“Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.”
After almost two years of delays, this might be the busiest wedding season of all time as couples finally reemerge to throw their long-postponed parties. But COVID-19 didn't just change the way we gather; it also shifted our lifestyles, transforming our senses of self — and how we look. The result is a whole new set of trends in bridal beauty, coming from brides who know exactly what they want.
Post-lockdown brides are more in tune with their values than ever. Having become accustomed to a makeup-free face, more and more are asking for “natural glam”—a look that hair and makeup artist Andie Piazza describes as “skincare-forward, with a dewy glow that extends down to the chest, and fluffy, grown-out brows.” Thanks to months spent at home perusing YouTube and scrolling through Instagram, brides are more educated about skincare and beauty treatments, and they're willing to put in the time and effort to get a healthy glow. They've grown out their hair during lockdown, too, and they're interested in looks that nourish and enhance natural textures and shapes.
When the wedding day arrives, these brides are willing to make frequent touch-ups so that the photos can be perfect. “Brides always have high expectations when it comes to their wedding looks, but even more so after having their weddings postponed; they want to look their absolute best,” Paris-based hair and makeup artist Trine Juel, who has been clocking longer wedding days with her post-lockdown clients, says. “[At the same time], they have been looking forward to this day for so long that they are grateful to finally be there, and soaking in every minute.”
The post-lockdown bride is embracing natural beauty in new ways—here's how.
Long-Term Skin Prep
“Preparation for beautiful skin on the wedding day begins a few months before the main event,” says celebrity makeup artist Victor Henao, who is known for techniques that yield glowing complexions. He recommends that brides begin to avoid skin stressors, prioritize antioxidant-rich foods, and incorporate treatments like cleansing facials, peels, and in-office procedures months in advance. “Doing this sort of prep work prior to the wedding really allows me to have the skin at its ultimate, optimal state of being on the day of the wedding,” he explains.
This is in keeping with how many women have been treating their skin during lockdown anyway. “Brides have been telling me that they've had time to focus on their skin and have been using less makeup in general,” Juel tells BAZAAR.com.
Partly, this emphasis on skin care has come about because so many women have been staring at their own faces on Zoom for months. But it could also be attributed to the stress of the last two years. Common complaints include accelerated graying, thinning hair, exacerbated fine lines, and wrinkles due to stress. “Most clients I work with are concerned by the effects of COVID lockdown on their skin,” Lord Gavin McLeod-Valentine, celebrity facialist and spa-clinic specialist at Augustinus Bader, says. He notes that stress-related weight gain, increased alcohol consumption, and skin eruptions like “maskne” have cumulatively led to “dehydrated, problematic, and severely sensitized” skin that requires more nourishing, long-term care.
This kind of stressed skin requires gentle care and skin barrier-protective at-home regimens to return to its healthy baseline. “If given adequate time, I advise the brides-to-be to either invest in a gentle chemical peel or to add an exfoliating toner or essence to their routine to remove sluggish cells and to jump-start a brighter, more even-toned, smoother complexion,” McLeod-Valentine says. The goal? “To deeply nourish, hydrate, and protect in order to first restore the skin to a place of balanced harmony—only then amplifying the glow factor.”
What brides want is skin that, as they say, glows from within, leading some brides to reach for beauty supplements promising inside-out luminosity. Brides are also increasingly opting for products that tout themselves as all-natural or “clean” — an unregulated term referring to skincare products that omit controversial ingredients from their formulas. McLeod-Valentine, who works with the celebrity-beloved, luxury clean skincare line Augustinus Bader, recommends the brand's Serum and Cream or Rich Cream, all of which use a research-intensive, epigenetic-powered active ingredient called TFC8™. Though pricey, AB is known for bringing about skin so luminous that it requires minimal makeup, with a proven track record at red-carpet events.
“Skin prep has always been important in my work, because it sets the canvas for whatever makeup I use on top of it for hours afterward,” Daniel Martin says. Martin, a makeup artist and Tatcha's global director of artistry and education, is the man behind the wedding glow of Megan, Duchess of Sussex. Favorites from Tatcha include the Kissu Lip Mask and the Silk Canvas Primer, another long-lasting makeup artist go-to.
“Removing fatigue and excessive puffiness is essential on the day of the wedding, [and] I am a big advocate of facial massage to do so,” McLeod-Valentine echoes. His prep begins with a cup of antioxidant-rich green tea, to “kick-start sluggish systems,” and then proceeds with lymph-stimulating facial massage, “working from the inside of the face, out and upwards on the diagonal—under the eye, under the cheeks, and along the jawlines to work out trapped lymph toxins and the bad behavior left over from the bachelorette party or the rehearsal dinner.” He adds that this can be done by hand, with a tool like gua sha or a device such as the Conture Kinetic Skin Toning Device.
Henao's pre-makeup complexion prep begins with a serum to address the skin's underlying needs. Depending on the client, this might mean a hyaluronic acid serum for plumping moisture, one for added glow, texture, or even color correction from one of his trusted lines—namely Dr. Barbara Sturm, Augustinus Bader, SkinMedica, or SK-II.
“I also love using face masks to address any significant moisture loss the skin may have,” he says, noting that he's a fan of 111Skin, a plastic surgeon-developed line that is powered by a bioavailable form of the brightening antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC).
“I follow the serums with a heavy-duty moisturizer. I find that given the skin the most amount of moisture allows the makeup to last longer throughout the day and even into the night,” he says, adding that for dry-skin types, he adds in a facial oil by La Mer. Products are followed by a facial massage to reduce puffiness and increase circulation, an eye cream, a foundation primer, and a lip balm—all before applying any cosmetics.
Having come through quarantine, many brides are going for a more minimal makeup look. “I do believe that having some alone-time at home allowed me to create a beauty look that was intentional, creative, true to my personality, and representative of my dress,” says Telsha Anderson, a newlywed and founder of the New York City based concept store, T.A. “My makeup was inspired by a series of Yara Shahidi's incredible red carpet looks. I love the effortless approach taken to her makeup and that's something I wanted to replicate for our big day.” She trusted her look to Tijienene Gordon, who also worked with her family members. “I've never had make up last perfectly, for so long. She was incredible.”
Juel, whose signature style features glowing skin and natural curls, has also “seen a trend of brides asking for a more natural look than in the past.” She, too, recommends that brides optimize their glow with lifestyle factors well in advance: drinking plenty of water, getting ample sleep, and using quality skincare. “For the makeup, I use a good primer, the minimum amount of makeup necessary, and, most importantly, plenty of time to blend [foundation] into the skin. And, of course, highlighter, a good blush, and bronzing powder.”
For Martin, the key is finding the bride's signature look—whether this is a cosmetic technique or the facial feature she likes to emphasize—and working from there. “If the bride already feels comfortable in a red lip, let her wear it on her wedding day. Maybe look for a long-wear version of the color so touch-ups don't have to be so frequent,” he says. “I also try to encourage finding that element that you love and really playing it up, whether it's your eyes, lips, et cetera. This way, it doesn't feel so different from your own personal style but adds the glamour you wants for such a special occasion.”
Another critical component of the natural-glam look is the eyebrows, which are fluffier, feathery, and grown-out as opposed to overly manicured. “Brides have become more accustomed to living with their beautiful, natural brow shape during lockdown, and now that the world is opening up again, most are opting to maintain that natural fluff,” celebrity brow artist René de la Garza says. “Most took advantage of lockdown to really grow out their shape and allow gaps in the brows to grow in.”
Long, Classic Hair
Hair trends have taken a turn towards the traditional. “Now that brides have been thinking about their looks for such a long time, they [are going] with timeless styles,” Juel says. “A lot of my brides have let their hair grow long for the wedding day, and then can't wait to finally cut it [afterward].” Her most popular requests have been for soft curls, ponytails, classic updos (read: less Pinterest, more Old Hollywood), and styles that are tighter and simpler than the pre-COVID requests. Celebrity hairstylist Ciara Costenoble adds that soft, romantic ponytails and textured looks have been among her most popular requests. “Long bridal hair is in, and I love it,” she tells BAZAAR.com. “Big waves on long, grown-out pandemic tresses is a thing, and it is gorgeous.”
French model Jessica Aïdi Verrati, whose husband is the Italian soccer player Marco Verrati, didn't have to postpone her wedding due to COVID—but she did have to plan over the course of only seven months to accommodate his soccer schedule. Of her chosen hairstyle, Aïdi Verrati explains, “I have very curly hair with a lot of volume. I wanted something sophisticated that kept my curly hair's identity, so for my wedding day, I tightened them up and let some free-falling curls fall along my face.”
Hair color planning mirrors the prep work brides are doing on their skin, with some brides opting for techniques that can grow out more easily, like balayage. Celebrity hair colorist Chad Kenyon says, “I often work with brides starting a year or more before their weddings to strategize and plan out how they want their color to look, whether or not they want extensions, et cetera.”
As far as color trends go, Kenyon sees a distinct pre- and post-lockdown difference in requests. He explains that pre-lockdown brides generally sought dimension, while post-COVID brides have requested face-brightening, contoured pieces that frame the face. “Since lockdown, I'm seeing a huge 'blonder is better' trend with my clients wanting increased levels of lightness around their faces. When properly placed, this brightens one's eyes and enhances all of one's facial features,” he shares.
Photos That Capture Every Moment
The desire to document long-awaited weddings is placing yet another element of demand upon makeup artists and hairstylists. It stems from a desire to create memories to look back on; brides are instinctually preparing for moments of solitude, should we find ourselves separated from friends and family again in the future.
Aïdi Verrati noted that her desire to document her wedding in a thoughtful way contributed to her hair and makeup choices. “[For my makeup], I wanted something light, something romantic— the kind of makeup you put on for a sunny day, just to highlight your face, and leaving the rest of it to the magic of daylight.” This put emphasis on how her filmmaker and photographer Christian Lamb — notably not a wedding photographer — shot the moments. “We aimed to capture the wedding in more of a naturalistic way, more candid and less traditional,” Lamb tells Bazaar.com. “So the challenge, beyond the lockdown, was to find the essence of every day and night in more of a [documentary] style, staying in the flow of it all. Finding the light, finding the moments, as we went.”
As a result, wedding day glam is no longer a do-and-go, with most artists and stylists asked to stay through the night for touch-ups and most photographers documenting the wedding day in the bridal and groom suites the moment the client is “hair-and-makeup ready enough” for photographs. Almost all the brides we spoke to for this piece note that photography was a major priority to them. “I knew I wanted a really fun party that was well-documented, so I focused on getting an amazing dress, band, and photographer and videographer,” Cabayan tells us. “I splurged on my photographs, and honestly, it was so worth it…They stayed so late and captured all the possible moments they could.” Cabayan, who is Armenian, points out that Armenian weddings are typically “huge events with 300 to 500 guests.” Because of COVID concerns, she and her husband chose to downsize—making it imperative that photos help those who could not attend share in the joy.
Maybe it's not surprising that in an era characterized by delay, brides have acclimated by adopting long-term preparation — and planning to document the experience so that it can be savored long into the future. Henao reflects that the post-lockdown bride has emerged from a perspective-shaping global event with renewed sense of self. “I think the pandemic has changed a lot of the industry in terms of how people want to be seen and viewed,” he says. “We spent a year and a half not only learning about who we are and what we want, but also learning a lot about the way we treat ourselves and our bodies.”