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How to do unmade-up bridal make-up

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A really lovely sideline to being a Beauty Editor for so long has been being asked to do brides’ make-up. The first few times I was really nervous as, after all, it is the biggest and most photographed day of their lives. Most of ‘my brides’ were ones getting married abroad. It saved them from booking a pro plus we could nail down their look back home.

When my sister got married in Iceland, her brief to me was ‘barely-there’ make-up. Because she never wore make-up on a daily basis, she just wanted to look polished. Knowing that a lot of brides prefer a more natural look, I thought I’d share what I did that pretty cold day in Iceland.

Barely-there make-up requires really careful prep. I’m talking neatly groomed brows and well-moisturised skin. The night before the wedding, my sis gently exfoliated and let a sheet mask drench her skin with moisture.

On W-morn, I started by applying a really light moisturising fluid, allowing a little while for it to sink in. Next went on primer to help set the foundation in place and stop shine, then a sheer radiance-boosting liquid foundation, blended in with a brush. Rather than cover her face in foundation, I concentrated just on any areas that needed it then blotted concealer onto dark circles and blemishes. I blended my heart out to create really natural-just-better looking skin then ever so lightly dusted powder across the centre of her face. Obviously, long before the trip, we’d colour-matched the foundation and powder to her skin tone.

I couldn’t bear to leave her eyelids totally bare, so I went with my favourite oyster-coloured subtle shimmer applied up to her brow bones. A teensy-tiny dot of soft brown in the outer corners, blended well into the socket crease and a fine line of darker brown eye kohl along the roots of her upper lashes, gave a little definition for the sake of the photos. Although I offered to add a few individual fake lashes at the outer corners of her eyes, she insisted on just one coat of black mascara stroked onto curled lashes.

Next, I dabbed a really small amount of pinky-cream highlighter onto her cheekbones to give off a dewy glow, then used a big, fluffy brush to apply a soft peach blusher onto the fattest parts of her cheeks (when she smiled) blending it up towards her ears.

Being a chatterbox, as well as lipstick-phobic, all I did was outline her lips with a neutral pinky-beige lipliner then filled in with a rose-tinted balm.

Overall, she looked pretty much like she does every day of her life – natural but with a polish. Here’s a list of the no make-up make-up kit I used:

Her base:
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, £26 (1)
Clarins Skin Illusion Natural Radiance Foundation SPF10, £29 (2)
Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Loose Powder, £28 (3)

Her eyes:
Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Midnight Cowgirl, £15 (4)
Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow in Sable, £18 (5)
Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Eye Pencil in Coffee, £16.50 (6)
YSL Beaute Volume Effet Faux Mascara in Noir Radical, £25.50 (7)

Her cheeks:
Clinique Up-Lighting Liquid Illuminator in Blush, £23.50 (8)
Bobbi Brown Blusher in Pastel Peach, £19.50 (9)

Her lips:
Smashbox Always Sharp Lip Liner in Fair Nude, £16 (10)
Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Balm Perfector, £18.50 (11)

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If you’re planning a go subtle in the make-up department, I hope this post helps. And if you’ve any great barely-there make-up recommendations you’d love to share with fellow B2Bs, please spill below.

Sarah x

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  • You could so get a Meghan makeup with these products. Thanks for the recs. I really like them all. Bxx

    4 years ago : Billie
  • Apart from the fact that your bride looks beautiful, i imagine that this unmade up makeup look is pretty low maintenance throughout the day. I couldn’t bear to have to check for smudgy eyes, shine and bleeding lipstick every 15 minutes. Stephanie

    4 years ago : Steph
  • Oh wow – I would give anything to look like this! I love how she looks polished but not covered in makeup. So beautiful. Am pinning it. Abbie

    4 years ago : Abbie
  • This is gorgeous – exactly the kind of makeup I’d wear. Beautiful smudges too. You can see how flattering everything would look x

    4 years ago : Dbaxter
  • This is a really useful post. I’m not a fan of obvious make-up. It’s nice to know I can still look normal, even under a light layer of slap-idge. x

    5 years ago : sherbertpip
  • Great bunch of prods – and perfect for brides in sunny climes. Like me!! Thank you xx

    5 years ago : Monica
  • I’m thinking (make that hoping) that spf, bronzer and mascara will do for my July wedding. I’m wearing my hair almost exactly like your model’s. As long as my skin is in good nick that’s all the makeup I need. Charlie x

    5 years ago : Chas
  • Smash box primer rocks!!! Urban decay eye shadows too. I’ve got 3 of their palettes xx

    5 years ago : Melinda
  • So funny! My mother in law to be sent me the link to this post. She obviously doesn’t like my makeup!! Tough!! Good post tho – if u want to lessen the load (unlike me!) 😉😘xx

    5 years ago : KArlie x
  • I’ve worked long & hard to get my skin into its best shape so that I can get away with subtle makeup on my wedding day. As I’m marrying abroad, in broderie anglaise, heavy makeup would be too much. Amelie xx

    5 years ago : Aweston
  • I definitely fall into this camp – so much so that hiring a makeup artist would be a huge waste of money. I like the idea of shimmery oyster eyes, peach lips and balmy lips. Thank you! Deonne

    5 years ago : Dsmith
  • Earlier today I sadly discovered that my all-time fave Bobbi brown foundation was gone. I’ll give the Clarins one a go 🤞🏻Melanie x

    5 years ago : Melliemel
  • Brilliant advice and great product recommendations too x becky

    5 years ago : Beckster