Why I will not be wearing an ounce of make-up at my wedding

Guest post by Brink Powell
Baity Miss Sally Rice} Before

On my wedding day I will not be wearing an ounce of make-up. Why?…

Once upon a time I was fifteen years old and started dating a boy who would become my first and longest relationship. This boy was very critical of my appearance. And, being young and naive, I became convinced that he was this way because he cared about me, and wanted me to look my best.

I changed the way I dressed. I started dying my hair and having it cut different ways. I started wearing some make-up when we'd go out. At first it felt strange, and I didn't really like it. Then I just got used to it and wanted to avoid hearing that I was “sloppy” or “plain,” or any of the other well-chosen insults he used to control my appearance.

When we broke up I was twenty-three years old, and I realized that I had lost a lot of myself to the relationship. I sort of didn't know who I was anymore.

One thing I had left of my pre-relationship self was my involvement in theater. When I was invited to hear one of my theater acquaintances bands play at a local bar I went, alone. I threw my hair up, put on some comfortable pants and flip flops, didn't even wash my face, and that's the night my relationship with my fiancé began.

The first time my fiancé ever saw me in make-up was when he came to see me in a show — five months after we started hanging out. He said I looked “weird” with it on. I have never, in the three and a half years we've been together, felt any pressure to look a certain way or to be anything other than what I am. I have also not put make-up on unless I'm in a show. There's no reason to. He loves me for exactly who I am and exactly what I look like.

Originally, I was going to wear make-up for my wedding. I was going to do it myself and it was going to be minimal eye make-up and perhaps some lip gloss. But then I thought, why? Why am I going to do this? Is it because I want to? Or is it because it's been drilled into my head by society that a bride should look like the “best version of herself,” and make-up is the way to achieve that?

Why should I try to look any different than I do on a day to day basis?

Based on how many people have asked “where are you getting your make-up done?” without ever pausing to consider the possibility that I won't have it done professionally, it's clear that choosing to have no wedding make-up goes against what many people think a “normal” bride should do.

Well-meaning friends and family have cautioned me against this decision for reasons ranging from looking washed out in photos to the more stereotypical “but you're a bride, you should be made up!”

To them I say this:

On our wedding day, I want to look like myself. I want to keep the streak of gray that's appeared in my hair over the past year. I don't want to cover up the little moles on my face. When I walk down the aisle towards my fiancé on that day, I want him to see me the way I naturally am, and the way I was always meant to look.

Comments on Why I will not be wearing an ounce of make-up at my wedding

  1. I don’t normally wear make-up. My husband doesn’t like it (specifically the way it smells). But I wanted it for my wedding day because of the photography. I told my make-up artist (I don’t wear it often enough to do it myself – like you I only wear theatrical make-up) to make it as little make-up as possible. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a miscommunication. He made it *look* like I was wearing very little make-up but actually did the full foundation/powder thing. Still, my husband didn’t seem too offput by it and I love how I look in all my pictures. I am still very undeniably ME, but the kind of me that I see on my best days when I got the perfect amount of sleep and am in perfect health.

    While I have no regrets about wearing it on my wedding day, I think it’s important to realize its a matter of priorities. I’m not a “live in the moment” kind of person. While I have a great narrative memory (we did this THEN we did that and you said THIS not that) I’m not very good at … immersive? memory. My memories don’t play back like a video. It’s hard for me to conjure up the images and emotions of a memory – unless I have pictures. The moments that I have pictures of will always be what I remember most clearly and think back on most fondly. As a result, photography was *the most* important thing for me about the wedding, which included looking just right in the pictures. For a lot of people, that’s not the case and it makes sense that, if you don’t wear make-up normally (especially if your partner isn’t super fond of you in it) you wouldn’t want to wear it on this day either.

  2. For those of you who, understandably, would feel uncomfortable in make up because you don’t usually wear any, I would ask you to consider wearing only the *slightest* amount for the sake of the photography. As someone pointed out earlier, makeup-less faces can tend to get washed out under the bright lights of professional photography, as well as emphasize imperfections, blemishes, or areas of uneven coloration – things that might not even be noticed except by the camera!

    And unless you have perfectly normal skin (that does not teeter towards either the oily or the dry end of the spectrum), do consider just a little bit of skin treatment/coverage. For dry skin, you could wear a tinted moisturizer or a BB cream. It will be very lightweight, and the “tinted” part will be extremely sheer. If your skin starts to get a little parched as the day wears on, you can reapply in the areas that need it. If you tend to be a little oily, consider a mattifier: a sort of serum that you put on your skin (it absorbs right away) that keeps you from getting too shiny later in the day, and possibly some sheer pressed powder (applied *sparingly* with a fluffy brush so as not to look or feel cakey). You can use these products only on your t-zone if that’s the only place you have a problem with oiliness, and you can touch up throughout the day by using oil-absorbing blotter papers, available at your drugstore.

    Neither of these things are going to make your skin look particularly different in person, except maybe a very slight evening out, but it may actually make your skin *feel* better! (For instance, I always put on mattifier even if I’m not leaving the house!) But it may have enough of an effect that your photographer – especially if you talk to him/her about your lack of foundation – won’t be tempted to get all Photoshoppy with your face, and then go totally overboard with it.

    I also have one “absolutely don’t do this” tip: If you’re going to be outdoors or need to wear sunscreen for whatever reason, don’t wear physical barrier sunscreen – only a chemical sunscreen! Physical barrier sunscreens contain either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. The whole reason why these two ingredients work is because they reflect the sun’s rays off of your skin. Unfortunately, they reflect a large part of the visible spectrum of light too, including the photographer’s flash. This will give your skin a bright white cast in pictures everywhere you applied a physical sunscreen; if you’ve ever seen those red carpet pictures of Hollywood starlets that look like they have white powder all over their faces, it doesn’t actually look like that except in the pictures! It’s becaused they used a powder or some other product that had one of these ingredients in it – titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are usually the primary ingredients of mineral makeup (which is why mineral foundations always have such a nice SPF). Stick to a chemical sunscreen that has active ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, Parsol 1789, etc. But be sure to test it out on your skin for sensitivity well ahead of your wedding, as some people are sensitive to chemical sunscreens and can’t wear them without breaking out (I happen to be one of those people).

    Congrats to you all for sticking to your guns and not letting the pressure of others’ expectations and conventions back you into doing something you’re just not comfortable with!

    • While I agree with you in theory about the photography, in practice I feel that a good photographer should be able to work with a make-up-less face. Our wedding photographer has shot me several times before with no make-up and none of the photos she’s done of me have ever looked washed out. While we haven’t gotten our professional pictures back all the ones that our guests took and have shared look great! I look like me, imperfections and all.

  3. I too will be wearing minimal wearing on my wedding day, and would prefer using the same skin care products as I prefer to stick to only one brand, (like this) which I have been using since the last couple of years, even on my wedding day!

  4. I am so happy to saw this blog and read the entire article with a smile on my face. I don’t wear make up on daily basis or events, I only apply baby powder and a lipstick (I’m good on applying lipstick even without a mirror, lol!). My husband and I will be having our church wedding next year and I can’t stop thinking of what I will look like when I have a make up on my big day. I want to go bare faced on my wedding day since I am not comfortable having a concealer, foundation or anything aside from powder and lipstick on my face for how many hours. I also want to be “ME” on my most awaited day. I thought that this is a weird idea until I found your blog, maybe because people around us esp. our family, friends and society are used to think that being beautiful on your wedding day means having a make up on and be the best version of yourself but how can I do that if the best version of me is being just the way I look before that wedding day. I love seeing women with their make up on and I envy those who knows how to apply it on their faces but it is our wedding day, we are in control and we still decide what is the best.

    Thank you for bringing this topic up and one more thing, I can cry and wipe my sweat without thinking twice. Cheers!

Read more comments

Comments are closed.