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The 9 rules of wedding make-up, according to seasoned pro

If there’s one thing everyone knows about weddings, it’s that all eyes are always on the bride – so looking luminous is essential. One make-up artist who has played a key role in countless beautiful bridal moments is Hannah Martin. Understood to be the expert hands behind the Duchess of Cambridge’s radiant wedding look in 2011 (though she would never be so indiscreet as to confirm), as well as other members of the royal family since, Martin says the impact of successive lockdowns has seen more and more brides resolving to take their wedding day beauty into their own hands. Here, she shares her tricks of the trade.

How to decide on your look

“My advice to brides is to avoid doing anything too experimental or far removed from your normal look. Find a picture of yourself when you looked good and seek to recreate a similar make-up look. If you’re doing it yourself, there is a wealth of bridal make-up information out there, from make-up artists on Instagram to YouTubers to, of course, excellent Vogue wedding articles featuring aspirational brides and ways to emulate elements of their look.”

Start with skincare

“For bulletproof make-up staying power, it’s a layered process – and it’s better to take the long route than to try quick fixes that will end up disappointing you. It starts with skincare. For make-up that stays put as long as possible, your skin needs to be freshly exfoliated the night before, so there’s no dulling dead skin sitting on the surface that could interfere with how your foundation sits upon the skin.

“Lots of light layers is better than one super-rich moisturiser, which can add way too much oil to the skin’s surface that can then cause your foundation to slide. Start by cleansing then follow with an essence – something water-based and light – to hydrate. Follow with an eye cream and then a mid-weight moisturiser, like Bobbi Brown’s Vitamin Enriched Face Base, or Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream Light. Avoid applying a singular SPF in favour of a skincare formula that incorporates it – it could cause flash-back in photographs.”

Ace your foundation base

“I’m always keen to tell brides that, just because it’s your wedding day, it doesn’t mean you need to wear more foundation or a heavier formula. Something that works on every skin type is MAC’s Face & Body. I often start with a sheer layer and then build coverage with a stick foundation if necessary. My holy grail for this is Bobbi Brown’s Foundation Stick, as you can really manipulate it for the coverage you want in areas like the cheeks, or around the nose and chin – gently stipple with a small, tightly bound brush, like Hourglass’s Concealer Brush. Another good foundation is Armani’s Luminous Silk, because it works on all skin types, while brides who want a bit more coverage will like Lancôme’s Teint Idole. After stippling it until it sinks in, I love to use my fingers just to take off any excess make-up.”

Powder is your best friend

“On your wedding day, you must use powder! Loads of brides are really averse to it as they think it will create heavy, cakey-looking skin, not the radiant glow they’re after – but you can still do that while using setting powder. It’s important that it gets applied over the T-zone, so in the centre of the forehead and between the eyebrows – if you get shine in that area, you’ll see a white patch in your photographs, which reads like sweat. Matte-ify the sides of the nose, the triangle around the mouth, top lip and chin. I don’t advocate for the baking technique, as it can dull the skin and make it look flat IRL. Products like the iconic Laura Mercier Translucent Powder, or By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder, are great for setting the skin around the T-zone.

Setting spray does work – but only if it’s used correctly

“While I believe in the power of setting spray there is a big caveat: you’ve got to follow best practice, as previously mentioned, to get to that point. A setting spray will never magically fix your make-up into place if you’ve shoddily applied it or not used powder, which is a strong barrier for oil to seep through. I like Urban Decay’s All Nighter Setting Spray.”

How to blush

“When it comes to blush, I always layer. I’ll do an initial layer of cream blush, then stipple it into the apple of the cheek. When I’m setting the rest of the face with powder, I create a very light sweep of a similar toned powder blush on top.”

The gentle smoky eye 101

“Look back at weddings from days gone by, like Grace Kelly’s, and you’ll notice that make-up like that doesn’t date. Whereas if you opt for a heavy, cut-crease eyeshadow, you run the risk of looking back in 10 years time and thinking it looks alien. My advice is to opt for a delicate daytime smoky eye. For this I use tones much lighter than I would for a stereotypical evening smoky eye – think soft taupes with a peachy crease or mid-grey colours, both of which are timeless. I encourage brides to opt for something fresh, pretty and elegant, a look that will stand the test of time.”

Opt for a soft-focus finish

“Too much eyeliner and your eyes can appear smaller, so while I advocate using it – I use a black shade on almost all my brides – I make sure to draw the line incredibly thin. The trick is to run it along the outer three quarters of the eye with a slight extension at the outer corner – not a wing, but slightly longer than the eye itself, because everyone looks beautiful with a bigger eye shape. Once the liquid line is in place, gently smudge a darker powder over the top for a softer, more diffused look.

The perfect nude

“I recommend opting for a nude lipstick that isn’t too dissimilar to your natural lip colour – that way, it won’t look out of place. The secret is always to apply a liner that matches your natural lip rather than the lipstick – that way if the lipstick wears off, you’ve got a base coat to carry you through until your next touch-up. I always finish with the Clarins Lip Perfector, a lovely tinted lip balm that makes all lips look supple. It prevents them looking dry and cracked but it’s nowhere near as sticky as a lip gloss. I think that looks better on a bride than a fully matte lip, which can look flat and feel uncomfortable.”

This article was originally published on Vogue US.

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