What Makeup for Your Wedding Day? Maybe None

For some brides, regular trips to Sephora and test-driving makeup artists aren’t on the wedding to-do list. They are opting instead for a more au naturel look on their big day: faces dewey, eyes unshadowed, lips unstained.

Posted Updated
RESTRICTED -- What Makeup for Your Wedding Day? Maybe None
, New York Times

For some brides, regular trips to Sephora and test-driving makeup artists aren’t on the wedding to-do list. They are opting instead for a more au naturel look on their big day: faces dewey, eyes unshadowed, lips unstained.

“It was so important to look like myself,” said Laurie Huff, 29, a real estate broker from Jackson, Wyoming, who was without makeup when she was married last May in Italy’s Tuscany region.

“I’ve seen friends try to make themselves into something they’re not,” she said. “They plastered on foundation, and to them that might look pretty, but not to me.”

The no-makeup movement seems to have been helped along by Alicia Keys, who almost two years ago, in a self-empowering statement, performed “Blended Family” on “The X Factor” sans maquillage. She did the same at this year’s Grammys. Singer Demi Lovato has flashed #nomakeup selfies on social media, along with Kylie Jenner, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gigi Hadid, Adele and Beyoncé.

“Women are marrying later, they’re a little more certain of themselves,” said Amanda Miller, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Indianapolis. “Many marry today not as a blushing bride, but they think of themselves as women, so they have their own set of expectations as opposed to carrying out the expectations of others. At this moment, women’s voices are more valued.”

Huff said her husband, Collin Vaughn, 44, “was really happy” with her natural look. “He was glad I didn’t look like a prom queen. I felt beautiful. I felt fresh and like myself.”

Rather than hiring a makeup artist, she flew Melanie Simon, an aesthetician based in Los Angeles, to Italy for the wedding. Simon brought 70 skin care products and a bag of “facial tools.” Foundation was swapped for masks and serums rich in oxygen, collagen, placenta, antioxidants and anti-aging properties. Facials were done daily before the rehearsal dinner and wedding.

“Laurie really stood to her guns, even when people tried to change her mind,” said Simon, adding that she is currently working with another barefaced bride. “Years ago people would have said, ‘No way in hell. I need a makeup artist, I must have a makeup artist.’ This generation cares about their skin, they’re going toward cleaner products and a less-is-more thinking. They’ve been brought up differently.”

Others are citing skin care trends and terminology from Korean beauty (or K-Beauty) products — like Glass Skin, which focuses on moisturizing and highlighting, and Cloudless Skin, which refers to the clearness and brightness of one’s skin — as no makeup incentives.

“Instagram and social media are encouraging people to make their skin more perfect,” said David Ruff, a beauty and style Instagram influencer. “Women who don’t wear makeup are doing it for themselves. The message they’re sending is that they don’t need to cover their face in makeup to feel a sense of beauty, especially if they’re confident with how their skin looks.”

Better skin might be one reason for the shift. Another is a desire for authenticity.

“Society expects women to plan this event, which can be overwhelming,” said Shauna Stribula, 37, who works for the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City. She married Evan Losow, 34, at the Peristyle in Brooklyn in September before 200 guests.

On her wedding day, she wore just a hint of makeup, and only after caving in to the encouragement and pleading of her friend Morgan Soloski, 36, of Los Angeles, who flew in for the event.

“Women shouldn’t have to wear makeup to be regarded as fully formed people,” Soloski agreed, “but for these milestone events I still think there’s something nice about being dressed up.”

Before the wedding Soloski presented Stribula with a makeup bag and Tarte makeup palette. “Shauna wanted to give it back to me,” Soloski said. She said, ‘I’m not going to use this.'”

Stribula conceded. Yet each time Soloski applied a stroke of blush or a puff of shadow, Stribula removed it. “She fought me at every pass — I applied the lightest amount of something and she would take it off,” she said. “She looked beautiful without anything. A fresh, natural bride. That’s who she is.”

In the end, the bride wore just a hint of lip gloss, eyeliner and powder.

“Weddings are performative,” Stribula said. “You’re up there to be viewed and judged. Not wearing makeup was a natural representation and a natural extension of me. I’m publicly proclaiming my love, not my beauty.” The no-makeup (or nearly no-makeup) movement caught on with one of Stribula’s wedding guests as well.

Debbie Pressman, 34, a publicist at a music marketing and management agency, had very little makeup on her face when she married Jonathan Cobb, 32, on March 16 at the Meatball Shop in Manhattan.

“Watching Shauna was inspiring,” Pressman said. “I used to be a big makeup person, but I was hiding behind the layers. Wearing it at my wedding seemed fake, especially with the filters and all this prep work. People know it’s not you.”

Pressman had her nails done (for pampering) and a stylist do her hair (for taming sake). She wore lip gloss, mascara and BB cream. “I don’t want my wedding to feel like a job,” she said. “I work hard all day. My fiancé has seen me at my worst and still thinks I’m beautiful.”

Regardless of the reasons for their desired appearance, the results for these women were the same: beautiful, natural and theirs.

“Every person I talked to told me how beautiful I looked,” Stribula said. “I find it fascinating that people kept saying it was a brave statement to make at my wedding. It was the version I wanted to present to the world, which was one with very limited makeup.”

Copyright 2023 New York Times News Service. All rights reserved.