Wedding makeup is one of the last (and most important!) touches of your bridal look. Planning makeup to pair seamlessly with the dress, accessories, and theme takes time, but it's the best opportunity to highlight your beauty. And what better way to highlight that natural radiance than with gold?
"Using gold tones has always been a staple color for me to use when creating bridal makeup looks for my clients," says professional makeup artist Tara Dowburd. "Whether creating elevated looks from luxe, natural chic to soft, modern glam, we’re always incorporating a pop of gold somewhere on the face. It’s not about gold glitter or gold all over the face; it’s about subtle pops of gold that are light-reflecting. That helps bring out our clients' eye color and can also give their lips, face, and/or body a luminous glow."
Meet the Expert
- Tara Dowburd is a professional makeup artist with over 20 years of experience in the industry. She is the founder of Make-Up Therapy, a Southern California beauty collective.
Gilded hues look beautiful on all skin tones and add a warm glow that only amplifies that coveted bridal aura. Moreover, gold makeup has no rules, so the options are endless. And when it comes to photographs, you're, well, golden. Gilded makeup photographs beautifully whether it errs on the natural side of the spectrum or offers a more intensely pigmented look.
Ahead, take inspiration from 19 gold makeup ideas for your special day.
Gold makeup doesn't have to take center stage to make a lasting impression. Its shimmery pigments can be deftly used to sustain a natural luminosity that's simply out of this world. Mix a few pumps of liquid highlighter with your favorite foundation to amp up the glow without sacrificing a barely there look. "You can also mix in just a hint of a sheer gold liquid, cream, or gel highlighter with your moisturizer or face primer to subtly illuminate your skin," adds Dowburd.
Alternately, you can apply liquid highlighter to a bare face—after nourishing and perfecting the skin with moisturizer, of course! Then blend foundation on top to achieve a diffused glow. The combination will leave you beautifully beaming all day long. "I feel that gold makeup looks are absolutely timeless and stunning, and meant to be worn all year long to help give you a radiant glow," says Dowburd.
A Subtle Eye
Natural compositions and barely there approaches to bridal makeup are on the rise, and we couldn't be happier to see it. Just because your lids may not have an organic gold tint to them doesn't mean you have to forgo the shade. This light-handed dusting of gold all over the eye paired with a soft brown crease for definition is anything but overdone. "The biggest mistake we feel a bride can make when wearing gold makeup is if they were to overdo it and be heavy-handed with the application," notes Dowburd.
Warm Golden Glow
The wonderful thing about gold is its generosity. It lends its intrinsic warmth to any look. Heighten that warmth by adding a smudgy brown liner and bronze, sun-kissed contour for a tropical vibe. Dowburd mentions Charlotte Tilbury's Filmstar Bronze & Glow and Smashbox's Cali Contour Palette amongst her favorites for creating such a look.
"After coming off of years of wearing much less makeup, I feel metallics have made a comeback more than ever and can definitely be worn year-round," says Dowburd. "My favorite metallic is all shades of gold, and the best part is regardless of how fair or dark your skin tone is, there are so many gorgeous options out there that everyone can wear." This monochromatic gold look couldn't be more spot on with a creamy, sunburnt blush and matching lip.
Apply lipgloss over lipstick (or on bare lips) for a fuller look.
Lined in Gold
A gold eyeliner makes a fun makeup statement and can be added to almost any eye composition. Use a neutral eyeshadow, then choose a metallic liner with a hint of sparkle to coat the upper lash line and add definition to the eye shape. The rich and creamy texture of the eyeliner will intensify the muted shade on your eyes.
"Some of the most popular ways to use gold hues in bridal makeup are using pops of gold shimmer shadow on the eyelids, inner corners of the eyes, and/or under the lash line before applying mascara to open up the eyes," says Dowburd. Adding a hint of sparkle right at the inner corners of the eyes not only offers a brighter, more wide-eyed appearance but also gives a mesmerizing appeal to the look. This bride added a touch of gold to an otherwise neutral composition for a regal vibe that matched her princess-approved accessories.
Lids and lashes typically get all the glory, but it's the brows that truly frame the face. Give those arches the attention they deserve by bathing them in gilded light. Sweep your favorite gold hue from the lids all the way to the brow bone to achieve the look, adding deeper colors for crease contour if you prefer. Remember, the goal is to add luminosity—not necessarily color saturation—here.
A Bridal Flush
Highlighting sky-high cheekbones (or using a bit of gleam to create lifted cheekbones) is one of the most popular uses of gold makeup. It can also be layered on top of blush to take it to the next level. "Shimmer and shine look best when they are placed in specific areas so you can see the radiance, without looking too shiny (which can make you look like you’re sweaty) or seeing the shimmer particles sitting on the skin," advises Dowburd.
An allover gilded look is not only cohesive but assumes the heavens themselves opened up and showered you with gold. In lieu of looking like you've put on a metallic mask, have your makeup artist tactfully apply the hue in places that the sun would kiss: the highest points of the face like the tip of the nose and tops of the cheekbones. "Apply a powder highlighter on your face either at the tip and/or down the bridge of your nose, across your collarbones and cheekbones, and a bit on your brow bones," adds Dowburd.
Full Body Glow
Why stop at the face when you can let your whole body radiate goddess energy? Pull that golden glow lower and use a gorgeous highlighter to define the décolletage, shoulders, and collar bones. Dowburd reaches for Fenty Beauty's Fairy Bomb Shimmer Powder, Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Brick, and Glossier's Solar Paint to create full-body luminosity that's positively divine.
While yellow gold may be the first color that comes to mind, the metallic shade actually comes in a wide spectrum of hues. "If you have a cool skin tone consider champagne, pale yellow gold, and light pink gold," suggests Dowburd. This bride's wash of champagne looks incredibly fresh and dewy against her complexion where a more yellow hue could've weighed down the look for her Long Island City nuptials.
Minxy Matte Gold
If you want a shade that isn't loud, choose a gold that has all the gilded color payoff without too much sparkle. A muted gold shadow will stand out just as much without appearing too shimmery. Dowburd recommends Urban Decay's Naked Honey eyeshadow palette for a wide range of shades and finishes.
"This spring and summer there’s a strong makeup influence of warm tones like peaches, apricots, corals, soft terracotta, orangey-pinks, and chocolate," notes Dowburd. "Gold complements all of these tones beautifully." Consider adding a romantic hue like pink to make the shade stand out more—especially if you have fair skin. A rose gold eye look is universally flattering but really amplifies blue or green irises.
'90s Supermodel Vibes
Think back to the '90s: The era of that iconic supermodel look that's made an epic resurgence with no sign of dying down. To recreate the sexy look, you'll need a monochromatic story with your makeup. Opt for matte brown tones, then use gold to highlight your favorite features and a bit of gloss to add a juicy, youthful spin. A bit of bronze is essential to this aesthetic; Dowburd lists Giorgio Armani's Fluid Sheer Glow Enhancer and Chanel's Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream among her makeup bag staples.
Smokey Golden Eyes
Turn up the heat with a golden smokey eye. This smokeshow of look uses a variety of deep gilded tones to create that coveted definition and hazy, gradient effect. Be sure to keep the lightest hues at the inner corner and work your way out to the darker tones to make eyes appear bigger.
"If you have a warm skin tone, we love using copper, rose gold, yellow gold, and bronze," says Dowburd. She reaches for Charlotte Tilbury's Eyes to Mesmerize and Tom Ford's Eye Color Quad in 01 Golden Mink to create such incendiary looks. This beautiful bride's eyes are practically set ablaze with metallic copper and bronze hues for her woodland wedding.
Be careful when using shimmery finishes on more mature skin as the pigments can highlight fine lines.
Looking for more drama? We hear you! Create a bold eye by grounding all that ethereal gleam with some obsidian. (We're fighting really hard to refrain from referencing "Black and Yellow" lyrics here.) Blend the darker hue in the outer V of the eye and use gold highlights in the creases to create a glam makeup look.
For a cooler, slightly more approachable vibe, replace black eyeshadow with gunmetal gray for a two-tone aesthetic. You can blend the shades more to intensify the smoke or amp up the gold to tone things down. "Whether you want to create a natural wash of gold or a bronze, smokey sultry eye, layer your textures," advises Dowburd. "We love mixing matte with shimmer because it helps create dimension to enhance the glow where you want it to pop."
Does gold wedding makeup suit everyone?
Absolutely! Gold hues come in a variety of undertones that can suit just about everyone. While darker skin tones can rock the yellowness of a true gold, those with fair skin will find bronze, copper, or champagne golds more flattering.
What eye colors look best with gold eyeshadow?
Gold eyeshadow looks stunning on just about every eye color from sultry brown to bright blue. The gold will reflect light onto the eyes to both brighten them and cast a gilded glow. It will also amplify any warmth or gold flecks in the irises.