My own wedding has caused me to revisit hundreds of reader emails on the subject. I’ve always been of the view that it’s a mistake to engage too much in the concept of “bridal beauty”, since by definition it in no way reflects how you ordinarily like to look. The very white become tanned, hair goes up for the first time in decades, poker straight becomes ringlets, red lips and black liner become demure pastels, and so on, when something more familiar would be more comfortable, attractive and confidence-boosting.
That said, I do acknowledge that there are unique practical considerations. It may be a sunny day, there’ll be heaps of photographs taken and so many brides worry about flashback, the visible effect of a direct flash being reflected by the SPF in foundation, causing a sort of ghostly, powdery white cast on the face.
But their fears are mostly unfounded. Wedding photographs are almost always shot in natural light, where flashback isn’t an issue, and even those taken inside are unlikely to be taken under direct flash. Most SPF foundations will be fine – my favourite for weddings is Giorgio Armani Power Fabric (£40) – but if you’re still worried, you can eradicate risk and still remain protected by using an SPF moisturiser, such as Superdrug’s brilliant PhytoGlyc (£12.99), under a non-SPF foundation.
I went for a sleeved dress – not because I wanted to cover my tattoos, but because my arms look like ham hocks – but many brides tell me they’d like to go strapless and conceal their inkings, which can be done. The best tools for the job are Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer (£38, for face and small areas) or Vichy’s Dermablend Total Body Corrective Foundation (for large areas, £22.50). In either case, the product should be softened on the back of the hand, then stippled on to the offending design with a makeup sponge, set with loose powder, repeating both steps until covered. For those who are more concerned with the overall condition of their upper arm skin in strapless, I always recommend Palmer’s Anti-Ageing Smoothing Lotion (£2.99), which works brilliantly but stinks to high heaven, or Clarins Renew-Plus Body Serum (£41), which is equally effective, nice smelling – and much pricier. Each should be deployed nightly from about a month before the wedding, to even tone and slough away dead skin and its associated goosebumps.
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