Wedding Guest Makeup: A Pro’s Guide to Getting It Right

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You've RSVP’d. You’ve bought a gift. You've picked out your outfit. Now, it’s time to consider your wedding guest makeup strategy. Of course, striking the right balance between a fresh, yet elevated look, and one that will last throughout the ceremony and reception is a delicate art.

“The ideal is glowing, lit from within skin, softly accentuated features, and colors that work together in harmony,” says makeup artist Carolina Dalí of her go-to strategy. “Let the chunky glitter and blue lipstick sit this one out. Photos will be taken that will be shared for generations to come, you don’t want your makeup to look dated, so keep it as harmonious and fresh as possible.”

Another rule of thumb? “I always think the guests should look fresh and beautiful, but remember to not upstage the bride,” says makeup artist Jenna Kristina, who works with actors Zoey Deutch and Christian Serratos. Another winsome jumping off point is the overall vibe of the wedding. “Wedding guest makeup should help to elevate the ambiance of the wedding’s aesthetic,” says Jessica Smalls, who encourages leaning into warm, sunset hues for an outdoor summer ceremony, for example. From achieving a beautiful glow to melt-proofing your eye makeup, here the pros weigh in on their top wedding guest makeup tips and tricks.

Get Glowing

A natural glow begins with the right moisturizer. While Dalí looks to Dr. Barbara Sturm's Face Cream, which helps “soothe skin and wears beautifully under makeup,” Smalls relies on Bobbi Brown’s two-in-one primer-moisturizer Face Base to help keep skin hydrated while also ensuring staying power for what follows. In terms of coverage, Dalí recommends using two different kinds of foundation so that you only shine in the right places. “Apply [mattifying] velvet matte foundation on the center of the face, around folds of the mouth, where your nose meets your cheeks, and a touch to the center of the forehead,” she instructs. “Then, using a separate tool, apply a glowy foundation, like Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk foundation, to the rest of the face and neck where needed, blending nicely.” Of course, a major priority, especially with flash photography in mind, is keeping shine at bay. After applying your foundation Smalls suggests dusting your T-zone—and any other shine-prone areas—with a setting powder, like ONE/SIZE's Ultimate Blurring Setting Powder, which offerings a blurring effect for a soft-focus finish, using a soft fluffy brush.

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Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base

Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream

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Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation

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Chanel Ultra Le Teint FoudantionSculpt and Highlight Softly

When it comes to contouring, less is always more—especially at a wedding. “I have never been a fan of a super contoured face,” says Dalí. “The goal is to softly define the features, not mask or completely alter them.” In this spirit, when it comes to sculpting, all three pros are partial to a cream contour stick like Makeup by Mario’s Soft Sculpt Shaping Stick, which is a top favorite thanks to its lightweight, blendable texture and range of flattering shades and undertones. “I like to apply it under my cheek bones and along the jawline, and then buff it out using a firm brush,” says Smalls. “This instantly makes the cheek bones pop and slims the jaw.” Once you’ve sculpted your complexion, add a healthy flush. Not just on the cheeks, but all over. “Pop a bright blush on the apples of the cheeks and all places you would naturally get pink if you were in the sun a little too long,” instructs Kristina, suggesting the temples, the tip and bridge of the nose, and along the contours of the eyes to “help bring life to the skin.”

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Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush

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Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Cream Face Palette

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Makeup by Mario Soft Sculpt Shaping Stick

One/Size Ultimate Blurring Setting PowderPrime and Define the Eyes

To set the stage for eye makeup that won't budge, a primer is “game changing,” insists Kristina, who counts Urban Decay's cult-favorite Eyeshadow Primer Potion as a go-to. “It’s clear so it won’t change the color of your shadows and it’s also great to apply to prevent eyeliner transferring.” In designing your eye look, Kristina believes a simple and clean look, like a soft smoky eye or classic cat eye, is the way to go both aesthetically and with maintenance in mind. Dalí emphasizes that it’s important to keep in mind how your choice look will photograph, too. “I like to stick to bronzey, peachy, earthy, and pastel colors, and stay away from eyeshadows that are too loud, which can look dated, or dark as they tend to photograph even darker than you see them in person and can make your eyes look smaller in pictures.” 

Another thing to keep in mind is texture. While creamy textures make for beautiful results on the skin, powder is often a better choice for the eye area. “I opt for powder eyeshadows instead of creams, which tend to crease or crack after hours of dancing and wear,” explains Dalí. For eyeliner, whether you’re wearing it alone or layering it over eyeshadow, aim for a thin, neat, and winged out line. “Start the eyeliner at the center of your lash line, getting progressively more defined as it goes out into the outer corners of the eyes, then wing it up a bit,” she says. “This technique will help open up your eyes, and give an illusion of lift.” Then, chances are, you'll be inclined towards a waterproof mascara, like Chanel’s Le Volume formula. “Just in case you get teary-eyed or dance for hours on end, you want your mascara to stay in place,” says Dalí.

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Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Eyeshadow Stick

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MAC Pro Longwear Fluidline

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Chanel Le Volume De Chanel Waterproof MascaraBulletproof Your Pout

No matter what kind of lip look you’re going for, you want it to stay put through the festivities. All experts agree that nothing is more bulletproof than a matte liquid lipstick with a soft, powdery finish. Smalls's tried-and-true pick is Dior’s Rouge Dior Forever Liquid as it provides optimal coverage while feeling comfortably “light on the lip.” Before swiping it on, she suggests filling your lips in with a matching lip liner. Alternatively, Dalí loves to layer lip liner and gloss, which she considers an equal parts flattering and low-maintenance combination. “Use feathery light strokes to shade the lip liner into your lips, then apply lip gloss to the bows and center of the lips only,” she instructs. “Don’t cover your lips entirely with the gloss, that will make your color wear faster.” In terms of what color to choose, it ultimately comes down to what suits the overall harmony of the look. When in doubt, remember the old eyes-or-lips makeup rule. “When choosing the focal point for your makeup look, choose either eyes or lip,” says Dalí. If you’re wearing a bold lip, do a more natural eye, if you’re wearing a bold eye, choose a more natural lip color.”

Dior Rouge Dior Forever Liquid Lipstick

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Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick

Serge Lutens Liquid Lip Tint

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Pat McGrath Labs Liquilust Matte Lipstick
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