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Modern Beauty

Beauty pros share the secrets behind 2018’s hottest bridal trends.
Leila Kalmbach

Trends change quickly in the beauty world. While there are some we’re glad to see go, others are intriguing and chic, and open up a world of new possibilities. Whether you’re a traditional gal or always up-to-the-minute on trends, there are endless new ways you can update your look and your beauty routine.

Read on to learn what Austin stylists, makeup artists, and spa managers are saying modern brides want for their big day—and how they’re getting flawless skin to complement it.


Choose soft, relaxed hairstyles
All the experts agree: Tight, highly constructed up-dos are out, and more relaxed styles are in. Brides are asking for tousled curls, waves, and low and loose ponytails or buns.

“One of the biggest hair trends right now is definitely the boho style,” says Jen Dirlam, co-owner of Lavish Beauty ATX, a mobile hair and makeup service for weddings. “There’s a lot of braids, a lot of messy waves. Many of our brides and bridesmaids want more of a soft style, as opposed to something super-tight and elegant and formal.”

Billy Mercer, co-founder of Lip Service XO, an in-home or in-studio hair and makeup business that creates custom-blend lipsticks, glosses and foundations, says he’s seeing a lot of what he calls “editorial” looks—what you’d see in a spread in Vogue or Bazaar, for instance—where the style looks effortless and natural.

“It’s a little more undone, versus that big bouncy wave or a big bouffant French twist where every hair is perfectly in place,” he says.

Dirlam points out that these relaxed styles look good on every bride, unlike some of the stiffer up-dos of years past. “I think especially here in Austin, you have so many brides with so many different styles, and that’s something that complements everybody,” she says.

Easy up-dos return
Shaune Haas, owner and lead stylist of BANG Salon & Day Spa, which offers hair services as well as traditional and airbrushed makeup, has seen many brides wear their hair down in recent years, but she believes the tide is turning.

“I think we’ll see a lot more people doing up-styles” in the next year, she says. “Loose, yes, but up.”

Mercer of Lip Service XO has a unique take on up-dos that could fuel a trend of its own: He’s started sewing hair in place rather than using bobby pins, which doesn’t leave crimps in the hair like pins do. When you’re ready to take your hair down, you simply snip the thread.

You can leave it in all night, he says, but a lot of brides tend to want a little change between the ceremony and reception. “When you pull the hair down, you don’t have hair that looks like it’s been chewed on by a hundred bobby pins.”

Sewing is less damaging to the hair than bobby pins, doesn’t leave your head hurting at the end of the night, and best of all, it looks great. “It’s a showstopper,” Mercer says.

A focal point with a twist (or braid or flowers …)
Haas of BANG Salon & Day Spa reports that many brides are asking for braids or other decorative elements incorporated into their styles.

“My favorite trends are the loose up-dos that incorporate some kind of twist or braid that gives a feature to the hair, rather than just pulled back and fluffed up,” she says. “Something that gives them a little bit more accent.”

Another way to create a focal point is with flowers or headpieces. Haas says that many of her brides ask her to work with their florist to weave in flowers that coordinate with their floral arrangements or boutonnieres.

Mercer of Lip Service XO says his favorite trend is hair jewelry, which he thinks we’ll see a lot more of over the next few months.

“Companies are now making such beautiful, big gold bands and really ornate floral jewelry,” he says. “I love seeing jewelry in the hair.”

Plus, he points out, if your hair is covering your ears, as it often does with today’s loose styles, you don’t get an opportunity to show off beautiful earrings anyway. That’s a really great opportunity to put the glitter in your hair instead.

Stick with your natural color
When it comes to color, the experts agree: Stick with what you know. “I always recommend not doing a big, bold change before your wedding day because pictures last forever and you don’t want that ‘gasp’ moment,” says Mercer.

If you change shades, keep it subtle. If you do a hair trial before the big day, this can be an opportunity to discuss highlights or other small tweaks with your stylist that will bring out the curl or emphasize the various shades in your hair.


Keep it classic
“I always tell my brides to stay away from trends,” says Mercer. Photos last forever, and most brides want to look timeless.

Instead, he recommends choosing a classic, clean, pretty look. If you really want to make a statement, save the trends for the reception, when it makes sense to change your look a bit. That’s when you can go for a dark berry lipstick or more highlighting without worrying about wedding photos that’ll stand the test of time.

You—just more fantastic
“I feel like our brides constantly ask us for the same thing,” says Jen Dirlam of Lavish Beauty ATX. “They want to look like themselves, but a little more enhanced.” In her experience, this means soft eyes, dramatic lashes and winged eyeliner.

Jessica Serna, studio director of W3LL PEOPLE, which produces toxin-free, organic cosmetics, agrees. “For a timeless, classic look, winged eyeliner never goes out of style.”

Serna says that many of her brides want “healthy skin, subtle eye color, rosy cheeks and a hint of color on the lips.” This is a good thing. “I’m excited to see effortless, natural beauty have its moment in bridal makeup. The no-makeup makeup look is perfect for the minimalist bride.”

Lip color throws some shade
After a slew of nude lips and matte colors, “now everyone’s getting back into bold lips, and gloss is definitely becoming more of a trend,” says Dirlam of Lavish Beauty ATX. Especially in cold months, gloss can keep your lips from looking dry.

On the other hand, Rochelle Rae, founder of Rae Cosmetics, a mineral-based cosmetics line, believes we’re headed away from gloss. “Instead of a glossy dark lip, and instead of super-red, [we’re seeing] maybe more wine-toned, velvety lips. Not matte, but more of a matte finish than we’ve been seeing.”

If you’re not much of a lipstick person, Billy Mercer of Lip Service XO recommends trying lip stains for the wedding day. “Not only are they long-lasting,” he says, “but also they never transfer—something I’m sure the groom will be excited about.”

Go for highlighting
According to Rae, many of the trends from last season are continuing but growing more dramatic. One of the biggest examples: highlighting. While brides used to request a little bit of highlight, now they are seeking full-on shimmer. “I think it’s really going to go big, and everyone’s going to want super-shimmery,” she says

Serna of W3LL PEOPLE has seen the same. “Instagram is über-obsessed with contouring, and that trend has definitely made an appearance in bridal makeup,” she says. “I’m a big fan of ‘nontouring,’ the lovechild of contouring and strobing, to beautifully sculpt your facial features.”

A fresh complexion
If there’s one word that comes up over and over for wedding-day skin, it’s “dewy.”

“Perfect, dewy skin is in,” Rae says. “Not that super-matte, powdery look—it’s more the healthy, glowing skin.”

Dirlam of Lavish Beauty ATX agrees. “Everybody really wants to be very dewy, very highlighted,” she says.

To achieve this look, Rae recommends starting with a water-based tinted moisturizer or foundation, not an oil-based foundation. Then apply highlighter on tops of cheekbones, down the nose and on collar bones.


Keep it classic
When it comes to bridal nails, salons report that most brides want to stick with neutral shades. According to Sara Edwards, spa co-manager for all three of Viva Day Spa’s locations in Austin, American manicures have mostly replaced the French mani of yesteryear. (French polish is translucent pink over the nail with a stark white stripe across the tip, while the American version is a more muted look, a soft peach polish swept over an off-white tip.)

“Some people change up that shape,” says Edwards. “That’s something where I’ve seen people have a little bit more fun with it. So instead of doing a bright band across the nail at the tip, they’ll do one that has a little bit more of a geometric [shape], like a V.” While this creates a less-natural look than traditional polish, she says it’s in line with the Southwest, boho aesthetic popular in recent years.

Beyond neutral polishes, brides tend to keep it classic with tans and pinks. “I’ve seen red toes more often than [finger]nails,” says Edwards.

When it comes to nails, timing is everything. Get a mani/pedi the day before your wedding to keep your hands and feet looking great for the big event.

Spa Services

Start early and work from the outside in
“Creating the perfect canvas for your makeup is so important,” says Jessica Serna of W3LL PEOPLE. “That means getting your skin under control in plenty of time before your wedding day.”

Serna recommends seeing a dermatologist or licensed esthetician three to six months before your big day, or visiting a skin care or makeup studio for advice from professionals.

Sara Edwards of Viva Day Spa also recommends starting six months early for spa treatments such as infrared sauna sessions, monthly facials, microneedling and photo facials.

And remember that no makeup can fix under-eye bags like good sleep can. Other basic health measures, such as staying hydrated and eating a nutrient-rich diet, will do more for your skin than any last-minute treatment could.

“Brides are gearing up for their big day by taking a holistic approach,” Serna says. “Step up your exercise and skin care routine, eat well, drink more water and reduce stress.”

Edwards also recommends starting a regular massage routine to help calm your nervous system, increase joint flexibility and muscle tone, and help reduce swelling or water retention. “People are realizing how important it is to take some time for yourself just to be quiet and get still,” she says.

Pamper yourself
You might be a little nervous and tense on your wedding day, which is why Edwards recommends getting a massage. Adding a scalp treatment to that massage can also help in case you had one too many glasses of champagne at the rehearsal dinner. A body scrub is not only relaxing, but will also make your back and arms extra smooth and glowing.

Spa treatments will definitely help you relax during your big day. They’ll also increase blood flow and help exfoliate dead skin cells, and the oils will hydrate your skin.

Dermaplaning for smoother skin
“A lot of people get that little peach fuzz on their face,” says Dirlam of Lavish Beauty ATX. Sometimes with makeup, those tiny little hairs become visible. Dermaplaning is a manual, nonchemical exfoliation that uses a tiny blade to get rid of that “vellus” hair as well as surface-level dead skin.

“You’re getting a much cleaner, softer appearance for makeup,” Dirlam says. “And that’s a huge thing right now.”

Look into other treatments
Waxing or sugaring is a great option for brides who don’t want to deal with shaving on their wedding day (and the risk of cutting themselves). Microneedling can help eliminate acne scarring, hyperpigmentation and fine lines. Some brides go for Botox or fillers to eliminate crow’s feet, give their skin a lift and make them look more awake. Countless other spa treatments can help you achieve the look you want, specific to your skin and body.

Finishing Touches
Of course, even the most trend-loving bride can’t incorporate every hair and makeup trend into her big day—some just don’t work together. Talk to your stylist and makeup artist about ways to make your favorite styles work with your dress and accessories.

For instance, dresses with lower backs may go well with an up-do that shows off your back and neckline. If your dress has heavy beading, you might want to keep hair jewelry simple.

But most importantly, know yourself. If a trend doesn’t feel quite right for you today, you’re definitely not going to like it when you look back on your photos years from now. Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell your service providers exactly what you like—and don’t like. That way, you’ll look both contemporary and classic on your wedding day.

Top trends from New York Fashion Week

  • It’s no surprise that Austin’s fashion trends are heavily influenced by what’s going in New York. Rochelle Rae of Rae Cosmetics attended New York Fashion Week in September. Here, she dishes on the hottest trends and how they relate to bridal.
  • Shimmery highlighting: “The No. 1 look everywhere, whether a shimmer powder or a glossy gel; the defining features of the face are super-highlighted.”
  • In fact, shimmery everything: “Eyeshadows and cheeks. All things shimmer seem to be in this season.”
  • The no-makeup look: “Makeup artists are spending a lot of time to make people look like they’re not wearing makeup.”
  • Statement brows: “Still big and bold, but they’re more brushed up and feathery, more natural looking.”
  • Peach shades: “Peach was everywhere, whether it was super-soft and ethereal peach eye and cheek and lip to bold peach metallic.”
  • Bold lashes: “Bigger, longer, thicker.”
  • Goth, punk and grunge: “Dark eyes, dark lips.”
  • Vibrant eyes: “Blended out so it was prettier side of punk, a softer side.”
  • Braids: “Still super-in.”
  • Hair embellishments: “Ribbons woven through braids and ponytails.”
  • Curls: “Big tousled curls and messy beach waves.”

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