How to Ugly Cry and Keep Your Makeup Intact

If you're prone to heavy tears, your makeup might take a hit on your wedding day. Professional makeup artists share how to fix your makeup after crying.

By McCall Minnor

bride crying at her wedding and wiping wedding makeup
Photo by Emma McDonald Weddings

Weddings are emotional, period. Even those who don’t tend to tear up at every heart-gripping commercial or sentimental moment find themselves crying even a little on their wedding day. So your wedding makeup should be prepared. Light criers can usually get by with an eye dab here and there without too much damage to their look. For those among us who do cry regularly—happy tears and sad tears—it’s a whole other story.

If your type of tear up lends itself to less of a single water bead running down your face and more of full-on ugly cry a la Kim Kardashian, read on. We talked to professional wedding makeup artists and got their best tips on how to cry-proof your wedding makeup. Let the good tears roll!

INLINE L.HewittPhotography 1080x720 Dana&Phillip (1) Photo Credit // L. Hewitt Photography


Wedding makeup that can stand a few rounds of tears starts with a strong base and application with the proper products.

Use cream-based products.

When it comes to foundation, blush, contour, and shadows, cream-based is the way to go. “Tears can roll right over them, as opposed to powder-based products,” says Maryelle O’Rourke of Maryelle Artistry, a Boston based team of wedding and celebrity makeup artists. “Powder doesn’t work as well, because it tends to run off and show tear marks. Cream-based products create a smooth surface and are more binding onto [the base].”

It comes down to consistency. Powders, which are dry, sit on the surface of your skin (and each other). Creams, on the other hand, blend and buff right in.

Professional makeup artist Elena Miglino says to consider a liquid eyeliner versus a pencil liner. “Because a pencil is softer, it’s forgiving if you need to smudge. A liquid liner is there to stay. It’s so hard to blend out a powder blush once it’s been placed, but again, cream is forgiving,” she says.

Choose the right type of lashes for you.

For some, their wedding day is the first (and maybe last) time they’ll apply fake lashes to enhance their look. With so many options—strips, individuals, extensions, lash lifts—it’s not always easy to determine what’s your best option. In fact, O’Rourke and Miglino have differing favorites. Let’s break both down.

  • Strip Lashes: “I find that strip lashes work better,” O’Rourke says. “You’re putting glue on from one end of the strip to the other (hopefully, with waterproof glue). So, you have a long strip that’s supporting itself to stay on.” If you’re worried about the lash strip corners lifting after hours of wear, she adds that the strip should maintain the shape that your makeup artist formed. So, if corners start to rise, all you need to do is add a little more glue and press it down. This method of re-application is easier than attempting to reapply individual lashes.

  • Individual Lashes: Lash strips lifting is the exact reason Miglino prefers individuals. “They won’t take flight during an emotional ceremony. Many makeup artists use a latex-based glue, which isn’t waterproof,” she says. “Individuals definitely give you a little more wiggle room if you’re a crier. If you lose one or two throughout the day, it’s not a big deal.”

Basically, your lashes come down to your preference. Strip lashes are ideal if you’ve used them before and feel comfortable gluing one back down if necessary. On the other hand, individuals are great if you’re confident that you won’t lose too many. In either case, don’t forget a good waterproof mascara! If neither option eases your worries, take Miglino’s advice and consider getting lash extensions or a lash lift.

During The Ceremony

The wedding ceremony is where most of the crying tends to happen. Save your face by cleaning up your emotional outpour the right way.

Catch tears before they fall.

The easiest way to avoid streaks is by preventing tears from making contact with your makeup in the first place. Luckily, there’s an easy way to catch them without removing or smearing any. “If you start to tear up, grab a tissue, wrap it around your index finger, and hold it right underneath your lash line to catch tears before they start rolling,” O’Rourke says.

Just remember to dab gently. If you’re wearing mascara on your bottom lashes, do your best to avoid pressing them down onto your skin. “If for some reason a tear gets away, just pat it dry. Never rub or wipe it,” O’Rourke adds.

Avoid rubbing around the eyes.

It probably goes without saying but it’s paramount that you avoid rubbing around your eyes. This may seem like common sense, but it’s something you might forget amid an emotional bout of tears. “Never rub your eyes, always pat dry,” O’Rourke says. “It’s amazing that people do it and don’t realize it!” Rubbing is a natural reaction to feeling tears build, but can smear your makeup and make it difficult to touch-up.

Keep this comparison of O’Rourke’s in mind: “When you have makeup on, your face is like a piece of artwork. Something that you’d hang on the wall in your house. You would never take a tissue and rub it if you spilled something on it. You would dab it, you’d be so gentle.”

If tears begin to gather beneath your eyes, use the previous tip to try and catch them. If a few escape you (it happens), gently dab your cheeks—or let them fall and touch up once the ceremony is over.

INLINE FatChixInc 1080x720 Ari&Andrew Photo Credit // Fat Chix Inc.

How to Touch Up Wedding Makeup After Crying

We’re big proponents of letting it out. So, if some (or many) tears escaped, you may need a touch-up or even a reapplication.

Re-blend your makeup.

One of the advantages of using cream-based products is that they’re incredibly easy to blend back in. “A beauty blender will be your best friend on the day of your wedding,” Miglino says. “It helps to blend and press the product back into the skin and aid in eliminating any streaks. A powder brush, on the other hand, might pick up some wetness and end up streaking you in random places.” Beauty sponges are meant to mimic your skin texture, which helps to create an even blend—even after tearing up.

Keep some key items on hand.

A large part of touching up is, well, having necessary items on hand to touch-up. Here are some major players you’ll definitely want on hand for quick and efficient reapplying. Ask your maid of honor, best man, mother, or other trusted confidant to keep a pouch filled with these products close by.

  • Beauty Blender: For reasons stated above.
  • Concealer: O’Rourke highly suggests carrying a concealer, since it can be used anywhere on the face. If a tear happens to slip past you and leaves a streak, you can use a concealer to quickly cover it right up. Not to mention, they’re typically much smaller than foundation bottles, so they’re easy to toss into a small purse.
  • Blotting Papers: Both Miglino and O’Rourke agree that these oil-absorbing sheets are a must-have. Use them instead of reapplying setting powder. When you do the latter, it tends to cake up with each application.
  • Lipstick: Your first application of lipstick will probably involve several products—an exfoliant, hydrating balm, lipstick or gloss, and liner. Luckily, you only need one of these things on hand for the rest of your wedding. “When first applying, use a lip brush. It fills in all the fine lines and crevices that we barely notice. Once you’ve done that, you can just reapply with the tube of lipstick and it stays on much longer,” O’Rourke says.
  • Setting Spray: Using a setting spray after your makeup is first done is a must, O’Rourke tells us. (“They just seal the deal.”) It’s also beneficial, though, to have a mini version in your bag to top off touch-ups. “It can be a pain to carry, but if you can get a small one, use it after each touch-up,” she adds.

Follow these professional makeup tips to keep your wedding makeup intact (or touch it up) after crying—as much as you want for as long as you want.

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