UNVEILED Network

Naturally Perfect: Natalie Willingham Makeup & Hair

16th March 2021 | Sarah Symonds

Today on the blog we’re chatting to hair stylist and makeup artist extraordinaire Natalie about all things beauty and weddings, so tune in if you’re still on the hunt for your glam squad and need a little nudge in the right direction.

Leeds-based MUA and UNVEILED Network Member Natalie Willingham helps brides feel their very best on their most important day, creating natural, flawless faces that will withstand any of the trials, tribulations and tears of a wedding and the good old knees up that follows. We’ve been finding out how she got started, where her passion comes from and what services she offers her brides (and grooms!), plus Natalie spills the beans on her skincare tips, being a romantic at heart and her big dos and don’ts when it comes to finding your beauty dream team to nail the perfect look for your big day.

She’s also currently offering you lovely Brides Up North and UNVEILED readers 15% off either any care package of skincare goodies and treats or a virtual makeup lesson booked during this lockdown! So let’s crack on and find out more…

Images with thanks to UNVEILED Network Members Arabella Smith, Rosanna Lilly Photography & Melissa Beattie Photography.

Well, hello there!

Hello, I’m Natalie! I help ladies become beautiful, confident brides. I love creating bridal makeup and hair looks that are flawless, natural and relaxed. Highlighting the beauty of my brides, I make them feel amazing by creating effortless bridal looks that work seamlessly with their wedding dress and modern boho styling.

Where did your passion for beauty come from – and how did it turn into a career?

I’ve always been fascinated by faces. I loved drawing them when I was at art college. However, I was diverted from a creative career for many years as I ended up working as a HR Director. Never feeling truly satisfied, I knew I needed to return to my creative roots and, after taking redundancy 11 years ago, I invested in my love of makeup and re-trained as a hair and makeup artist.

I was extremely fortunate to be trained by some amazing makeup artists who regularly have their work featured in all the top glossies including Vogue, as well as working with TV and film celebrities, and international musicians.

I love the transformative power of hair and makeup. Watching a bride fill with confidence in how she looks and not only looking beautiful but feeling beautiful as well. Even when I’m not working I’m playing with makeup, researching skincare and reading about new product launches.

Why do you like working with bridal clients?

I’m a romantic at heart. The emotional connection I have with my brides is really important to me, which is why many of them stay friends way beyond their wedding day. I love the engagement stories, and hearing about the choices they made when planning their wedding. It also makes me feel a bit like a fairy godmother in helping brides dreams come true. I hold their hand from the moment they book; often literally as they head down the aisle! I’m truly privileged to be by my brides’ sides, sharing the excitement and joy on her wedding morning. It makes all of the very early mornings worth it.

Describe the service that you offer?

I believe I offer much more than just makeup and hairstyling. It is so important to me that you have an incredible experience all the way through your bridal hair and makeup planning process. I want you to feel supported and valued. I will listen to your needs and work with you to create a bridal makeup and hair style look that not only is comfortable but that makes everyone say “WOW” when they see you!

As well as the makeup application and hair styling, I provide my brides with lots of information in my welcome pack. I share advice on achieving great skin and offer skin consultation appointments. I recommend incredible suppliers, provide advice and guidance about weddings in general and help solve any wedding planning problems. If I can’t help directly, I usually know someone who can.

Do you have a signature style?

I love supporting those brides who don’t often wear makeup. They worry they will feel plastered in product and I’m mindful that can be quite an intimidating experience for some. My clients trust me to make them look beautiful regardless of what stage of life they are at.

My favourite look to create has to be something that I’d want to wear myself. I adore fresh, dewy skin that still looks like natural skin and has that bridal glow, and eyes that are defined and pretty without being heavy. Of course it’s great fun to create a glam look too, who doesn’t love a smokey eye or red lip? Also, depending on the bride, I love adding a modern twist to my makeup design, whether that’s using a bit of colour or a different textured product.

What about hair – what styles are your clients loving right now?

Natural, textured, simple and relaxed styles are my favourites for many clients; making the most of their hair to create styles that are comfortable, pretty and bridal. Whether that’s hair down with a slight wave, a bouncy ponytail or a messy bun. Occasionally, I’m asked to create a sleek chignon which is fun to do as well. But I can guarantee, you won’t find any tight, stiff, overly backcombed or hair sprayed styles on any of my brides.

Recently I’ve seen an increase in brides incorporating an heirloom accessory into their look. Vintage jewellery, hair accessories and veils are being dusted off and incorporated into a modern hair style.

Where do you find inspiration and keep up with the latest trends and techniques?

I find inspiration everywhere; TV and magazines, other makeup artists, people on the street; as well as nature and other surroundings. Even the colours and textures that I see on my morning dog walk often challenge me to think how I can use my kit or skills in new ways. I love taking inspiration from creative editorial shoots and finding interesting ways to incorporate that into my bridal work.

I also undertake regular training with specialist makeup artists/hair stylists and business leaders who are at the top of their field to ensure that my skills are the best they can be.

How can a bride or groom make sure that their skin and hair is in the best possible condition before their big day?

Try to start a regular skincare routine as soon as you can. I offer skin consultations and help to make sure your routine fits with your lifestyle and your budget. This is as important for grooms as it is brides. Eat healthy and drink as much water as possible. Book a schedule of beauty treatments (brows, lashes, nails etc) which can be maintained right up to your wedding and plan a cut and colour schedule with your hairdresser or barber and book regular conditioning treatments. Don’t try any new beauty treatments (including tanning) a month prior to your wedding and wear an SPF daily.

Why would you recommend a trial?

A bride can sometimes struggle to visualise how she will look on her wedding day and this enables her to put all of those elements together; meaning she will start her wedding morning fully relaxed as she knows what to expect.

A trial also allows me to examine your skin, features and hair type so I can create styles that flatter you and that are long lasting, as well as advising you on the best way to prepare your hair and skin in the run up to your wedding.

The few hours together we’ll spend getting to know each other at your trial is a priceless asset on your wedding morning. This enables me to anticipate your needs, quietly calm you if you’re nervous and provide unconditional support without anyone else noticing.

Tell us a bit about the products that you have in your kit?

I’m judged on my results so everything that goes into my kit is tested rigorously on myself and on photo shoots first. Only once I’m satisfied it meets my high standards, does it go into my bridal kit. I try to use cruelty free, vegan and ethical brands where possible.

I carry a full skincare kit as well as makeup and hair styling kits and, of course, in the current climate I have a complete PPE and disinfecting kit and follow all recommended protocols. I have lots of makeup brushes and each client is provided with a dedicated brush set and case on the day to ensure there is no cross contamination.

Some of the brand names in my kit you may recognise are: Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel, Glossier, Illamasqua, Danessa Myricks, Make Up Forever, Bobbi Brown, Delilah, Hourglass, Becca, Urban Decay, Viseart, Maybelline, Rimmel, Mac, Laura Mercier, Nars, Weleda, Evolve, Embryolisse, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Paul Mitchel, Wella, Fudge, Joico, GHD, Hot Tools, Dyson and many many more.

How does it all work on the wedding day?

I am very experienced in working quickly and under pressure. I usually arrive 15 minutes prior to my first appointment to set up my kit. You will have been sent your schedule well in advance however, depending on the bride’s chosen hairstyle I may decide to prep her hair first before working on another member of the bridal party. I will have spoken with the bride in advance to work out who will be helping her dress so I can ensure they are ready in plenty of time.

My bride will have her makeup and hair completed second to last. Usually I pop a bridesmaid in the last appointment time, so that my bride isn’t waiting too long before she needs to dress. This helps to reduce any nerves and avoid lots of time waiting. I allow an hour for each bridesmaid or mum having hair and makeup, and two hours for my bride. For larger bridal parties, I source an assistant (always an artist of equal expertise) to help me. The whole bridal party will be ready to dress about an hour before the ceremony time, or a little bit more if they are having to travel. This allows time for the photographer to take portraits and a quick glass of fizz to calm the nerves before setting off! Often, I help brides into their dress and complete the final touch ups if needed before placing the veil. I stay with you for as long as you need.

Can you do makeup and hair for the wider bridal party too?

Absolutely. My average bridal party usually involves a bride, plus mum and four bridesmaids all for hair and makeup but I regularly have smaller and larger bookings too. When planning, if I need an assistant, I take into consideration the size of the bridal party, the time of the ceremony and number of services required. Fortunately, I work with a network of makeup artists who have similar experience to myself and regularly take on assisting work to support each other as an extension of our businesses.

What are your top three tips for clients when planning their wedding day look?

  1. Be realistic about what is achievable and have an open mind. It’s so easy to become influenced by all of the amazing images on the internet. Use the photos as inspiration to create a bridal look that is unique to you.
  2. Ask your makeup artist for advice for skincare or hair styles that may suit you. Personally, I’ve worked more weddings than I can count and I have a good idea what looks will flatter you and work great on camera. Plus it’s in my best interest to make sure you look stunning!
  3. Tell us what you think. Be honest about what you do and don’t like.       Remember, this is my job so any feedback I get is really useful and helps me to help you achieve the look you’ve always wanted.

And your three no-no’s?

  1. I think it almost goes without saying to try to avoid making any drastic changes to hair cut or colour until after the wedding.
  2. Don’t schedule your trial so far in advance that you change your mind about your hairstyle or makeup. Similarly don’t leave your trial appointment so late in the process that you have no time to make any changes.
  3. And lastly, whilst it may be tempting to try something completely new, there’s little point in having a strong makeup look if you never usually wear it, as your partner won’t realise its you coming down the aisle.

What trends do you see emerging in bridal beauty in the coming year and beyond?

I believe there will be a move towards very luxurious but natural hair and makeup styling. More brides will be opting to forgo hair accessories in favour of hair down with relaxed waves or simple texture in updos, from twists to plaits. Everything will be simple, soft and romantic.

Makeup will be modern and designed to enhance and flatter the bride. Nude lips remain a firm favourite. Texture will be key – combining healthy, glowing skin with matt velvety lips. Lashes will have very natural looking volume. Brides will look as though they have stepped straight out to the pages of Vogue or UNVEILED.

Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about?

The last 12 months have encouraged me to really think about my business offering so that I am positioned as the instinctive choice for natural, relaxed, flawless bridal makeup and hair in Yorkshire.

I’ve got a couple of new projects under development that aren’t quite ready to share yet but will offer a new experience for brides in particular.

Finally, the unexpected connections I have made within the wedding sector during the pandemic have truly been a blessing. Existing friendships have been strengthened beyond measure and new friendships have been formed. It’s so much easier facing unforeseen difficulties when you know your community has your back.

How can couples get in touch with you and see more of your work?

Most of my up to date images, product reviews and general chit chat can be found on my instagram. On my website, you can learn more about me, enquire about services and read the kind words of thanks from my brides. Twitter and my facebook page contain lots of information and reviews too. I love chatting about hair, makeup and skincare so do get in touch.

Is there a special discount that you would like to offer to our readers and details of how to redeem this?

It would be my pleasure. I’m currently offering 15% off any care package (lots of skincare goodies and treats to feed the mind and the soul) or virtual makeup lesson booked during this lockdown. Details can be found on my website. Please quote UNVEILED15 when enquiring.

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