I sometimes see “how I did my makeup in high school” videos on YouTube and crawl back slowly. In high school I plucked out all of my eyebrows on a whim so I could draw them on like Marlene Dietrich. Then in 10th grade I grew them back and squared them off with eyebrow pencil until they were so heavy and defined that I could have gained 100K Instagram followers in 2016.
I have no regrets about those experiments, but we are not going back there even for a second, sorry.
When it came time for my wedding in 2011, I had worked through my “crazy shit” phase and wanted something classic and resembling my everyday look.
Professionals have given tons of amazing tips, but I thought I’d give some thoughts on how I — then a busy, fairly broke grad student — determined how I’d do my makeup and what I’d do differently if I went back in time and did it all again.
Overall, I think the look was successful. I doubt I’ll ever look at the photos and cringe about my makeup. I did some things right:
- I brought my usual makeup mirror to the venue even after I put on my makeup in case I wanted to do touch-ups. I feel like a well-lit, magnifying makeup mirror is the first thing someone should buy when they want to up their game, even before tools like brushes or more fancy products. I felt so strongly about mine that I flew home with it in my luggage; I didn’t want to risk being without it. Being able to see every little detail will instantly help you create a more flawless look. The mirror doesn’t have to be expensive; I see perfectly good mirrors for $30 on Amazon. It doesn’t even need to magnify a ton — in fact, my fancy 10x mirror sucks for everything other than plucking my brows because it’s hard to see one’s whole face in it.
- I did what was normal, everyday makeup for me at the time. My feeling is that when you’re doing high-pressure makeup, you need to lower the difficulty rating or stick with what you do day in and day out. If you’re not a daily false lash wearer, don’t attempt it out of nowhere before a big event. If you want to wear self-applied falsies for a big occasion, just incorporate them into your daily routine until you can stick the landing without a problem.
- I got foundation matched by a professional. There are mixed opinions about this because not every matcher is able to nail your color. Very close to my wedding (!!!) I went to the Estée Lauder counter in the giant Herald Square Macy’s and got matched by someone who nailed my color perfectly (I used Double Wear foundation for my wedding). I remember her trying a few different shades and blending them out before settling on the one that looked best; that’s a good sign. I usually prefer to be matched for foundation and brow products by people who aren’t my near skin shade; I find that the prevailing trend in the West is still for white people to use base makeup and brow products that are much warmer and deeper than their actual skin and hair, and that’s not a look I’m going for — I just want a good match.
That said, if I had to recreate the general look again today, I’d do some things differently:
- six years ago, brows were much more “managed.” I’d say that mine were too thin, especially for my giantass face. My brow pencil was also too warm. I’m not a fan of overdrawn brows on me, but I think that some sort of midpoint is ideal.
- I’d have upped my setting powder game. By the end of the night, I was SHINY. Part of that was due to dancing and having a blast and wearing a heavy af dress, but some strategic powder right when I did my makeup (and not later, when I was already melting) could have saved me from looking doused. Maybe.
- I wore lipgloss, which wore off super quickly. I’d sub in a nude pink lipstick and liner. If I really wanted the look to stay I’d use one of the new Huda Beauty nude liquid lipsticks; they feel great and don’t look disgusting when they wear off.
- I think I was on the right track with my eye makeup, but I’d use a less white base below the brow, use a brown liner instead of black and tightline with it (apply the liner in my top eyelashes rather than sitting on top of them), and use an eyelash primer to get fuller, longer lashes. I might also consider a partial false lash placed on the outer part of the lashline.
Basically, if I had to do it all again, I’d study the shit out of this Princess Diana tutorial because it’s a fairly timeless look for someone with my coloring.
I’m really not a believer in one-look-for-everyone makeup, so I think it’s good to experiment with your look and study the work of makeup artists who know how to make people who look like you look great.
Ultimately, I wasn’t too stressed about my skin (it hadn’t descended into acne yet haaaaaaaa) and I was fairly chill about my makeup; the eyeshadow was just a beat-up L’Oreal quad that I used day in and day out. I was more concerned about not letting my wedding derail my writing (in retrospect, zero regrets).
We’re renewing our vows in Vegas with Elvis this summer, and I suspect that I’ll have a similarly unstressed approach. A lot of thought goes into wedding looks, but it’s honestly not a huge deal as long as you walk out of the door with the right person.