June 01, 2011

Perfect your bridal make-up look à la Rachel McAdams

With destination weddings becoming increasingly popular, brides are seeking advice on how to apply their own wedding make-up. Our resident beauty blogger Laura Curtis gives advice on how to create a beautiful bridal look.

To keep things simple, I'll focus on my most frequently requested wedding make-up look, as modeled beautifully by Rachel McAdams at Cannes: a flawless complexion, flushed cheeks, softly defined eyes and classic pink lips.


Start with a primer. It will create a smooth base and keep your make-up lasting all day long. Hourglass Mineral Primer has a lovely silky matte texture and gives SPF 15 protection.

The next product you will need is, by far, the most important: foundation. When choosing a shade, try to match it to your decolletage, to create a uniform skin-tone from head-to-toe; but don't go any more than two shades darker than your natural skin-tone as it will make your complexion look muddy. Test foundation formulas on the back of your hand to find one with a satin finish that sits on your skin seamlessly. Giorgio Armani Designer Shaping Foundation is my pick; it provides a full coverage yet natural looking base that looks amazing in photographs.

Use a little concealer to hide dark circles under your eyes, redness, discolourations and/or blemishes. Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage covers beautifully, without looking cakey or heavy at all.

A dusting of loose powder will set and perfect your make-up. The ideal loose powder will be talc- and sunscreen-free, so it doesn't come up white in photos, with pigment that matches your skin-tone, rather than being translucent. Nars Loose Powder is a lovely finely-milled powder with a soft-matte finish.


To create your eye make-up look, select three colours: light, medium and dark. The medium colour will be your base; apply it all over the lid (up to the crease) and along the lower lashline. The dark colour is your contour shade. Apply it in the crease of the eye – three-quarters of the way along, and stopping just above the outer corner (any lower will drag your eye down). The light colour is a highlighter. Applying it on the brow bone, inner corner and centre of the eye. To recreate Rachel's gorgeous bronze look, try Nars Eyeshadow Duos in Cordura (medium and dark shades) and Silk Road (highlighting shades).

Apply eyeliner along the top lash-line. Rather than using a pencil, use a gel eyeliner. It will appear much more natural, yet give more precise definition. Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner is a cult classic.

To make the eyes pop, use a bronze eyeliner pencil along the lower inner rim. MAC Kohl Pencil in Powersurge is one of my all-time favourite make-up products and so easy to use.

Your mascara should define and lengthen your lashes, without clumping or smudging. Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Mascara is a winner.

Lightly shape your brows with the wonderful Chanel Brow Set. Defining your brows will frame your face beautifully.


Delicately apply a rosy-hued blush on the apples of your cheeks. Take care not to deposit the colour too low as doing so will drag your face down. Nars Blush in Deep Throat is a lovely pinky-apricot coloured blush with subtle shimmer.

For a glow, use an illuminating powder, liquid or creme on the high planes of the face, where the light naturally hits: your temples, cupid's bow, forehead and bridge of the nose. Chanel Bronze Universel de Chanel Sun Illuminator is lovely for light-medium-dark skin-tones, while fair brides should try Benefit High Beam.


Start by lining your lips with a pinky-toned lip liner pencil, such as Nars Lip Liner in Miss Sadie. Lip liner will enhance the longevity of your lipstick, provide definition and prevent feathering.

A soft pink lipstick is almost universally flattering and coveted by most brides who want a classic look. Chantecaille Lipstick in Camellia is my go-to bridal lip colour. (The "Sari Rose" shade is an equally popular warm-nude version.)

Finish with slick of subtly shimmery pink lip gloss. Chanel Aqualumiere Gloss in Diamond Rose is a beautiful shade that will imitate Rachel's pearly finish perfectly.

Voila! A lovely bridal look at your fingertips. My final pieces of advice:

if you can, book a make-up lesson with a professional make-up artist who can help you choose the perfect colours and products for your skin and the look you would like to achieve. Ask friends and family for recommendations or visit a reputed beauty counter; Mecca Cosmetica offer make-up lessons for a redeemable fee of $150.
Invest in some quality make-up brushes. They will be pricey but they will last for years, help to make your make-up application easier and give your make-up a picture perfect finish.
Practice, practice, practice!

Laura Curtis is a beauty writer and make-up artist. To see more of her writing and beauty advice, you can visit her blogs One April Morning and Pretty Poesy, and follow her on Twitter (@laura_valerie).

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