Why I ignored the magazines and turned to YouTube instead of a makeup artist for my wedding

Guest post by Cat Ekkelboom-White
Photo by Robyn Icks Photography
Photo by Robyn Icks Photography

I generally don't wear makeup and when I do it's very minimal. And my hair is usually down, platted, or pulled back in a messy bun. If you scroll through my entire history of Facebook photos, there are hardly any photos of me anywhere with lots of make-up on. I would't say I'm a tomboy, but I'm not a particularly girly-girl either. Mascara, eyeshadow, perhaps some eyeliner and BB cream if its a special occasion. That's pretty much as good as it gets. While many people feel uncomfortable without makeup, I felt uncomfortable with it.

When we were planning our wedding, one of the bits of advice that I read everywhere was that I should definitely hire a professional to do my hair and make-up. I also read in many places that I should not be afraid to wear heavier makeup than usual as although it may look heavy in person, it would look more natural in my photographs.

A few times during the planning I'd take a trip to one of the makeup counters in one of the local department stores. But every time I came away, I felt like my face was plastered thick with makeup, and I felt really self-conscious. When I showed my fiancé, his reaction was always the same: “It's too much make-up. It doesn't look like you.” And when I washed it all off and came out of the bathroom, looking my usual shade of pasty-white, he'd always come over and say “now that's beautiful, that's the woman I love”.

I desperately searched for the right look that would make me feel beautiful and like a bride, but I just couldn't find it, or that feeling.

Now I never considered going make-up free to my wedding, but these experiences made me seriously consider my options.

So I decided that I had time to learn to do it myself. I spent hours watching videos on youtube and practicing different looks. I took selfies of myself to see how the makeup “photographed” too. My favourite tutorials were from the fabulous celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge, who wonderfully talks you through a different look in each episode of her vlog. I found a few very natural ones that I loved…

After a few tries on my own, I finally felt happy about doing my own makeup.

On the wedding day itself, I was a bit nervous, but I left myself more than enough time to do my hair and makeup. And when I look back at my photographs I know that I made the right choice.

I may not have looked like the flawless, airbrushed bride that you see in magazines, but I felt like me, a more beautiful version perhaps, but still me.

We ADORE the vendors who work their magic with hair and make-up (I'd be lost without ya!). But sometimes you gotta DIY. Anyone else do their wedding day makeup? Any recourses you want to suggest?

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Comments on Why I ignored the magazines and turned to YouTube instead of a makeup artist for my wedding

  1. I did my own make up for the wedding, I bought an eyeshadow pallet that I could see myself using for every fancy event in my future and then I searched on youtube for the name of the pallet and got lots of videos using the specific pallet I had. It worked out great and I felt like me at my wedding

  2. I’m going this route, too. Suggestion for brides who need to stock up on makeup, but don’t have a big budget for this: Rite Aid, CVS, and other drugstores have very liberal 100% satisfaction guarantees on makeup returns, so don’t be shy about returning things that don’t work for you! (Sephora does, too, and Target is pretty good about returns–really, probably a lot of places will take back your makeup, but my point is don’t be afraid to experiment.) A lot of the drugstores also have BOGO 1/2 off, 40% off, etc. sales that vary brands each week, so check the weekly ads.

    It’s not glamorous, but it sure beats being broke!

  3. I plan to do my own makeup, too. I want to look like a fancy version of myself, not what a makeup artist thinks is a fancy version of me. The only reason I know how to do enough makeup to be confident in my decision is YouTube. There’s a wealth of knowledge on there for every kind of look you could want.

  4. When it comes it makeup tutorials YouTube is the motherfucking bomb. There aren’t swear words strong enough to convey my love for YouTube tutorials and I am so fucking pissed I didn’t have this available to me as a teen. I was stuck with Seventeen.
    Seventeen. Sucks. Ass.

  5. Oh, I heart this so much! Make-up is so not me, it’s never something I’ve felt super comfortable experimenting with, and I had no patience for the suggestion that I should look like a pancaked-up stage harlot on the day so that my photos turned out ok!

    In the end I got a local beautician (in Tonga, where I was living at the time) to give me a bit of a tutorial based on my face and eye shape, and then went the DIY route as well. This was back in 2009, so I think YouTube tutorials were not as widespread back then! But I was happy with how it went, and most importantly I looked and felt like ME on the day.

    We’ve been married 7 years this April, and the only pic from our wedding day we ever got around to displaying was one that my M-I-L took and presented to us, framed, the next day. When I look at that photo, I don’t see my amateurish make-up, I see the happiness, and it shines from every pore.

  6. I’m headed down the same path and am so grateful for this post! I’m extremely meticulous about putting on my own makeup and in my 30’s I’m finding less really is more. I’ve been taking advantage of free makeup seminars at April Love Makeup Academy and M.U.D. Cosmetics and have learned a TON from professionals working in the field for film and TV. Surprisingly, they also agreed that less is more and you can still have drama by emphasizing certain parts while remaining pancake-free. If anyone still chooses to go with a makeup artist I think it’s a matter of communicating very clearly and firmly that you want a natural look.

  7. I also did my own makeup for my wedding and had a very good experience (and the photos came out great!). I actually did go to a makeup counter to get tips and product but I was quite firm and specific with them about what kind products I wanted. I went with Clinique blush, lipstick, and this fabulous creme eyeshadow they have which comes in a squeeze tube. The makeup artist at the counter showed me how to apply the eyeshadow and lipstick to highlight my eyes and cheeks, then I practiced a few times at home, and that was that. Saved me a ton of money, and I felt like I really looked like “me” in the photos…just fancier!

  8. This is just the post I was looking for! I’m a farmer and don’t wear makeup on the daily, but I would like to do a little eye and lip drama for my wedding! Can anyone recommend more specific tutorials or links? I could use all the help I can get!

    • I don’t have specific links, but honestly you just have to search for “natural bridal makeup tutorial” or “smoky eye tutorial” or “no makeup makeup” or whatever look you want in youtube and just start watching videos until you find something that is the style you want and matches your ability. Then practice like 2 or 3 times (maybe more if you are not skilled at all, but just enough until you know you can do it and consider you might be jittery on your wedding morning). I did my cousin’s bridal make-up this way for her wedding and about half of the bridesmaids including myself. Cousin actually hired a family friend make-up artist and hated it so I redid her face. I plan to repeat this method on myself for my own upcoming wedding. I am not a makeup artist, just a girl who thinks makeup is fun and took some time watching youtube videos.

  9. I’m in the same boat as all you readers! I don’t really wear make-up (except at weddings and super special occasions), and have been scouring the Internet for tutorials, recommendations, etc. My photographer recommended Blinc mascara, which uses some special tube technology, so it doesn’t run or smudge. I’ve tried it out, and it works beautifully and looks lovely! She also seconded makeation’s suggestion that less is more… She told me that she’s had brides who’ve regretted wearing too much make-up, but has NEVER had a bride who regretted wearing too little. This definitely made me feel even more confident to do-it-myself. Besides Blinc mascara, I’m trying out a few other products that I think I’ll use: a long wear lip stain (currently trying out Provacalips and Sephora’s cream stain), Maybeline’s Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner, NYX Studio Finishing Powder (translucent), and for “air brush” foundation, a combination of Fit Me! Foundation, Cetaphil moisturizer, and chafing cream… It sounds crazy, but I found this tutorial on Wedding Bee, and everyone who has tried it swears by it! I’m trying it out for a wedding this weekend–happy to report back to let you know how it goes! (Hope this tutorial helps, Nigella!):


  10. I’ll be having a makeup artist do my eyes, as I want something quite complex that involves stripey shadow and non-conventional liner, as well as the nightmare that is false lashes which I can never get the hang of myself, and I’ll also be letting her paint my lips (with a lipstick I have chosen already, and bought myself), but I am insistent on doing my base myself. I know exactly what shades work on my very tricky, Winter toned, very pale skin, which makeup artists never seem to be able to match from their kits (and I always wind up looking too yellow), and I also know that I want a sheer, dewy base, that lets the natural glow of my skin shine through, rather than the ultra-thick, “airbrush effect” base makeup that is very popular with wedding makeup artists.
    I have heard, “Think about the photos!” so many times, but I have, and I know that I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing a mask – no matter how perfect that mask makeup might make my skin look in the pictures, it won’t feel comfortable *on*.
    So, I’ll be doing my own base, and quite assertively defending that.
    Full face of makeup, bare face and everything in between – you need to go with what makes you feel comfortable, and like yourself.

  11. This post and the tip about the YouTube videos are great! I’m going going exactly the same route with my makeup, although I am turning to a professional for the hair part (my hair is a bit unruly and I’m way too clumsy to beat it into submission). While I do wear makeup everyday, I like to keep it quite natural and hate caking it on. So I think I’ll be a lot more comfortable doing it myself. Really grateful for some pro tips though! 🙂

  12. THANK YOU! I needed reassurance that I’m not being a total dope by doing my own makeup on my wedding day. A friend is doing my hair, but I’m getting married outside of Rome and can’t find anyone to do my makeup for less than $200 (and it just isn’t worth it to me). I’m a makeup minimalist but I’m not good at anything more than mascara and blush. I just didn’t want to be a jittery mess on my wedding day but I think if I practice and stick to what I feel comfortable with, I’ll be good!

  13. Heh- the insistence that you need to do it differently for the pictures has everything backwards, for me. The pictures are there to document the day, the day (and your outfit, makeup, hair, whateversauce) is not there for the pictures!

    I got this same kind of “this is backwards” feeling when, in response to being told I’m carrying a bible instead of flowers, the next question was “but what will you toss? Will you throw the bible at your guests?” I was like wha? Once I thought about it the best response is, like above, “You toss a bouquet because you have flowers and want to throw them, you don’t carry a bouquet because you have to throw something”. You have the bells and whistles to make the wedding fun, you don’t have the wedding for the bells and whistles!

    Thank yew. (Puts away soapbox)

  14. I too have decided that I will be doing the makeup by my own on my wedding instead of hiring any expert. I am going for a simple and natural look and will be using skincare products that I use daily, so any advice or suggestions are truly appreciated!

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