Interview with Warpaint Magazine on Bridal Starter Kit

Building a kit from scratch is a daunting prospect.  Many schools will include a starter kit as part of their course training, but if you’re looking to specialise in Bridal beauty make-up there are certain areas which need particular attention and careful product selection.  We’ve gathered a selection of brilliant artists to share their advice on how best to shape a new kit for every bridal occasion.

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Our trusty Warpaint Championships judge Hannah Wing has a varied career which spans film and TV, education and – her passion – bridal make-up.  In fact, when we asked for her advice her first words were ‘I could write a book on this subject!’  So where to start?  With the planning, it turns out.


“When you are building a kit, always apply for your professional discount cards at make-up stores.  Even if you are still in training at college or university, places like MAC, Urban Decay, Bobbi Brown etc will offer pro cards (subject to terms and conditions) which will last 12 to 24 months and enable you to buy products for 20% to 40% less than the shop price.”  She also pointed out that awareness of the bride’s lead-up beauty prep (tanning, tinting, plucking, prepping in any way) is something you should probably be aware of – also to “Be mindful of recommending drastic changes in skincare in the lead up to the wedding.  Everybody’s skin will react differently to different products so ensure there is a sufficient time frame in advance of the big day to allow for potential adverse reactions or for benefits to take place.

“I’d also recommend asking the bride what her usual make-up routine is.  Whilst you might have a sense of what is ‘fashionable’ or ‘best’ for brides, make-up is subjective and if she wears her eyeliner a particular way and that’s what she wants on the day, talk about the pros and cons… but ultimately respect that it is her day and she should look how she feels most beautiful.”

Make-up maven Tracey Gray Mann, who did the make-up for Vera Wang Bridal SS17 and AW17 shows, joined Hannah in stressing the importance of a make-up test.


“This allows you to familiarise yourself with the bride – her skin, her likes and dislikes and to experiment with colours, textures and shades.  Try out a few different ideas.  Once you’ve agreed on the make-up and everyone is happy, take photos and make a few notes to remind yourself exactly which products were used.  On the day of the wedding it should be clear to both parties exactly what the make-up will look like so there are no last-minute surprises.  Have only the products you decided on in the rehearsal in front of you and work as quickly and efficiently as you can.”

Tests are also your chance to clear up any queries and to solidify your role and costings.  Tracey points out that “It’s likely that once you are there, with your make-up kit and brushes out, everyone from the bridesmaids to the mother of the bride and auntie from the other side of the world will suddenly want your attention and make-up too.  If you’re happy with that, then go for it.  Otherwise it should be made clear beforehand whose make-up you are expected to do, how much time it will take and, if you are charging a fee, how much it will cost.”

Hannah’s last tip for pre-wedding prep would be to “always ask the bride if she will be happy for you to use her photos for your portfolio (I’ve never met a bride that has said no) and get the contact details of the wedding photographer.  Whilst taking your own behind-the-scenes photos on the day might enable you walk away with some nice images, a professional high resolution image from the professional photographer will always be better for social media and your website.”

Make-up and Hair by Jen Lewis and Amanda Gros

With that advice out of the way, lets start building that kit.  Product preferences will always be a personal choice, but here are some of our tried-and-tested favourites, as well as a couple of affordable dupes.


BECCA’s National UK MUA Joanne Hook is a big fan of playing with texture and light when it comes to bases, emphasising natural beauty in person which also photographs well: “Have a selection of foundations and concealers in every three or four shades, so you can mix to create your desired colour.  It’s impossible to carry a product for every single person you might see, so mixing textures and products to create desired finish will be your greatest tool.  Adding liquid highlighter or moisturiser to foundation to add glow or sheer it out, for example – it sounds simple, but thinking on your feet and having a reliable cache of products is essential.  Think outside the box for what a product can do and try your cream blusher on eyes, or lipsticks on cheeks, to stretch your arsenal to its full extent.”

Frankie Bennett, another of BECCA’s National MUAs, knows the importance of keeping costs down with do-all products.  “Building a kit, at the very start, I think is about collecting palettes.  Cheek and blush shades, eyes, lips, multi-purpose textures that you can start to mix and match, and try them out on yourself first to see what works, how they go together, how they wear and last for the day; then it’s not so daunting to use them on clients.  I think you can be more creative with looks when you have lots of palettes because you have real choice as they usually tend to be more cost effective.  If starting out new, I would also advise to make sure you’re in the know about skincare as it’s all about creating a perfect canvas.”

Once the skin is prepped, a primer is the obvious starting point with such a long day to plan for.  “I like KIKO’s Primers,” says Tracey, who suggests  Tapping the primer onto the skin rather than rubbing it in; “this will prevent pilling if the primer has silicone in it, as well as bring blood to the surface of the skin to make it look plumped and fresh.”

One of Hannah’s go-to foundations is surprisingly affordable: “L’Oreal True Match is super blendable and offers fantastic coverage, as well as coming in a variety of shades.  It’s also very reasonably priced at £9.99 – bonus!”  A nice alternative to something like Armani’s Luminous Silk, a bridal favourite which would take a much larger bite of your budget.

Luminous, glowing skin is at the top of a client’s checklist the vast majority of the time.  Cream and liquid textures blend more seamlessly than powders and often make for a safe bet when stocking your kit – and you’re hard-pressed to find a more beautiful selection of glow-givers than BECCA’s Shimmering Skin Perfectors.  “Every MUA needs a Shimmering Skin Perfector in Liquid and Pressed in their kit,” declares Ana Patricio, the brand’s Global Ambassador for the UK.  “You can create beautiful ethereal, glowy skin or an on-point highlight in a second.  For ethereal skin, start by adding half a pump to your base mix together and apply all over.  Then, once you have applied the rest of the make-up, take another half a pump and start adding to specific areas a small amount on the cupid’s bow, on the cheekbones, inner corner of the eyes, and just above under the brow bone.  For those wanting more obvious highlight, or have more oil production on their skin, use the pressed version on the high points or even on the eyes.  The great thing is if you are starting out, both SpaceNK and CultBeauty have a kit called Lit From Within and it is only £20 for the mini versions.”

Other great liquid highlighters can be found in our round-up here.  As for other powder highlighters, thanks to the strobing sensation you have too many to choose from, although we’re big fans of Laura Geller’s Baked Gelato and NYX’s Highlight Pro Single pans for just £3.50.

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“Because the look should be soft – unless otherwise requested – use an eyebrow pencil which is one or two shades lighter than the natural hair colour to give a softer look,” Tracey advises.  “With eyelash curlers Shu Uemura are tough to beat, and they last for years.  I like Urban Decay eye pencils, they come in some great colours, and .  KIKO have a good eyeliner too – try grey instead of black for a softer look.”  For eyeshadow it’s back to Urban Decay for their suit-all NAKED palettes, while Hannah leans towards MAC – “Dusty Rose x9 is a great little eyeshadow palette and good value at £25.”  Speaking of value, it’s tough to beat the incredible pigmentation which comes with a Zoeva palettepurchase.

And lashes – so many options: no mascara, waterproof mascara, fake eyelashes, individual lashes.  “If you are using fake lashes you need to pack small scissors in case the lashes are too wide, and Duo eyelash glue is the best” according to Tracey, who also recommends Fairydrops Waterproof Mascara.  The new L’Oreal Paradise Mascara is also winning some fans in the Warpaint office since its recent release.  To finish off, Hannah swears by  Tom Ford Eye Defining Pen in ‘Deeper’ – “Expensive at £45 but in my opinion, worth every penny!”


Make-up by Claire Salter


Frankie notes that “Instead of lots of lipsticks I usually use lip liners that you can make really soft and feathered, or fully drawn and blended with lip balm or gloss.”  Some of our favourite lip liners come from high street brands including No7 and KIKO, a selection of which you can find here.  Don’t forget lip prep as well – we’ve rounded up the best lip scrubs and balms we know here.

As for lipsticks it’s hard to know where to start.  Avoid drying matte formulas which will dry and crack – if you’re looking to create a matte look you’d be better off blotting thoroughly or applying a light layer of powder.  Comfortable, lasting lipsticks which don’t break the bank are, thankfully, not too hard to find.  From NYX Butter Lipsticks and Glosses to Maybelline’s vast range of colours and formulas (some of our favourites on the high street). But our top pick comes from Burt’s Bees, whose comfortable yet pigmented lipstick range practically redefined what’s possible from a ‘natural’ brand.  A pretty tint would also work well, and promises to last – whether that be Benefit’s classic range or quirky Etude House’s Dear Darling tint which is making waves in the West all the way from Seoul.

Topping up make-up throughout the day might not be that possible, so equip your brides with slimline yet handy products which they (or more likely a bridesmaid) can keep handy.  We’ve been loving these Mai Couture skincare blotters throughout this warm summer, and their clever blush and highlight papers would also be a great pick-me-up as the day wears on which take up little room.

Bridal make-up can be tough, but also one of the most rewarding of jobs.  As Tracey wryly points out, “One of the most important days in a women’s life is her wedding day.  The photos from this event might even last longer than her marriage, so as much attention should be made to her make-up and hair as to her dress, shoes and accessories.”