What’s in my kit is my most frequently asked question. And the answer is products that have proven that they can last a very emotional day. Bridal makeup has to be long-wearing before anything else. After-all, the threat of tears, rain and humidity is high! But I wanted my kit to reflect the quality and luxury of a wedding day. So it’s full of beauty counter brands that you’ll find mainly in department stores (is the short answer). But I’m not elitist. So if there is a ‘drugstore’ product that has proven itself I might just sneak it in for good measure. But as the investment is high, I’ve always wanted it to be full of lots of quality products to match that.
I’ve broken this list down into areas of the face, and almost in the order I’d do your wedding makeup. It’s not exhaustive, as we’d be here all day. But these are the things I’d more than likely pick up if I were to do your makeup.
So here are my kit heroes…
Skin and foundation for me are the key to the whole makeup. I’m obsessive about skin, because I haven’t always loved mine. It has been a thorn in my side at times. But matte foundation photographs best, so that’s what I have most of. I found Estee Lauder Double Wear over a decade ago when I had acne. It was the only thing that would cover it, stay put and not feel like it had disappeared. So naturally it had to be the first one in my kit! This foundation is smudge-proof, transfer-proof and boldly offers medium to heavy coverage. But to make it more versatile for those that like a lighter coverage I mix it with Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum (I like including products in my kit that do something for your skin and this serum is the ultimate product for that!). It’s just as hard-wearing sheered out and nowhere near as scary for some. I love it because I know that one layer of this will make me look completely flawless. But it can be a little bit like Marmite. If someone loves it, that’s all they’ll use. And they won’t be won over by anything else. Others accuse it of being clingy and there’s no way of winning this camp over. So I had to include something else.
Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder was a foundation that won me over as a lighter alternative. This offers radiance and glow that can be mattefied with powder and your own skin will still show through. It offers a lighter, dewier coverage and is a hit with drier skin. Others I rate and want back in my kit are the Bobbi Brown foundation stick palette for their colour range and versatility as a cream foundation (and cream bronzer palette! So useful). Aside from these my airbrush is always good for humid conditions with an extremely light, but build-able coverage.
Doublewear Light is one foundation that I have absolutely loved. And at one time was a great alternative to it’s stronger sister. But since Estee Lauder have played about with the formula of Double Wear Light, I’m not so sure I love it as much. So as the Doublewear runs out, my initial aim was to replen with Doublewear Light. However, I’m in two-minds about either replacing it with Doublewear Light now and may just jump ship for NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation.
To set, I’ll almost always reach for Charlotte Tilbury’s compact powder. I love the velvety texture of the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Finish Compact. It adds a lovely softness to the skin, which looks beautiful on a bride. And it’s golden packaging looks amazing on photographs. Photographers love a touch-up shot, so it’s a good one to recommend for brides to actually go out and buy. Always thinking, I know!
A good eye-base is essential for keeping eyeshadow in place. And I usually go for a MAC Paintpot. Again because they’re such a diverse product! They can be used on other areas of the face. Soft Ochre is a fantastic lemonade colour for this type of correction. Or I might opt for a very easy to use Bobbi Brown Longwear Cream Eyeshadow Stick. I usually flit between colours to suit the season or fashion. But I’m always hitting pan on MAC Painterly and Bobbi Brown Malted Pink. They’re both great bridal pinky-neutrals to start of the base of any kind of eye look.
To me, the under-eye is a very important place on any brides face. If this still looks dark or slightly grey, then you’ll look tired. Brides need to look like they have had a good twelve hours sleep. While we know that’s usually impossible on wedding eve, we can fake it with a few wonder products. NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer has earned a firm place in my kit. Its velvety texture looks so soft on the under-eye adding just the right amount of coverage. It blends seamlessly into the foundations I work with too. Sometimes I might mix it up with MAC Pro-Longwear concealer. I find these set harder and faster, so you have to work a little quicker. But they are durable and give a hard-wearing smoothness, where NARS offers a softer blur. And I always have a corrector to hand to neutralise any dark circles before applying any concealer. Currently I’m using one from MAC, but I’m happy to keep on searching. My next purchase here will probably be the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye as this has lots of added goodies like caffeine, cucumber and peptides to decrease puffiness and hide bags! Winning.
Lastly I wouldn’t go without Laura Mercier Under-eye Brightening Powder. Its slightly glittery pigment scared me to death when I first bought it. But the difference it makes on photographs to under-eye greyness is amazing! Plus setting anything in the under-eye area is an absolute must to try and avoid pesky creasing.
Far and away the most popular bridal makeup requests are for golden, bronzed or berry eyes. So the first two palettes I’d go for in my kit are the MAC Warm and Cool Neutral palettes. I always pull these out first as it’s a good way of showing a bride a decision they need to make about their makeup; to go with warm orange based or cool blue based tones. I can never see myself without my MAC Warm and Cool Neutral palettes. They could do everything. But I’d be bored if that’s all I used (that’s also a Makeup Artist thing! Addicted to finding the next best thing even if they’ve already found the best thing on the market). So to satisfy my addiction I have a fair few Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadow quads. They are a buttery dream and her pop colours add a little interest only the light can pick up. Every woman seems to love a Tilbury quad, they’re so luxurious and sophisticated! That’s not all, but they’re probably my biggest players and my absolute faves.
BLUSH & BRONZER
Bronzer is a wonder product. Benefit Hoola and Hoola Lite are my go-to bronzers for adding health to every skin tone. They’re also matte. A trick you quickly learn when you’re spending a lot of money on a huge makeup bag is to avoid a complicated product. For example a shimmery bronzer definitely won’t be everyone’s bag. That’s not to say there isn’t one in my kit or a few on my wishlist. But you can’t take shimmer out of a product, and real tanned skin is matte. Most people are going to prefer a matte bronzed look. So I’ve always figured a bronzer without shimmer is going to be a bigger winner. And that ends up being far kinder on my pocket as no products are wasted. Bronzer is the old-school ‘contour’ too. So that’s how I’d tend to apply it. Around the edges of the face and through a C-shaped sweep on the sides. Ultimately, we all know tanned skin isn’t healthy, but the perception of it is. Plus we all look slimmer with a tan. See? Wonder product.
Blush placement is key in bridal makeup, more so than the product. And I think it’s important to have blush with a peach undertone and a pinky undertone for the same reason as the eyeshadow. It’s more fashion to mix pinks and peaches together. I’m also happy to buy blush from any brand. Depth and intensity concerns women more than brand with this one. But to that I’d be inclined to say have another look at your blush when you’re in your wedding dress. As day-to-day we wear dark colours that draw brightness from the face. Lighter colours around the face help lift your complexion and can stand just a little more blush. Try it next time you’re getting ready. If you’re wearing a lighter colour, add a tiny bit more blush. Instant glow getter! At the moment I’m using a NARS palette and the Benefit Blush Bar. Although I tend to stick to two powder blushers on clients, sometimes I might mix it up with and start with a cream blush for some extra flush.
HIGHLIGHT & CONTOUR
I’m just going to leave this here… if you want an extreme, shape-shifting contour I’m not the one. My niche is purely bridal makeup and I don’t feel something that heavy has a place in this kind of makeup. It’s actually quite ageing. Controversial I know! But I do rate the Charlotte Tilbury ‘Sculpt and Glow’ palettes for subtle cheekbone enhancement. Firstly, it’s a space saving duo, which is another ongoing battle for Makeup Artists. And the highlighter can’t be seen from space either. Hoorah! Photographers aren’t exactly fans of a beam me up Scotty kinda’ highlight. It messes with their pics. My favourite ‘candlelight, lit from within’, flattering kind of glow is a product from a British brand called Delilah. That can be used across your whole face. It’s a sophisticated glow, which is great for bridal makeup. Not a hideous and alien stripe to the cheek or radiating dot on the end of a nose.
As an HDbrows stylist I’m a self-confessed brow pervert. I only use their products in my kit. They’re hardwearing and they have a simple colour range that is foolproof for us all. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I pretty much use a dark brown shade called ‘Foxy’ on everyone. And that’s because eyebrow application is more about your tool than your colour! Spoolies, thick angled brow brushes and slim angled brow brush all go into the perfect arches. Using the right tools a blonde could get away with using a black brow product. Honestly! So long as you’re not pressing as a hard as a 3 year old. Eyeshadow is probably my go-to product here, but I’m not adverse to a pencil or brow mascara. Those kinds of choices are personal ones we’d make together at your trial.
This is the one product that is a bit of a let down for Makeup Artists. A good mascara is only good because of its brush. And I can’t use its brush on you. I have to use disposable ones for the sake of cleanliness and your health. No one mascara does absolutely everything. And the other problem here is that waterproof mascara just never seems to be as buildable. And waterproof mascara is an essential. It trumps all other mascara issues for brides. It’s the product that a switch up the most. Plus no one mascara can do it all. There’s multiple issues at play here; lift curl, length and volume. I’ve got no loyalty to any particular one for my kit. On myself, that’s different. Lashes are the part of the face that are often given the most outside help by way of ‘fakies’. So I tend to think more about the size of my disposable brush versus my clients eye shape, and then the amount of drama they want over having an impressive brand in my kit.
LIPS & LINERS
Lipsticks are a total minefield. There are hundreds and thousands of colours. And they come in hundreds and thousands of textures. And just to make it compliacted there’s gloss. It’s the area of my kit that I tend to update the most (outside of essential buys). I find liners not to be such a big deal, so I have quite a healthy range of Bobbi Brown and MAC ones in various nude-ish hues. True and pale pinks, nudes and nude-browns seem to be the firm favourites. And like other areas of the face, you can mattify a lipstick or make it glossy; so once you have the colour you can easily change the texture with a bit of mixing and creativity. My favourites are from Charlotte Tilbury, with Bobbi Brown coming in at a close second, Estee Lauder because they are so buttery; and then I always invest in some MAC lipsticks for their popularity.
And we’re just about done. It’s is by no means an exhaustive list. I mean, I haven’t even included eye-liner and that’s probably because I’ll routinely buy the same ones (Inglot AMC or Bobbi Gel liner for those asking). They feel boring to me because they’re the essential products I buy all the time! But if there’s anything I’ve missed and you’re desperate to know; just ask. My bottom line is that the products I have, I have to be able to trust, and they have to live up to your expectations too!