The Beauty Booster

Problem skin, sparse brows, and lackluster lips are no match for Katrina Hess, who helps every bride look positively radiant.

katrina hess

photograph by trevor reid

On your wedding day, all eyes (and camera lenses) will be trained on you. It’s sought-after makeup pro Katrina Hess’s job to make sure you look flawless from every angle. “It’s the day a woman shines,” says Hess, who’s been dolling up brides for 20 years. But it doesn’t all happen in one appointment. Hess likes to see clients for two consultations in her Newbury Street studio to advise them on a skin-care regimen and get a sense of their individual style before the walk down the aisle (she’s even Skyped with brides who were abroad). In other words, she’s the person you want in your corner when the flashes start popping.

What happens after a bride books you for her wedding?

I offer two consultations in my wedding package. I do the first pretty quickly, but wait until closer to the wedding day for the second one, to see if there are any skin-care changes, and to incorporate seasonal palettes.

So what do you address in the first consultation?

Most women aren’t using enough skin-care products, or they’re not using the right ones. My clients generally have good skin, but those who have troubled skin need to consult with a dermatologist. The two key elements in a skin-care regimen are a cleanser that’s not dehydrating, and a product with lactic acid that purifies and shrinks the pores, while also moisturizing the skin.

Once you find a regimen that works for you, you have to maintain it—six months to one year from the wedding, depending on the severity of the skin issues. But what’s really important for skin six months out is the sun: Tan lines can last for a year, and in my opinion that’s the most unappealing look. They just don’t do anything for a $20,000 Carolina Herrera gown.

Do brides normally know what look they want before meeting with you?

It’s 50/50. Some women are really specific and know exactly what they want. Others wear makeup, but aren’t sure what would look best on them—they’re more dependent on me. I’ve had a few girls who want a Kardashian look, but they don’t realize how much makeup is actually on. So once I do the consultation they realize it’s too heavy.

How do the seasons affect wedding makeup?

Color is seasonal. Summer weddings often call for a fresh, tan, beachy look; in the fall we’re getting more women who want a big, smoky plum eye. The venue, time of day, and season play a large role. I wouldn’t do a heavy, matte-charcoal, smoky look for a Chatham Bars Inn wedding in the middle of July.

Is it okay to try makeup trends on the big day?

The red-carpet look is great for the rehearsal dinner. That’s the night you step out with a hot pink or deep red lip. That said, you certainly want to add some glamour to the wedding night as well. My approach is to have a more-natural, nude look for the ceremony, which is often outdoors, and then after twilight, switch over to a deeper, brighter, glossier lip. It really changes your look in photographs. You can get freshened up, have a cocktail, and return to the reception, and that’s when you let your hair down and party.

What makeup looks are on the horizon?

The trend for spring is a really romantic look—tiaras and hair accessories are back. My approach is going to be very soft, subtle, and smoky. Red is the color for spring and summer lips—like you just ate a cherry popsicle. It makes the cheeks look whiter and the smile brighter.

Which parts of the face should a bride play up for photos?

Generally, it’s the eyes and lips. In New England, my clients often don’t wear lipstick every day; they just wear ChapStick. I like to get them on a regimen of exfoliating the lips. The lips are one of the most dehydrated areas of the body, and dry, cracked lips are more unappealing than tan lines. So I start them with oils and scrubs. The lip changes the whole look.

As far as eyes go, extended lashes are too damaging to the actual lashes. I’ve been experimenting with velour mink lashes, which are completely organic. They’re lightweight and lush. I fill in lashes with those, whether a bride is going for a nude eye or smoky eye. Mascara can look clumpy in photos.

Do you ever see grooms for consultations?

On rare occasions, I’ve seen men for eyebrow shaping and skin care—maybe a little day-of brow shaping, sometimes a little bronzer. But I always have brides who say, “I wish I could get my fiancé in here.”

What should a bride carry in her clutch for the reception?

Generally, just blotting papers and evening lip color. Only minimal touchups are necessary—maybe a pressed powder depending on humidity.

115 Newbury St., Boston, 781-710-6865,


Katrina Hess’s secret weapons will keep you photo-ready all day long.

Eye-shadow primer: Claudio Riaz is great for all skin types. It creates a smooth canvas and keeps shadow from fading or creasing. It makes blending a dream.

Eyeliner: Start with a stay-put pencil such as Hourglass’s “Obsidian,” and then apply liquid liner. Layering is the key! Finish with Tom Ford’s “Eye Defining Pen.”

Blotting papers: Tap, don’t rub, to mop up oil and shine. They’re good for the groom, too.

Lip exfoliator: Smooth dry lips with Sara Happ’s scrub. It makes lips fuller and will hold every- thing from the lightest lip color to a matte stain.

Mink lashes: You get lush lashes without clumps or running mascara.

Setting powder: I love Laura Mercier’s translucent loose powder to set undereye concealer, blush, and lip color.


For additional planning tips, check out more Wedding Experts »

Getting married? Start and end your wedding planning journey with Boston Weddings' guide to the best wedding vendors in the city.