Professional Make Up Tips for DIY Brides

Hi Kat,

Firstly, I wanted to say that out of all the blogs I visit over various genres, your’s is the most consistently updated and therefore interesting blog I’ve come across.

My predicament is that me and my future husband are planning our wedding from London to take place in our home New Zealand. We are flying back there in February to get married on the beach with our closest friends and family.

My hope is to do my hair and make up myself. This will require deciding on a look (I know I want bright red lips!) and buying the products that won’t sweat off in the summer sun (it will be the middle of summer when we get married.) My makeup skills are amateur at best, and I’d like to know how to strategically paint myself pretty!

I’d really appreciate if you could give any tips of good long wearing products, what to avoid and options for learning to apply.

I’d really appreciate your advice,

Ruth xxx

Well there’s one lady I knew I could call on to help Ruth with her dilemma – my bestie, make up artiste extraordinaire, Elbie Van Eeden!

♥  ♥  ♥

When Kat emailed me about doing a post on DIY hair/make-up brides, I knew that it will be a tricky subject. I strongly believe in the difference it makes to have a professional take care of your hair and make-up on your wedding day, in both technique and products.  Photographers are now even more keen on using hair and make-up artists in engagement shoots, just to make their work easier when it comes to retouching.

But I know some brides get married abroad, or won’t be able to afford a hair and make-up artist. A lot of brides would consider going to a department store for make-up trials.  Whilst it is a good idea, and you often get the money you spent on the lesson off any product you buy, unless you know that the brand works on you, it could be a frightening experience.If you’re scared about being bullied into buying products from one make-up range at a store, book a consultation/trial with a independent make-up artist. That way you know you’ll have an unbiased opinion about products, and you could buy the products at your own time, once you’ve seen the results. They will be able to teach you about different techniques, what NOT to do, which brushes to use, and how you could use the make-up after your wedding day.

It’s also a good idea to wear the make-up all day, to see it in different light, and to see how long it stays put before committing to buy anything. If you book a trial, feel free to bring someone with you (preferably someone with a good eye for make-up and hair) so she could help you remember and assist you on the day.

The best make-up products are often expensive, but things like foundation and concealer are worth investing in. You’ll be having your photo taken all day so you don’t want any ‘cakeyness’, or even worse, a ghostly appearance on your photos! There are too many women out there with the wrong colour foundation – make sure you don’t make that mistake on your wedding!  Once the wedding’s over, you could still use it, even if it’s just for a night out, if you’re not a ‘make-uppy’ person.

In terms of eye make-up, primers work wonders in keeping eyeshadows on. There are waterproof eyeshadows available (let’s face it, you ARE going to cry!) and it’s especially good if you you’re getting married in warmer climates. That being said, look for smudge/budge proof eyeliner, mascara and consider using a lipstain instead of lipstick – it’s more fresh-looking and less drying than most longwearing lipsticks (and it won’t come off on your husband when you kiss him!) It’s also multi-purpose – use it for a flush of colour on the cheeks.

Although I LOVE crazy looks, it only looks good when done right.  But I would still like you to EXPERIMENT!  Until you get the look you want, have a play with make-up (you could always rinse it off and start again if you don’t like it!)  Get ideas from other people’s make-up you see in magazines, whether it’s vintage, punky, simple, full-on…

I have my bridal make-up kit as well as a shoot kit, but I do sometimes delve into my shoot kit for extra drama (check out Illamasqua’s lipsticks & glosses for inspiration.)

You still want to look like you on your wedding day, but why not have fun with it?

Here’s are some of my favourite products for using on brides:

♥ Foundation: Make-up Forever HD foundation, £28.95
♥ Eye primer: Mac Paint Pot Painterly, £13.50
♥ Eyeliner: Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner, £16.50
♥ Waterproof eyeshadow: Make-up Forever Aqua Cream, £16.95
♥ Lip/cheekstain: Benefit Benetint, £24.50
When it comes to hairstyles, if you’re not handy with your own hair, ask a friend to help you.  Some of the most stylish upstyles I’ve done have also been the most simple, by curling the hair (lucky you if you already have natural curls!) and randomly pinning it to your head, keeping in mind where you want the focus to be (crown, nape, middle, side).  This could be very striking when used with natural flowers or a stunning hairpiece.  If an updo is not your thing, get someone to blowdry it for you.Less could be more, and the less things you worry about, the better!

I hope this helped some DIY brides, feel free to contact me through my website for further information.


♥  ♥  ♥

Thanks Elbie! Ruth, I hope you’ve found this useful. I also thought I’d join in and share some of my favourite products at the moment too…♥ Illamasqua New Skin Base Foundation, £25
♥ MAC Pro Longwear Concealer, £13.50 (cheaper alternative Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer, £4.19)
♥ L’Oréal Paris Studio Secrets Smoothing Resurfacing Primer, £11.29
♥ Bobbie Brown Sheer Finish Loose Powder, £23
♥ Illamasqua Liquid Metal in Surge, £17.50
♥ Bourjois Little Round Pot Blusher, £6.49
♥ OCC Lip Tar, £8.99 (cheaper alternative Pout Paint, £4.99)
♥ MAC Limited Edition ‘Quite Cute’ lipstick (no longer available but a cheaper alternative – Barry M Lip Paint, number 62, £4.49)

As you can see, I’m a bit of a make up whore…Have fun ladies!What are your favourite make up products and do you have any DIY tips for Ruth?

All Image Credit: Sarah Gawler Photography  Full shoot can be seen here.
Photo Shoot Stylist: Savoir Weddings
Photo Shoot Hair & Make Up: Elbie Van Eeden


  1. Fab! Speaking as a bride who did her own hair and makeup, I definitely agree with the statement ‘the less things you worry about the better’.

  2. Wowee! This is so helpful. Keen to try some of these products, and definitely prefer your suggestion of using a private make-up artist for tips instead of sales assistants. Thank you both, you are brilliant!

  3. As a person that doesn’t really wear make up I really struggled with this especially on doing my research. I went straight to benefit and have to say I was so happy with what I ended up with. The make up is so soft and light (and the packaging so pretty!) and the primers are great too stayed on all day. You totally get your money’s worth too with the erase paste as you only need the tiniest bit so if I could suggest one product it’s that oh and the High beam so shiny oh and the lipstick so moist!……

  4. Really enjoyed reading this. Thank you ladies. I am a photographer and as much as I like natural makeup for your big day I also think its important to get definition in the right areas too. Don’t be afraid to experiment and while you want to feel like ‘you’ on one of the most important days of your life, you also want to feel special and gorgeous and glamorous and a little bit ‘WOW’ So play around with some products yourself, maybe have a trial and ask for something a bit bolder than you would usually go for? Also wear the look a few times so you have chance to get used to it and feel comfortable with it. Love Ruth’s starting point of the red lips!

  5. Monique

    Loving the idea of having a consultation with an independent make-up artist instead of a counter or brand rep, will be making note of that for sure!

    Must say though for ladies who love a bit of dramatic make-up Barry M eye powders are amazing! Every colour of the rainbow, easy on the pocket, blendable with other colours and if you apply them with a damp fine brush or cotton bud you can get a really defined eye-liner type look.

  6. MissKimberlina

    Ahh Perfect post 🙂 this is the kinda advice I need for my wedding! I considered going to a department store make up desk but how do you know your getting the right thing for you and not bumping up someones commission, right?!

    I hope to grab a lesson in make up and hair with the gorgeous Elbie next year ready for my destination wedding in Vegas in Spring 2013, after Elbie did my hair and make up for our Engagement shoot (coming soon!) I was so impressed with her attention to detail on my wild look!

    Well done on the post lovely x

  7. RuthF

    Just wanted to say that my top tip is getting eyelashes tinted – not too expensive, it’s totally waterproof and saves having to bother with mascara. I had a lesson with Bobbi Brown and bought some of their stuff (though I wasn’t pressured in any way to do so). It was definitely worth paying for their great primer, foundation and concealer. I then got cheap eyeshadow and blush from Boots and was really happy with my DIY makeup look.

  8. I always use two shades of foundation on my clients, darker around the areas you would normally contour and your exact shade everywhere else and blend. Careful not to go too heavy as it will show on both photo’s and video especially. Set it with Make Up Forever HD powder…..THE BEST!!! Also, when using red lipstick, dab the excess oil with tissue to give more matte look and will help keep the product from straying 🙂

  9. Post author

    thanks Rona! Girls, Rona did my make up on a shoot i did in LA with Tinywater Photography (photos coming soon!) and she knows her shizzz

  10. I found my favourite long wearing eyeliner (Christian Dior teal pencil) for my wedding day and broke a little off onto my hand and then used Bobby Brown’s fine eyeliner brush to apply it for extra control. It looked amazing and stayed on all day. Spend money on good brushes even if it seems extreme (my poor husband freaked when he heard how much I spent on one brush and asked if it was made from Jesus’ hair). Good brushes will give you better application and they hold their shape.
    Most of all have fun with it!

  11. Good post – lots of my brides do their own makeup purely because they’re terrified of being turned into someone who ‘doesn’t look like them’ on their wedding day. It’s also a good idea to combine your final makeup trial (whether you do it yourself, or have a makeup artist) with your pre-wedding shoot, so you can see for yourself how it looks on camera!

    Bear in mind that makeup needs to work with what you’re wearing and with your hair colour as well, so if you’re planning a colour change or highlights, for example, wait until you have the ‘right’ hair colour before finalising your makeup. (this is from experience – I walked into a hair salon with long brunette hair and came out with a blonde bob, and suddenly my ‘everyday daywear makeup’ looked like I’d put it on in the dark!

  12. Leesie

    I definitely recommend Urban Decay’s All Nighter setting spray as a finishing touch. It’s a lifesaver on hot summer days and does a pretty good job of keeping my face on at concerts. They also have a couple other setting sprays for specific skin types, but All Nighter is meant to work across them.
    And YES, good brushes are so important, particularly with eye makeup. MAC’s 239 has made my life so much easier.

  13. Leesie

    Also! Urban Decay has a box set called Urban Bride with a bunch of products (mostly sample sizes) intended for brides, including a tiny All Nighter. And it’s currently in their website’s sale section for…I believe $24.

  14. Amy

    Could you tell me who the dresses in this feature are by? They’re really beautiful and just what i’ve been looking for!


  15. Teagan

    Lip tints are great, long lasting and look very natural. Also are great to use as as a natural looking blush.
    Another thing is that you can wet most eyeshadows to make them more dramatic and last longer. I love using the eyeshadow normally over the eye and then just wetting the brush with water to make a complimentary eyeliner. That way you get two products out of one.
    If you want something really dramatic try covering your lid with black eyeliner and then covering it with your eyeshadow of choice. It gives a real boost to bright colours and makes it last longer.


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