How To: The Minimal Makeup Look

The Info—Stylist: Shana Astrachan of Fox & Doll Hair and Makeup/ Photography: Hart & Sol West / Venue: The Box SF / Flowers: Green Snapdragon Floral Design /Dress: Little Borrowed Dress / Jewelry: BrideBlu Vintage + Handmade Jewelry

Usually when we talk about makeup here at APW, it’s part of a greater conversation about feminism, aesthetics, and the expectations of the wedding industry (obviously a mash-up of all our favorite conversations). Inevitably, when we discuss this, there is a group of you who are on the fence about wearing makeup on your wedding day. Maybe you don’t normally wear makeup in your everyday life, and maybe you’re having just a bit of a hard time dealing with the feminist implications of wanting to wear makeup on your wedding day. If that’s true, but you still want to do something to feel a little fancier, even if it’s only for the sake of getting an even skin tone in photos, this tutorial is for you. Because when you’re normally a Lip-Balm-And-Go kind of woman, even last week’s more natural foundation look can be a bit too much. So, today’s tutorial (thanks again P&G!) is essentially the no-makeup makeup look, meaning that there is just enough makeup involved to feel like you’ve dressed up for the occasion, but not so much that you won’t recognize yourself when you look in the mirror.

Here are a few tips from Shana on perfecting this look:

For Face: Since this look doesn’t feature a dramatic eye or a bold lip, it’s really all about contouring and evening out your skin tone. One of the tricks for doing this is using a light shimmer powder as a highlighter to add dimension to your face without adding a lot of color. But make sure you choose one that’s shimmery, not glittery. Glitter will reflect light in all kinds of weird ways that are only appropriate for cheerleading competitions and drag shows. (If one of those two things is taking place at your wedding, our hats are off to you, we hope you send pictures, and we revoke the no-Glitter rule.)

For Eyes: You’ll note that this look doesn’t feature any eyeliner. For a lot of folks who don’t wear makeup, eyeliner is often the tipping point towards Dear God, what have I gotten myself into, especially if you’re not comfortable with the physical application of it (some people don’t mind. Others feel like they are getting their eyeballs stabbed out). So instead of taking a gamble on which camp you might fall into, create definition with some carefully placed highlighter in the corner of your eyes, and pair that with a longwear mascara instead. Covergirl’s LashBlast 24 Hour Mascara in Black Brown will help define your eyes without going too dark, and the white shadow in the inner corners of your eyes will make them look even more open and bright.

For Lips: Now, I know that with a fairly nude makeup look like this, there is going to be the temptation to go with a nude color for your lipstick. Don’t. Do. It. Most of the time nude color will just wash you out, so instead, opt for a light pink that matches the natural color of your lips. (Matches your lips, NOT your face. That is natural looking. Remember that.) We used CoverGirl Outlast All-Day Lip Color in Faint Hue, which comes with a glossy topcoat that I swear feels like lip balm and maybe even smells a little like cotton candy. However, if you prefer a matte look, Shana suggests applying powder first and then lip color. If you’re using a regular lipstick (instead of an all-day formula like Outlast) then apply powder, then lip color, then blot and apply lip color again.

Voila! You’re done! And at no point were you ever in danger of looking like you might be auditioning for a John Waters movie. So, pat yourself on the back and file that one away as a win.

Have questions about how to modify this makeup look, or which products would be best for your skin? We’ll do our best to answer them in the comments, but you can always direct your questions at @PGBeauty for their expert advice (or if you’re not on Twitter, post your questions on their Facebook page for more info).

Download a PDF of the shopping list for this look here.

**This post was sponsored by P&G Beauty. Thanks P&G for helping make the APW mission possible!**

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  • Jessica

    Alternately, for a “no make-up look” – don’t wear make-up!

    Longtime reader, super-rare commenter here. I thank you much for your discussion at the bottom, but I was feeling pretty miffed (as a no make-up ever, super feminist lady) when I scrolled down from the title and saw a whole palette of stuff you think women should put on their faces in order to look like they’re wearing no make-up! Your discussion at the bottom made up for it a bit, in your acknowledgement that some women wear no make-up ever.

    My wedding is in October. I legit haven’t put make-up on my face since I was 17 – and that was just a brief, “ooh I wonder what this is like and why so many other girls do it” phase. I heard the little voice sometimes before fancy events in HS and college, wondering, “gosh, even though I never wear make-up ever, am I supposed to for this event?” That little voice got quieter eventually, and I don’t hear it anymore. I thought for like 5 seconds about whether I should attempt something make-up-y for my wedding, and then the raging feminist part of my brain woke up and pointed out, “YOU! WOMAN! You don’t have to do anything a man isn’t expected to do!!”

    For the record, my fiance appreciates that I never wear make-up, and specifically that I don’t do it for fancy events either. He said he doesn’t understand women who make a feminist choice on a daily basis, to eschew something society expects of women, but then for “the most important day in their life” they back-pedal on all that.

    So, still love your blog (and the book), thank you for the *almost* no make-up post and for the decent discussion at the bottom. It was certainly better than not fielding this option at all!

    And to the other women who don’t wear make-up ever, not even for their wedding – know that you are not alone in your choices!

    • amy

      While I understand your concern that this post is advocating makeup for a no-makeup look, I don’t really think that’s what this post is actually intending to do.

      The idea behind a “no makeup” makeup look is to, well, not look made up, while looking a bit fresher, more even, or more awake than you might without makeup. Even if that choice isn’t your preference, or isn’t the preference of many women, there are quite a few who would like exactly this.

      There are a lot of reasons that someone might normally eschew makeup that have nothing to do with feminism (too busy, don’t feel like they know how, just don’t see the point), and wanting to wear a little makeup – while still looking like yourself – on a special occasion where you’ll be photographed and looked at a lot doesn’t automatically make one a bad feminist.

      It’s great that you want to encourage people not to feel pressured to wear makeup. I agree! No one should feel pressured. But I didn’t read any of this post as being the least bit pressuring to those who aren’t interested in wearing makeup.

      • I disagree. A makeup routine for a woman who doesn’t normally wear any (for whatever feminism or laziness-related reasons) would, in my mind, be relatively simple – throw on some mascara, some moisturizer, a bit of powder if your nose is shiny, and a coloured lip balm – or something along those lines.

        And yet, the post lists 11 products and 8 tools required to look like you *aren’t wearing make-up.* To me, because I don’t generally wear makeup, that’s ridiculous, and as someone below mentioned, I have no idea what most of those things are or why on earth I would want to put them on my face. And it also supports the cultural narrative that even women who look “effortless and makeup free” should be going through a lengthy grooming routine before they show their supposedly makeup-free faces.

        I’ve skipped over all of these Proctor and Gamble-sponsered posts because they don’t interest me, but this one rustled my jimmies, because I can’t help but feel bummed at the loss of APW as a place that would have once said, “yeah, eff it! Don’t wear makeup!” instead of “here’s $200 worth of things to buy to look like you always do.”

        Womp womp.

        • Eenie

          I feel like Meg explained this well in her first post.

          I don’t think people need a tutorial for applying moisturizer and mascara to their face. This series divulges those sneaky tricks that the professionals don’t explain. This is a very helpful tool for people who don’t want to look made up, want to try something new, or just want to learn new makeup tips. It’s also a wonderful showcase of inexpensive makeup products on real people. At no point is APW saying that you have to do this, and like you mentioned, you can just skip them if you want to! The sponsorship is benefitting other parts of the APW community besides JUST these how-to posts(from what I understand from the post I linked to above), so even though you personally may not find them useful, the other parts of the site you do like are benefitting.

        • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

          I don’t really think this post is supporting that particular cultural narrative at all. And after the first time or two you practice this particular makeup application, it’s really only going to take a maximum of 5 minutes. At least, thats what it takes me on a slow day.

          Nothing wrong with your concept up a simple makeup routine either. I would just add the primer at the start to make sure it stayed in place all day, if that’s what you wanted.

        • meg

          It is absolutely 100% not true that there is a loss of APW as a place that says “Eff it, don’t wear makeup.” I want to remind everyone that since day one, APW has been run by me, and still is run by me. My opinions haven’t changed on any of these subjects, and I’m still selecting editorial content with exactly the same guidelines as I always have. As I said in the text of this post, if you choose not to wear makeup APW is 110% in your corner.

          That said, lots of us, good feminists all, do love to wear makeup (and even do it as a feminist choice), and want a really low key makeup look for important days. As ever, APW can fully support you not wearing makeup, while still providing information for those who do want to wear makeup. This was the *most requested* look from APW readers, and none of us should judge each other’s choices.

          Also, all of these tutorials can and should be modified to meet your needs, and we’re very clear you don’t need any or all products listed to use these tips.

          Finally, I want to very clearly point out that while P&G gave us the money to make these tutorials possible I personally had 100% control over the editorial content in each post, and I, as someone who fully supports you not wearing makeup at your wedding, shaped this editorial content because I thought it was right for the site I founded and run. Again, these posts are not going to be useful for every reader, but they are useful for many readers. If they are not useful for you, but APW overall has been a useful free resource for you, then you should be pleased that they exist, since they are paying to support the expenses of making APW available to you at no cost.

          • Right, I get that girl’s got to get paid, and that’s wonderful. But the thing is, it DOESN’T say anywhere in the text that APW is 110% in your corner if you choose not to wear makeup. It doesn’t even raise that as an option. You identify this tutorial as “a no-makeup makeup look” for women who are “on the fence about wearing makeup,” as though it’s a minimum requisite for Your Special Day.

            I’m not against wearing makeup. I’m wearing makeup right now. I’m just saying that maybe your message about not needing to wear makeup didn’t come through the way you assumed it did, because to me this read as “here’s the stuff you need to look like you aren’t wearing any of this stuff.”

          • meg

            Well, it does say this, “Maybe you don’t normally wear makeup in your everyday life, and maybe you’re having a just a bit of a hard time dealing with the feminist implications of wanting wear makeup on your wedding day. If that’s true, but you still want to do something to feel a little fancier…” “You still want” is the key phrase, because like all discussions, feminist or otherwise, this is about personal choices. This post is for the readers who are making a choice to wear makeup, not for those of you who are not, who we fully support (and don’t need a tutorial).

            But my point stands: this post is NOT about getting paid (though, for the record, none of the money from these posts is coming to me at all, it’s all being re-invested into the site to help reader experience). This post is about me, and the APW team, being financially supported to provide content that we think is valuable to a huge chunk of readership. Readers wanted these posts, and they were far from free to create. The first makeup tutorial we shot, which you’ll see later this year, I paid for fully out of pocket, because I thought it was helpful information for readers. This is extremely similar content, but allows us to support the site. I would never, and have never, taken money if it requires me to give up control of my editorial content, or do something I don’t think is of value to readers or aligned with APW values.

          • That’s fair – and by “girl’s got to get paid,” I meant generally that “you need money to keep your website running,” not “evil Meg is rolling in a pile of hundred dollar bills and laughing at our mismatched foundation.” :)

          • meg

            Fair! Though I’m pondering bathing in nickels, later this afternoon. Anniversary swim, you know ;)

        • Nicole

          I don’t think these posts at all represent a loss of or change in APW. I’ve never felt that APW is supposed to be a one-size-fits-all place. What I’ve always taken away from posts and discussions here is that while there is a lot of pressure out there in wedding-land to be/look/act/think/feel a certain way on your wedding day, a true Practical wedding is about being true to yourself and your partner.

          I think the fact that these P&G tutorials have already covered a wide range of looks demonstrates that APW isn’t here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t look like on your wedding day, but to give you helpful suggestions for how to achieve the look that YOU want using relatively affordable materials. If don’t want to look like you’re wearing a ton of makeup, but would like to even out your skin tone and look a little more refreshed, then this post is for you. If not, skip it.

          If you don’t want to wear makeup then don’t, and I can’t imagine that a tutorial reading “Step 1: Do nothing… be your usual stunning self” would be especially helpful.

          These posts have covered styles for naturally pin-straight hair that normally won’t hold a curl (THANK YOU for that by the way!!), and styles for naturally curly hair- so they obviously aren’t intended to apply to everyone. I for one LOVE these posts, and am looking forward to what’s coming next!

          • meg

            Also, it’s really important to me that these posts empower you to feel like it’s TOTALLY ok to do your own makeup on your wedding day, whatever that means to you (including no makeup all the way to full fancy makeup). I felt enormous pressure to hire someone to do my makeup, and when I couldn’t afford it I GULPED, braced for doing it myself… and it turns out it was a really fantastically great experience. So I want everyone to feel like that’s totally within their grasp, if they so choose.

          • KC

            I think a literal “no makeup” tutorial would be fantastic/hilarious. Or possibly a post of photos of no-makeup brides?

            I planned to have [“no-makeup-ish”] makeup and then didn’t actually end up wearing it (long story). I probably didn’t photograph as well as I could have, but it was actually really nice to not worry about smudging people when I real-hugged them. (being comfortable in your own skin, whatever that means to you, on your wedding day: bonus!)

            I got “professionally done” for my sister’s wedding and looked as close as makeup can get you to a cross between a parrot, Anne of Green Gables, and a drunk raccoon. Approximately. I now no longer recommend that people get professionally done unless they do a “trial run” well beforehand.

            Conclusion: it is better to look exactly like your everyday self (but, usually more glowy due to excitement), maybe with makeup, maybe not, than to look like you got in a fight with the 80’s and lost badly. If you’ve got the skillz to get in a fight with the 80’s and win, or if you have a successful source for whatever kind of fancy makeup that you would like, that would be a different story! But experiences vary. :-)

    • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

      I am very glad you stay true to your own ideal when, indeed, the cultural narrative can make makeup seem like an obligation. I am also glad that your SO supports you in this.

      “saw a whole palette of stuff you think women should put on their faces in order to look like they’re wearing no make-up!”
      APW is not saying ‘you should do this’. APW is saying, ‘some of you wanted to try a look with makeup what didn’t look, or feel, overly made up so here’s what we came up with’. I am sure there are simpler methods, but this is actually a pretty good one.

      The individuals who make up this lovely little community have all different perspectives on what it is to wear make-up, or heels, or to not wear these things. I like playing with make-up, I think it’s a fun few minutes in my morning. Not everyone feels that way, and I am more than alright with that.

    • meg

      What Megan said is correct. As we stated in the text (and have stated in tons of other posts) if you decided not to wear makeup on your wedding day, for WHATEVER reason, that’s excellent and awesome and APW is in your corner. That said, you also don’t need a tutorial to help you out with that.

      However, there are many, many readers (me included on my wedding) who DO want to wear makeup, as a feminist choice (I don’t have do do a damn thing I don’t want to, but feminism also dosen’t get to tell me what I can’t do, and makeup is an important part of my Femme Feminist identity). For those of us that do want to wear makeup (for any variety of reasons, from it’s something we love, to we want to smooth our our skin tone for the camera, both of which were part of my reasons), there are very few tutorials out there on how to do minimal makeup that makes you look like yourself. It was incredibly important to us that we provide that in our makeup tutorial options here. It was also *the most requested look* by readers, and we should not be judging other people for their own personal choices, even if they are different from ours.

      As for the number of products and tools, our goal here is to give you advice from professional makeup artists, for free, that you can modify to meet your needs. Most of us who wear makeup know how to slap on sheer foundation and blush, and for us to learn something we want more information than that. As with all our tutorials, you can pull single elements that work for you, or use general tips and vastly simplify. Our job is to provide you the best information you can, and empower everyone to make their own choices.

    • Marina

      The only reason I can think of that a no-makeup person (like me) might wear makeup for a wedding (like I did) is because pictures. No makeup doesn’t look like no makeup in professional pictures, it looks like washed out. I can understand that if you’re spending $5,000 (or $10,000) on pictures, which most of us don’t do day to day, you might want to do something different than what you do day to day.

      • Newtie

        I didn’t wear any make-up at all except for a little mascara (no powder, no lip gloss, nothin) and I didn’t look washed out in my photographs — mostly because I had an amazing photographer, probably, but just wanted to put that out there in case there are readers who are worried about choosing not to wear make-up at their weddings.

        Everyone knows their own face best, and I’ve no doubt some people might look washed out, but I’m sure there are plenty of other people like me who won’t, and also don’t need to worry before hand “oh, I don’t really want to do my make-up, but what if I look bad in the pictures…” etc.

    • Ambi

      I’m not going to add anything to the debate about whether this post means that APW is now somehow pressuring us to wear makeup – I completely agree with Meg on this one. I don’t think that having a tutorial on how to do a minimalist makeup look is any more of a political statement about women having to wear makeup than having a tutorial on flowers is a political statement about centerpieces. It’s just helpful for those readers who want to acheive this result. There are TONS of APW posts that don’t apply to me, and sometimes I scroll past them and some times I read them because they are entertaining, but I never come away with the message that “APW wants me to be X, Y, and Z” simply because they ran a post about X, Y, or Z.

      Finally, I would really appreciate and prefer it if we could talk about specific issues and topics without insinuating (or flat out saying) that one choice is more feminist than another. I personally disagree with the idea that not wearing makeup is the feminist choice and that by wearing makeup for a special event you are somehow back-pedaling on your feminist values. I get it that you view the issue differently, and it is okay for us to disagree. But can we at least keep APW as a space where women are free to make their own choices about these things and no one is going to be criticized for not being feminist enough? To me, APW has never been a place where anyone is going to tell another woman that she just MUST wear makeup on her wedding day – so why would is it okay to tell women that the shouldn’t do it? I personally prefer APW when it is a space that explores several perspective and opinions on an issue, lets people make up their own minds, and provides a community and resources to help each person execute the choice that is right for them – and I think that this post fits perfectly into that model, just as the previous posts about NOT wearing makeup on your wedding day also fit in. I love APW for this very reason, and I hope it stays this way. Once we go down the path of dictating that, in order to be good feminists, women have to do things one particular way, we are really just replacing one set of oppressive norms with another and taking away the very freedoms and choices that our mothers and grandmothers worked so hard for.

      • meg

        I want to jump in here and say while we can’t really do a no-makeup tutorial (part of the point is you don’t NEED a tutorial). I’d love posts from people who made that choice for their wedding, about why they did it, how it worked, what they learned, or anything they want to discuss. (Also, I’d be curious how this interplayed with the rest of your grooming routine, or didn’t. IE, I’d find it fascinating if someone didn’t wear makeup, but did have elaborate hair. I love me some apparent contradictions.) Any long time readers should know that we’re totally beyond supportive of the no-makeup wedding day choice (we think it’s bad-ass), and we’d love an opportunity to discuss it further.

  • I wear makeup for special occasions. I like it and a little bit of liner and mascara is just what I need to feel “dressed up.”

    We were having a chat with our photographer last night and my fiance was like, “Beth’s make up takes her like 30 seconds to do!” I sorta hemmed and hawed because, well, I expect it to take me a bit more time and I’m okay with that. BUT he made it very clear that I’m not to look “made up” because that’s not how I look. (Okay. Point to him.)

    This is a great starting point for me as I try to figure out how much is enough but not too much!

    • meg

      My normal makeup routine takes…. 2 minutes? (That might be a long estimate). I think for our wedding I spent… 10? It was also longer because I was chatting with everyone while I did it. And I looked exactly like I wanted to: slightly made up, but just like me. So it’s SUPER possible to find that enough but not too much balance. (Practicing helped me figure out what I wanted, since in my first rounds I might have gotten *slightly* over enthusiastic and slathered it on, achem.)

      • I still expect it to take more than the 30 seconds my over enthusiastic partner thinks it will. :-)

        But yes to practice rounds. That sounds like a good plan.

  • This is perfect for me. I may go with a little bolder of an eye but my future husband doesn’t expect me to look overdone, just as I normally am – which, 90% of the time is makeup-free.

  • Paranoid Libra

    As a no make up kind of girl…I honestly do not understand how a face is evidently uneven in skin tone unless there are pimples or freckles (in no way am I saying freckles are bad, but obviously they are a darker shade than the rest of your skin). Hearing “even out skin tone” makes me wonder if my face is leopard spotted or tiger striped. Or someone did a cruddy job at applying sun screen on their face.

    And what on earth is a primer….for make up less girls a lot of us have ZERO idea what any form of a make up term means. And how on earth do you determine shimmer from glittery because in my world its the same thing?

    Those of us who don’t touch make up need quite a bit of babying and hand hold when it comes to these things as they are scary.

    • amy

      As someone with uneven skin tone, I’ll try to explain:

      My nose is always redder than the rest of my face. My forehead is usually blotchy, meaning reddish in some places and whiter in others. I *always* have dark circles under my eyes – purplish or bluish tones that are darker than the rest of my skin. Even if I have no pimples (which sometimes I do), all of this is noticeable.

      Foundation helps A LOT.

      • Amy’s explination of uneven skin tone is spot-on.

        Also, if you are taking pictures and the photographer is using any of today’s super high resolution cameras, your skin will look much less even in pictures than it does in real life. Newer digital cameras see every single pore and tiny hair on your face.

        I’m a photographer and used to work full time at a retouching studio. When these crazy high resolution cameras started hitting the market, they caused a TON of photographers to have to invest in a LOT more retouching just to get their subjects’ skin and hair looking like they do in real life.

        This makeup tutorial is perfect for people (like me!) who never wear makeup but want to combat the craziness of the all-seeing camera by putting on just a little bit of makeup to even out their skin tone and get a little bit of a glow going. I know how to put on moisturizer and some powder, but those extra makeup artist tools and tricks just might come in handy at some point!

        Thanks for this series. It’s super informative without making it seem like any of these beauty routines are something anyone HAS to do. Simple. Refreshing. Full of awesome!

    • Lana

      Yeah. I was going to ask what “eye primer” is. Is it a liquid? Is it a powder? Where do I find this stuff?

    • Kathy

      This is probably a scary response, but primer for the face does essentially what primer for walls does – helps whatever you’re putting on top go on smoother and stay put. Eye primers double down on this concept for your eyelids, which are often more oily than the rest of your skin. All of the primers I’ve seen have been similar in consistency to moisturizers, so liquid-ish.

      It falls under the ounce of prevention rule – use one extra product beforehand and you won’t have to figure out makeup again halfway through your reception.

      • Paranoid Libra

        But what product is used as the primer? That’s what I have no idea about.

        • Kathy

          Oh! I didn’t realize this, since I sort of just read these for the methods instead of product recs. Sorry!

          They’re using the Olay Wrinkle Revolution as primer/moisturizer. A better known primer is Smashbox, which comes in tiny bottles and even samples for those of you who will only use it once, as well as several formulas for different skin types – oily, dry, ruddy, etc.

          • Shiri

            Since primer can be expensive, Monistat Chafing Gel can be used in place of the Smashbox primer. I know it sounds crazy, but it has the exact same formula and is much less expensive. I heard this as a tip from a makeup artist.

          • Jashshea

            You can also use clear, more liquid primers (like smashbox) to tame fly-away hair – I have loads of wavy hair and live in the South, so taming fly away hair is a daily battle. When I’m done priming my face, I run what’s left on my hands gently through the hair around my face.

            Note – I wear powder foundation daily and occasionally gussy the up with mascara. I rarely blow dry my hair for a normal day. Primer + hair being done is a special occasion for me all by itself.

            Note 2 – I’m pale and always wear moisturizer with at least SPF 15 (usually 30) on my face.

          • Brefiks

            Can’t figure out how to reply to Shiri, but I’ve been using Monistat Chafing Gel as a primer for quite some time and it works great! I mix it in equal parts with foundation and moisturizer and buff it down with a big brush. It gives you a really nice finish. I only bother with it for special occasions, though.

    • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

      Honestly, your best bet is to head on over to wikipedia, and type in ‘Primer (cosmetics)’
      Also, in regard to the evening of skin tone. I have very pale skin, so even when pimples have healed, I can see red marks for weeks. I also have a slight pigmentation problem in a couple spots, which makes those spots more white than the rest of my face. These don’t photograph all that well haha. That being said, if you have an even skin tone, than don’t you dare go putting stuff over it ;)

    • meg

      First! If you’re a no makeup girl you should not feel *any* pressure to wear things to ‘even out your skin tone’ if it’s not something you normally think about. For gods sake, we’re not trying to give you something extra to worry about, so if you’re worrying, stop it! No makeup is fine! Your skin tone is lovely! Done and done.

      But! The answer to your question! For me, as someone that’s photographed a lot, I can really clearly see the difference if I’m not wearing sheer foundation or if I am in a photo. I don’t know if it matters in real life, but I prefer the way I look on film with sheer foundation, so I use it if I’m going to be photographed. It literally just makes my skin color look more uniform. I’m very pale, which means parts of my skin are more or less red, and I have shadowy bits. I just like to make it all look kind of the same.

      As for primer, it’s not something I use on the regular. But the reason you would use a primer for special event makeup (disclosure, I did not use it for my wedding, though I did use this silly expensive “HD Foundation” that is supposed to photograph better, and I seriously think was a waste of money) is that it just makes the foundation stay in place better and longer. That’s all! Simple, simple, and you don’t have to use it.

      • Fun fact: those expensive primers (like Smashbox Photo Finish and whatever the MAC one is called) are the exact. same. thing. as Monostat anti-chafing creme, which costs like $8 instead of $45. Plus you get to gross everyone out by nonchalantly rubbing vagina cream onto your eyelids.

        • Amy

          The cream is to stop chafing of your external skin, like your thighs. Like for chub rub. (That sh!t changed my life AND yep, it does work as a primer.) So nope, not vagina cream…but you don’t have to tell anyone that.

      • Paranoid Libra

        No I really meant I had no idea of the equivalent of primer from the list of products. Make-up babies need all those dots connected. If we are curious, then google it, the stuff that turns up can be confusing and scary and kill the curiosity. I prefer the APW safety net in cases of thinking of experimenting, much less scary and more hand holding and puppies. :)

        • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

          Puppies!!!!!!! yay!! *ahem* I’ll stop now

        • meg

          It was the Olay Regenerist. Which is interesting and illustrates some of the points people are making above, since it’s not primarily marketed as a primer, but can be used that way. (I’m not a makeup baby, and I had no idea you could use it this way, so there you go.)

    • Diane

      I would’ve asked the same question a few years ago — my skin had always been nicely even, no real red or rough spots, never went through a bad pimple stage. I’ve noticed in the last few years (I’m in my early 30s) that my skin is getting some red areas, particularly right around my nose and now a bit on my chin, that I would happily do without. I normally rely on a tinted SPF-happy moisturizer but for special occasions I like to go with something a bit more robust. So if you happen to be a younger APW-er, give it some time and if you’re not, lucky you!

      Also, primer is my new favorite thing. Nothing more frustrating than putting in the time wanting to look like “fancy me” just to have it melt off or smeary an hour later.

    • Ambi

      Just to help answer the question about uneven skin tone, and this is kind of yucky to talk about, but I have a ton of dark spots left over from everywhere I ever had a pimple – I am *lucky* enough to have the type of skin that creates dark hyperpigmentation marks just about any time that I have zit, get a scratch, or even have a bad bruise (no joke, I have a dark scar on my leg that came from a bruise – the skin was never broken!). So, for me, evening skin tone is all about disguising these darker spots. I could use a concealer on each and every teeny tiny spot, but then I still end up looking kind of polka-dotted and it would take forever. So a sheer foundation over my entire face blends them all in nicely and makes them less noticeable.

    • Alexandra

      Also, Shimmery vs glittery: My understanding is, if you can look at it and see the bits of glitter, that’s what you want to avoid. If it just kinda gleams at you, that’s shimmery. Sort of like how diamonds glitter, but polished gold just shines/shimmers.

      And if I’m wrong, hopefully someone will jump in here and correct both of us make-up virgins.

  • zoe

    Even simpler:

    BB Cream/Tinted moisturizer all over (skip if you want)
    Bronzer on cheeks
    Brown or black mascara
    lip gloss

    Don’t wear makeup if you don’t feel comfortable in it. Your person waiting for you at the end of the aisle will think you look gorgeous if you feel comfortable and like yourself.

    • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

      It’s funny, I wear makeup quite a bit, and I am scared to death of using bronzer! Also, those eye lash curlers look scary. Does someone want to comment on how you use those things?!

      • amy

        Eyelash curlers look WAY scarier than they really are, but in my opinion they can really make your lashes stand out all the more, especially when paired with a little mascara.

        I’m not enough of an expert to write a good tutorial on how to use them, but I’m sure someone out there on the wide web has done it :)

      • Ambi

        Megan, it’s funny you should ask . . . since I am pretty much addicted to bronzer (not in a Jersey Shore sort of way, I promise!!!) and I really love using an eyelash curler for special events. First, regarding bronzer, I have very pale but very yellow-tinted skin. While it is possible to find a blush that looks nice, most of them look fake on me. Bronzer actually looks much more natural when I swipe it on my cheeks (and just a very faint bit on my forehead, nose and chin, too). You know how they say that blush makes you look awake and healthy? Bronzer does that for me. The keys for me are using a powder formula with little or no shimmer, using a fluffy brush for a light application, and picking a formula that is pretty light (depending on your skin tone – what I mean is that it should be fairly close to your natural skin tone, not a whole lot darker). Use a light hand and try to dust it on the high points of your face where the sun would actually hit (cheekbones, forehead, bridge of nose), and don’t go overboard. Some people don’t like it, so if it ends up not being your thing don’t worry about it. But for me, bronzer is the key to my natural-looking everyday makeup routine.
        As for using an eyelash curler, I’m not really sure I can describe in writing how to use one – it really isn’t hard, but you’d probably be better off looking up a youtube video or asking a friend to demonstrate in person. However, I will say that, for someone with small narrow eyes and (literally, I kid you not) stick-straight lashes that point down towards the ground, an eyelash curler very literally makes my eyes look open. If I load mascara on my lashes without curling them, the thick dark mascara just does even more to hide my eyeballs than my lashes already did. Curling my lashes makes them point out and up – kind of like some people’s lashes are naturally. This way, I can do a smokey eye look and add tons of black mascara (if that is the look I am going for) and my lashes end up framing my eyes instead of obscuring them. It is hard to describe, but for days when I do put on eye makeup, curling my lashes really makes a difference in how it looks.

        • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

          Thanks! I believe I will at least be trying the eyelash curler!

          • Alexandra

            It also might not be entirely necessary either. I’ve always considered my eyelashes to be fairly curled already, so I never even touched an eyelash curler. I don’t even think they used one when I had my makeup done professionally for a friend’s wedding.

          • Ambi

            Alexandra, I completely agree! It is not necessary for everyone (well, I guess technically it isn’t necessary for anyone, but for some people like me it is nice). If your eyelashes already grow in a way that curls up, then an eyelash curler really isn’t going to do anything for you.

    • meg

      Of course don’t wear makeup if you don’t want to. We mentioned it in the text, but that’s an APW given. This is for those who want to, but want to look super natural but pumped up and want tips.

      (However, for a variation on the simple routine you suggested, I use blush not bronzer. Bronzer and I don’t work well together, but I need help in the color department. Also, I don’t use lip gloss or anything on my lips, but I do use a tiny bit of eyeliner.)

  • zoe

    I’m not sure if this is allowed, but I’d encourage everyone to look up reviews for products before purchasing on or similar. I bought some products featured in these tutorials and was disappointed. Should have done research first!!

    • meg

      Of course always research anything you buy, and make sure it’s a fit for you. These tutorials are informational, and you can use them with a huge variety of products.

  • Has anyone asked about Mod/Twiggy/Zooey Deschanel-type eye makeup? I like where we’ve been going with minimal looks that highlight your best features and love the big, round eye look.

    • Ambi

      Speaking of best features, can we take a moment to marvel at this model’s AMAZING blue eyes?! Whoa, seriously? I wasn’t even going to click on this post because I don’t really need any help for a no-makeup look (it is pretty much what I do every day), but THOSE EYES just grabbed me from the screen!

      • This just made my day! Thanks Ambi!

    • Jashshea

      Adele, too! That purrfect skin and those eyes just POP. And her eyes are smaller than Zooey or Twiggy.

    • Emily

      I used this tutorial from Etsy for my Zooey-inspired wedding makeup (I love her look so much!).
      It’s basically a neutral face and eye with a bold liner, and she usually does a slight cats eye shape with her liner. There is a link on the tutorial to help with cats eyes if you don’t know how to do them (make sure to practice before the big day or they can make you all sorts of frustrated). Zooey also wears false eyelashes, which I skipped because I did not practice that part and couldn’t figure out how to get the damn things on! But one of Meg’s earlier tutorials shows how to do this really well!

  • katiebgood

    You know, I’m sure the photos are helpful for the folks that use these primers, but could you put a few of them under a cut? They’ve been loading really slowly on my phone.

  • Mrs May

    This controversy is fascinating to me! I don’t wear makeup mainly out of laziness. I got made up for my wedding (and so did my beautiful non makeup wearing wife). Honestly, we look like really wellrested versions of ourselves in the photos, and that was awesome. I would never have been able to create that look on my own, definitely not as simple as powder and lipgloss. I didn’t feel like I was selling out – I just felt specially taken care of, it was kind of fun, and we look so pretty in our pictures. How many times will we have a photographer and fancy outfits? If I’d had this howto I would’ve used it ( and I might in the future). Honestly as a queer woman who attended an all women’s college I don’t see how not wearing makeup is really a feminist or moral issue. It’s a personal choice. Just like what you choose to wear. No one would say it was odd that I wear clogs everyday but wanted something special – but still comfortable- for my wedding. This was my favorite of the p&g posts so far.

    • Paranoid Libra

      Some of us non-make-up wearers avoid it cuz its scary from previously awful trials with it.

      Part of my anti-make up stance is more so from being traumatized previously by a makeup artist….with some lazyness thrown in and also lack of ever having those mother-daughter moments where your mother is supposed to show you some things about make-up.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      It’s fascinating to me because APW has all kinds of how-tos for optional things, as well as personal essays on angst about optional things. Aisles, ceremony backdrops, bouquets, veils, place cards, centerpieces – all optional. Yet the discussions in those posts went in a very different direction.

      • Alexandra

        Yeah, I see this as a very odd direction that the conversation went too. It reminds me of a while back, I think I was cruising through some wedding blog and caught the line “Should I shave my armpits for my wedding?” And I had a split second of “what an interesting question if said person doesn’t normally shave!” And then immediately slingshotted to “What an obvious answer…”

        In the end, my obvious answer was simple. You want to look pretty this day. Possibly prettier than you ever have in your life. Will wearing makeup/shaving let you feel prettier than you would normally? Then do it! Will it make you feel like you’ve somehow violated your personal moral stance? Then don’t do it! Are you unsure if you’ll look prettier that way? Try it out a month before the wedding and see what you think, makeup and razors aren’t really hard to borrow, and neither is permanent.

        It basically became a really obvious question to me when I equated it to getting a manicure. Sure, I have gotten exactly one manicure in my life, and it was for someone else’s wedding (she paid) but I think it looks pretty and I want to look above averagely pretty that day. It doesn’t have to become some moral stand if you don’t want it to be one.

      • meg

        It is TOTALLY interesting. (Also interesting because none of the previous, heavier makeup posts prompted these discussions). As we’ve explored before in other ways on APW, issues of beauty and body image are complicated emotional and political territory. And It may be that when you’re veering more towards “use a little makeup to look like a more polished version of regular you” it’s can be more loaded than “Use makeup to get a dramatic look that no one could ever think was natural.”

        But yes. We don’t disclaim everything on the site as “This is optional, of course you don’t have to have it/ do it” because that’s part of our fundamental mission, and we hope it’s implied. Also, too many disclaimers are weighty. We’ve done a bazillion tutorials (and I’ve worked on a bazillion tutorials) on stuff I didn’t choose to have/ wouldn’t choose to have if I were doing it again. But just because it’s not *my* jam doesn’t mean it can’t be someone elses jam that I want to help support in an affordable/ sane/ thoughtful/ etc way.

        • Audrey

          While I can’t be sure, I’m guessing it was the “no makeup” part of the title that got some people’s hackles up. Personally I think I would have been more comfortable with a title like “the natural makeup look”, but I also realize that’s totally splitting hairs and I know that APW supports whatever people want to do!

          (And actually I am seriously sad this wasn’t around before my wedding because it was more or less what I did for makeup, with some help of an awesome bridesmaid.)

        • KC

          As a non-daily-makeup-wearing person, a *lot* of people asked me before the wedding “so, you’ve got someone lined up to do makeup for the wedding, right?”, often in a concerned tone. Now, some of these may have had personal makeup disasters in the past and not wanted me to walk down the aisle with half a pound of eyeshadow on, so there’s that.

          But the idea that every bride/woman *needs* makeup, even if she does not want to look like she’s wearing makeup, is fairly prevalent and can get really obnoxious, so I’m guessing that the unusually-bristly response is mostly in response to the title, reading in implied support to the “but you’re a bride! you have to wear makeup, even if it’s invisible!” thing.

          I was totally expecting this tutorial to begin with a “want a natural, no-makeup look? Option 1: skip the makeup. Done and done. Option 2, if you want to wear non-obvious makeup: here’s the drill…” That said, I also understand you can’t write disclaimers for everything, and I didn’t read it as “every bride must wear makeup” (mostly due to APW’s general “do what’s right for you” philosophy).

          (also: I am fascinated that this is the look most people requested. Are there statistics on how many APW readers are minimalist-on-makeup vs. makeup-as-self-expression vs. need-makeup-to-look-okay vs. it’s-just-fun-to-play-with-sometimes, etc.? That would be really cool to find out.)

  • Marina

    I love this, and will probably be using it for the next wedding I attend as a guest. :)

  • Kestrel

    This is the kind of makeup I want – but can someone please explain how to deal with acne so this looks fantastic!

    I have hormonal acne that I’ve just given up on (been to the dermo soooo many times, tried about every product in the book – including pills, am even on birth control, and it just won’t go away) but would really, really like to know how to cover it up. My “put some concealer on it” doesn’t really work – I think because I’m quite pale so nearly everything is shear when it’s my skin tone.

    • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

      Maybe my trials with covering pimples on my super pale face will help! I have found primer to be key in making it stick. I also would try putting on your foundation, and then the concealer (you can get ones that really do help with acne, pretty sure covergirl has one of those too). You can experiment to see if applying it with your fingers or a brush works better, but make sure you dab it on, rather that use a rubbing motion. Mainly, when you are pale, it’s the redness that you see when you look in the mirror. The products they use in the tutorial should do a pretty darn good job of covering up the redness, once you get a little practice.

      Also, I have shamelessly used a dab of hydrocortisone cream (the stuff you can get off the shelf-not very strong) to take some of the redness and swelling out of a really whopping zit (you know, those ones that actually hurt?).

      Course, with all that stuff on your face, you also have to do a really good job of taking it off.

      Hope that helps you a little bit, but maybe we can get a little professional tip or two?

    • Ambi

      As another super-pale-skinned girl who has struggled with acne, here’s what has worked for me (but please keep in mind that, unlike many people with really pale skin, I have strong yellow undertones, not pink).

      First, I know you’ve been to the derm many times and tried pills (so had I), but one thing that did help was when they gave me a course of antibiotics to kill the stuff that was causing the acne in the first place. Antibiotics are a sticky subject for many people, and you may not want to go this route, but it did work for me.

      Second, I recommend finding a really good concealer. When my acne was at its worst, I ended up using the professional-strength stuff that is used to hid tattoos and scars. It is called Dermablend, and I know it comes in tons of shades, including several that are very pale. It is the thick kind of stick that looks like lipstick. I found it at a local department store (Dillards), but you may be able to look online to find a place near you that sells it. It isn’t sexy – it is kind of like spackle – but it definitely hides the deep dark red marks. Just make sure you are a really really careful about picking a shade that matches your skin tone (or you may even need to buy two and blend them together on your hand for each application), or it will end up looking obvious and fake.

      Finally, I personally really like the Bare Escentuals mineral makeup products – they are all powders, even the concealer, but they work really well at covering up acne, and I’ve found that they don’t make it worse. I highly recommend starting with one of their kits which has several shades, the brushes you’ll need, and instructions. In my experience you can’t layer these powders over any kind of foundation or you’ll look like you’re wearing a mask, but worn alone they give great coverage and look natural. And, if necessary, you can apply the dermablend concealer to the very worst spots before using these powders.

      And one last tip – I found that adding a bit of bronzer (no shimmer!) and/or blush, a natural lip, and some mascara helped everything look better. If you use full-coverage makeup products to hide acne, your face can end up looking flat and pale and all one color, kind of like a mask. You have to go back and add a little warmth and some definition to eyes and lips.

      Disclaimer – I absolutely know that some of you reading this are thinking “that sounds like so much work!” and it can be. But when you suffer from bad acne, sometimes you’d give anything just to cover it up and not have it be so noticeable. I am not saying anyone has to do any of this stuff – I am just sharing some tricks that worked for me.

      • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

        I just got a liquid foundation from Lise Wattier (spelling??), which is a mineral formulation. I really like it. Just an fyi ;)

      • Jashshea

        Seconding Bare Minerals. Seconding pale w/yellow undertones (I tan really well? But I’m translucent unless I’m tan?).

        And adding – I read somewhere once that sleeping with a towel over your pillow can help with *some* non-hormonal breakouts. I tried the towel on the pillow trick and it seemed to help with the non-cystic pimples. I also use Origins Clear Improvement mask about once a month – It’s by no means cheap, but it calms my skin down during the bad week.

        I had a steroid injection a few months ago and my skin went completely f’ing nuts (three cystic pimples, all sorts of mini-breakouts (oh, and what it did to my cycle? Oy)). I usually have okay skin – it’s uneven, but I if I sleep well enough, drink water, work out (and get some sun), I don’t get much beyond a few baby pimples and a few period breakouts annually. So…don’t do steroids if you can help it.

      • I have not personally experienced this, but I have heard that while mineral makeup often looks great in real life, it can sometimes look not so good with flash photography because of how it reflects light. If you don’t normally wear makeup but are wanting to wear some for your wedding photos, it would be a shame to then have a kind of makeup that is difficult to capture naturally. I’m sure different brands are better or worse, and some photographers who don’t use flash might not have a problem with it either way. But definitely do a trial first or talk to your photographer and/or a makeup expert about whether this will be an issue.

        • I personally would love some tips on body acne and body makeup. I am wary of going the full-metal abx route for my body acne because of side effects but am debating it because it’s all above my dress (which is strapless). A lot of it is hormonal, but because clindamycin gel clears it up, I’m thinking I will need to bring out the big guns (and whether I should call a derm has actually been answered in this post: will calling and trying to fix it make me feel pretty and not self-conscious about it all day? yes!).

          • megan (from nova scotia)

            I don’t know how effective others find it, but neutrogena has a spay called body clear, and it works really well for me. Also, i use an exfoliating body wash.

    • Paranoid Libra

      Also adding on to redness reduction do a baking soda mask a day or 2 before your wedding. Those helped me a lot when mine was worse. All you do is put some baking soda in a shallow dish and put in just enough water to make it a paste and then smear all around. It might make your skin overly dry and thusly some red irritation. If you do it the same day as your wedding so maybe try one now and see how your skin looks in a few days it could reduce the red of the individual pimples themselves.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I don’t really have advice. Key for clearing up my acne was 10% benzoyl peroxide cream, but I’m sure you’ve already tried that.

      I just want to say that I really enjoy explaining to people who don’t wear make-up (usually men) that it actually helps my skin because 1) it keeps my hands off my face and 2) all the contemporary products at least don’t make it worse, and a lot have salycylic acid, sunscreen and other ingredients that are good for the skin.

    • Anne

      Kestrel — I totally feel you on the acne. Mine is related to hormones and stress.

      I found a great place in San Leandro a year before our wedding and they helped clear up my acne for good. (I’m not going to put in their address because I don’t want to seem spammy, but look it up if you’re interested — they do long distance clients) Not having to worry about pimples on our wedding day, sounds superficial, but I felt so much better.

      A couple of tips on dealing with acne for the pale skinned:

      *** Be extremely cautious about the products you use on your skin. I learned that my foundation was causing me to break out. I now successfully use mineral makeup.

      ** The benzoyl peroxide and mandelic acid combo worked wonders for my skin.

      * Consider getting pimples extracted a few days before. This helps create a much smoother and healthier appearance.

      Best of luck to you!!!

    • Kess

      Thanks for all the replies! I’ve got a big presentation for work tomorrow so I decided to go to a makeup counter and try the bare minerals stuff. Honestly, I’m floored. She didn’t even use any concealer – just primer, foundation, that ‘warm’ bronzer type powder, and the finishing powder. I’m impressed! The acne was so minimized that no one would even notice. Yeah, you could see a little bit of color difference, but she didn’t use any concealer, or use the foundation as concealer.

      I only wear makeup for occasions when I know that people will specifically be judging me on my looks (basically when I’m meeting new people- hey, we can’t help it. Everyone judges on looks!) so the price is a bit less harsh when it will certainly last for a while. And hey, a little confidence is always key.

      • Kess

        Oh, and I’m the Kestrel that’s above – forgot what username I typically use!

        • Julia

          I know this is an old thread, but I just wanted to jump in and say that I also have pale skin and lots of acne, and what works for me is having a greenish concealer. Not hulk green. But like… pale river rock under a canopy of maple leaves with sun shining through them green. I think because green and red are complimentary colors, the greenish tint is more effective at neutralizing the red. I get thick stuff that comes in a lipstick-type container, and I use it on top of sheer foundation because that makes it easier to blend in.

  • JessicaP

    I never, ever wear makeup. I feel like a transvestite with it on, and I have a bad habit of touching my face all the time. It is SO not for me! However, I decided that I wanted to wear makeup for my wedding. I went to the fancy makeup counter and looked at all the pretty colors in awe, and with lots of help and careful listening from the sales girl, I came away feeling like a fancy version of myself– a feeling that I loved and want to experience again on my wedding day! Even though I would never wear makeup on a daily basis, even if someone offered me money to do so, I became exited at the prospect of (tastefully!) doing so for my wedding. I wanted to do something ostentatious and for me makeup was that thing.

    • meg

      Also! As someone who does wear makeup, let me just steer you towards more sheer foundations and powders. I HAAATTTTEEEEE that “touching your face because you feel the makeup mask” feeling (which I’ve often gotten from professional makeup for performances, etc, which obviously has it’s place… under stage lights). But, I wear makeup every day that I can’t feel at all. That’s not because I’m used to it, but because it’s so light and weightless it feels like less than my moisturizer. So, there are totally options.

      That said, I fully support and empathize with wanting to do something ostentatious, so, rad.

  • Amy March

    I’m not sure if this is the right place for this, but try BB Cream. I lack the skill to describe it, but the sephora ladies will know it. The first time I wore it I called my best friend into the room and said “look! See how I am glowing with beauty!”

    • You may be the push I need to try it! My skin is … very uneven these days, but my little baby means I’m very lazy about things. One step and done sounds about right.

      • Suzanna

        I’ve been using BB cream since January, and I luuuuuuurrvv it! Even when I don’t feel like wearing makeup, I still use it because it’s so good for my skin. It actually heals and protects, on top of being that skin-tone-evening-foundation thing. Best thing ever for someone with screamingly sensitive, pale skin. I actually put it on scratches and other irritations because it’s so healing.

        Oddly, when I walked into Sephora they had no idea what I was talking about. I had to ask like 4 people before finding the stuff, and this was on Union Square in San Francisco.

        Morgan, I’d suggest doing a little online research to find the one that would work for you. Also, the one I got (Dr. Jart) was a little too thick for me, so I mix it with my regular moisturizer. It’s a little expensive, but since I mix it, I’ve been using the same container since January. And since it’s so good for my skin, I call that NOT expensive at all!

        Be aware that it goes on very pale. Let it mellow out for a few minutes–I promise you won’t look like that all day.

  • efletch

    So as a to the core feminist I just want to put this out there that no matter what I put or don’t put on my face I’m still a feminist. For a lot of people I know makeup is a form of self expression, and they wear it because they enjoy it not because of some social expectation. I think we all as women should respect and support each other no matter what choices we make with our appearance.
    I really appreciated this tutorial and the others because I’m someone who doesn’t wear much makeup (cause I like to sleep in most mornings) when I do it’s usually just mascara and shadow. I also don’t really know how to apply a lot of the stuff that I already own, so this was helpful. Now I know:
    Shimmer not glitter (I was a teen in the 90s so yeah…)
    White shadow in the corner of the eye to bright and open eyes
    lip color should match your lips not your face
    I’m not going to go out and buy more products just because I see them here, but now I know how to use the ones I have.

  • We LOVE a natural makeup “look” as a photographer..

    A little bit of eyes and lips and thats it. As a photographer we have lots of problems with makeup artists that say “The photos will look great with make up like this.. ” No – if you look in the mirror and your face looks like you put a thick wad of oily makeup on – then thats what your pictures will look like too!

    If your makeup looks like its oily. have her pat it down . refections are THE boggest problem with photography and it makes you look shiny and oily.

    HOT TIP! get the makeup artists to give you the lipstick number so you can buy your own – or have her put some in a small tub – so you can re- apply later.

    A “good” photographer is the best person to ask for advice on a good makeup artist.. :)

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  • lea

    Could someone give an example of what type of shimmer powder will work? I’m so clueless. This is my best guess, but I’d love to find a cheaper option:

  • Guest

    Excellent article about makeup looks.

  • makeupbrides

    No makeup – makeup look is really outstanding, Hats off to you. The tips given by you are really very useful.

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