Category Archives: Inspiration

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like – searching ‘wedding hair’ or anything too vague will bring up the same pictures again and again and often quite outdated styles. 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.

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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

Top Tip Tuesday – High Street Blusher

Affordable and really pretty blusher comes to you this Tuesday morning, care of High Street staple Maybelline, NY.

Dream Touch Blush is a cream/mousse blusher which dries to a powder finish but still appears beautifully fresh and dewy on the skin. There are a few shades to choose from, from a peachy ‘barely there’ sheen, to a deeper plum pink and I’ve found that I like to use two together for a beautiful glowing finish which is still a bargain when buying two!

top left, Maybelline Dream Touch blush are now in the kit!

top left, Maybelline Dream Touch blush are now in the kit!

Shade options are ‘apricot’, ‘peach’, ‘berry’ and ‘plum’. All have a beautiful built in highlighter which reflects light and enhances the condition of the skin. They are perfect as part of a bridal or daytime make up palette and can help you achieve of of my favourite London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 16 looks by Pat McGrath for Gucci.


My Top Tip for creating this fresh peachy look and keeping it well blended is to use ‘apricot’ as a blusher base. On most skin tones it will be invisible but just add a bit of a sheen. Then dot and dab to blend upwards along the cheek bones with any of the other shades. It gives you something to work into if you’re not wearing foundation and prevents any hard line of blush developing.12662722_956554594427317_6740260878929970402_n

It’s priced at roughly £6.50 per pot and currently on 3 for 2 at Boots! Total bargain. Blush with abandon.

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

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!

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Carolanne x


2015 Highlights: Surrey and London Hair & Makeup

Happy New Year!

I’m behind the times with my post of my best bits from hair & makeup in 2015, but it’s Twelfth Night so I’m still in! Unfortunately my tonsils decided they hated me on Boxing Day and I spent nameless-days-after-Christmas whimpering into a lemsip. Like teachers, hair and makeup artists only get ill on holiday…’s a law or something. While voiceless, I had a little scroll through my social media posts from 2015 and chose some of my favourites. Bear in mind my brushes see hundreds of faces every year and I can’t squeeze them all in – but as Brucie often whispered: *you’re* my favourite.

imageEarly in 2015 was Naomi who married at Fetcham Park photographed by Juliet McKee. Memorable for me as it was wintry enough for her gold-toned wedding dress and a candle-lit black tie reception. Undone curls and waves, unstructured and warm, pretty makeup. The bridesmaids makeup was perfect too, flawless, natural base but with a bold flick of liner.

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From the summer, here’s Phillipa who married James at Royal Holloway photographed by Zoe Collyer
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Phillipa surely won’t mind me telling you that she is possibly my greatest ever candidate for a ‘before and after’. Not because she needs a face full of make up, but rather that she was a tad nervous on the morning of her wedding and brought to the chair her own special green-tinged complexion. She soon perked up after some bespoke breakfast requests and wore a bold combination of rose gold shadows and a pink pop of lipstick. Phillipa, you looked wonderful.


From an event and shoot to launch Sassi Holford at Miss Bush Bridal with hairstyling by Sharon Roberts and all makeup kindly provided by Bare Minerals, I had fun creating grown up pretty in pink and giving a presentation on my kind of bridal make up.


I’ve seen a huge variety in styling, from boho pretty, to retro, to formal and sleek. Hair flowers and accessories have been varied and creative with all manner of jewellery placed into hairstyles and incredible floral headpieces.

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I seemed to be inundated with blonde bombshells in 2015 with Phoebe who married at Great Fosters and was photographed by Juliet McKee. It was retro waves, victory rolls and Beauty and The Beast singalongs…. And Jamie who flew in from the States for a great big English wedding with these Hollywood glam waves.

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I’ve loved creating some traditional and more contemporary styles:

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I’ve been let loose on some incredible faces to make up on special occasions:

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And I couldn’t leave out a  red headed goddess, Rebecca, shot by Tarah Coonan at Fulham Palace

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Oh and I had some fun at Halloween and Christmas too….

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These really are the tip of the iceberg that was my working year. I could go on,  but I’ve got to get cracking on 2016! Thanks to all those clients who’ve sent me pictures and their photographers who allow me to flaunt them.

Carolanne x

New Website + Competition Winners!


Ta-da! Welcome to the new website! I hope first impressions are good; I have tried to make myself presentable.

Please do have a look around and tell me what you think?

As my first blog post I’d like to thank all my gorgeous Facebook followers who offered feedback on what they’d like to see on my blog. I have my categories lined up as you can see, plenty of food for thought and lots of ideas to be getting on with. I hope you’ll enjoy and find my posts useful, if not essential to your life..!

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For now, as promised, the winners of my prize draw (picked at random by in-house reluctant model, V) as a thank you for all your great feedback. If your name is below, please could you email your postal address to and I’ll post them out tomorrow.

1. Charlotte Harris
2. Kim Andrews
3. Helen Seidler
4. Sarah Nuttall
5. Lindsay Parker
6. Debbie Hall
7. Michelle Antill
8. Kate Marchant
9. Gemma Thompson
10. Kate Andrews

Huge thanks again for taking the time to help. If you missed out this time, there will be more product giveaway posts in the future, so keep in touch.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful Christmas!

Carolanne x