circles, but use a lighter liquid/cream concealer anywhere else. Pay attention to colour theory to correct and colour imperfections. For instance, try using a greenish concealer, or an olive-taupe product just over any areas of redness, as green tones down the colour red and neutralises it. Use peach colours over blue-purple areas.

Contouring & Blush

For extra longevity, apply a cream/liquid highlight and contour, then set with powder contour and highlight. Steer away from anything too orange-based as your contour; go instead for olive or taupe coloured products, especially on fair skin. The same is true for powder contour as well. For best results, use a cream contour under the cheekbone heading towards the base of the nose and the mouth, but don’t bring it any further forward than in-line with the outer edge of the eye, or it can end up looking like quite a masculine shape. Bridal make-up should be soft and feminine ideally. But you do what works for you! Pay attention to your face shape and contour accordingly.

Use a brighter pop of blush than you normally would, as the white of the dress will make you look more washed out than usual. Dusty roses and mid pinks look great, anything too pastel will only continue to wash you out and drain away colour. A great trick is to use Bobbi Brown’s technique of the Double Blush; use a medium blush colour as a light wash of colour on the cheek area, then put a much brighter pop of a shade in the same colour family as the softer blush just on the apples of the cheeks for a lovely depth and contrast to the skin. Use a gel or cream blush whilst you are using your other cream base products, so before your powder highlight and contour or setting powder. You can layer the powder blush over this for more dimension and staying power if you wish.


Use the colour wheel to make eye colours pop. For instance, the opposite colours of blue are orange-yellows, so a pop of metallic copper shadow in the waterline, as a spotlight accent on the middle of the lid or inner corner, or as a liner, or warm brown colours in the crease really make blue eyes come alive. The same is true for using plum colours around green eyes, and blue/violet near amber coloured eyes. Brown eyes can wear any colour and look great, but try to pick out the flecks of colour in your irises and use the opposite colour on the colour wheel to create extra fire.

Use a gel or cake eyeliner for longevity. Pencil colours have a tendency to melt and fade off the skin after a few hours of wear. By all means use a pencil product, but it’s a good idea to set on top of it with a powder in the same colour to prevent melting and creasing. A really useful tip is to store your eye and lip liner pencils in the fridge to keep them sharp and prevent bleeding and melting.


Do not neglect your brows!!! Brows are usually the features that get forgotten first. It is so so important to properly shape and fill your brows for your bridal make-up. Good brows frame the face, can lift the eyes and even make you seem more youthful! If you are unsure as to the right shape or colour that you should go for; visit a professional a fair while before The Big Day so that you can practice doing them yourself at home a few times.

If doing your own brows, try not to go for anything too angular and square, especially on the inner edges, as this can make the eye-line look more masculine and is very attention grabbing in photog of waterproof productsraphs. If in doubt, choose a shape that starts parallel to the outer edges of the nose, has an arch that is highest above the outer iris, and ends in line with the outer edge of the nose when imagining a connecting line. Don’t pluck more than three hairs away in one go before standing back and checking the shape, and try not to pluck much away above the brow shape. The colour should ideally be 1 or 2 shades lighter than your natural brow colour, and NEVER use black, even if your hair is black.

Use a waterproof eyeliner and mascara to prevent tear staining. If you don’t like the consistency of waterproof products, then use your regular mascara and eyeliner and then put a waterproof version on top.


Don’t be afraid to rock a bold lip!! If you’ve got the personality to pull it off then go for it! If you’d rather go for a softer lip, then you can’t go wrong with using your usual colour of lipstick. Use a matching lip-liner first to line the edges and fill the entire lip. Use a coat of your usual lipstick (ideally something with medium coverage, satin/ soft-matte texture) then blot with tissue and reapply then blot again. Photos will wash out your lip colour, so put a shade of lipstick on top in the same colour family as the first one used, but 1 or 2 shades brighter. Blot and then set with translucent powder for extra staying power or a matching eyeshadow colour if you like.

Consider the angle at which you draw your lip-liner. For a rounded ‘hill’ shape on the cupid’s bow and upper lip; line the lip from the outer edge moving towards the cupid’s bow. Work the opposite way; from the cupid’s bow towards the outer lip corners for a straighter and more angular ‘mountain’ shape to the upper lip.

Extra Hints & Tips

It’s a great idea to look to vintage styles for inspiration with shape, colour and placement of make-up. Try to stay true to the style of your dress, wedding and personality! For example, a crisp, modern dress looks great paired with something simple and subtle, such as a soft glow with a pop of a rosy cheek for colour. Something more vintage and busy pairs really well with a classic retro style, such as your classic red lip and winged eyeliner, or maybe a palette of softer pinks and mauve, but always soft and nothing too angular.

Pay attention to where your venue is and what season your wedding falls in. You can go a little more dramatic and moody with your make-up colours in the autumn and winter months, equally, softer, brighter and more sheer looks work well in spring and summer. Outdoor photographs require colour-true shades, satin-textured products and immaculate application because the sun will show any imperfections, areas of false build-up resulting in cakiness, and makes colours look different than when applied in the shade. Indoor lighting, especially fluorescent, can wash you out and make colours look dull; so opt for stronger colours and application whilst keeping the whole look soft, particularly if you’re having portrait close-ups.

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