Wedding Day Makeup: 18 Tips Most Bride-to-bes Should Know

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How to Look Your Best on Your Wedding Day

A bride on her wedding day. Sharondipity Photography for Getty

When planning a wedding, your options for your wedding day makeup pretty much come down to should you do it yourself or should you hire a makeup artist?

In this slideshow you'll find 18 beauty secrets for brides-to-be, including lipstick that lasts for hours, why it's time to break out the eyelash curler and why booking a pre-wedding day makeup session is a must if you go the professional route. 

Let's start with the biggest beauty secret....

The Key is To Look Like Yourself, Only Better

It was widely reported that Kate Middleton chose to do her own wedding makeup because she wanted William to recognize her as she walked down the aisle. If you wear little makeup in your regular life, your wedding day is not the day to try out a smokey eye. You should look like you, only enhanced. The same rule holds true if you are a huge makeup junkie like Kim Kardashian. When she walked down the aisle at her 2014 wedding (the one to Kanye West) in a full face of makeup, she still looked like Kim Kardashian.

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Should You Have a Pro Do Your Makeup?

wedding day makeup. webphotographeer for Getty

Many brides get their hair done professionally for their wedding and many of these stylists do makeup, too. If you're booking a pro for your hair (find out more about hair trials and consultations in Wedding Hair: My Best Tips & Tricks in One Spot), ask if you can have your makeup done, too.

Make sure to consult with the artist and do a trial run before your big day. You don't want your wedding day to be a big surprise, makeup-wise.

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You Know That Friend Of Yours Who Really Knows Makeup? Enlist Her Help

Kate Middleton on her wedding day. Max Mumby/Indigo for Getty

It was widely reported that Kate Middleton did her own makeup for her wedding day, so if you have a knack for doing your makeup, it could be a cost-saving option for you. If you know nothing about makeup application, you might ask a friend to help you out. Do a practice run a week or so before the big day to make sure you're on the same page.

Don't miss How to Apply Makeup.

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The Most Important Part of Your Makeup: Your Skin Tone

combination skin type. Stone for Getty Images

It doesn't matter how big your eyes are or how glossy your lips look, if your skin is broken out, blotchy or oily, you won't look your best on your wedding day. Your first priority should be making sure your skin looks great, then move on to your eyes, cheeks and lips.

If you are prone to breakouts, visit a dermatologist. If you want amazing skin, book a facial a few days before your wedding. If you have a ton of cash to spare, visit a dermatologist and ask about laser skin conditioning, Botox or filler. 

Everything you need to know about getting your skin to look great are in these articles:

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Pick Your Eyes or Your Mouth

PhotoAlto/Milena Boniek for Getty

A basic rule of makeup is to either play up your eyes or your mouth. Play up both and you risk looking like a clown. So if you decide to go all-out on your eye makeup, keep your lips light with a gloss or a light pink lipstick. If you want to play up your full lips, do so with a bright or deep color, but keep your eyes relatively light.

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This is the Day to Whip Out the Eyelash Curler

eyelash curler and false lashes. Anthony Lee for Getty

Unless you are one of those people with such amazingly long eyelashes you are regularly asked if you use Latisse, you'll benefit from an eyelash curler. Curling lashes will make your eyes "pop." For added curl, heat a metal eyelash curler for three seconds with a blowdryer before curling lashes. Just be sure to test the curler first on your wrist to make sure it's not too hot.

Another huge trend is to get false lashes for a big day. You can either have them done professionally or attempt them yourself. 

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Two Words: Waterproof. Mascara.

When to throw out mascara. Taxi for Getty Images

Perhaps you will be in that five percent of women who don't tear up at some point at their wedding, but if you're not, today is the day to whip out the waterproof mascara. And ask your maid of honor to carry a tissue for you. Also, if you have light skin and blonde hair, brown mascara might look less harsh and unnatural than black mascara. Your call.  

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Prime, Prime, Prime

PeopleImages for Getty

Just as you would prime a wall before you paint, you should prime your face before you apply anything powder-based. Nothing works better to keep your shadow from melting into your eyelid crease than eyeshadow primers. (Learn more in Keep Eyeshadow in Place for Hours).  

If you're wearing foundation or tinted moisturizer, apply primer beforehand. Primer fills in pores and fine lines and you'll find your foundation glides on effortlessly.

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Invest in a Highlighter Pen

best highlighters
Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Highlighter. Amazon

Nothing brightens the face more than highlighter pens. Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Concealer is the most popular highlighter on the market and a makeup artist's secret. Although it is called a concealer, it's really a highlighter. 

Apply a bit under the eyes, above the brow, in the creases of the jowls (along your nose) and under the chin. Pat in with the pad of your finger. One great tip is to look in the mirror with your chin down. Apply Touche Eclat to the dark, shadowed spaces.

There are many highlighters on the market. Check out the best of the best in The Best Highlighters & Illuminating Makeup Products. Find out how to use them in How to Use Illuminating Makeup.

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The Trick to Keeping Lipstick in Place

Chanel light rose. Nordstrom

Who has time to apply lipstick or gloss every half hour when they have 200 guests to entertain?

Consider a long-wearing lipstick for your big day. Chanel Ultra Wear Lip Color (buy it from Nordstrom) is a great bet. Once you put this stuff on, it's like a stain and doesn't budge. It comes in several shades, but consider light rose, pictured here, which is just a couple shades darker than the average woman's lips.

Here are some more tips for keeping lipstick in place:

  • The morning of the wedding, exfoliate lips by slathering them with Vaseline. Scrub them in a circular motion with an old toothbrush.
  • When you apply makeup, fill in lips with a lip liner.
  • Apply lipstick or gloss over this. The lip liner is key to keeping color locked in place.
  • Keep your lip liner close at hand so you can refresh your lips a few times during the evening. Better yet, put one of your bridesmaids in charge of lipstick/gloss duty.

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Wax Your Upper Lip, Yes, But Give it a Few Days Before the Wedding

Vesna Andjic for Getty

You may be able to cover up a red upper lip or brow with a thick concealer, but the redness will wear through at some point. It is best to wax no less than 48 hours before a big event.

The same goes for your bikini line. Unless you get regular bikini waxes and know how your skin reacts, give yourself at least 48 hours before your wedding to get a bikini wax or Brazilian or risk walking down the aisle with talcum powder liberally applied to the inside of your thighs.

If you're a newbie at waxing, take two ibuprofen at least an hour before your appointment. The more waxings you get, the less painful they are.

For more details see, The "Brazilian Wax" (Or, What to Expect When You Sign Up to Get One).

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Oily Skin? Carry Blotting Sheets

Christopher Weidlich/Corbis/VCG for Getty

To keep your oily skin at bay, set your makeup with a loose powder before you walk down the aisle, but don't keep over-powdering skin as the day and night wear on. Instead, carry blotting papers. This way you don't have to keep powdering your face all night long. The blotting papers soak up the oils, leaving your makeup in place.

Try Clean and Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets, buy them from Amazon

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Fake Tan? Make Sure It's a Spray Tan

Jutta Klee for Getty

If you like the tanned look, get a spray tan or at least use a self-tanner you know works. If you're new to fake tanning, be careful because the orange look on your wedding day is not cool. Also, self-tanners reek (find out why). You don't want to reek on your wedding day.

See How to Fake a Summer Tan.

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Say "I Do" to a Classic Manicure and Pedicure

manicure. Image Source for Getty

A classic look for a wedding is a soft pink manicure and pedicure. 

If you are not into painted nails, consider getting your nails professionally shaped and buffed instead. a buffing instead.  

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Exfoliate in the Weeks Up to the Wedding

Facial scrub. Cultura RM/Brigitte Sporrer for Getty

To make sure your skin looks its best, exfoliate your face and neck once or twice a week a couple months before the wedding. You can make your own facial scrub by mixing a generic white sugar with coconut oil, grapeseed oil or even olive oil, or you can buy a storebought scrub.  

The days before your wedding, treat yourself to a professional facial (give yourself at least 48 hours for the skin to calm down) or do your own at home. It's easier than you might think. See How To Do The Basic At-Home Facial.

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A Word About Teeth Whitening

white teeth. Frank P Wartenberg for Getty

One of the best investments you can make is professional teeth whitening at a dentist's office. There are a bunch of over-the-counter teeth whiteners that work, too. (People also swear by Crest Strips). Just be careful not to go too overboard with teeth whitening. Chiclet-white teeth looks unnatural.

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How to Keep the Sweat at Bay

sweating bride. Chev Wilkinson for Getty

Wedding dresses are hot. Very, very hot. And since many weddings take place outdoors in the early summer months, you may find yourself a sweaty mess on the day of your wedding. But have no fear, these tips will keep you sweat-proof on your wedding day.

  • If you have tons of money at your disposal, get Botox in your armpits a couple weeks before the wedding. It's expensive ($1500 in New York City), but so was that chocolate fondue machine you insisted on. And the Botox will last you at least 3 months -- enough time to get you through the wedding and the honeymoon with sweatless pits.
  • A less expensive option is to pack baby wipes and deodorant on your wedding day. Why the baby wipes? It's best not to apply deodorant to moist skin. Wipe your armpits with a baby wipe first, let it dry and then re-apply deodorant.
  • To combat sweaty thighs and the chafing that comes with it, swipe anti-perspirant on your inner thighs. Avoid baby powder, which sweats right off. Other good chafing relievers include Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel (buy from, DERMAdoctor Med-E-Tate (buy from Amazon) and BodyGlide anti-chaff stick (buy from Amazon).

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Just Say No to the Gum

Listerine PocketPaks. Amazon

Today is not the day to be chewing gum or sucking on mints. To keep breath fresh, pack breath strips like Listerine Pocketpaks Breath Strips (buy from Amazon). 

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Finally, A Quick Tip About Your Hair

Klorane Dry Shampoo With Nettle. Klorane

Stylists always talk about how dirty hair makes the best updos. If you can't bear to show up on your wedding day with dirty hair, try the hair stylist secret and ask your stylist to use baby powder or dry shampoo to give hair that "dirty" texture so needed for an updo. Try Klorane (buy it from Amazon). 

And don't forget to pack extra hairspray and pins.  

See Wedding Hair: My Best Tips in One Spot for more wedding hair tips.

More on weddings:

  • For hairstyle advice, check out my Wedding Hair: My Best Tips in One Spot.
  • You'll need to pick a fragrance for your big day. See this list of the Top 10 Wedding Perfumes.
  • Check out's Wedding Website.