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Making it up as we go along

Maia Nolan-Partnow

I'm a DIY kind of girl when it comes to beauty. Hair trimming, manicures, eyebrows -- I generally handle that stuff myself at home. It's less expensive than having someone else do it, I can do it on my own schedule while I watch old episodes of "America's Next Top Model," and if there's something I don't know how to do, there's always a how-to video on YouTube.

For my wedding day hair and makeup, though, I'm going to put myself in the hands of the professionals. I manage to make myself look presentable on a daily basis, but we're spending a lot of money on photos I'm going to have to look at for the rest of my life, so I want to look really, really great -- and I don't trust myself or anyone in my bridal party to have a steady hand with the eyeliner on the big day. I'm planning to bring in someone who knows what she's doing and has no emotional investment whatsoever.

I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted in a makeup artist, but I knew a few things:

1. Mineral makeup looks OK on me in person but terrible on me in photographs.

2. I definitely want to do a makeup trial before the wedding so we're all on the same page about what I want to look like.

3. Airbrushed foundation would be a big plus.

I reached out to some in-the-know friends for Anchorage-area wedding makeup recommendations. One recommended Ambre and/or Leah at Nordstrom's Bare Escentuals counter -- she said they've both done her makeup for special occasions and she's been really pleased with the results. Another suggested Rina at the MAC counter. And of course, there are any number of local salons that offer makeup application.

If you're not interested in trucking down to Nordstrom on your wedding day (maybe, like me, you plan on wearing a bathrobe and swilling champagne in a hotel suite all day with your best friends), there are a couple of outfits that will come to you (and that come highly recommended, at least by the women I asked). Cor Cosmetics is a locally-owned company started by one of my junior high school classmates, Amber Brophy Mock. Cor's specialty is mineral makeup, although you can opt for standard application if you're like me and mineral makeup gives you a nuclear-grade glow in photos. They also do pre-wedding lessons (so your bridesmaids can learn what to do and then apply your makeup on the day of), and the rates are clearly posted on the website.

A makeup artist friend who used to live in Anchorage referred me to Melanie at Alaska Makeup Team. Her rates are comparable to Cor Cosmetics (heads up, though: there is a $100 surcharge for holiday weekends), she offers a few options (foundation only, full face, eyelashes) and she said the word I'd been waiting to hear: airbrush. Alaska Makeup Team and Cor both do a lot of weddings and some work for photo, film and television.

If you're stuck on where to start looking, here's a source you might not have considered: the state film office crew listings. Alaska's recent film boom has fringe benefits for brides, as it turns out -- lots of creative professionals' contact information has been collected all in one place. Select "Search Crew Listing," pick your region and the service you're looking for (like, say, makeup), and voila: potential vendors. A search for hair and makeup artists in Southcentral Alaska turns up artists from Cor and Alaska Makeup Team as well as a few independent artists.

And if you're planning on doing your own makeup, I honestly do recommend consulting with YouTube. There are a million wedding makeup tutorials; if you're feeling lost, start with this one from MakeUpGeek.com. There's an accompanying blog post with more photos that lists all the products she uses.

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Contact Maia Nolan at maia(at)alaskadispatch.com.

Contact Maia Nolan-Partnow at or on