Think back to all the clichés in your mind about the quintessential Indian bride—and then toss them all away. The modern Indian bride is not one you can bind by preconceived notions: Well-traveled, forward-thinking, and global in her mindset, her bridal choices are dictated by her personality and not conventions. This goes for her big day’s beauty looks as well.
“Indian bridal makeup has changed a lot from the standard liner and red-lip formula. It has been a beautiful transition to witness," explains premiere Indian makeup artist Namrata Soni. "Today, there is no right or wrong, just the look that works best for you. What I do tell my brides is to remember that your wedding photos will last a lifetime. So don’t just emulate trends to jump on a bandwagon. Understand what suits you and stick to it.”
Meet the Expert
- Namrata Soni is one of India’s top celebrity and bridal makeup artists.
Soni believes that your bridal makeup shouldn’t change how you look naturally, rather just elevate your features. “It’s important to be yourself. Don’t cake up so much that you are ultimately unrecognizable,” she adds.
Ahead, we spotlight our favorite makeup ideas for the Indian bride-to-be.
The "less is more" au naturel philosophy is a classic for a reason. There’s no going wrong with it. In this case, it means a very clean, simple look with nude tones to contrast the color that is typically part of the Indian bride’s attire.
Move over red lips, there is a new favorite in town, and it’s heavy with berry tones! Soni calls it the "Marrakech maroon," an update on the tomato red that brides tend to favor. It’s the perfect accompaniment to ivory or beige outfits that are becoming increasingly popular with Indian brides.
A winged liner look will never quite go out of style for the Indian bride. The retro favorite has evolved over the decades, and in its current rendition, it is soft and sophisticated. “2021’s wing is more modern. It’s a subtle 20-degree angle rather than something overtly dramatic,” Soni says.
When in doubt, say yes to metallic tones, predominantly gold, silver, and bronze. Bronze eyes nicely complement traditional occasion wear and are best accentuated with a hint of highlighter and blush to match.
Dark smokey eyes with heavy gold and bronze undertones can instantly uplift your face. Plus, the glamorous look will transition perfectly from your day ceremony to your nighttime reception or after-party.
For best results, be sure to consult a wedding makeup artist for application tips and tricks. Not only will they be able to recommend the best makeup products with long-lasting coverage, but they can also help bring your final look to life in a wedding hair and makeup trial.
Colored liners, from electric blue and teal to Barbie pink and tangy oranges, are all over the runways. It was bound to seep into bridal beauty looks, too! While it may not be best suited for the wedding day, it’s the perfect opportunity to experiment with your pre-wedding looks, such as for the mehndi or sangeet.
Contouring With a Twist
Soni is in favor of creating the illusion of defined chiseled cheeks by face draping. But she prefers to contour the face with blush and pink instead of bronze tones. “It’s a lovely way of adding color to your face without any brown lines while simultaneously lifting those cheekbones as well.”
Siren Red Lips
Bold red lips to match the bridal red lehenga? There’s no going wrong with this combination. But it’s also advisable to keep the rest of your face simple to avoid an over-the-top end result. Red lips paired with soft bronze eyes and a clean face will do the trick.
We wear head-to-toe monochrome outfits, so why not choose monochrome makeup for the face? Soni recommends playing with tones of the same family for a blended look. “A wash of monochrome pastels—soft pink eye shadow with pink blush and soft lips promises a dreamy look,” she says.
Pink, pastels, and ivory are also a much-favored choices for the Indian bridal outfit today. A soft, dewy face elevates the romantic undertones of such a look. Less is more in this case. Let the natural radiance of your skin take over!
While all-out glitter may not be in vogue this year, that shouldn’t discourage you from some subtle sheen. Glossy lips in nude or pink are the perfect choice for a daytime wedding.
Hosting an intimate wedding at home? Skip the heavy eye shadow and opt for nude glossy eyes instead.
Contrary to popular belief, tried-and-tested is not your only option as a bride. Go as flamboyant as you please, especially for a themed pre-wedding celebration. Case in point: glittery eyes and face paint embraced by the bride for her carnival-themed pre-wedding party on the beach.
Even a traditional wedding outfit lets you add some modern touches by way of makeup. You don’t want your face to look too dated, after all. “Go flawless but simple. Highlight one feature,” Soni says. Smokey eyes (that can easily pair with your post-wedding reception gown, too!) and defined brows will do the trick.
Bindis, or decorative colored dots on the forehead, are a part of the traditional bridal look. It’s part of the Solah Shringar, or the 16 adornments typically worn by the bride. Here, this bride matched her bindis to her bright-red lip and red and gold outfit.
What are some tips for achieving an Indian bridal makeup look?
Consider hiring a makeup artist that has worked with other Indian brides before. As with any wedding, you should select makeup that best accentuates your natural features. And whether you DIY your makeup or hire a pro, you will want to try out your look before your wedding day.
Do I need to hire a professional makeup artist?
Not necessarily—it depends on your level of comfort with doing your own makeup. A professional can help answer any questions you have about makeup application and even recommend products for a flawless finish.