As she was planning her wedding, Nicole Gibson George knew that her makeup might pose a problem. "I get horrible acne if I wear foundation for more than an hour or two," George said, "and I knew I would need it for my wedding pictures."
So George, 32, of West Babylon, searched for a bridal makeup artist who uses ingredients that wouldn't cause her to break out. She found Sally Biondo, a beautician who uses cosmetics with natural ingredients such as vegetable oil, mica, fruit extracts, argon oil, and shea, cocoa and mango butter.
For George, who was married last fall, the results were just what she was looking for. "I wore the makeup the entire day and slept in it," she said. "I woke up the next morning and it still looked good -- and it wasn't on my husband's clothes."
Another bride, Amber Volpe Isomaki, 35, of Northport, said she found her way to Biondo because standard eyeliner and eye shadow made her eyes tear. When Biondo applied her makeup during a trial session, Isomaki had no averse reaction and was so pleased that she plans to take makeup lessons from Biondo.
Newsday's Bridal Planner interviewed Biondo, 30, about her approach to bridal cosmetics -- and got some makeup tips, too -- at her studio in Northport, where she also sells products with natural ingredients, including a line of soaps hand-made by her French husband, Sebastien Lambert.
What ingredients does regular makeup have that your products don't?
They don't have things like talc, fragrance, gluten, formaldehyde and artificial dyes. They're very good for sensitive skin. The lip palette I use gets color from fruit pigments like grape, plum and blueberry.
How do you get a sense of the look a bride wants?
I always ask if they want a more natural or more done-up look. Then, I have them bring pictures of their wedding dress and their bridesmaids' dresses. We talk about how their hair is going to look, then the flowers. We get the idea of the pictures, and then we create a look. Sometimes, they want something very classic and simple, or sometimes they want something a little edgy.
How did you get into cosmetics?
I went to beauty school for makeup and skin care at the same time I was going to college for art and design. I started in 1999 working at makeup counters at department stores on Long Island and in Manhattan. I used to copy Kevyn Aucoin and his looks. I practiced on friends and family, and said if I could actually get a job making a living with makeup, I'd stick to it. I moved to the city and worked with photographers and built my portfolio. A friend was doing a lot of brides and took me on.
What kind of makeup do you do for flower girls?
I give them a dusting of a light eye shadow and a little lip gloss.
Do you ever put makeup on the grooms?
Rarely -- just a little powder for the photographs.
What do older brides look for?
They usually want less on the face and more of the natural look.
What do you charge for trial sessions as well as making up the bride on the wedding day and others in the wedding party?
Trial makeup at my Northport studio is $75; day of bridal makeup is $150 (which includes travel to the bride within a 40-mile radius); each additional face (mother of the bride, bridesmaids, sisters, etc.) is $85, and flower girls or anyone under 14 is $40.
You worked as a makeup artist at the Four Seasons in Paris and for several wedding planners there. What type of style do the French brides go for?
They liked everything very elegant and polished, with an Audrey Hepburn-type of look. I'd accentuate the eyes and features, and keep the skin very clean. They didn't go for anything extreme.
You met your husband, Sebastien, in New York, at a French concert. Now you work together?
He makes all the soaps we sell, such as lavender and honey oatmeal, and the face creams and bath salts.
Which feature do brides want to accentuate the most?
Most brides like to really play up their eyes for the photos. So we make the eye color pop out. If they have blue eyes, I'll use a bronze eye shadow. If the dress has beading and is glamorous, I'll do more of a shine for the shadow.
How do you avoid shiny-looking faces in pictures?
I prime the face according to skin type of oily or dry. It helps the longevity of the makeup throughout the day. That's why most people hire professional makeup artists -- so they don't look shiny in pictures.
What tips might you have for someone who doesn't wear much makeup?
If they want an even complexion, dust on a bit of loose mineral powder to even it out. Then, use a bit of eyeliner and mascara to make the eyes pop.
What advice do you have for the typical bride?
Make sure that the products are long-wear and waterproof, especially around the eyes. The makeup I use doesn't require touch-ups. Just the lips need to be touched up. Avoid sparkles, because in photos it looks like little holes in the skin. You definitely don't want that.