Having worked as a wedding and portrait photographers for years, there are a few tips and suggestions concerning makeup selection and application sequences for brides on their wedding day, as well as bridesmaids, if you or they plan on wearing makeup, we would like to recommend from the perspective of a photographer. Some tips are particular relevant if you plan to get married in Costa Rica or in a country of similar or lower economic development, especially during the summer.
Selecting The Right Primer & Foundation
Use a primer. Primers can be colorless, skin colored or green and come in a powder, cream or liquid. Primers have several essential benefits. They make skin appear even and smooth, reduce and even eliminate inconsistent skin tones and redness and, most importantly, especially for your wedding day, they can make your foundation last all day.
Silica-based primers are best for durability and evenness. They act as a buffer between the primer and foundation, keeping the foundation appearing smooth by preventing it from entering your pores. If you have dry or oily skin, there are silica-based moisturizing or oil-free primers available.
Green primers are commonly used in high-end studio photography. Studio flashes are quite powerful. The light from a professional studio flash can penetrate non-green primers, revealing the skin underneath. Using a green primer for your wedding day more than likely will be unnecessary.
The bride in the following pictures, which were taken approximately 30 minutes after the preparation, did not use a primer or a foundation, only a powder. As a result, blotches, redness, and tonal and textural irregularities are clearly visible. The first photo is unedited. In the second photo, we removed the major and most minor blotches and distractions. Afterwards, in the third photo, we softened the skin to reduce the tonal and textural inconsistencies, while leaving the skin looking natural. This process can take 10-20 minutes per photo, and is not included in basic photo editing.
A foundation that matches your skin tone and one that is long-lasting are the two most important factors in choosing a foundation.
· Match Your Skin Tone
Choose a foundation based on your actual skin tone, not what you want it to be. Otherwise, your face, neck, and upper chest will be different tones.
If this happens, certain photo editing programs can minimize or eliminate the resulting tone discrepancy. It can take between 5-20 minutes per photo depending on how drastic the difference in skin tone is. Such retouching is not usually included in the basic photo editing included in standard wedding photography packages since there can be hundreds of pictures needing this type of retouching. Spending 10 minutes on 100 pictures amounts to 16.7 hours, or two all-day weddings. Additionally, the more skin is retouched, the less natural and more plastic it can appear, and the more inconsistent your skin will look from photo to photo.
The two pictures below are an example of a model using a foundation whose tone does not correspond to her natural skin tone. In this case, the foundation is noticeably orange in comparison to her actual skin tone.
Below are the color-corrected photos. First, we created and then applied a color profile to correct all the colors in the image in Adobe Lightroom. Then, in Photoshop, we matched the corrected the color of the model’s foundation by matching it with the color of the skin on her neck where there was no foundation applied via a process known as frequency separation. The difference is quite noticeable.
Purchase a foundation classified as long-lasting or all-day use. If using a primer, even a long-lasting silica-based primer, use an all-day foundation of equal quality. Since primers can be colorless, skin colored, or green, if your foundation fails, the underlying primer will be exposed, leaving you with blotchy and even green blotches if using a green primer.
A note on foundations and flash photography. Foundations with a sun protection factor (SPF) contain Titanium Dioxide. Flash can react with foundations with higher concentrations of Titanium Dioxide and cause your skin to appear pale and flat in your wedding pictures. If you purchase an SPF foundation, choose one with an SPF of 15 or lower. These contain less Titanium Dioxide and generally do not cause this issue with flash photography.
Suggested Makeup Application Sequence
Cleanse and prep your skin first. Then apply the primer, the foundation, and lastly the concealer. Up to this stage there is no debate.
1. When to Apply Eye Makeup
This is debatable. We recommend applying it after the primer, foundation, and concealer, especially if you apply your own makeup. By applying blush and countering makeup before eye makeup, you run the risk of smudging the blush with your palm or side of your hand when applying eye makeup, requiring a retouch or reapplication of blush, which can affect your foundation. This can be avoided by applying eye makeup first. If eye makeup falls on your foundation, simply use a soft brush or cotton ball or pad with a bit of remover to remove it without harming your base. If necessary, you can easily apply more foundation and then blush.
2. When to Apply Blush, Contouring, and Powder
After applying eye makeup, apply your blush and contouring makeup. Afterwards apply powder, which has a few beneficial functions for all-day weddings. First, powder sets your makeup in place. Second, a thin layer of powder absorbs oil any oil your skin may produce during your wedding, which is beneficial for people with oily skin.
1. Bring Your Own Makeup
Purchasing high quality, name brand primers and foundations in Costa Rica is problematic. Stores that carry them are not ubiquitous as they are in the United States. You will have to go to a large mall in San José to find one. Pharmacies here do not sell makeup. If getting married in Puntarenas, Herradura, Guanacaste or even further from San José, the only metropolis-like area in Costa Rica, your chances of finding high-quality makeup are much more reduced, if not non-existent.
Secondly, high-end makeup in Costa Rica will cost 2-3 times more that in the U.S. Believe me, I discovered this when purchasing makeup here for Lindsay’s birthday.
2. Hiring a Makeup Profession – Bring your Own Makeup
You can hire a makeup artist for you wedding via an in-house or independent wedding planner if you hire one. If you do, we recommend you bring your own makeup, at least the primer and foundation.
A makeup artist may not use primers, may not have a foundation that matches your skin tone, may not use high-quality products, and may not have cosmetics for people with sensitive skin. Having your makeup fail on your wedding day is not optional.
Once they apply your makeup, they leave with their makeup. If you need a touch up before your wedding portraits or reception, for example, you are out of luck.
3. Give It a Try Before Your Big Day
We recommend applying applying the primer and base before traveling to Costa Rica to avoid issues on your wedding day.
Apply it on a day that you know will be long and outside on a warm to hot day if possible. Have someone take pictures of your face from various angles, in the shade, in sunlight, under synthetic lighting and, most importantly, quite a few with flash, and with a dedicated camera if possible since its flash will be more powerful than your phone’s. View the pictures on a computer to see the images in more detail, and ensure that:
· the foundation tone matches your skin tone under various lighting conditions.
· the makeup still looks good during and after a day that is as long as your wedding.
· your skin does not look paler in the photos with flash than in those without flash.
· If camera flash makes your skin paler, the foundation has too much Titanium Dioxide.
· In this case, choose a foundation with a lower SPF or one without it.
4. Makeup That Beats The Heat & Humidity
Another reason to purchase a high-quality, all-day primer and foundation is the heat and lack of air-conditioning. Air-conditioning is not common in Costa Rica. Many places simply do not have it. Most large resorts and hotels will have air-conditioning it in your room and most enclosed common areas, but that’s not always the case .
Summer in Costa Rica technically begins in January and ends in April, although the summer heat can start in December and last until the end of May. The further west you travel from San José, the hotter and drier the climate. In the summer, it is hot in Puntarenas and in Manuel Antonio, and even hotter in Guanacaste, but at least it is not very humid. The sun sets between 5:30 – 6:00, after which the heat dissipates quickly, and there can be a constant, pleasant breeze in the evening and at night.
We hope these tips and suggestions help you choose the right makeup for your wedding day in Costa Rica, or wherever in the world you get married. We likewise hope you have a marvelous, memorable wedding.