Eye and lip pencils

Eye and lip kohl pencils are essential items to have in your make-up kit. The best kohl pencils are in our opinion made in Europe, especially Germany. Expect to pay more for quality but the pencils will last a long time if properly cared for. You will need a pencil sharpener especially designed for kohl pencils ( a normal pencil sharpener will chew up the tip). The advantage of kohl pencils is that you can achieve different looks with fine or medium lines and blending to achieve a soft or smoky affect. The colour stays in place and is easy to remove. We do not recommend liquid eyeliner for your wedding as it can look harsh in daylight. If an error in application occurs (and this can happen in a blink of an eye), liquid eyeliners are almost impossible to repair without removing completely and starting again. You definitely do not need this stress on your wedding day! Liquid lip liners may be an option but lack the versatility of lip pencils.

Highlighting and shading powders and crèmes

Professional make-up application involves the use of  powders and / or crèmes to highlight features and to minimise features. We are all familiar with the use of blush to emphasise cheek bones however there are other more advanced techniques. For example, the appearance of  a wide nose can be minimised by subtle shading with a powder slightly darker than the foundation colour. A narrow nose can be made to look wider by subtle highlighting with a lighter colour. The darkness many people experience in the corner of their eyes can be minimised with a carefully blended spot of light coloured eyeshadow powder, crème or foundation. You will need to experiment to find the best colours to use for this purpose as this will depend on your complexion. White, ivory or beige may be suitable highlighter colours for fairer complexions while deeper colours will suit those with medium to dark complexions. Highlighters must be lighter than your foundation and shading must be darker. Subtlety is the key so the differentiation in shades should not be too extreme, especially in daylight. There are products specifically designed for highlighting and shading as well as a wide range of eyeshadow colours that can be used for this purpose.


Choose a waterproof (not smudge-proof) mascara for your wedding day. This will be an emotional day and you cannot predict the weather. The last thing you need is to have mascara streaming down your face and onto your beautiful clothes. You will need an eye make-up remover specifically designed to remove waterproof mascara and remember to test this prior to the day. If you have black eyelashes a black mascara will be fine. Otherwise choose a medium to dark brown depending on your colouring. The aim as always is to avoid make-up looking harsh in the daylight. Black mascara may work at night or in a night club but it will not be suitable in daylight unless your eyelashes are naturally black. Avoid dramatic mascaras that are thick or contain particles to give the illusion of length. Mascara colours such as blue or green will also look very strange in daylight. Similarly, save false eyelashes for evening events as they will not look natural during the day.

Setting powders for foundation

You will need a loose, fine grade, matte setting powder to match your foundation. Avoid glitter ingredients as this will make your face look shiny in daylight. Remember the camera lens needs a focus point and you do not want this to be a shiny forehead, nose or chin. We are not great fans of mineral powders for this purpose because they are often coarse. Mineral powders are generally intended to replace foundation therefore the coarseness of the powder grains helps adherence to the skin. This makes it difficult to apply the mineral powder lightly over foundation so the skin may appear dull and sallow. Fine grade, loose powders are available in translucent colours which may suit fair complexions. Otherwise, try to match the powder colour exactly or as close as possible to your chosen foundation colour. Try to find a loose powder in a container with a screw on lid. This will make it easier to transport and the lid will be useful for application of the product. You may be lucky enough to find a separate cosmetic container designed for loose powder. A cosmetic compact with matching cake powder will also be useful for touch-ups during the day. Even if you plan to use a long lasting foundation, these powders are still needed to set the product and avoid shine.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Start thinking like a movie star or a model when planning your wedding make-up. Your wedding album will be one of your most treasured possessions so your photographs should be of the highest quality. Professional photographers know that the best natural lighting occurs in daylight just after dawn or in the late afternoon before dusk. Unless you are having a dawn wedding, schedule your photographs with the wedding party to be taken mid to late afternoon. Find a photographer you can relate to and discuss the types of photographs they are planning to take on the day. There should be no surprises! As the majority of the photographs will be taken in daylight, make-up colours must be chosen with care. Make-up will enhance your appearance in photographs but a balance needs to be achieved. It must be applied sufficiently to highlight your best features but not so heavily that you look overdone when mixing with your guests in daylight. Luckily there is a wide range of colours available in eyeshadows, blush and lipsticks so you can have fun experimenting with different looks. Check how the colours look in different lighting – outside in daylight at different times of the day; and indoors with and without overhead lighting. Above all, make your photographer your friend and ask their advice when you have decided on your wedding make-up colours. It may simply be  a matter of choosing a slightly deeper or lighter colour tone for the best possible effect.

Make-up tools – brushes

Even if you are planning to employ a make-up artist for your wedding, purchasing a  set of professional make-up brushes will be a great investment. After all, you will still want to apply make-up on your honeymoon and for many wonderful events in years to come. Buy the best quality brushes you can afford or, better still, drop a hint to your friends that this would be your dream pre-wedding gift. The best make-up brushes are made from natural hair and natural bristle. The quality of the brushes will vary according to the type of hair and bristle used and the manufacturing process. Stay clear of synthetic brushes as they become stiff over time and do not absorb and distribute make-up well . Remember to read the care instructions for your professional brushes. Usually, the brushes are cleaned with a mild shampoo or detergent in lukewarm water. Never use hot water as the brushes are attached to the handle with glue, which will break down with heat. Rinse the brushes after cleaning and pat dry with a cloth such as microfibre, which is highly absorbent. Smooth the brushes into their original shape taking care to smooth any stray hairs that are out of position. Air dry with the handles facing down . It is important never to store these important tools with the handles facing up as this will distort the brushes. You will have great fun learning about all your new brushes and there are many resources on the internet about this. A photograph of my own professional make-up brush set is below to show you how many different brushes are available. The missing brush is similar to an artist’s paintbrush with a pointed tip and I tend to use it a lot for concealer.


Make-up tools – disposable cosmetic applicators

Disposable cosmetic applicators help to keep your make-up clean and free from bacteria and are great tools for applying and blending make-up. We have all used the cotton buds but did you know that dual cosmetic applicators are now available? (See photograph below) These are similar to the cotton buds but have a broad tip on one end (useful for applying eyeshadow) and a fine or pointy tip on the other end (perfect for blending eyeshadow and eye pencil). These applicators are also great for correcting mistakes, such as spots of mascara. Simply add a tiny bit of water to wet the fine tip and apply a drop of eye make-up remover on the point. Gently dab the point on the mascara spots and watch them disappear. Touch up if necessary with foundation. Always take care when using any make-up applicator near your eyes. These disposable applicators are inexpensive and widely available but if you cannot find them try an orange stick wrapped in a fine layer of cotton wool. An orange stick is used for manicures and is another great item to have in your make-up kit.


Makeup tools – the humble sponge

Let’s spend a little time talking about make-up tools. Many people apply concealer and liquid foundation with their fingertips. This is not only messy but potentially unhygienic as bacteria can be introduced to their make-up products.  It is impossible to apply foundation lightly and blend it evenly if we use our fingers.  The secret is to use professional make-up sponges. These sponges are relatively inexpensive and widely available in a variety of shapes and sizes. The quality of sponges does vary so do not skimp too much on the price. Poor quality sponges will break down easily and you will find tiny bits of sponge sticking to your make-up. Many of these sponges are made of latex so take care which brand you buy if you have an allergy to latex. As with any product in contact with your skin, trial the sponge on a small inconspicuous area before using it on your entire face. So which shape sponges to buy? Our favourite is the wedge shaped sponge (see photograph below). The flat side near the narrow edge is used to apply and blend the foundation over the face. The narrow edge is useful for lightly feathering the foundation under the eyes and around the nose and lips. If you are really lucky, you might find wedge sponges with a sharper and feathered edge.


More about foundation colours and choosing concealers

In the previous post we talked about why you should research and trial foundations before your wedding day. It is best not to leave this to a make-up artist as they often use a basic kit and you may not be happy with their foundations. Choosing the right foundation colour is important as a colour you wear at night may not work in harsh daylight. Some leading cosmetic companies offer colour matching services for foundations, concealers and setting powders. You can find these services at larger department stores. The wrong colour will look unnatural, especially in photographs. For example, if your skin is pale or porcelain in colour, a beige foundation will not work. Similarly if your complexion is darker in colour, your make-up will not look natural if the colour you choose is too light. Although beige may be the right colour for you, the most flattering shade will vary according to whether your skin has olive or pink undertones. Fortunately there are a wide range of foundation colours now available so take advantage of samples so that you can try the products out in different lighting. When you have decided on your foundation try to find a matching concealer. You may not think you need a concealer but you never know how your skin will react in the lead-up to your wedding. Stage make-up shops often stock wonderful concealers in a wide range of colours or the company you purchase your foundation from may have a matching concealer. Remember to test how the concealer reacts to the foundation in a variety of settings. Even if you are employing a make-up artist on your wedding day, you will also use the products on your honeymoon so your investment in the right products will not be lost.

Choosing a foundation

There are many types of foundation on the market such as liquid foundations with an oil or crème base, liquid foundations that are water based, mineral powders, liquid mineral foundations, wet and dry powder based foundations and so on. You will need to decide which will be suitable for your wedding make-up and this will require experimentation before the special day. Make-up for traditional weddings is often light in texture  and even slightly moist in appearance. Water based foundations are flattering without feeling heavy on the face however beware! Your wedding may take place on a warm day, causing facial perspiration, and the day is also likely to be emotional. Even if water based foundation is set with powder it is likely to run if in contact with perspiration, tears of happiness or raindrops. This may also apply to mineral or powder based foundations. Moisturisers, skin primers and facial antiperspirant may also react with the foundation, causing it to lose integrity on the face. So it is important to trial different foundations in different conditions and with other products you plan to wear on your skin. Many larger department stores can provide samples and often offer free make-up consultations. Choosing foundation colours will be covered soon in another post.