Twelve steps to perfecting vintage bridal makeup

Finding the perfect wedding dress is a very big part of a bride’s preparation for the wedding. But any bride-to-be knows that her makeup will have a large part to play in completing the look.

Bridal makeup for a modern vintage look needs to be both subtle and sophisticated.

When we recently photographed our new Sally Lacock separates collection, bridal makeup artist Catherine Bailey shared some of her tips for creating a radiant bridal look that pairs beautifully with the soft flowing lines and textures of vintage-inspired lace.

How to perfect vintage-look  bridal makeup. Photo: Alice Whitby.
How to perfect vintage-look bridal makeup. Photo: Alice Whitby.

1. Apply a primer

Start by applying a primer where needed. A primer evens out your skin’s surface and helps your makeup last. Catherine’s current favourite is Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch (£26) which fills out fine lines and smoothes out pores.

2. Use your fingers to apply foundation

Apply a sheer foundation with a foundation brush and then blend with your fingers. “The warmth of your fingers will help the base to ‘melt’ into your skin,” says Catherine. She uses Liz Earle Sheer Skin Tint (£21). “It’s dewy, mineral based and suitable for sensitive skin.”

3. Conceal

“Use a well-pigmented concealer such as Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer (£18.50) to hide any under-eye shadows, which can look very blue or purple in photos,” says Catherine.

Avoid very light-reflective concealers for the under-eye area as they can give you ‘panda eyes’ with flash photography. Then cover any blemishes using a matte, densely pigmented concealer like Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage (£26) on a fine brush.

4. Highlight

Smoothing highlighter in a ‘c’ shape across the tops of your cheekbones and up to your temples will catch the light and give your face more dimension in photos. Catherine used Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (£33) which gives the skin a beautiful luminosity.

5. Subtle, shimmering eyes

For the eyes Catherine used a simple wash of a pale shade with a subtle iridescence all over the lids, a slightly darker shade in the socket for depth, and a ‘pop’ of a very light shimmery shade on the inner corners.

“Dior’s 5 Couleurs ‘Incognito’ palette (£40) is a set of five soft neutrals which I often use on brides,” says Catherine.

6. Flick out eyeliner

Catherine carefully brushes on a line of gel eyeliner or a very dark eye shadow along the upper eyelids only. She then ficks it out and up slightly at the corners.

7. Double-up on the lashes

To get eyes that look open and fresh, lashes should be gently curled – twice. Then set them with two coats of a very good quality waterproof mascara. According to Catherine, “this stage is vital!”

8. Fuller brows are better

Catherine recommends filling in any sparse patches in your brows with an eyebrow pencil or powder such as HD Brows, applied with light feathery strokes.

She then fixes brows in place with a brow mascara or strong hold hairspray applied on a disposable mascara wand to ensure they stay neat for the photos.

9. Line your lips

Lining lips with a neutral lip pencil evens out the shape and prevents lipstick from bleeding.

“Use a good quality lip brush and carefully apply your chosen lipstick, blotting gently between layers with a tissue so it lasts longer,” says Catherine.

10. A touch of blusher

For a gentle rosy glow, Catherine blends a little cream or powder blush into the cheeks. She prefers using Chanel’s powder blusher in ‘Discretion’ (£31). “It’s a delicate peachy-pink shot through with a very subtle shimmer,” she explains.

11. Powder for shine free photos

To set the makeup, Catherine then dusts the bride’s face all over with face powder. “This stage is absolutely essential when being photographed”, she says. “Even the slightest bit of oil on your face will make you appear greasy and shiny in your wedding photos – definitely not a good look!”

For a bit of extra glow, Catherine suggests a light dusting of Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder (£38). “It works wonders.”

12. All set with setting spray

For makeup that lasts all day and night, Catherine recommends misting your face with a setting spray. She uses Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray (£20).

Though there are quite a lot of steps involved, the final result is a natural, radiant bridal look that pairs perfectly with feminine lines and delicate lace. And it photographs wonderfully. To look at the full shoot, visit our bridal separates collection.

Catherine Bailey trained at The London School of Beauty & Make-up. Pop over to Catherine’s site or send her a mail at