Ask the Expert: Makeup Artist Nancy Dawson of BRIDEface

by Michelle Taute

On the most photographed day of your life, it’s only natural to want your makeup to be, well, just perfect. Nancy Dawson, owner and founder of BRIDEface, helped 100 brides look gorgeous on their wedding days last year, and her team of 10 handled nearly 400 weddings. She gave us the inside scoop on achieving a wedding makeup look you’ll adore that day and in the pictures.

CW: What do I need to know before I start thinking about makeup?

ND: It is really good to have a handle on what your style is going to be. Because you’re likely going to have different makeup in the Hall of Mirrors at the Hilton, which is fairly dimly lit, than you would in your parents’ backyard. The style of the wedding dictates it, along with your hairstyle and your gown.

CW: What if I’m worried about how it will turn out?

ND: I think a really good thing to do is to try to get your makeup done for your engagement session. That way you can get a good sense of how much makeup you really need to pop in a photo, because the camera just eats makeup. What seems like a lot of makeup to someone who doesn’t wear makeup looks completely natural in a photo.

CW: Does everyone need a professional makeup artist?

ND: You’re investing so much in your photography, and you want to be sure that you really are photo-ready. When someone else applies your makeup professionally, it’s going to stay on so much longer than if you do it yourself. The other argument is, by the time you buy the kind of products that are going to last 12 hours, you may as well just hire a makeup artist. Professional products cost a lot of money.

CW: How is wedding makeup different from makeup for other special occasions?

ND: Very few of us wear an updo and a white gown every day. I think it’s startling when you realize how much makeup you need to pop in a white dress. I ask brides to wear a white top or an ivory top to a trial, but failing that, I can throw some white fabric against their face, and they instantly realize they need a little more makeup.

CW: Can you tell me about the pros and cons of airbrush makeup?

ND: People think there’s some kind of magic in airbrush, but of course, it’s all in the application. I’ve definitely had girls that say, “Oh, I don’t do airbrush. It’s too heavy. I had it at my girlfriend’s wedding.” I’m like, “Let me just try it.” Because the whole point of airbrush is that it should be misted on. It shouldn’t be a mask of foundation. I find that you can apply it very sheer and get great coverage.

CW: What’s the key to avoiding makeup-related stress on the big day?

ND: A lot of times you have too many cooks in the kitchen. The bride’s had this whole trial run with me, and she doesn’t need people gathering around and suddenly telling her she shouldn’t wear that red lipstick. So I try to find out ahead of time if there will be any triggers that day. And I might put her in another room.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Cincinnati Wedding magazine.

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