Destination Bride: Don’t Make Me Over

Makeup secrets from our bride-to-be.

Some of our bride-to-be’s favorite products. Photographs courtesy of Philosophy, Smashbox, and Laura Mercier

I was in the eighth grade when I first had my makeup done professionally. It was an exciting day, since I had only recently been allowed to start wearing a little mascara to school. But now my mom was taking me to a makeup counter at the mall, where a whole new world of products would be available to me. I sat down and let the woman at the counter go to work. In about 20 minutes, she made me look like I had something to sell on a street corner, and I’m not talking about Girl Scout cookies. I was so embarrassed that I kept my head down the whole way back to the car.

That was the first time I realized that when it came to doing my makeup, I was probably the best person for the job. I had, after all, been looking at my own face multiple times a day for years. Plus I practically have lipgloss running in my veins: My mom and my aunt—who is like a second mom—are makeup queens. I’m convinced they were born with eyeliner on.

This is a very long way of telling you that I’m doing my own makeup on my wedding day. I mean, if she could do her own makeup for a wedding viewed by three billion people, then I definitely think I’m up to the task. However, getting married on a beach in Mexico does present some challenges. It could be windy or humid. If it’s really hot, I’m going to be sweaty. No matter what the weather is like, I need my makeup to survive the elements. So ever since I got engaged in the fall of 2010, I’ve been on a mission to find the very best products to use on the big day. That’s nearly a year and a half of research, which I will share with you here in the hopes of preventing you from spending a small fortune at Sephora. (Although I should say that Sephora is very generous about giving out free samples so you can test products before buying them.)

Here’s a rundown of products I think deserve a shout-out:

Face wash and moisturizer: Purity Made Simple face wash and Hope in a Jar moisturizer, both by Philosophy. My face tends to be on the dry side, especially during the winter, but within a day of switching from drugstore products to Philosophy, my skin looked and felt brand new.

Primer: Laura Mercier hydrating foundation primer or Smashbox Photo Finish foundation primer. This is a toss-up. Both do a great job of keeping my foundation in place. The Laura Mercier version is more moisturizing—as the name would imply—while the Smashbox primer smooths over every pore and line. I’m going to bring both to Mexico and make a game-time decision.

Shadow base: Laura Mercier Eye Basics. I pat a little of this cream on my eyelids, and my eye shadow doesn’t move all day.

Eyeliner: Almay eyeliner. This came highly recommended by Auntie Kris, the aforementioned makeup queen, and it’s further proof that she knows her stuff. The packaging claims the liner lasts up to 16 hours, and it’s not lying. This stuff could survive a nuclear blast—and it’s a cheap drugstore find!

Foundation: Smashbox High Definition Healthy FX foundation. This provides really good coverage without making me look like I’m wearing too much makeup.

Concealer: Laura Mercier Secret Concealer. No, Laura Mercier is not paying me. I’ve just come to really love the line. Sephora let me try free samples of several concealers, and this one was the clear winner, since it easily covers under-eye circles while also moisturizing skin.

Powder: Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish powder. A dusting of this translucent powder makes for a flawless finish. Even better: A tiny amount goes a very long way.

Makeup-setting spray: Urban Decay All Nighter. Bring on the humidity, Mexico! During the sweaty DC summer, I spritzed this product over makeup, and it helped keep my face from becoming a melty mess.

Do you have a favorite product? Share in the comments!

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.