Top Beauty Tips for Brides and Models: Perfect Skin

by Olesya Novik

Being an esthetician, makeup artist, former assistant to a cosmetic surgeon, and a self-proclaimed “beauty junky” have all proven to be surprisingly helpful in my career as a fitness trainer and nutritionist. The majority of my clients have, at one point or another, asked for beauty tips that I’ve luckily been able to provide.

And while I do get skin care, makeup, and cosmetic treatment questions from people with varying fitness goals, no one has more beauty questions than the ladies from two specific groups of my clientele: Those getting married, and those preparing for photo shoots.

After answering countless questions asked by my brides and models in regards to everything from breakouts, enlarged pores, and ashy skin, to Botox and lip plumpers, and on to longest lasting foundations, waterproof concealers, and preventing mascara smudges, I’ve noticed quite a few trends.

Since so many of you have similar concerns, I’ve decided to compile these questions into a series of articles outlining the basics of what you need to know to look amazing on your special day.

Having a flawless complexion can make or break not only your photos, but also your confidence. In this edition of top beauty tips, we’ll talk about the skin. By the time you’re through this article, you’ll have a good understanding of how to choose and apply everything from your primer and foundation, to shimmer and blush — and even how to make your pores look all but invisible!

Let’s get to it!

  • How do I deal with redness? What if I have rosacea?

If you’re naturally prone to getting flushed when nervous, hot, or exercising, you’re definitely likely to turn red on your big day — the nerves, the running around to get ready, it’s the perfect storm! There are a few ways to alleviate redness, and the common denominator here is to do your best to relax!

Once you’ve taken a few deep breaths to calm down, try the following: Pour 1/2 cup of whole milk into a shallow bowl, and put in the freezer for 5 minutes. Dip a cotton washcloth into the milk, and put it over your face as you lie down to relax. Keep it on for 10 minutes, and the redness should subside.

For the rosacea sufferers (or those with persistent flushing problems), there are creams that can help. My top recommendation is Avene Anti-Redness Rich Moisturizing Cream, but you may want to experiment to find what works best for you. And don’t forget, staying away from sodium and alcohol are a given here.

There are ways to tone down the redness with makeup, as well — all you’ll need is a green-based primer or powder. My pick is the Make Up For Ever HD Microperfecting Primer in Green.


  • I tend to break out last minute! What can I do to get rid of a pimple fast?

The fastest natural, do-it-yourself way to get rid of a zit is by using 100% pure tea tree oil (apply it with a cotton swab, directly onto your breakout). Your other option is benzoyl peroxide. And the fastest option of all, is a cortisone injection — which will require a trip to your dermatologist (and a needle).

If you get a pimple on the day of your big event, you’ll most likely have to cover it with concealer, and just forget it’s there — chances are, it’s much smaller than you think it is, anyway. Besides, it’s much easier to photoshop a small zit out of a photo, than it is to change your frown into a happy expression. Don’t let a breakout ruin your day!

  • My skin is dehydrated and ashy. What do I do if my dry skin flakes?

You’re really best off preventing your skin from ever flaking in the first place by using highly moisturizing creams and staying well hydrated on a regular basis. Oil-based cleansers are best for you, as they’re completely non-drying; look for squalene and hyaluronic acid in your skin care products, as both of these are great at bringing the much needed moisture into the skin.

Moisturizing masks are highly recommended for you, as well. You can purchase pre-made ones (my favorite for dry skin types is Pevonia’s Rejuvenating Dry Skin Mask), or make natural versions at home.

Here’s a recipe I like: Combine one egg yolk with 1/2 mashed avocado, 1 Tbsp honey, 1/2 mashed banana, and a few drops of whole milk. Apply to your face, and let sit for 10 minutes. Wash off with warm water, and repeat. After washing off the second time, apply your moisturizer. Repeat at least once weekly.

If you still manage to have super dry, peeling skin on the morning of your shoot or big event, the best thing you can do is soften your skin by steaming it for a few minutes (you can stand over a faucet with hot water running), then exfoliate using a gentle scrub or a washcloth. Once you’ve done that, apply a moisturizing mask (the recipe above will work great!), and follow the procedure outlined in the previous paragraph.

  • I love that “glowy” look J-Lo made famous, but I have naturally oily skin. How do I get glowing skin without shining?

Unless you’re doing an artistic shoot and deliberately going for the “shiny” look, any shimmery powders or even dewy foundation products should be off limits. You want full control over which spots of your face will be glowing or reflecting light, and the only way to achieve this is by precise placement of shimmer on your face.

You’ll want to use matte products (yes, even if you usually dislike these!) as the base. Matte foundations, blush, bronzers, and powders. Any shimmer can look like grease if applied inappropriately or in too many spots at once.

Now that you’ve applied all of your makeup and are looking nice, matte, and flawless, grab a subtle highlighter in liquid or lotion formula (your selection is important; my personal favorites are MAC Gleam Coat and Halcyon by Illamasqua), and very lightly apply a small amount to the outside of your cheekbones, inner corner of your eyes, and the top of your nose bridge (make sure it’s ONLY the top of your nose bridge, not your entire nose!).

Go over with your matte powder, and you should have just enough glow without looking shiny.

  • I’m pale and want to look tan, but without the damaging UV rays. Got ideas?

You could use a self tanner; the trick is finding one that won’t make you break out OR turn out orange, splotchy, streaky, or otherwise fake looking. Gradual tanners (like Jergens Natural Glow) are usually a pretty safe bet, but if you plan on using them, you’ll have to start at least a week or two before your big day, and experiment with the color to make sure it does, indeed, look natural on your skin.

The best tip I can give in this scenario, however, is to find a pro to do the job. Airbrushing salons are everywhere these days, and all you’d have to do is scrub well before heading in, wear loose-fitting clothes to your appointment, and not shower for 6-8 hours afterward. You’ll have a fabulous tan for your shoot, and it’ll be completely stress-free, to boot!

  • I have huge pores and a rough complexion that’s visible with my everyday makeup, how do I make sure it looks smooth in my photos?

As in many other scenarios, you’re best off taking care of your skin year-round to keep your pores and skin texture as smooth and refined as possible. Some of us really are predisposed to enlarged pores, but keeping them clear will help them remain as small as physically possible. Consider using retinol-based creams and kaolin-based masks regularly to de-clog pores and avoid stretching them out.

Avoid pore-clogging products (look for “non-comedogenic” on everything you put on your face), and use gentle scrubs regularly, without overdoing it. Consider a Clarisonic brush; these are known for refining skin’s texture.

Having said all that, some of us really do find ourselves battling enlarged pores, just to find they’re still showing through our foundations; many liquid varieties actually pool in the pores, making them even more pronounced! What’s a girl to do?!

Simple: Find a good primer and a good, long-lasting, matte foundation. Many primers out there are completely ineffective, but I do have a few favorites, including Perfekt Skin Perfection Gel, Becca Line and Pore Corrector, and Illamasqua Matt Primer.

As for foundations, I highly recommend getting a few samples of SPF-free and titanium dioxide-free formulas (either of those ingredients may result in a grey reflection in photos). My top photo shoot foundation recommendations are Make Up For Ever HD Foundation, Cinema Secrets foundations, ERA spray foundations, Christian Dior Full Mat, Yves Saint Laurent Matt Touch, and a few others. Just be sure to ask for samples first to ensure a proper color match and that the consistency works with your skin.

Just one other important tip while we’re talking foundations: Be sure to match your foundation to your neck or upper chest rather than your skin! It’s too easy to look like you’re wearing a mask when your face color doesn’t exactly match your neck and decollete! Apply your foundation to your neck and blend it out on your chest and possibly even shoulders, if they’ll be visible as well.

  • How do I make my makeup stay put?

There are a few factors to consider here. Firstly, you’ll want to apply everything in layers. Use a cream blush right over your foundation, go over it with a powder blush, apply your contouring bronzer (and any highlighter, if using) over that, and go over everything with loose powder.

If you’re the type whose blush seems to evaporate no matter how many of layers of it you pile on, try a cheek stain. There are plenty of options out there, Tarte makes a great cheek stain in many shades, and Benefit recently came out with my new favorite stain product in a perfect pink color, called Posietint.

Once your makeup is fully applied (eyes and lips included), your best bet for the longest-lasting finish is to go over it all with a make-up setting spray such as Make Up For Ever’s Mist & Fix or MAC’s Fix+ spray. Once dried, you can apply another light coat of setting powder, and you should be good to go for hours!


That about covers it when it comes to big day skin. I’ll be back next week with more flawless wedding day and photo shoot makeup tips, including lips. Until then, stay beautiful, ladies!

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14 thoughts on “Top Beauty Tips for Brides and Models: Perfect Skin

  1. Aly says:

    Great read!!!! I think beauty articles are my favorite 🙂 I am always picking up tips.

    As for your part on redness. I use a green tinted primer ( I use PUR Minerals and I love it!) and it really does work like a charm. I have uneven, red skin. I flush easily and am normal splotchey..especially in the winter when I am really white. The primer makes me look like a porcelain doll! I tried my make up once with primer and I was hooked!
    Primer can also be used to help your make up stay put longer. My make lasts all day now as opposed to ‘vanished by lunch time’ like it used to.

    Great article O!

  2. Jenn says:

    I love this article and its tips…However most of the products mentioned here are out of my price range..Any suggestions for “good” drug store substitutions?

  3. viridian says:

    Love the at-home mask recipe, Im gonna try it this weekend if I have time!

    Jenn: I use Cetaphil lotion for a primer… I have a rather blotchy complexion and the lotion goes right on after using a toner, it’s moisturising enough to fix the red and dryness, but thin enough to use as a base without having to worry about your makeup smudging off.

  4. krew says:

    great tips Olesya!!!

    Now if only there was a sweat proof makeup – made for figure competitors!!!! I hate when my make up melts off my face 🙂

  5. Olesya says:

    Jenn, what exactly were you looking to get at the drugstore? If you tell me what some of your skin concerns are, I’ll try to come up with some products. Generally, though, I haven’t seen any DS foundations I’ve liked — they’ve all made me break out or just looked terrible.

    Krew, if you just follow the last tip for making your makeup stay on (apply in layers, spray with makeup spray), you should be good to go. Besides, you won’t be on stage for long, and you’ll have plenty of time to touch up before your night show… so there’s nothing to worry about. 😉

  6. Kellie says:

    Thank you for talking about self-tanners. I had Mystic tan done the day before my last shoot and broke out in hives all over my face. Two days later, I had body acne. I will try the gradual tanners next time and get an airbrush done.

  7. Olesya says:

    Yeah, some people do have bad reactions to Mystic. It turns orange on me, but thankfully never broke me out in hives! Definitely give the airbrush a shot, I think you’ll like it. 🙂

  8. Jenn says:

    What I need is good concealer and a good foundation. I have a major dark circles under my eyes, and I’ve noticed that the more body fat I lose the darker they get. I also have large pores and ruddy skin. I’ve been using Minerals for awhile now, but it doesn’t cover very well. I’d love your recommendations from Cover Girl, Revlon, L’Oreal etc…Brands I can find in local stores.

    As for eye shadow and blush, I change colors based on my tan color (S. Florida) so I tend to buy cheaper brands of those because they don’t make me break out.

    You rock!

  9. Olesya says:


    My top rec for a drugstore concealer would be Maybelline’s Superstay. Give it a shot, I think you’ll like it.

    As for foundation, like I said above — unfortunately, I honestly can’t think of any that live up to their claims (and don’t completely destroy your skin).

    Here’s a suggestion: Hit up your local Sephora (there are plenty of ’em in South FL! :)), and ask for samples of a few foundations there. they give generous samples (each one lasts at least a week!), and you’ll have the opportunity to find something you really love.

    Once you do, you can splurge on it — it’ll last you a while, most of them are only $20 or so over the price of drugstore brands, and it’s WELL worth it, believe me.

    The other point I wanted to make: Make sure you take care of your skin, not just try to cover the problems. Make sure your skincare regimen suits your skin type, keep your pores clear, and use products formulated for sensitive skin if it’s ruddy.

    Hope this helps. 🙂

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