Disclaimer: The views mentioned here are based on our collective observations of various artists and are not meant to bash any particular person. We do believe all five fingers are not equal and therefore resemblance of any below mentioned mistake to any person’s work is purely coincidental.
Hello ladies! Wedding season is upon us so get ready for some mouth-watering quormas and cringe-worthy bridal makeup. Yes, we have all lamented at how bridal makeup artists in Pakistan have ruined the beautiful faces of our friends and relatives. It’s high time we put our foot down and address this issue.
We are not makeup artists but by studying international professionals and heeding their advice, we have learned to pinpoint basic mistakes (we are neither talking nor judging trends here). Our aim is not to bash anyone but to help you identify these problems and deal with them before you face a catastrophe of epic proportions on your wedding day.
Onto the main event!
Perhaps the most talked about mistake in makeup is the “cake face” where the bride looks like a pastry with lots of whipped cream slathered over her face. This totally hides the skin beneath giving her an unnatural plastic mannequin appearance implying that you have lots to hide. Not just the foundation but the setting powder used on top also has coverage. The powdery matte result does not look appealing at all.
Most people do not need high coverage even if they will be having a flash photography session. Foundation is meant to even out your skin. Since most women are blessed with pretty even skin, they don’t need layer after layer of full coverage foundation all over their face. Renowned British celebrity makeup artist, Lisa Eldridge, explains how to tackle problematic skin beautifully. She suggests applying a thin layer all over and then going in with a full coverage concealer to spot conceal. This gives you gorgeous even skin without any heavy feel. The tricky bits are completely covered and the areas which were already even don’t have high coverage.
It’s not true that you need more coverage for night time as compared to daytime. If proper spot concealing and colour correcting has been done then a heavy layer of full coverage foundation makes no sense. You could take precautions for flash photography though. Make sure the products your MUA uses have minimum amounts of silica and mica which cause flashback. Take a test photo with flash to see the effect. Otherwise, avoid flash photography on your wedding day.
All the exposed areas are not one color. The bride posing with mehndi covered hands near her face clearly shows that while the face looks like vanilla frosting, the hands are like caramel syrup. You may have seen ladies who fake tan using a darker foundation shade that matches their body even though you cannot fake tan your face. This is the correct way to go about it regardless of what shade your face actually is.
As colourism is rife in South Asia, you often notice that brides are made to look like porcelain dolls courtesy of inferiority complexes left over after British colonization. Now porcelain is actually cool toned and light. This is a rare complexion in our region which means that a high majority of brides are painted with the wrong tone and depth of color. Most people in Pakistan have undertones purely yellow or a mixture of yellow and peach. They are most warm toned so this popular light cool toned foundation shade turns them grey and ashy. In short: a lifeless zombie.
As we have already established that the incorrect base has been made, the bridal makeup artist cannot exactly choose the right blush shade for their client. We have looked through a lot of bridal makeup by famous names in Pakistan and have come to the conclusion that they probably just have one or two shades that they use on everyone. It’s not a secret that bridal salons in our country are more like bridal factories. Oh, well at least they are churning out consistent albeit eerily similar brides. The favorite blush color is a bright warm pink, which looks absolutely garish against the fake porcelain foundation.
You probably realize that blush shades depend on skin undertone meaning warm blushes are usually recommended for warmer skins, cool ones for cooler undertones and so on. It is important to note that the depth of the blush also determines the level of drama you wish to achieve. Apparently, our local bridal MUAs think the bride has been cast in an 18th century English play so they go with that stark contrast. There are countless blush shades, which are to be chosen according to your overall color theme, complexion and level of definition you give to the rest of your facial features. More on this balance later. Using the same color for your blush and lipstick is a splendid idea but of course, the blush should be considerably lighter.
Contrary to popular belief, there is more than one way to apply blush. The bridal makeup artist must determine this by your face shape.
The convention in Pakistan is to apply the blush all over the cheek from the ear to the apple to everyone. Heaven forbid if they tried blending it upwards towards the cheekbone and temples.
When you flush naturally, warmth creeps up towards your temples. A blushing bride should surely flush like a human being. This style of application also helps slim down and lengthens your face slightly so it’s a good one for wide round faces (avoiding the apples). It is not wise to pull attention to your apples if you have round/broad face shape so the blush is kept closer to the perimeter. Those with narrower longer faces benefit from blush dusted backwards from the apples as it gives the appearance of fuller cheeks. This is also true for more square jawed ladies because it imparts a softer feel. However, if this doesn’t work for you it’s best to go with the way you naturally flush.
2016 was the year of the glow and let’s just say consumer brands have earned a lot from this trend via influencers. Our bridal makeup artists love trends and this particular one has been exploited in shocking ways. We have seen everything from a band of shimmery highlighter going from cheekbone to apple to oily faces created by full-face application of strobe creams. A more recent observation of ours is highlighter applied in circular motions on the apples of the cheeks. Some go as far to dust the face with a glittery powder.
How many of you actually glow like that? Yes we are aware that ladies with oily skin do look like oil slicks at times but no one wants to look like that on their wedding day. Our skin is not naturally matte so a matte face is a statement look. Our natural oils give us sheen on the high points of our faces. Since we want to appear naturally beautiful as brides, it is a good idea to add some luminosity. Target these high points with any highlighter that is slightly warmer than your undertone and don’t put too much. The blush shade selection rule goes for highlighter as well. Gold highlighter is not for cool toned skin and pink highlighter looks ashy on warm toned skin.
This deserves a special mention because the situation is dire. I have seen our local bridal MUAs use white cream shadow or a light concealer to clean up the brows and highlight them from brow bone to crease. I kid you not! On top of that, they liberally apply golden or white glittery shimmer.
Don’t pick a brow bone highlight shade that is too far from your natural skin so beiges and creams are good picks. Stick with matte eye shadow and if you are really in the mood for some sheen, then place it right under your arch.
Unfortunately, the contour craze carried into this year as well. The Kim Kardashian may have helped the world rediscover contour but not everyone is Mario. Following a trend blindly gets you nowhere. People had no idea how to pick a contour shade or what it was supposed to do. All they knew was that they needed a brown shade and it would make their face appear thinner. As consumer brands did not make contour shades before people used bronzers instead which are for warming up your complexion. We have even seen Pakistani makeup artists use dark pink blushes instead to accomplish this. The result is a thick straight stripe of dark warm brown below the bride’s cheeks. What purpose does it serve? None, except to make her look weird may be.
The contour kits you see today do have a few colors and even one contouring shade for medium skin if you are lucky. The trouble is that makeup artists choose the darker warmer shade believing it will give their brides that “intense” look. The fact is that contour application is meant to redraw the natural shadows on your face (under your cheekbones, jaw line, etc.). Your natural shadow is always cooler against your skin so any colour that looks warm against your skin cannot be a contour shade for you. That would be a bronzer.
I mention this separately because I want to scream every time I see how our local bridal makeup artists contour a nose. This is, again, done with a warm brown shade; too much product is applied and then left unblended. Everyone is given the same nose sculpting style which makes no sense because we have a variety of nose shapes. What they do is basically start working down the bridge from the brows and make two straight lines ending at the tip. The sides of the nostrils are shaded and the area below the tip. A shimmery highlight is placed all the way down the bridge of the bride’s nose and the tip looks like a tiny ball of sparkles.
If you are unsure about how to contour a certain nose it’s better to skip it rather than butcher it; most people don’t need it anyway. I have already done a detailed guest post on nose sculpting. The nose contour shade should match your natural facial shadows. Shading under the tip shortens your nose so it’s not a smart idea for those with small noses. Blending the sides of the bridge slims it down so if you already have a thin bridge, don’t touch it. This is especially true if your face is round or wide. If your nose is flatter, highlighting the tip of your nose with a matte shade makes it seem more pointed so avoid that if your nose is naturally pointed. Remember never to use a shimmery highlight anywhere on the front planes of your face because it makes your face appear oily. Your cheekbones, inner corner of your eye and the small space right under your eye brow arch maybe enhanced by it without looking oily.
Thankfully, the jaw line is more or less hidden but still, the contour there is left unblended and most of our bridal makeup artists do it to everyone regardless of their face shape. A square or narrow jaw should not be contoured because it will look unnaturally harsh and abnormally thin then. Again, there is only one contour shade for your entire face which must be slightly cooler and darker than your foundation shade not a warm dark blush shade as some MUAs here are fond of using for the jaw line.
I am sure most of you know that contouring withdraws attention from the area you place it on making it recede from your vision. Brides with smaller foreheads should never have contour taken way up there because it will make it appear even smaller. You probably have a headpiece there already to take up space and contouring is just going to make things worse. If you contour there it’s best to keep it as close to the hairline as possible. It works very well for larger foreheads.
A major issue with Pakistani bridal MUAs is the destruction of brows. Brows frame a face so they can make or break your look. Most of our local MUAs are fond of using black or dark brown powder for all brides no matter their natural hair colour. They apply it horizontally with an angled brush and focus on the central line. The entire brow is the same shade intensity and the tips are often ignored. You are familiar with the end result: sloppy and strange. You will have seen harsh boxy brows and Instagram brows too.
There is no excuse for bad brows because a MUA can literally create a full natural brow from scratch as you may have seen in tutorials. The right shade and gentle hair-like strokes are important. Stick with your natural shape and keep a light hand near the inner corner particularly for close set eyes. Threading is also a culprit when it comes to boxy unnatural brows. Those little hairs at the edges that give that natural look to your brows are ripped off while threading. Try tweezing them for a while instead and see the difference for yourself. Fuller brows give a more youthful appearance to your face and luckily, they are a trend these days.
I request a moment of silence for all those brides who had to endure unblended eye shadow and glitter fallout at their weddings. Eyes are the most dramatic part of any traditional bridal look or so they say. The traditional bridal eye makeup consists of yellow-gold glitter on the lid (usually going into the crease), black in the crease and outer corner extended to Mars, a thick black cat eye hiding the lid, kajal spilling out from the waterline in an unblended black line below the eyes and giant false lashes to make sure no one can see the mess they made behind them. Another favourite is black “smokey” eyes with a black eye shadow applied evenly from lash line to brow bone and then winged liner is applied over it with falsies.
Glitter is extremely popular in Pakistan but does it really work for everyone? Please bear in mind glitter and shimmer shadows are not the same thing. While finely milled shimmers and loose pigments look absolutely gorgeous on anyone and can be used in a multitude of ways on the face, it's the chunky glitter that's the culprit here.
Comments like pheeki dulhan, pheeka makeup from some aunties attending your big day are probably the reasons every other bride is made to stand out on her wedding and it's not even wrong to ask for. In fact you should be the one that stands out on your wedding day but a chunky glittery eye is not the right fix for that situation. It's not a natural look if you apply it all over the lid and since most girls here are not used to wearing makeup regularly, they are unable to carry it off. There are eye shapes like hooded eyes or those will small lids that don’t look flattering with a high contrast between the lid and crease which is exactly what a full lid of glitter does. Instead of enhancing the eye it just brings out the fact that their lid space is small. Metallic or intense shimmer eye shadows and loose pigments (of all sorts) can be mixed with mattes to give a beautiful effect even on these eye shapes. If you choose glitter then make sure it is used in a way that brings out your eye shape and you are comfortable with it.
Most local bridal MUAs try to create maximum contrast between the lid and crease, which is a terrible idea for hooded eyes. They try to create fake creases on brides with hooded eyes or small lids. Your makeup will crack and your natural crease will eventually show. Thick solid eyeliner covers the lid, which is again bad for brides with less lid space. Winged eyeliner is meant to give your eyes more length and also tilt your eyes upwards. It is best for round eyes as it transforms them. Long winged liner is not suitable for people with upturned eyes as it overemphasizes what you already have stealing balance from your face. It is also unsuitable for people with more facial width near the eyes as it will make your face appear wider. People with wide set eyes should not wear long winged liner because it pulls their eyes further apart. Side smoked eyes do the same to this eye shape so it’s better to avoid them.
The Arabic trend of cat eye is not good for close set eyes because it makes them seem even closer. A solid line on your lower lash line makes you look harsh which is usually not what a bride desires. Solid black eyeliner is quite dramatic on its own and not recommended for those who don’t usually wear it. The discomfort the bride feels with makeup she is not accustomed to clearly shows through. Black in the entire crease is a big NO for the same reason. On deep set eyes, it makes them look set abnormally deeper into the skull. Bright eye shadows are also not fantastic for brides who never wear them otherwise. It is best to stick to soft neutrals in that case. They can make just as much of an impact as black or glitter if used correctly.
Blending is a major issue in the work of our local bridal MUAs particularly in the outer corner and crease. False strip eyelash brands are making loads of money right now thanks to popular social media influencers who renewed this trend. Not everyone needs them especially those who already have long thick lashes. If you have never worn them before they can make your eyes bloodshot and your eyes might be unable to bear the extra weight. The famous strip eyelashes these days are long and voluminous. The styles seldom vary and the bridal MUA charges you big bucks for them. Some of the ones who charge the most use drugstore strip lashes double stacked. Everyone thinks that wearing these falsies will make them look like dolls. That’s not true. The doll-like eyes are achieved by using falsies that are longer in the middle. For a cat eye effect, the falsies are longer at the outer corners. Bear in mind that they can easily make you look unnatural. The long ones often touch your brow bone and look out of place on small faces. The thick long ones people drool over hide the entire eye makeup at times so what’s the point then? Individual eyelashes are also an option but again, they are a choice and not mandatory as our bridal MUAs want us to believe. Overall, the eye makeup lacks neatness and common sense.
No one is fooled by overdrawn lips and you just look desperate in them. Changing your natural lip shape merely ruins the balance of your natural features. Our local brides often wear lipsticks with tones clashing against their blush’s tone and competing in intensity with their eyes. Bright lips are not for everyone and depend on how comfortable the bride feels in them. Dark lips tend to age you and make thin lips appear thinner. No bride wants to look older than her age but sadly, that is the exact effect our bridal MUAs produce. If you can carry dark lipsticks off and your makeup is well balanced then rock them but otherwise it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There are several other things you may have noticed but these are the main problems Pakistan bridal MUAs need to work on. The outfit, jewellery, hair, personality, features and preferences of the bride all must be given priority during makeup application. Your wedding day is meant to celebrate your uniqueness not transform you into someone you are not and make you a product of a bridal factory.
Bad Makeup Does Not Equal Good Photos
We don’t believe that bad bridal makeup equals good wedding photos because it has been proved time and time again by amazing world renowned makeup artists. Although the super intense lighting that our wedding photographers love to use actually washes out a lot of colour and intensity in the makeup essentially “hiding” it BUT we can still see untidiness, bad blending, poor colour choice and shade placement in the photos. Have a chat with your photographer and have them take a few test photos to decide what arrangements they can make to capture the best shots.
So, ladies, when you book a bridal makeup appointment make sure your money is not being wasted. Be attentive as your makeup is being applied and feel free to point out any such flaws you see. It is your face and your money. You have every right to dictate what goes on your face. In the end, it’s not the bridal MUA’s loss but yours when you look like a train wreck. Don’t be fooled into becoming a victim.
We picked up all of these elements from the works of our various artists we see every day on Facebook and Instagram and created these looks for you guys.
Here we would like to clarify two points. Firstly, while we strongly believe the bridal makeup in South Asia is very much inspired from Middle East, Arabs and Youtube/Instagram artists, this post was not about any of those trends although one could always use them too on a client if they will but of course within reason, but this post was merely about the sheer makeup mistakes and abuse of products we see happening around us. Secondly, since we come from a culture which is amazingly colourful and it shows in our weddings and dresses as well, take those heavy colourful joras and put every aforementioned makeup element on one face, can it not easily intimidate anyone looking at that person?
If we put everything in perspective the responsibility doesn't lie solely on the MUAs, our girls too need the right kind of education and its high time we shatter some stupid beauty standards that have been lingering around us.
We neither like naming anyone nor do we encourage any of our readers to do so, disagree with their work but maintain the respect as well.
If you are getting married soon, good luck and if you are already married, share your experience in the comments below. We would love to hear about the bridal makeup you have seen at local weddings. Feel free to disagree with any or all of what we have said above but refrain from using any kind of foul language.
Sadaf & Fizzah
Disclaimer: This is a personal blog edited by its owners and the opinions expressed here belong solely to its owner's. For questions and queries please email at firstname.lastname@example.org