Yesterday, I had a very exciting day because it was my bridal hair and make-up trial with Sam Sham, a make-up artist I stumbled across when looking for an expert in bridal make-up for Chinese/Asian brides.
At the beginning of the year when I started organising wedding stuff, I was adamant that I didn’t need a professional make-up artist seeing as I dabble so much in beauty already. But I was wrong! Ha! After a couple of shameful DIY attempts, I soon realised I was rubbish at photogenic make-up… I can only just about manage my everyday make-up. I even tried watching a few tutorial videos, but I couldn’t find any that catered for my hooded (but not mono-lidded) eyes which I find really hard to define without them looking harsh. There’s a niche for you if you’re looking for one!
So, I gave in, and with a few deft Google searches, one name kept coming up in first-hand recommendations… which was Sam Sham’s. Sam’s portfolio looked impressive – her career spans across fashion, advertising and film as well as bridal make-up so I got the impression that she really knows how to make someone look good in photos (which I seem to be more worried about than actually looking good in real life! Oh the vanity! But the photos are important right?? They’ll be the only tangible memories of the day… well, apart from the “husband” of course). So I got in touch with Sam, checked her fees were reasonable, and booked her for the wedding day and the rehearsal (which she advised we should do at least three months in advance).
Sam arrived at our house with a huge trolley case full of make-up, heated hair rollers and all sorts of goodies, and got right down to business. I showed her photos of the dress I’ve chosen and a couple of photos of my usual look. From that, she seemed to know exactly what to suggest and which examples to show me, which was handy because I had planned to collect photos of make-up and hair styles that I liked prior to the trial, but just hadn’t got round to doing so. We decided on neutral colours, with focus on the eyes.
I had my eyes closed for much of the make-up application, so unfortunately can’t remember all the details! But I know Sam finished off the base with Dior Airflash spray foundation to give an airbrushed look. Dior Airflash seemed to be quite heavy coverage (it’s of freckle-hiding strength) which I’m not used to because I rarely wear foundation. But I can sacrifice the bare skin feeling if it makes me look flawless in photos.
On my eyes, Sam did one eye in silver grey (a bold look I wouldn’t normally go for), and the other eye in bronze (what I’m used to), so that I could choose which I preferred. She also applied a completely different style of strip lashes on each eye for comparison purposes. One eye had very thick, striking Cheryl Cole-style lashes, and the other had more subtle lashes with more inter-lash length variation. She applied liner and shadow to my lower lash line but left the lower lashes bare.
There was lots of expert contouring on my cheeks and jawline… ending up with a much more professional finish than one a plebeian like me could ever achieve.
Finally, she mixed her own neutral lip colour for me to finish off the look, similar to a colour I’d normally go for.
Sam was completely open to any ideas I had, or anything I wanted to try, but I was happy with the look she had gone for. Although I did ask if she could try pinker cheeks (you know I love rosy cheeks!), and I also asked why she hadn’t used mascara on my lower lashes. She explained that with the big, uplifted lashes I was wearing, mascara on the lower lashes would be too much. Interestingly, she said that the skyward-facing lashes with a clean lower lash was the most popular look with her Asian clients, and that a strongly emphasised lower lash is much more popular with her Caucasian clients.
Anyhow, she applied mascara on my lower lashes, and she was totally right – it just looked wrong next to the falsies… it looked too dolly-like, but it also visually pulled down my eyes and somehow spoilt the radiant, wide-awake look she had achieved. Wow she knows her stuff.
After the make-up, Sam skilfully pinned up my hair in couple of different ways, but keeping the loose, casual look that I’d asked for. We had a thigh-slapping laugh about the tight spirals that some brides still seem to ask for! There was so much in the hair styling that I hadn’t even thought of… like which side I usually pose on (apparently even models only ever pose on one side – so I’m not alone!), and which shoulder the single, asymmetric strap on my dress would be. We ended up settling on a loose bun of curls on the side so that it could also be seen from front-on. Sam suggested that I get a big white flower to go in my hair – so I’ll be sourcing that from somewhere.
Below is the final look (although I think prior to the extra pink blusher being applied). Blogger will probably make the photo all blurry though so you won’t see the full airbrushed effect of the foundation and contouring! The hair isn’t fully done because we went light with the hairspray so that it was easy for Sam to switch the style until she found one I liked. Hence the remaining flyaways! Oh, and I still have different eye colours and lashes on in the photo – the eye furthest away from the camera is the eye with bigger lashes (which I’m going to go for, because the more subtle lashes don’t have enough impact).
I had such a great time having my hair and make-up done… and I’m so glad I’ve decided to leave my wedding day make-up to a professional so I can just sit back and relax! The whole rehearsal took around 3-4 hours (it will only take about one and a half hours on the day), and I never felt rushed at any point. I wholeheartedly recommend booking a professional make-up artist for bridal make-up if you can! So much fun! And lots of insider tips and celebrity beauty gossip throughout. By the way, one of my friends came round to watch me being done up and also to give a second opinion during the trial, and I’m really grateful that she was there because I’m so indecisive.
If you’re interested in booking a session with Sam (Samantha) Sham, you can view her portfolio at www.sam-sham.com (Flash) or www.sam-sham.co.uk (HTML). Most of her work is in London, but many of her clients are all over the UK, and she often works on photoshoots on location. She obviously doesn’t just do Chinese/Asian make-up as well – it’s just that she is one of the rare make-up artists I found who is established in that space, where there seems to be a real gap at the moment.
Update!: You can see my hair and make-up on my wedding day on my post here.