Wedding Makeup That Feels Like You: Tips From An All Star Makeup Artist
Written by Sarah Lessire
Bridal makeup everything! We were thrilled to interview makeup artist Claire Balest on her superpowers, the big names she’s worked with and her views on what makes women beautiful. Claire is on a mission to make all of us realize just how gorgeous we really are and, well, it’s working.
Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get into makeup?
As a 4 year old I was obsessed with all these magical things my mother had on her bathroom dresser - lots of shiny, black palettes and these gorgeous mulberry colored lipsticks. I told everyone I was going to be a “lipstick seller” when I grew up. I believed that if everyone loved lipstick as much as I did, I could sell hundreds of lipsticks a day standing on a street corner. While I didn’t actually end up selling lipstick on a street corner, I think it’s so incredible that my 4 year old self knew the path she wanted to pursue!
Any superpower you are known for?
That’s quite a label! But I would say I am gifted at highlighting a woman’s natural beauty. I have a considerable number of clients who are actually afraid of makeup and want a really natural look. (Everyone has had that one horrible makeup experience that makes them forever fearful of having someone do their makeup.)
As an artist it can be challenging to hold yourself back from what YOU think would make someone look beautiful and instead choose what would actually make HER feel beautiful. I always tell my brides, you want people to say, 'She looks gorgeous!' NOT 'Look how gorgeous her makeup looks!' That’s a fine line to walk, and I think it’s a gift of mine to walk it well.
What are some of your favorite looks to create, and why? Nude & natural, full-blown glam diva, classic, retro?
For brides I enjoy doing the natural and classic looks a lot, but then it can be really fun to have that client that wants to do the unexpected, which is inspiring and fuels your creativity beyond the ordinary. I had one bride who had this Great Gatsby styled wedding, and we did this bold 20’s makeup look for it and it was just so much fun to see it all come together.
We love what you say on your website about your time at Bobbi Brown and how the brand “teaches women to celebrate and play up what they love about themselves, instead of focusing on hiding what they don't”. How are you continuing to instill this message in women?
Working for Bobbi Brown was incredibly influential to me. Bobbi completely redefined the way I see women, the way I see myself. I would say this has become my platform, so to speak. I can’t touch a woman’s face and not communicate some part of this message to her while she’s in my chair. I am constantly pointing out to my clients what is beautiful about them, which is the opposite of what they’re in the habit of doing, of course. No one focuses on what they love about themselves, they focus on what they don’t love, right?
You can’t see beauty and be critical of yourself in the same moment. You choose one or the other. No matter her age, every client who sat in my chair would begin pointing out what was “wrong” with her, what she needed to have “fixed.”
When I realized how very much time is wasted on disliking ourselves, on speaking negatively to ourselves about our appearances, I couldn’t stay silent anymore. It’s like the Beauty Gospel. I have to spread the word. So instead of camouflaging what they DON’T like, I teach women to play up what they LOVE about themselves! If you think your lips are too thin, wear lighter lipstick and play up your eyes. You tell people where to look with makeup. And if you highlight what you love about yourself, others will see it too.
What is the one product that you put on all of your brides?
I’m known for the lashes I do on my clients. I only use individual lashes, never strips. It drives me crazy when I can see a bride has on a strip of lashes, it looks so unnatural to me. Individual lashes look like you just have incredible lashes, and they make everyone feel really beautiful. I also always use a waterproof, long-wear cream shadow base on the eyelids of all my brides. This makes everything I layer on top of it long-wearing as well. Brides need their makeup to last a LONG time, so I make sure that what I put on their faces is going to take them from the first look to the dance floor into the morning hours!
What's your favorite wedding makeup you've ever done and why?
That really is terribly difficult to pick a favorite! But if I have to... It was a November wedding. She wanted very simple, understated makeup, but wanted to make a statement at the same time. I kept her skin clean and fresh and used this winterberry lip color on her lips and cheeks, that made her look as if she had just come in from the cold. And her eyes are just stunning: they stand out but you don’t really notice the makeup, you notice the bride. My favorite kind of makeup. Soft definition on the eyes and lots of lashes. I think this look is just perfectly timeless.
You’ve also done a lot of makeup for TV and theater... Did that work influence the way you go about bridal makeup?
Not so much... The bride is my client when I am doing bridal makeup, but on set I answer to the directors and producers. That being said, I think all of my experiences have informed how I relate to my bridal clients. It can be a very vulnerable place, being the center of attention, having so much pressure on you, so many eyes on you, it makes a lot of women extremely self conscious. I suppose in that regard, the talent on set and brides have somewhat similar struggles. I feel like my job is to put my clients at ease and make them feel their best, so that they can do their job (whatever it is that day) well. Depending on how I care for my clients when they’re in my chair, I believe it can affect how the rest of their day plays out - either their performance or their confidence and experience of their wedding day. It’s a great responsibility to touch someone on their wedding day. I don’t take that lightly.
What do you think the next big bridal makeup trend will look like?
I would love to see bridal makeup trends swing back to the basics : clean, gorgeous skin, and a more natural look all around. As I said before, people need to see the bride, not the makeup! Softer, less sculpted eyebrows. A movement away from heavy contouring. I think the rise of makeup tutorials flooding the internet has caused trends of heavier makeup altogether. The fact that contouring has become something every woman thinks she is supposed to be doing on a daily basis is just insane to me. Subtle contour is great for sharpening softer features, but I just don’t care for the mask-like makeup trend. Bring back natural beauty! I’ll help usher it in.
Find out more about Claire Balest:
Head over to Lovepop blog to see the interview and more at Lovepop, Wedding Makeup That Feels Like You