Photograph by Sally Pinera

10 Wedding Makeup Tricks that Work for Real Life

If ever there were a day you’d want to look like your most gorgeous self, it’s the day you get married. That said, most people would love to look that way—their all-time prettiest, most natural, glowing—every day (and night) of the week. Wedding makeup has the additional requirement that it optimize every photograph, which, in the Snapchat/selfie/always-on society we live in, also makes sense for just about every day. And finally, wedding makeup is (ideally) fairly smudge-proof—another way to put it might be emotion-proof—also ideal in real life, whether you tear up at the slightest provocation, adore hot yoga classes, suffer from allergies, etc.

“Classic pretty,” says makeup artist/Kjaer Weis founder Kirsten Kjaer Weis, of the look most brides ask for. “It’s about looking like yourself, not trying too hard, minimal.” The bolder-makeup outliers, she says, are also looking like themselves: “If you’re the kind of person who wears a lot of red lipstick, I think doing so on your wedding day is a great idea,” she says. “Either way, super-natural or more dramatic, think flawless skin and a rosy cheek.”

  1. Do your makeup by a window. Barring that, take a hand mirror and walk out to wherever there’s natural light to check how you look. “You can trust natural light,” says Kjaer Weis. “It will always tell you the truth.”

  2. Look at pictures. This is true whether you’re doing your makeup yourself, or working with a makeup artist, or even having a friend do it. “When you can see what you like, you know where you’re going,” says Kjaer Weis, who advises bringing pictures of yourself and pictures of models or celebrities whose makeup looks right to you.

  3. Get your brows done. “A polished brow doesn’t come off,” says Kjaer Weis. If you’ve never had them done before, do it a month or two in advance for the first time, to make sure you like the brow artist’s work. Then have them done again the day before the wedding. “The day before gives you time if the skin gets a little red,” says Kjaer Weis. The day of, fill in with your preferred (and previously experimented with) pencil/shadow/brow gel for subtle, face-framing definition.

  4. The night before, line your eyes heavily with brown or black pencil—then wipe it off. “Over-do it—use an exaggerated amount of liner, and really get it into the bases of the lashes,” says Kjaer Weis. “Then wipe it off. A little subtle definition with be left the next day—I do this trick all the time and it really works beautifully. It adds depth to eye, but it doesn’t look like you’ve got product there. It’s the ultimate no-makeup eye makeup. It’s great for women who normally wear no makeup, and it’s great for everyone else to do, too.”

  5. No matter how intense you like your eyes or lips, Kjaer Weis says to go as light as possible on foundation, using concealer to cover “what needs to be covered,” rather than thick foundation. “Your skin should shine through, look alive,” she says. “You don’t want to cover it up.”

  6. You can add more liner to your wiped-off-the-night-before liner, if you like. “It adds more depth,” says Kjaer Weis. Even if you don’t normally curl your lashes, do it—the residual liner plus the curled lashes are tear-proof and undetectable as makeup, yet make a huge difference in how you look.

  7. If you want mascara and/or shadow, keep it light so as to minimize smudging. “I like a soft mauve-y cappucino color for weddings,” say Kjaer Weis. “It doesn’t look like color or shadow—it just gives more depth, so your eyes stand out but don’t look made up.” She uses a soft brush to apply shadow all over the lid: “Go lighter towards the nose, darker on the crease. If you want to intensify it, make it a little darker at outer corners of the eyes, and the outer corners underneath the eyes.”

  8. Cream blush is the way to go. “I love cream blush every day, but especially a day like this,” says Kjaer Weis. “The skin looks alive, fresh, blooming, and a cream is much easier to reapply if you need it. Just blend at the apples of your cheeks for that fresh-faced inner glow.” For most darker-skinned brides, Kjaer Weis likes her gorgeously pigmented Happy cream blush; for people with lighter skin, she advises Blossoming.

  9. Powder—light on the powder—and mattifying sheets are both fantastic for reducing shine. “Keep it minimal,” says Kjaer Weis, “Just so you don’t look sweaty or shiny.” She likes to dust on a little loose powder on the t-zone as she’s finishing the makeup, then encourages the bride to carry either a small powder compact or mattifying sheets. “Whatever you’re comfortable with—they both work,” she says. “But powder only on the t-zone. If you do it all over, it deadens the skin.”

  10. Lips are totally up to you. “There’s not one sort of formula that’s better, it’s what you like—gloss, lipstick, stain, it all works,” says Kjaer Weis. “I wouldn’t focus on how long it lasts—with all the kissing, the lipstick situation always gets a little beaten up during the day. Go with what you feel comfortable re-applying and looks prettiest on you.”

Related: Pretty Wedding Makeup