Styled "New Years Eve" Shoot

by Yisell Santos

I had the pleasure of working with one of the amazing photographers in my area for a New Years Eve styled Bridal Shoot.  It was everything I hoped it would be.  Gorgeous model, amazing decor (who doesn't love gold and white?) and the icing on the cake -- pictures under the beautiful lights in Downtown Culpeper.  Enjoy!

Photography: Lieb Photographic
Hair + Makeup: Yisell Santos (me)
Dress: Blush Bridal
Floral: Good Earth Flowers
Location: Downtown Culpeper
Decor: Lieb Photographic - Main Street WeddingsMy Secret Stash

Congratulations Traci & Jeff

by Yisell Santos

DC weddings never fail to make me swoon.  Being a city girl myself, anytime there's a city wedding, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside because it reminds me of home (NYC).  I love seeing all the beautiful landmarks in the photos.  The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial and The U.S. Capitol are my favorite.

Traci and Jeff's wedding photos have all the things I love about D.C. and more.  Seriously, how beautiful is she?  I can't express how much I loved being a part of your day. xo!

Photography: Holly D Photography & Design
Hair + Makeup: Yisell Santos (me)
Ceremony/Reception: The Hill Center

Senior Portraits...Who Knew?!

by Yisell Santos

Senior portraits...where do I begin?  I started doing hair and makeup for senior portraits when I moved to Northern Virginia.  Before then, I wasn't aware they were even a thing!  Back in my day (yup I just said that!) you just took a photo at school with whatever photographer showed up where they put you in awkward poses and wrapped you in a fluffy shoulder wrap and/or cap and gown.  Weird smile -- click -- on to the next student.  Needless to say, my senior pictures are not exactly something I go around showing people.  I did my own hair and makeup.  I had crazy roots I never had time to touch up and I'm pretty sure I wore my [very clearly fake] blue contacts haha!

Fast forward to now and senior portraits are a completely different thing!  While schools still require you to do the usual cap and gown, 2 poses thing for the year book, when it comes to ordering prints most parents and teens opt for a second sitting. You can hire a separate photographer, get hair & makeup professionally done and pick out your own wardrobe.  You can even pose with your dog!  Needless to say, the photos are absolutely gorgeous and unique to the Teen's style.

I love doing them!  I've met some amazing teens.  We laugh about random things, rant about college applications and talk about their future plans.  I leave the session feeling a little bit like a teen myself haha!

Here are some of the beautiful teenagers I've had the extreme pleasure of doing hair and makeup for.

Photography by Roosh Photography

Photography by Roosh Photography

Photography by Roosh Photography

Photography by Roosh Photography

Photography by Roosh Photography

Photography by Roosh Photography

Photography by Roosh Photography

Photography by Roosh Photography

If you're looking to get senior portraits done, reach out to Roosh of Roosh Photography.  She's absolutely amazing!

How To Wear A Bold Lip For Your Wedding

by Yisell Santos

Fall is in full swing here in Northern Virginia and as of late, it feels more like winter.  It's cold and my little sweater isn't cutting it anymore.  I'm already dreaming of spring and summer.  

Sigh...Spring, when the flowers bloom and all the beautiful bright colors start coming into play.  It's also one of my favorite times of the year to get married (other than Fall).  If you're getting married in the Spring, have you thought about wearing a bold lip?  Spring/Summer is the perfect time to wear a beautiful bold lip as your pop of color.  I love shades of Pink , Orange, Purple and Red for Spring.  That's right, you can absolutely rock those colors but it's all about finding the right shade for you.  Here are a few examples of how you can wear a bold lip for your wedding day.

Keep the eyes neutral with little to no color and thin liner. Add a pop of color on the lips to make a statement.  Great for a morning wedding.

Keep the eyes neutral with little to no color and thin liner. Add a pop of color on the lips to make a statement.  Great for a morning wedding.

Don't like the neutral eyes look?  Try giving your lashes some oomph or opt for shades of light gray or soft browns.  This is a wonderful look for an afternoon wedding.

Don't like the neutral eyes look?  Try giving your lashes some oomph or opt for shades of light gray or soft browns.  This is a wonderful look for an afternoon wedding.

Not afraid of color and bold makeup?  No problem!  Wearing a bold lip along side a smokey eye can be done!  Stick with dark browns, and plums on the eyes.  Stay away from black as it's too heavy when paired up with a bold lip.  Looks like these are perfect for evening weddings.

Not afraid of color and bold makeup?  No problem!  Wearing a bold lip along side a smokey eye can be done!  Stick with dark browns, and plums on the eyes.  Stay away from black as it's too heavy when paired up with a bold lip.  Looks like these are perfect for evening weddings.

With that said, don't be afraid of color and try something new.  You may just start a bold lipstick collection.

Simple Makeup Isn't Simple

by Yisell Santos

Every year when I receive bridal inquiries, I'm asked for "simple makeup".  What that usually means is that they are looking for makeup that looks natural, not over done, and doesn't look/feel cakey.  Here's a little secret...Natural makeup is NOT simple.  If it were simple, anyone would be able to do it.  In fact, doing the "no makeup, makeup" look takes about the same amount of time and work as any other makeup application. 

Creating a natural look that will last hours through kisses, hugs, dancing AND comes through in photos beautifully is no easy feat.  The makeup look below gets a lot of comments and I'm often asked to re-create this look or something like it.  Most comments consist of:

"Her skin looks so flawless"
"She looks so natural with a little pop in the eyes, I want that"
"I love that her lips are natural yet have color at the same time"

Below her photo I will share with you all the products I used to create this look.  The only things I wont share is tools and techniques but I will tell you this, her natural look took about 45 minutes to create.

Skin Prep:
Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentrate
Urban Decay B6 Prep Spray
Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado
Laura Mercier Foundation Primer - Radiance
Fortunate Face Minerals IntensifEYE eyeshadow primer
FACEatelier Lip Putty

FACEatelier Ultra Pro Foundation
Make Up For Ever Camo Concealer

Tarte Cosmetics Clay Pot Waterproof Liner
Yaby Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Eggplant
FACEatelier Eyeshadow in Metallic Taupe
Smashbox Eyeshadow in Fizz
FACEatelier Cry Baby Waterproof Mascara
Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Pencil
Tarte Colored Clay Tinted Brow Gel
Ardell Strip Lash

Cheeks & Lips:
FACEatelier Ultra Blush in Peach Glaze
NARS Bronzer in Laguna
Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder in Candlelight
YSL Lipstick in Rosewood

Setting & Finishing:
FACEatelier Lip Lock
Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder
Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder

Not so "simple" after all, huh?  Here's a little tip when contacting a makeup artist, don't say you want simple makeup.  Perhaps try communicating that you want your makeup to look natural.  Be honest, if you wear little to no makeup, tell them.  If you're contacting someone who has been doing this for a long time and knows what they're doing, they'll know exactly what you mean, will able to work with you and do the exact look that you want.

Congratulations Val + Ari!

by Yisell Santos

I've had the pleasure and honor of joining these two on their beautiful journey pretty much from the beginning.  From their Engagement Photos to the Rehearsal Dinner and their gorgeous wedding day at Rixey Manor.  These two started off as clients and wound up as amazing friends.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your big day.

Had the pleasure to do makeup for her bridesmaids as well.  These ladies (as well as the groomsmen) were so much fun!

The incredible Rixey Manor.  I love this venue so much.  I hope to see more of you next year!

Planner | Venue:  Isadora - Rixey Manor (
Photographer: Sarah Houson Photography (
Flowers: Bride DIY
Catering: Taste of Elegance (
DJ: Nate Clancy (
Hair + Makeup: Me

A Halloween Wedding

by Yisell Santos

As September comes to a close and October creeps on in, I find myself thinking of my dear friends Nadiene and Miguel.  Since moving to Northern Virginia and leaving a lot of friends and family in NYC behind, every time Halloween comes near I can't help but think of them and the amazing wedding they had last year.   

When two dear friends of mine announced that they were getting married, I was so happy.  Happy because they are so extremely perfect for each other.  Happy because I was asked to be a bridesmaid and happy because I get to do makeup for one of the most important days of her life.

And then they told me that it was going to be a Halloween themed wedding.  My heart skipped a beat!  My favorite holiday!  I could have done back flips because knowing my friend, this was going to be a glamorous Fall wedding.  And it so was.  There were pumpkins, orange flowers, jeweled spiders and vampire teeth placement card holders.

If a Halloween wedding is something that you've thought about, but don't exactly know where to begin, let these pictures inspire you.

Updo's For Thin Fine Hair

by Yisell Santos

There are no rules on how your hair should be styled on your wedding day.  I've done all sorts of styles. Up, down, braids, twists, straight, waves etc. on all sorts of hair types. It's all in what YOU like and what YOU feel comfortable in.  With that said, I want to speak to the brides who have fine thin hair.  I feel your pain.  I was dealt with the thin hair card and let me tell you that the struggle is real.  If you're a bride that has thin hair, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Easy and Low Maintenance
    Anything that's easy to maintain is always key.  Going around worrying about your hair is the last thing you want.
  2. Hair Accessories
    Adding hair accessories such as hair combs and headbands to your style can hide and distract away from any areas that may not have as much hair and/or fullness.
  3. Make It An Updo
    That's right!  You can still put your hair up if you have good enough length but revert back to tip #1.  Keep it low maintenance.  Updo's with texture near the crown area always give the illusion that there's more hair than there really is.
  4. Add Hair Pieces and/or Fillers
    - Hair Pieces: Think about adding some extensions to give your hair more volume (and even length!) If you have some areas where your scalp is exposed, perhaps you can go with a hair topper.  Hair toppers are pretty amazing. I've had a bride wear one for her wedding day and no one except myself and her bridesmaids knew she was wearing one.  She even had it cut and dyed to match her hair!

    - Fillers: If you'd like to do an Updo, discuss with your hair stylist in advance about adding fillers to your hair.  There's these awesome things called "hair rats."  I'm aware that it sounds a little creepy but I promise you it's not.  Check them out here.

If you're a simple girl like me and prefer not to add any "fluff" to your hair for your wedding, that's perfectly fine.  I didn't.  Here are few simple updo's for thin hair I love that are low maintenance and beautiful.

My Favorite Bridal Beauty Pins

by Yisell Santos

As the 2015 Bridal year slowly comes to an end, I find myself looking at inspirational images to get me ready for my 2016 brides.  This is where Pinterest comes in.  I love pinterest!  It's such a wonderful tool for brides to collect ideas for their big day.  Have a look at my Hair/Makeup Bridal Inspiration Board and feel free to give me a follow!

Congratulations Marie & Russell!

by Yisell Santos

I met Marie when I did a Bridal Bootcamp at the lovely Rixey Manor this past April.  Her and I connected almost instantly and at that moment I just knew that this bride and her party were going to be a delight to work with.  And I was right!  It was an honor to work with you, thank you for letting me be part of your big day.

Enjoy a few of the beautiful photos taken by the lovely Susie & Becky Photography team.  If you'd like to view the full collection, head on over to Susie & Becky's blog.

Vendor Team:
Venue: Rixey Manor
Photography: Susie & Becky
Catering: Purple Onion
Floral: Growing Wild Floral

Inside My Fall Makeup Bag

by Yisell Santos

Although summer isn't officially over until September 23rd (we have 1 week left!), we can pretty much say that Summer is over.  The leaves have started to turn here in Northern Virginia, the sun sets sooner and the weather is a little bit cooler in the mornings.  I absolutely love fall weather and everything that comes with it.  The fashion, the pumpkin spice latte's and of course, the makeup!

Here's a little peek at what's inside my fall makeup bag.

Now, this isn't all of it.  Trust me I have quite a lot of makeup, however, these are my favorites and it's what I reach for the most.

I'm the type of girl who isn't afraid of color so shades of orange and purple are my favorite in the fall along with some copper, gold and the classic neutral colors.  On the left is the Balm Nude 'Tude palette.  I originally purchased this palette for my pro kit and loved it so much I purchased one for myself.  The colors are beautiful and great if you work in a corporate setting.  On the right are my favorite individual colors that I put together in a Z-Palette.  The shadows are a mix of Urban Decay, FACE atelier and MAC.  What I like about the Z-Palette is that I can pop any eyeshadow in and out as I please so come Spring, there will be a new set of colors in there. 

As the weather gets colder, skin tends to get dryer, which is I love these cream blushes.  I tend to stay away from powder blushes during the winter months.  It just makes my skin look and feel dry.  If that's a concern you have, stick with cream blushes.  These two are my favorite.  
Left: Tarte Cheek Stain in True Love
Right: Tarte Airblush Maracuja Blush in Shimmering Peach

I'm all about a bold lip when wearing a neutral eye and as I stated before, color is definitely not something I'm afraid of.  I love wearing deep reds, wines and even deep orange in the fall.  They're just so sexy and they make my pout look super full and kissable.  There are so many options for wine colored lipstick so I won't sit here and name every single one.  The best part about makeup is playing.  Go out there and try things.  If you don't like it, and many people don't know this, but most drugstores as well as Ulta lets you return cosmetics if you're unhappy.
Left to Right:  Covergirl Lip Lava in Mauva Lava, NYX Butter Lipstick in Licorice, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Morocco

Of course we can't forget about skin care.  All beauty begins with great skin.  You can't have your makeup look good if you're not properly taking care of your skin.  It is vital that you implement a skin regimen into your daily routine.  Here are my 3 favorite skin savers for the winter.  I absolutely LOVE the Embryolisse Lait Creme.  It is my go to, not only in my personal bag, but in my pro kit as well.  What I love about this moisturizer is that it's buildable.  If you don't need a lot, a tiny dot will do the job.  But if you're having a really bad skin day (for me, particularly around the December/January months), I slather this stuff all over my face from the top of my forehead all the way down to my neck area.  It is worth every single penny.

When I'm on the go, I like to keep the Yes to Cucumbers moisturizer in my car or purse.  It's a tad heavier so it's perfect for the extremely brutal days.  You know those days, when the temperature is 6 degrees and your tears turn to ice. 

And last but not least, eye cream.  You've got to have eye cream.  The skin around the eyes are the thinnest on your face and need to be handled with care.  I'm so in love with the Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment.  This stuff is no joke and a little goes a long way.  My best friend (who's actually the lovely gem in the video on their site) gifted it to me for my birthday (in April) and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface.  I'll have this little jar forever.

Note: Never pull or drag on that particular area of your skin.  That's the fast road to losing collagen which loosens skin which creates wrinkles.  When applying any creams or serums always use your ring finger  (it's the weakest in pressure) and always tap the product in, never rub.

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at what's in my fall makeup bag as much as I enjoyed showing it to you.  Now go out there and play.  That's what makeup is all about.

The Importance of Hiring a Hair & Makeup Artist for Your Wedding Day

by Yisell Santos

Dear Bride,
Hire a professional beauty vendor for your wedding day.  I promise you, it’s worth it and you won’t regret it.

The day you get married is when you should feel the most confident and beautiful.  You search countless hours, days, weeks, and months for the perfect dress, shoes etc.  And rightfully so as all eyes will be on you.  It’s the most photographed day of your life.  Your face will be in every picture.  Which is why hiring a professional to do your hair & makeup for your wedding is one of the best decisions you can make, and here’s why:

Face it, you’ve thought about it.  Why can’t I just do my own makeup?  I know how to do it, I know what I like and I’ve practically been doing my own makeup since, like, forever.  I do an awesome job!  That may be true, but keep in mind that every day makeup and special event makeup are two completely different things.  Think about how much you’ve invested in your photography.  Do you really want to skimp on your face?  Besides, everyone deserves a little pampering.

A true professional understands bridal beauty and photography.  A professional will have the tools and expertise.  A lot of the brands that I use aren’t found at your local beauty shop.  I use professional products in my kit.  You many not recognize most of the brand names I use and that's because they are professional and not consumer based.  These brands have amazing blend-ability and finish.  They are high performance and the best in longevity.

I get it, you do your own hair every day or perhaps you’ve been going to the same salon for years.  The lady who does your hair is familiar with you and your hair and knows what you want every time.  I bet you didn’t know that most salon personnel aren’t trained to style hair.  They are trained mostly in cutting and coloring.  Most cosmetology schools don’t train their students in the art of styling hair for special events. I’ve experienced this first hand.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a salon and have had an awesome cut, but the lovely lady simply can’t style my hair.  What do I do?  I go home and fix it.  Is that something you’re willing to do on an already busy day?  I think not!

At this point, you’re probably thinking that you can’t possibly afford hiring a professional beauty vendor.  Or maybe you just don’t understand why something as “simple” as getting your hair and makeup done costs so much.  News flash!  It’s a luxury service! 

What makes us a luxury service?
There’s no need to drive all around town and risking the possibility of hitting traffic.  I come to you!  An on-location artist will pamper you and create a relaxed environment.  I don’t know any bride who wants to be completely stressed on the day of her wedding.  You should be relaxed and having some good laughs with your bridal party.  Having that relaxation and pampering before the ceremony is key.

While heading out to a makeup counter may sound like a good idea, it’s really not.  When you go to a makeup counter, you have the possibility of encountering one of two people.  The person who has little to no experience or someone who is amazing.  The question is, do you really want to take that chance?  A counter “makeup artists” primary goal is to sell makeup.  They can’t take the time out for you the way a professional would.  Besides, think about the makeup testers she's going to use on you.  Testers that everyone touches and probably have not been sanitized correctly.  A professional brings their own kit which has been cleaned and sanitized after every client.

We provide the utmost customer service.  I highly doubt that your salon girl and the makeup counter employee will respond to your emails and texts as effectively (or at all) the way a beauty professional would.  I’ve received texts and emails as late at 10pm and as early as 6am.

If you're feeling a little overwhelmed in choosing your beauty vendor, not to worry!  Look at an artist who has a portfolio, good reputation and reviews.  No doubt you'll find the right one for you!

Do's And Don'ts of a Wedding Trial

by Yisell Santos

Dear Bride,
Your bridal trial is important.  Let's do it right!

DO bring inspiration photos.
When choosing inspiration photos, think about a few things.  Does this person have my same face shape?  Does this person have the same volume of hair as I do?  While it doesn't have to be perfect, showing photos with similar features as you helps to keep expectations as realistic as possible.  This avoids disappointment at the end of your trial.  Sometimes, brides can feel that the end result "doesn't look like the picture". I create a look that is tailored to you while taking your personal style into consideration. Why look like someone else when your partner chose you?  Be YOU!  YOU are beautiful.

DO keep an open mind. 
Keep in mind that makeup for weddings and photography are different than your everyday makeup look.  Some brides love makeup and are up for anything.  Some have worn little to no makeup in their whole lives so when they look in the mirror they see "a lot of makeup".  This is a formal event.  Think about the time of your wedding/reception.  Is it in the evening?  Is it in the afternoon?  If you go too "everyday", it will show in your photos and your photos are what's going to last you a lifetime once the I Do's are said and the party is over.

DO bring a friend.  DON'T bring a posse.
Most people need a second opinion so feel free to have a friend at your trial.  In fact, I encourage it.  However, don't have an entire posse of people there.  At my trials, I limit it to ONE friend/family member.  I do this because having too many people there overwhelms the bride and can even do more harm that good.  Posse's can sometimes discourage and confuse the bride when there's one too many cooks in the kitchen.

DO be vocal.
Unless you're 100% trusting me to give you a hair/makeup look that I think would be beautiful (and I think a lot of looks are beautiful), telling me what you want is ideal.  If you don't communicate, I won't know.  Once done, if there's something that needs a little tweaking, speak up.  Want your lips a little brighter? Done!