Category Archives: Everything Else

Hair-spiration: 5 Honest Tips on Using Pinterest For Hairstyling Inspiration

So you’re planning to have your hair done for a big occasion; you’re a bride-to-be, a bridesmaid-in-waiting or attending an important event like a ball or awards ceremony? Hairstyling inspiration has found a home on Pinterest and I’d like to dispel the odd myth and offer 5 top tips on making the most of that great big mood board in the sky.

I always prompt my clients to look to Pinterest for ideas on hair and makeup. It may not offer up your perfect dream style in one hit, but you can put together a selection of images which will give me a sense of your style and the vibe of your ‘do’. I use it myself to post images of my own work and other images which I find inspirational, aspirational and generally achievable for most people.

So based on many clients coming to their appointments with their screenshots and private Pinterest boards and my interpreting them, here’s how I would advise getting the most out of your searches.

1. Search a description of what you specifically like – searching ‘wedding hair’ or anything too vague will bring up the same pictures again and again and often quite outdated styles. 

2. Search for images in your own hair colour and length – the most common occurrence in my working life is for brunettes and red heads to show me pictures of  ankle grazing fishtail braids and wispy halos of BLONDE hair. There’s a reason for this though…its not your fault. Blonde hair is better to photograph if you want detail and texture to feature heavily. Blonde hair is typically courser through treatments and will behave beautifully around heated styling; there are simply more pictures around of blonde hairstyles. (Here are a couple of examples from my own Instagram feed which illustrate my point: while both beautiful, the blonde shows more depth and tone in photographs).


3. Texture and detail is also a challenge in real life – for the love of braids, if you have hair that is one colour and tone, brunette, fine and not massively long, then braids that create a feature in the front and side of your hair are *really not* going to look like this:

Braids eat up any volume you have in your hair – so great if it’s thick and there’s masses of it. Alternatively they can be quite piddly and token-esque in the hair type described above. We can more easily create volume in the main gathering of hair with clever padding underneath your own, leaving your hairline as naturally full as possible.

4. Save images which show multi-angles of the style – or consider that when you’re viewing the back of a style in all its intricacies, that you also need to think about the front. How will it look in the mirror and from the other side which often isn’t photographed?

5. Let your hairstylist create what works in your hair and will have staying power – bear in mind that Pinterest is for inspiration and awash with posed, recently teased, momentary snapshots. There is often a hairstylist behind the camera, artfully positioning the smallest strand, misting a shine spray and then ‘click’ – a moment in time. You want your hair to stay looking great all day/evening, right? Consider that certain styles can’t be guaranteed to last 12 hours unless you invite me to the party and I bring my hair kit…

Carolanne x







Violet and Wren Lookbook A/W 2016 Photoshoot

You know I work on lots of beautiful weddings, but I also work on locations and in studios providing hair and makeup for editorial, fashion, advertising and portrait photoshoots. This one for Violet and Wren is one of my all time favourites.

I’ve had these images lingering in my dropbox for while now and I had to keep them there until the final look book had been released. They are surely some of the most glorious images I’ve ever received.

Model: Clea Martin at Storm, Images: Polly Hanrahan

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The colours, textures and achingly beautiful styling of this British silk loungewear brand are WOW. Feast your eyes…then probably go and treat yourself or someone you sleep beside, to something gorgeous.  The collection: Midnight With Lulu by Violet and Wren is available now…

Carolanne x


Emily’s relaxed barn wedding styling; embracing that curly hair

Emily’s wedding in June 2015 on a glorious hot day in Surrey, with natural curly hair and glowing golden make up…. I only just had time to seek out the pictures by Jacob and Pauline after seeing them featured here on Rock My Wedding. What can I say? They’re worth the delay.

I met Emily at a designer accessories event at Miss Bush where I believe she chose the accessory she’s wearing. She had very long naturally curly hair which I twisted and pinned very quickly in order to try out the hair vine. She and her mum booked me for her wedding on the spot, which was lovely!

Emily then booked in for an official hair and makeup trial appointment where she said she’d like to smooth her hair out. Incorporating smoothed and straightened sections of her hair made the trialled style much bigger in volume and by the end of it, the slightly grecian French pleat was a serious statement ‘do’.

One text message conversation later, we concluded that we’d tone it down on the wedding morning. We’d maintain the fantastic natural texture and incorporate some additional twisting and plaits into the style. I told Emily she didn’t need another trial appointment, I knew how her hair behaved and we’d work it out on the morning. No sweat.

EmilyandRob99 EmilyandRob98

Emily’s makeup was golden, glowing with some peachy pinks. The eyes were mostly lashes and liner with some rose gold and bronze definition. Super pretty.


I’ll leave you with Emily’s words from her Rock My Wedding feature which made my day….

“My hair and make up was done by Carolanne Armstrong who I would recommend to anyone. We clicked from the day we met, and I really appreciated her honesty and opinions. I can be very indecisive, I needed someone to guide me rather than tell me what I wanted to hear. She tamed my wild hair just enough that it looked elegant, but kept enough of my frizzy curls so that I didn’t need to worry if a hair strayed out of place one we hit the dance floor! My make up was flawless, but not too “done up”. It fit our relaxed theme, and I felt so beautiful.”

Carolanne x

I’m a makeup artist and I have a bad reputation.

Most of our exposure to makeup artists before we book one for a wedding, or meet one on a photoshoot is through the makeup counters. This seems to be the birth place for my bad reputation and I just want to say: I know and I get it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not tarring every counter guy/girl with an unfair brush. I know, love and recommend many artists who have worked in retail, but I have never had a client with all good things to say about retail counter experiences. I myself am nervous on approach to some of my favourite brand displays because I  dread the hard sell, the faux-friendly pushiness, and the outright bullshit.MAC counterThe other occasion where you might experience emotional damage through makeup is when you’ve been a bridesmaid and basically been assaulted. ‘Too much makeup, the wrong colours, caked, heavy, harsh, ageing’ have all been words used to describe awful makeup trials or that time you were a bridesmaid and had to scrub some off in the bathroom without alerting your friend, the bride. 

Two things are happening here: in one instance there is a retail employee paid to sell you products. They are paid to make you believe that any given pot of cream or disc of powder is going to change your face and your life. In the second instance, there is someone who has not met you before, hasn’t had a trial with you (bridesmaids are rarely afforded a trial session) and they both have an idea of what to make you look like. It’s a very British thing we apparently do to nod and smile and then scurry away to find a cotton pad. It’s the same with hairdressers but that’s a whole different post….

The online trend for face shape-altering makeup (thanks Kim K) has been plaguing me for a couple of years now and I spend the first five minutes of any appointment reassuring clients that ‘it’s ok, I don’t do that’. The clients I seem to attract want to look polished, flawless and natural – the best version of themselves’ and thankfully that’s what I want to achieve too. Even when the brief for makeup is something more expressive, creative and bold especially for photo shoots, when its more about colour, texture and graphic lines, my starting point is always for the face of that individual to look it’s best. Skin looking flawless, fresh and healthy means everything else will be a bonus.





Historically makeup has been used, where available, to celebrate, decorate, protect, and party. A fabulous moment in makeup history was when Queen Victoria  publicly declared all makeup to be improper, vulgar, and acceptable only for use by actors. Luckily for Vic she didn’t have access to Instagram and ‘concealer brow’. We have so much more access to make up than ever before. So many colours, styles and products are crammed on to shelves and counters and I can appreciate the temptation to use them all, but for most people on an average Tuesday, it’s going to look bad. There is a time and a place (and it’s night time, under a disco ball).image image

So, yes I get it. I know what you want makeup to do and I feel the same way. Just to demonstrate, here’s my makeup on an average Tuesday. Before and after (gulp). image image

This is a first for me and while I’m loathe to put this on the internet I think it’s important because I’m a makeup artist and I want to have a good reputation.

Carolanne x


Wedding Hair and Makeup Doesn’t Need To Be ‘Bridal’

Here’s Hanna’s retro cool hair and makeup for her beautiful mid summer English garden wedding held at Stoke Park Pavillion  by Rebecca Douglas Photography. She wore Jenny Packham ‘Eden‘ and the warm golden tones of her makeup, dress, and accessories echoed throughout the gorgeous hazy summer celebration. Importantly, she arrived at her choices through an ad-hoc hair styling moment.

Hanna had her trial at home with her bridesmaids and we talked about styles she liked. At this trial session we created a low, loose, curled style which Hanna was really happy with. Hanna’s sister was concerned about wearing her hair up because it was in a short bob and I had some time before my next appointment so I offered to style her sister’s hair quickly to demonstrate a cool retro beehive inspired updo that can be achieved on shorter hair. Having seen this style in action, I later received an email from Hanna letting me know that she now really wanted that style herself!

It’s worth bearing in mind when planning, how you want to look and feel at possibly the biggest party you’ll ever throw for yourself. I suspect Hanna had researched/ scoured Pinterest for ‘wedding hair’ and chosen a nice, pretty, current wedding style. I find that you end up with the same images being presented over and over again and re-pinning perpetuates the cycle! So when Hanna saw a style, not labelled ‘bridal’ and liked it a lot, those horizons were broadened. Of course it’s hard to know where to start, so I recommend using different search terms other than ‘bridal’ or ‘wedding’. Variety and personality can be lacking within those categories.

You could try searching ‘beachy’ ‘hollywood’, ‘vintage’ or ‘red carpet’ styles for fashion-led inspiration. (For reference, Hanna’s hair was shoulder-length and no extra hair or padding was used) It’s also really important to search for styles in your own hair colour. A braided style will look vastly more impressive on blonde hair because of all the different tones showing through. If you want to try more than one style at your trial, let your stylist know, but be aware that these will be approximations of a a look. The finished, perfect, polished look is not going to be achieved easily via a few other styles.

Hanna’s makeup was nothing but flattering to her skin tone, eye colour and the whole vibe of her styling. Warm, fresh, golden and gorgeous.

I’m always delighted to see those sumptuous golden hour evening shots, and here the silhouetted hairstyle gives me proud mum joy. Happy style planning!

Carolanne x

Easy Valentine’s Day Red Lipstick Tutorial

It’s the best seasonal excuse this side of Christmas to wear a bold red lipstick, whether you give a fig about Valentine’s Day or not. I love vibrant red lips and here’s how I would recommend making it current and wearable.

Step 1. Really important: apply some lip balm or something that will soften and lift off any dry skin. Carmex, Paw Paw ointment, and Lanolips are all used in my kit depending on condition of the skin. Skin Food is a really great emergency remedy. Apply and allow to // hair and makeup artist


Step 2. Do the rest of your make up. I really like the lips to be the main focus with the rest of the face quite simple. This stops you looking too made up and keeps the look current. I’ve applied serum, foundation, filled my eyebrows, cream blusher and mascara. I’m thinking runway red lip, not 50’s pin-up. (If you’re not wearing any other makeup, talk amongst yourselves for a minute.)

Step 3.  gently scrub lips to remove any skin that’s lifted off and wipe away excess balm. Use a lip liner no darker than your chosen colour to line and fill the lips. It doesn’t need to match exactly. In fact a nude lip liner is good under most lip shades. Don’t over-draw, just trace the edge of your own lip. Repeat after me: I am not Jodie Marsh/Shannon Doherty in 90210 (The Original!) The purpose of the lipliner is to prevent bleeding and give your lipstick something to stick to.image-3-e1454678726567 // hair and makeup artist

Step 4. Using a lip brush, start at the cupid’s bow and fill away from the middle, following the liner. I recommend a red lipstick with a moisturising matt finish in this process. I’m using Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Matt Lip Colour in 51 ‘La Bouleversante’. Don’t venture too far into the corners or it can look clownish. // hair and makeup artist // hair and makeup artist // hair and makeup artist

Step 5. Blot, and repeat step 4. When I say blot, I mean press firmly. You want the colour to be pressed in,  and become stained.  (Depending on how bold you want it, you can repeat step 4 again to add another layer of colour.) // hair and makeup artist

Alternatively: To wear it in a  ‘not too fussed actually’ style, paint only onto the centre of the lips, dab and lightly blend by tapping outwards with a fingertip. It doesn’t need to look perfect, just // hair and makeup artist

You will probably need to touch up if you’re eating and drinking. A retractable lip brush is a great thing to have with you. A straw is always helpful, but actually, I think it’s perfectly fine to leave your mark.

Carolanne x

A Make Up Artist’s Kit Secret: Skin Food

Skin Food. It’s multi-purpose wonder stuff.

I know a lot of you are interested in ‘no nasties’ in your skin products and Weleda are marvellous for thatSkin Food is something of a cult wonder product, rated highly by celebs and my model favourite Erin O’Connor I’ve been in love with it for years and thought I’d add a post here for anyone still unfamiliar with it. Skin Food contains organic plant extracts, plant oils and waxes, essential oils orange and lavandulae and almond oil, sunflower oil,organic beeswax and hypoallergenic lanolin. No artificial preservatives or parabens. Nobody likes a paraben.

image: carolanne armstrong

The key active plant ingredients in Skin Food read like my dream garden: Chamomile Flower Extract. The flowers of this plant possess gentle healing and anti-inflammatory properties. In skin care it is often paired with Calendula, the combination having a soothing, calming effect. Wild Pansy Extract: the tiny viola tricolour is particularly good for rough or cracked skin, and helps keep skin supple. Calendula Flower Extract is known for it’s soothing and healing effects on irritated or inflamed skin and has antibacterial properties, protecting from infection. Rosemary Leaf Extract which  is revitalising and stimulating to the complexion.

So with all that in mind, here are my 5 favourite applications of Skin Food…

5. Elbows and knees – target dry skin patches.

4. Hand cream – especially in the winter, apply with abandon. It’s great for nail and cuticle conditioning. It’s a good day when even your nails look moisturised.

3. Baby safe – I happily use on my baby’s skin, you only need a teeny amount.

2. Overnight foot treatment for cracked heels and dry toes.

***drumroll please***

1. If you have dry lips from the assault of the winter winds but want to wear a statement lipstick, Skin Food makes for quite the awesome matt lip primer, as used on this photoshoot. (Apply sparingly, pat in and allow to dry)

Image ©

I have lots of samples of Skin Food in my kit for any clients with skin in need of feeding (I am a feeder).

Carolanne x







Makeup For A Stylish London Wedding at South Place Hotel

Karen spent her  London wedding morning at the very cool South Place Hotel ‘where the City of London meets the cultural East End’.
I’m filling up my real bride features with some all time favourites. I can’t leave them languishing in a folder, so here’s Karen from 2013. When I met Karen for her London wedding make up trial, we went through a couple of looks and I remember her looking in the mirror and very decidedly saying: ‘yes, the cleaner look’. Not a hint of a smokey eye or softening of eyeliner. This was fresh, clean and sleek, which all made sense when I saw her dress! That enviable Maria Grachvogel gown was much the same. Eddie Judd was the fabulous photographer capturing these images and you can see more of the day at The Guildhall on her blog post www.eddiejuddphotography.comwww.eddiejuddphotography.com006_PLEASECREDITwherepossible-eddie-judd-photography-KarenTomWEDDING-WEBfiles

I love these images, not only because Karen is a mere mortal (a yoga teacher, but still!), she is like a poster girl for makeup which is enhancing, rather than masking. Dewy, fresh skin; rose gold  eyelids which continue that overall glowing look; warm golden peachy blush; a generous application of gel liner with a few extra lashes, minimal brow filling and a peachy pink lip stain. It’s contemporary but not too much. She just looks healthy and so happy!

I provided make up for Karen’s family and bridesmaids too and I love how smiley they all are. I hope that feeling comfortable in their makeup has a small part to play in that


So if I’m working on your make up and you are looking for inspiration, bookmark this page, because this is a look I am only too delighted to recreate.  Bring Your Own Huge

Carolanne x


Dreamy Real Bride Ellie’s Kent Wedding

Real bride Ellie married Luke in Kent in 2014.  These glorious images by Dominique Bader totally captured the style and vibe of the affair; soft, pretty, and decidedly dreamy. Her make up brief called for flawless and fresh skin, peachy tones on lips and cheeks and all the fluttery lashes.

Working with Dominique is always exciting, because I know the results will be wonderful. The incredible floral design was by Bloomin’Gayles who happened to rock out THE BEST flowers for my wedding too (I’m not biased). I was joined by Elbie Van Eeden who provided perfect hair styling for the group. I’m late with showing off this beauty but I’m on makeup the wedding of one of the bridesmaids this summer , so it’s still feels terribly relevant…

Enjoy, and let me know if anything about this wedding inspires your styling choices!

EllieLuke 13 EllieLuke 10 EllieLuke 09 EllieLuke 08 EllieLuke 07 EllieLuke 06 EllieLuke 05 EllieLuke 04  Ellie&Luke03 Ellie&Luke01Ellie&Luke02

Carolanne x


My 30-something Skin Care

If you want makeup to look good, you might need to invest in your skin care…

I don’t claim that any skin care product will halt, reverse, or reduce the effect of time on your fabulous face. I will say that make up application is easier…nay, JOYFUL when skin is cared for. Your face feels great and looks healthier which isn’t a bad place to start. Applying makeup to dry, dehydrated, uneven skin is a challenge and means more product layers which I prefer to avoid.

My much fussed-over face 2015 ©

I’ve worked my way through a huge variety of skin care products trying to find the right ones for me, and I’m loathe to admit that as I’ve aged, the price has gone up. I remember fondly when I would whack on a bit of Olay in my early 20’s. As a student, £5 on a moisturiser was an indulgence! I needed a light, easily absorbed moisturiser before make up. Boxes were ticked, make up was ace, good times were had.olay

I loved that stuff. Most importantly, my skin loved it…because my skin was 20. It’s now 35, and a massive diva.

After some years of smoking, hormonal sabotage during pregnancies, sleep deprivation, a lot of coffee and natural ageing the £5 indulgence is now jokes. Skin care  must evolve, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t wear a lot of make up but want your skin to look good. So if you feel like you need to work a bit harder to feel fresh-faced, here’s what I find beneficial. (I use these everyday and I’m happy with them because they make my skin feel clean, fresh, smooth, moisturised and genuinely appear brighter. They are paraben free and most have ‘sensitive’ alternatives.)


Bioderma Hydrabio H20 Micelle Solution Bioderma-h20-Micellaire

Cleanses skin, removes makeup, no scrubbing. Claims to reduce redness encourage your skin to moisturise itself. I genuinely look forward to cleaning my face and and I use this on my clients before a primer.

Available online and in many local pharmacies/ larger Boots stores.




Vichy Aqualia Thermal Dynamic Hydration Serum


I could go evangelical on this. You’ll actually need a pea-sized amount. The consistency is watery and brings to mind a lubricant…or something. It applies like silk and is totally absorbed, leaving a perfect smooth and non-greasy base. I use it in the morning before everyday makeup.

Available as above.

Night time:

After another BioDerma cleanse I use this if skin is feeling especially thirsty, dry and tight from the weather/heating/aircon.

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream



I couldn’t wear this under makeup. It’s very rich and feels wonderful the following morning, skin is touchably moisturised. Available as above.


Avene Night



If  my skin’s feeling ok and not especially dry I use Avene Physiolift Night Balm. Again, a small amount needed and I apply everywhere except eyes. Available as above.




When I started noticing that the skin around my eyes had changed, become more papery and I couldn’t apply my eyeliner as easily, that’s when I started using eye cream. I’m using this Midnight Recovery Eye at night. My eyes aren’t puffy and I don’t have dark circles. I’m looking for moisture and plumping to improve the base for make up.

SO that’s my daily skin care (FYI my skin would be described as ‘normal’ with oily t-zone tendencies). Your needs will likely be different, but the pharmacy brands are pretty universally safe and I can wholeheartedly recommend them if you want an unendorsed, picky, passionate and pale-skinned opinion. (I have a separate lip-care post coming soon!)


Carolanne x