What Every African-American Destination Bride Should Have in her Makeup Bag

There are so many details that go into planning the perfect wedding. For many weddings, the bride is the one to take the reigns.  But, when the wedding day arrives, despite her best efforts, the bride may have to relinquish some power to the almighty makeup artist. After all, as a bride, your wedding makeup artist can make you look like a glistening angel or Bozo the clown.

Finding the perfect makeup artist for your big day is hard enough, but it becomes significantly more complicated if you’re a woman of color planning a destination wedding.  As an African-American woman and destination bride, I struggled with finding a makeup artist at the resort that would bring my vision for my makeup to life. I lived through the struggle, so you don't have to.

My Wedding Day

I decided to have a destination wedding for both the experience and the ease of planning.  At the time of my wedding, there wasn’t much information or inspiration available for African-American destination brides.

Before my arrival at the resort, I was advised that the makeup artists would be fully equipped to cater to darker skin tones. Upon my arrival, I discovered this was a complete fabrication. The makeup artists provided by the resort did not have the proper supplies nor the expertise to cater to my skin tone.

But, as any resourceful bride would, I brought back up. I came prepared with a few of my makeup essentials. I gave the resort artists my supply but ended up being disappointed with their work, even with my trusty brands.

Ultimately, I had to bite the bullet and fly in my own makeup artist the day before my wedding. I wasn’t going to risk an amateur makeup job in pictures I would keep for a lifetime. My big day was everything I wanted and more, and my makeup looked flawless.

Binta Elise Luxury Travel Wedding Makeup

I have to give credit to my brilliant photographer, Joshua Dwain, and my makeup artist who truly saved the day, Color du Jour.

From my experience, and own makeup bag, here are my wedding makeup must-haves for African American brides.

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

This is an award-winning liquid foundation that is available in a variety of brown shades, I use the Luminous Silk Foundation in Color 10. When applied, the foundation creates a silky finish on the skin. This fan-favorite foundation will last from the moment you step foot down the aisle to your last dance.

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation

This foundation is perfect for your wedding day because it was developed to look flawless even under a high-def lens. It comes in over 40 different shades and will save you any photo retouching from the wedding photographer.

Black Opal True Color Pore Perfecting Liquid Foundation

This drugstore hack was the first technologically advanced doctor-recommended skincare line for women of color. It’s formulated to correctly match all skin tones without an ashy or dull residue. If you’re not sold yet, even Beyonce’s makeup artist has vouched for this foundation. (Yes, I said Beyonce!)

NARS Creamy Concealer

This NARS concealer offers both a satin and matte finish which is hard to come by. It comes in a deep cocoa color and brightens any under-eye. Did you have a few too many Mai Tai's at the rehearsal dinner? No one will be able to see your dark circles after just a few swipes.

Black Up Lipstick and Blush

Black Up is specially created for women of color. Their products enhance dark skin tones while others in the industry just strive to match them. Their lipsticks and blushes are incredibly pigmented which is perfect for your desired bridal look. Choose from a variety of colors that will enhance your megawatt smile and rosy cheeks as you walk down the aisle.

MAC Gloss & Lipstick

Whether you want a glossy or matte lip, MAC has got you covered. With dozens of shades perfect for any skin tone, MAC is one of my personal favorites.  For a nude lip, their Lipstick in Freshbrew has been a bestseller for years and will stay on your lips while you’re dancing the night away. For lip gloss, one of my favorites is the LipGlass Viva Glam in Ariana Grande, it’s light sparkly and pink.

Morphe Eye Shadow Palette

Morphe is another brand that has a variety of super-pigmented eyeshadow palettes which cater to darker skin tones. The 39A Dare to Create Artistry Palette features 39 metallic and matte shades that enhance your eyes for the big day.

Fenty Beauty Moroccan Spice Eyeshadow Palette

Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty offers an eyeshadow palette as full of spunk and fun as she is. Whether you’re looking for a bold look, or something more subtle and shimmery, this palette has the perfect combinations.  

Anastasia Beverly Hills Highlighter

The highlighters by Anastasia are available in a variety of colors and styles that compliment a wide range of skin tones. They are available in both powder and liquid. Don’t let anyone outshine you on your big day!

MAC Mineralize SkinFinish Highlighter

Another highlighter I love is MAC’s Mineralize SkinFinish in Global Glow. It adds a perfect pop of shimmer and highlight without being overpowering. It sits light on the face and won’t clog pores.


Binta Getting Makeup Done Elise Luxury Travel

Last minute touch-ups

After my experience, I recommend buying your own makeup and bringing a stash to the destination. Be sure to ask the resort which brands their makeup artist has on hand and in what shades. If you can, bring your own makeup artist from home who knows your skin, what it responds to, and what it doesn’t.

If you’re unable to get a product list, then plan on getting a consultation with the resort makeup artist several days before your wedding. It’s important to plan ahead with these little details so that you’re not flying in your makeup artist like I had to. No matter what you decide to go with on your special day, it’s guaranteed the groom will think you’re the most beautiful woman in the room.