So You Wanna Look Attractive in Pictures, Huh?

Seven suggestions to help you look completely opposite from how I did at prom.
Publish date:
October 12, 2012
shoppables, makeup, weddings, How-To

Like I promised, I’ve been marinating in my brain juices for a few weeks (ha, this used to say “days”) now on the “perfect wedding makeup” tutorial request.

I’m no wedding expert -- I still sleep with one of those giant FAO Schwarz dog stuffed animals that were a popular gift for 90s children. They came in various sizes, representative of the amount of love that your parents felt for you. My parents had medium love for me in 1997, and the following Christmas felt small, but not keychain-sized, love for me. I’m not sure what I did during those 12 months, but it decreased my parents’ love and affection by about 3 cubic feet.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m far too immature to be engaged or married, or in, or apparently even invited to a wedding. (Shout out to UT Chi Omega pledge class ’08! I’m sure my invitation was lost in the mail or, like, whatever.)

BUT, I do know how to look decent in photos, which is the crux of the “wedding makeup” issue, isn’t it? If you’re clueless as to what “look” will work best for you, my first piece of advice is to go through your Facebook photos and pick your favorite. How did you do your makeup? Cat eye? Bold lip? Did you line the inner lash line? What shade of blush/eye shadow/lipstick are you wearing? Are you even WEARING makeup? Consider this your “look” for the wedding -- it obviously photographs well!

I guess it needs to be “wedding appropriate.” You’ll probably want to check with the bride if you want to do a red lip, or a thick, black, sixties cat eye. If that’s your best look and she’s not cool with it, compromise with a more subtle shade or a smaller wing. Suggest she remove the white, bedazzled satin stick from her ass.

Maybe she’ll hire a makeup artist and not even give you a choice in the matter -– you can discontinue reading at this point.

Maybe you’re not even in the bridal party and you’re just reading this because you plan on looking fly in all the photos anyway! In that case, FTW and wear rainbow sprinkles on your lips if that’s what looks good on you. The fact that you weren’t asked to be in the wedding proves that the bride doesn’t really care about you, let alone what you look like and, by default, you shouldn’t care that you’re gonna be hottest chick at the party. The bride’s off the market and everybody HAS to tell her she looks good anyway. Gotta do you, babe.

If you’re the bride, congratulations. I hope this article will help you look even more exceptionally beautiful on your special day.

Anyway, I just want to figure out where we went wrong with the whole stage-makeup-at-the-wedding thing. Like, Glamour Shots-esque airbrushed faces, you know what I’m talking about? Every girl in the bridal party has the exact same “look,” and there’s at least one product that’s inappropriately frosted -- usually the orangey-pink lip gloss and highlighter on the insides of the eyes. NO! SHAME!

How has that become the go-to formal makeup for some people? (My creepy new roommate pronounces it “photogEEnic.” She likes to remind me that she’s smarter and fancier than me in all facets of life. She even uses lingerie bags for her thongs, like I’m some cavewoman who just throws everything in together. BREAKING NEWS! It’s up your ass all day. Let’s stop pretending that it’s a “delicate.” Thongs need to be washed way harder than that shirt you wore for a couple of hours on Friday.)

It’s taken six years now but I can finally accept the fact that I used to use horribly overdone makeup. In fact, I used to take lots of photos and attempt to party in this kind of makeup as well. The event was called, “prom,” and I’ve realized that weddings will be the closest thing I will ever get to a “prom” from now on. This works if you think of it as, “Where the fuck would I ever wear a formal dress anymore?” The answer’s always, “Wedding.” And you buy the fully beaded vintage formal gown with crinoline because, well, one of your friends will eventually get married. For me, it was cousins. All of my friends live on the Internet.

MAKEUP. Okay. I’ve gone back and looked at all of my photos from high-school formals, with the primer, the foundation, the concealer, the powder, the bronzer, the highlighter, the liners, the brows, multiple eye shadows, the faux lashes, the **GlItTer** -- it’s exhausting the shit I would rub/glue onto myself for this supposedly “fun” event. It wasn’t fun when it all started sweating off and the lashes began to droop and my hairsprayed brows began to flake as the strands began valiantly bursting loose from the carbonite-like glue freezing them in place.

From now on I’m advocating using the least amount of makeup possible for a formal event (read: camera-heavy event) like a wedding -- we’re not celebrities who need tricky shit like corrective concealer and sculpted noses to look alive in front of flash bulbs. Sometimes all us humanoids need to look good in wedding photos are more vibrant colors and thoughtful application.

Purple Diary is my escape from everything mundane into the world of art, sex, fashionable social issues, and good makeup. Click through pics of Mark Ronson and Josephine de la Baume’s wedding to see that less makeup is so, soooo much more. Is there a “look” that will work for “most” women? Ha, no. And if there was, it wouldn’t involve sparkly black eye shadow in their creases. There are, however, ways to accentuate certain features that can enhance almost every makeup “look.” What do you know, here they are:

1.Make your skin as perfect as possible before you put on makeup.

Exfoliate, moisturize, rub your wet toothbrush over your lips and let some Aquaphor or lip balm set in. Then soak up any shiny areas BEFORE makeup application with -– see number 7. (Do you like that I’m injecting some suspense in my writing? Trying new things!)

2. Use eye drops.

I’ve read a few makeup articles where celebrities advocate using eye drops to de-haze their eyes before a photo shoot. Clear Eyes Redness Relief works wonders for me. I can feel my face muscles contract, I FEEL ALIVE. Have a bottle on you to refresh your face throughout the night after you cry, or whatever. If you’re prone to shed a tear, may I refer you to my article about makeup-friendly crying techniques?

3.Don’t take on more foundation than you can handle.

If you don’t need foundation, or even concealer, you shouldn’t have to wear it just because you’re getting some pictures taken. And by the same token, don’t overdo it. Cover what needs to be covered, but mo’ makeup, mo’ problems, yo. I get by with a thin layer of BB cream -- under-eye circles and all.


I know girls that think bronzer is sufficient face color. EEHHHHHHHHH. Blush. Bronzer comes later and is the footstool to a good blush that will effortlessly sit on your cheeks and make you look effortless by association. The trick is to layer a cream and a powder. You can use a lipstick or an actual cream blush, then lightly dust over it with some powder blush to set it in place. For whatever reason the layers look more natural than either method alone.


This is where that bronzer comes in. Choose a bronzer without shimmer. In **theory** (in my wormy brain mush) the contoured, or bronzed, areas are supposed to look like shadows, giving definition to that part of your face by making it visually recede. If your bronzer contains light-reflecting shimmer, this GOES AGAINST ALL LAWS OF CONTOURING, GAH.

Highlight, but highlight strategically. Brushed-on powder shimmer will look frosty in photos. You just want something with some moisture in it that subtly reflects light -- we’re going for glow, not glare. Even dabbing on moisturizer will give a really pretty, subtle highlight effect. Also, I’ve recently grown fond of using stark white, not translucent, powder on my cheeks right beneath my eyes, on my nose, forehead and chin. It brightens and controls shine -- just lightly dust with a fan brush.

6.Turn up the brows and lips.

Lightly fill in your brows and embrace some color on your lips even if you’re not normally into lip color, like moi. Remember when you toothbrush-ed over your lips and made them all smooth and a little swollen and flushed? Recreate this magic moment by dabbing some lipstick on your freshly moisturized lips with your finger. You wanna look like you’ve just been making out-- those are the best lips. I have weird opinions about lip gloss, I think that it looks like stagnant drool in pictures. Matte, moisturized lips are gorgeous in photos. Abd you can’t makeout in lip gloss.

7.Refresh your skin.

Have those blue Clean and Clear blotting paperson hand -- they’re the best for eradicating oily patches, hands down. Face mists like Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray rule so hard -- spritz some on to rehydrate not only your skin, but the makeup that’s been sitting on it, wasting away. My hair stylist always said that dampening hair will reactivate any product and I believe this to be true about makeup as well.

(Burberry Soft Satin Lipstick)

And here’s my beautiful, creepy new roommate, Abby, with a great cat eye, sexy mole, and the same photo-ready techniques. It’s a “nighttime” look taken with a flash, and she obviously still looks good. They’ve worked for two girls so far, they could work for you.