We all know looking your best on your wedding day isn't just a matter of picking the perfect dress & flowers, but what's a girl to do when it comes to the finishing touches for the biggest day of her life? How do you plan for the un-planable - the unpredictable wind, or the heat that wasn't in the forecast? When it comes to your hair and makeup - it's best to error on the side of caution. On your wedding day I'll thank you, and in 20 years when you look back at your wedding portraits you'll be thanking yourself. No matter if you're going for a completely glammed up look, or something more natural - your hair and makeup play a HUGE role in how you look in your wedding photographs. There is only so much I can do when retouching images, and a makeup artist who knows what they're doing will make sure you look great, no matter what surprises come your way on the wedding day.
While I've been to countless weddings, and seen my fair share of hair and makeup problems, I don't actually have any clue how to solve or prevent them, so I sat down with my friend Jax to get some insight. Jax is the owner of a San Antonio hair and makeup studio, JAX Studio. Not only is she a phenomenal artist when it comes to bridal makeup, but she also does some of the makeup for Project Runway each year (how fricking cool is that! I just want to sneak into one of her suitcases so I can just BE there in person). I have another post that is coming soon just about her studio and the work they specifically do, seriously she's an amazing woman, but for now enjoy the info nuggets waiting for you below!
Bridal Makeup Tips
Parker: I know absolutely nothing about makeup, so this might be an ignorant question, but does it matter how a client takes care of their skin? Or does makeup really just fix-all / make everything perfect solution?
Jax: Makeup can do a few things:
- Makeup can take out color and then bring in color.
- Makeup can change structure and balance the face.
- Makeup can give the illusion of symmetry and also a full night's sleep.
- It can cover that awful tattoo you got in college freshman year!
However, makeup can not change texture. If you have acne, or acne scarring that's why you have an amazing photographer to smooth that out in editing. Makeup is just a superficial layer that changes the dimensions of the face.
Parker: We make the perfect team because color is the biggest challenge to fix from a photography perspective, while texture is a lot easier. What are the skin care tips that make your job so much easier, and are there any serious no-nos?
Jax: Skincare tip: glycolic acids are your best friend. They exfoliate the top layers of dead skin without the use of an abrasive agent. Used once or twice a week it will reduce the effects of scares, reduce acne and smooth out the appearance of pores and fine lines. I suggest using a glycolic face wash before jumping into a glycolic serum to see how your skin tolerates certain percentages.
No crazy chemical treatments one week prior to makeup application. If your face is falling off it is hard to get the makeup to look good, lol! Waxing or threading 72 hours prior to application but not after. Please! Please! Please! Don't spray tan your face! An artist can make you the same color as your body, but spray tans are always patchy on the face, it doubles the time, materials and work on the artist.
Parker: When a client is coming in for their hair / makeup appointment what condition do you need their skin and hair in to work your magic?
Jax: All we ask is that the hair is clean and dry, no special masks or leave in conditioners or oils 24 hours prior will give the best hair results. As far as skin, just clean and dry. Free of SPF and moisturizer (I got you covered). If you can use a light exfoliator the morning of or night before, it will help with the overall appearance of the skin.
Parker: So you've been working with brides and bridal parties for a long time. Are bridal portraits a good time for a trial hair & makeup session? Do you have any experiences of brides trying looks that they end up changing before the wedding day, or anything like that?
Jax: After 18 years doing brides we feel more than confident that the trial is an suitable time to do your bridals if, and only if, the bride is 100% sure of the look she is wanting for her photos (by the way, these photos last forever so when I say 100%, I mean 100%). If a bride is throwing around several ideas in her head, I suggest an actual trial before the bridal session. That allows us to show you a few versions of your look before it is your forever look.
Also, keep in mind whether using us or another artist/stylist, the trial is the time to see what the artist/stylist can execute. If they can't get it exactly to your liking, or if you are not able to communicate together, that can totally ruin your perfect bridal look. This is an enormous amount of stress and anxiety that can show in your face come picture time.
In my personal opinion, this is the time you must love your makeup and hair the most, this is an entire photo shoot dedicated to just you with close ups included. Bridal portraits are not the best time to "try someone out" if you aren't 100% locked down on your look.
Parker: Let's talk money. In the wedding industry we get to work with all different sorts of budgets, but at the end of the day sticking to whatever budget the client has is key. What would you say is an average range a San Antonio bride should budget for professional hair and makeup?
Jax: Before I speak on this, I want to mention that bride's always leave this vendor the last to book. Makeup and hair always gets the last on the priority list which I will never understand. Why the cake is more important than your face and hair that is in every single photo, may I add, is beyond me!
So what is the right price for hair and makeup... hard to say. If you are getting a quote for less than $75 a face and $50 for hair, run. These folks are not insured, probably not trained on sanitation and more than likely are putting drug store makeup and hair products on you. It is the only way the can afford to meet that price and make somewhat of a living. Corners have to be cut at low end pricing, so it is very much a factor if you get what you pay for.
Parker: I always prefer when my brides have had professional hair and makeup for several reasons. Outdoor ceremonies in San Antonio can be hot as hell - aka tons of sweat, not to mention the crying that happens at weddings, but you also never know how windy the day will be, and the bride's look always stays together best when they've hired a professional. How do these factors play into the different products you use?
Jax: There are so many factors involved in making a bride/bridal party bulletproof, more than most people want to read about (I seriously could type 3 pages of details) but let's just hit the major points:
- We spare no expense on this. We use only the most tried, true and thoroughly tested products, all of which are luxury or prestige brands. This is where you see the cost involved in a hair and makeup session.
- Hair is always preset and curled to ensure durability, then styled, then pinned in two difference directions and then set with 3 different products.
- Makeup has over 30 individual products, each and everyone either waterproof or water resistant, then finally topped with a waterproof sealant.
It's not coming down and it's not coming off!
Parker: And seriously, it saves me sooo much stress when we're doing portraits because I know everyone is going to look great in the final images, without spending an extra 15 minutes throughout the day touching things up! Onto a slightly different topic: what are the pros and cons of having the entire bridal party sit through professional hair and makeup, vs just the bride?
Jax: Well I have yet to find a "con" in regards to having the bridal party also have professional hair and makeup, but here are the pros.
- Takes the pressure and stress out of the getting ready part: when you are done, you simple put on the dress! How nice right?
- Keeps everyone on time. I don't know how many times we'll do some of the bridal party but not all and the girls who opted out make the entire party late trying to fix their hair or makeup last minute because they ran into a problem or because they were trying to look like the group but couldn't pull it off.
- Everyone looks like a cohesive group. In pictures it is very obvious when one girl over here is rocking a black smoky eye and then this one over here is convinced red lipstick looks better for her look than the one her fellow bridesmaids are wearing. Trust me, the only person you want standing out in the bridal party is the bride!
- Getting all together for mimosas and makeup and hair is the equivalent of a great time to calm the nerves and make the big day more fun for you!
- Pro photographers love to capture all the ladies and yourself during this time. This way you have photos or your best buddies and you on the biggest day of your life in a more casual environment.
Parker: Thank you so much for all of your wisdom and advice, Jax! Where can brides find you if they have any additional questions?