A Beauty Editor Spills Her Industry Secrets For The Perfect Bridal Look

Cait Kiernan on her wedding skin care, hair, makeup, & more.

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Cait Kiernan
Cait Kiernan
TZR Weddings
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Beauty editors spend the bulk of their careers learning the best-kept industry secrets about how to look and feel like your most radiant, confident self, which means that when the opportunity arrises to embrace the myriad of hair, makeup, and skin care lessons for themselves, the result is inevitably nothing less than stunning. Like say, a wedding perhaps? Such is the case for Cait Kiernan, author of Pretty Sick: The Beauty Guide for Women with Cancer, co-host & producer of Walgreen's Feel More Like You podcast, and longtime beauty editor, who got married in March 2021 after many pandemic delays.

“I had three months,” she reveals to TZR over Zoom of her bridal prep timeline. “[My husband and I] were really hoping for more clarity [with the pandemic restrictions] but we just decided, ‘you know what?’ Let’s do it on our anniversary.”

With a date finally set, Kiernan wasted no time getting a skin care plan together with her dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman, while still being realistic about what was achievable within that three-month timeframe. Then it was on to designing her wedding day look with makeup artist Ashlee Glazer and hair stylist Joseph Maine. From head-to-toe, no beauty detail was overlooked (she even selected the scent of her wedding prep area), and as evidenced by her wedding photos, the 50-year-old looked every bit the incandescent bride.

Below, Kiernan shares her beauty editor secrets for achieving the sort of enviable glow that can only come from years of insider access and expert tips. From nails, skin care, hair, and makeup, here’s everything the newlywed embraced for her big day — plus the crucial beauty advice she wants every bride-to-be to understand before walking down the aisle.

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Pre-Wedding Skin Care Prep

With a wedding date finally set, Kiernan paid a visit to Dr. Engelman to explore what skin care treatments would be most suitable in her three month timeframe. “You can’t fake good skin, so invest in it,” the editor explains. Rather than rely on post-production hacks like filters and airbrushing (which she says can make you look like a wax figure in photos), she stresses embracing science-backed products and procedures to get your skin in the best condition possible for the big day.

In terms of treatments, she underwent a Lumenis Stellar M22 ResurFX laser with Dr. Engelman, which firms, tightens, targets hyperpigmentation, and boosts collagen production. “It was about three days of redness [afterward],” she says, “and then I did it again a month later.” Kiernan also refreshed her Botox in her “11” lines between her brows and around her eyes, and visited another dermatologist for lip filler a few weeks before the wedding as well.

Ever the diligent beauty editor, she says that the bulk of her bridal skin prep actually took place in her daily routine. “I’m very regimented about my skin care, always using a retinol every other night,” she reveals. “I use my ZIIP or my NuFace, and I go between which ones I love at different times. The NuFace is better for lifting and the ZIIP is better for hyperpigmentation, blemishes, that kind of stuff. And then my LED treatment masks, and I love a sheet mask moment.”

She explains that leading up to the wedding she used her microcurrent devices every morning, and swapped for an LED mask at night because, “they say that all the stimulation from your LED, actually —when you go into rest and recovery mode of sleep — it helps it work better.” She swears by the Dr. Dennis Gross SpectraLight LED Mask and Priori Unveiled LED Mask for her nighttime treatments.

Depending on how much time you have allocated to treat your skin before your wedding (hopefully a few weeks!), the editor stresses paying a visit to a trusted dermatologist to address your primary skin concerns, and using quality skin care products consistently. That way your complexion will be a smooth, even canvas for your bridal makeup, and you can be confident that you’ll have that lit-from-within glow in every single photo.

Keep The Makeup Glam — Without Going Overboard

2010 Steve Granitz

While it may be tempting to go full throttle with your bridal makeup look and experiment, having a clear image of what you want and keeping the beauty true to your personal style is essential in Kiernan’s eyes. “I created a vision board of images that helped me fine-tune my hair and makeup look,” she says. “It really helped me hone-in on the vibe I was going for. For example, I would pull images of makeup looks I loved and then when I saw them side-by-side with pictures of my dress or potential hairstyles, I knew instantly whether they would work. Doing this also helps your glam team know exactly what you mean when you describe what you want.”

She used none other than Rihanna’s 2010 Grammys shimmery white eyeshadow as inspiration for her look. “When I told my makeup artist I wanted to do a full wash of white eyeshadow, I thought she was going to have a heart attack. She was envisioning a mod, opaque white powder. But [having a photo reference] helps everyone get on the same page.”

As her makeup artist explains, “Caitlin wanted to shine like a heavenly angel, sparkling white, with a nod to Mod in a full feathery lash. We kept her skin (which is flawless) really natural with a luminous sheen and peach tone cheek. Everything was centered around her green eyes. Peach and warm hues on the skin, to balance the cool white on the lids, kept everything spring fresh. Her lips [were] kissable, timeless, and sexy. Just like her!”

Bridal Hair Care & Styling

Cait Kiernan

Even prior to deciding on her wedding day look, Kiernan visited David Mallet Salon for a cut and color refresh. “I go to Maddison Cave normally. But her assistant, Kaylee, did my hair, and I got my cut from Dhiran [Mistry].”

Rather than deciding to try out an entirely new style (there are many opportunities for those spontaneous beauty decisions, but your wedding is probably not the best choice), she prioritized keeping her hair healthy leading up to the big day with a few K18 hair products. “[I used these] hair products for the month leading up to the wedding,” she says. “This stuff is fire, and made my hair look so healthy and shiny. Literally obsessed.”

As a part of the pre-planning, her stylist suggested that she order plenty of hair accessories to play with for the final look. “He said to me, ‘come up with a visual look and then just order a ton of accessories. So I did — I spent probably $3,000 on hair accessories, and I sent most of them back, but I did keep a bunch because they’re just so pretty.”

She ended up deciding on a few large, wispy flowers from Jennifer Behr to accent her minimalist chignon. “I thought they looked so pretty with the dress,” she says. “The shoulders were a moment on the dress, so I really wanted to make sure that the hair followed that. And we just kept it light and very classic.”

A (Temporary) Manicure Fit For A Bride

Kiernan reveals that she’s a major fan of acrylics and press-on nails, and that she returned to one of her favorite brands for the big day. “My nails never came back after my chemotherapy,” she says of her past treatment for breast cancer. “I did acrylics up until the pandemic, but now fake nails are so good. Kiss Nails have the best staying power. And they are easy to get off.”

For her wedding she selected a coffin-shape French manicure press-on nail with a tiny rhinestone on the ring fingers — because a touch of sparkle is never a bad idea on your wedding day. “By the end of the evening I lost them,” she says. “I had like one left. But honestly, the overall theme about this whole wedding was we wanted to just be super present and have everything be easy and organic. No stress whatsoever.” And if a chipped manicure is going to cause you anxiety before, during, or after your wedding, take a page out of Kiernan’s book and stick to an easy press-on style.

Don’t Stop At Just A Signature Fragrance

Cait Kiernan

Finding a scent to commemorate your marriage isn’t a new idea, but Kiernan took it a step further to set a total ambiance during the pre-wedding prep. As she explains, “Not only did I wear fragrance, but I also had my signature candle scent in the entire suite. Moroccan Amber is what we always have burning in our bedroom, and so, we had the entire suite filled with the Nest Moroccan Amber candles.” But as for the fragrance she swears by, the editor is keeping at least one beauty secret firmly under wraps. “I wore my Le Labo scent. But that's all I’ll say. I don't say what it is.”

Final Words Of Advice From A Beauty Editor Bride

It’s easy to stress about looking like the shiniest, movie star version of yourself on your wedding day, but Kiernan hopes that brides retain some perspective before and during the day, and that you keep your beauty expectations in check. “Just don't go overboard,” she says. “Less is more when your wedding day is approaching. Just think about it like a really nice evening out with your girlfriends. Like you want to get ready — you just don't want to be crazy about it. Everybody makes the mistake of wanting to have everything on point that they do too much and it doesn't look like you. And I think that what worked in this case was that we kept it scaled back. We kept the glam, but scaled back.”

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