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Where to Get Free (With Purchase) Makeup on Your Wedding Day

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Every bride wants perfect wedding makeup: subtly smoky eyes, a perfect pink pout, cheekbones made to look like a supermodel's, eyelashes for miles. But doing it yourself just hours before walking down the aisle is likely not going to happen unless you've got serious makeup artist chops. Paying a professional can run you $300 or more—and why not save that for margaritas by the pool during the honeymoon? The answer is a free session at a makeup counter, right?

The first thing you should know is that few things in life are free, especially not makeovers at makeup counters. Most have a minimum purchase that's either required or suggested, and if you don't spend that amount you'll pay by enduring a withering look from your makeup artist because most get paid on commission. The good news is that the most you'll likely pay is $50, and with that you'll receive a product or two that your artist will hopefully teach you how to use.

The second thing is: always make an appointment. You don't want to be hanging around the beauty counter while the groom is waiting at the alter. Lastly, know that all makeup artists are not created equal. When you make your appointment, tell them it's for your wedding, and that you'd like someone who's experienced. This is one time the word "wedding" shouldn't jack the price since there's usually a flat rate for everyone (just to be safe, ask them to quote you the amount before you say the W word). You might also want to describe in advance your skin and the look you're interested in.

All that said, we recommend these four counters for reliable, professional makeup on the big day. Drink a margarita for us!Anne Jude Kiesow


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1. Benefit Cosmetics

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2117 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 567-0242
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A San Francisco gem, this cosmetic company's motto is: “Who says makeup has to be serious?” Also known for their incredible brow arching, this makeup company will help you conceal or enhance pretty much anything on your face. They also have several other SF locations in the Marina, Cow Hollow and Union Square, check the site for addresses.

2. MAC Cosmetics

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2011 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 885-2966
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MAC artists are known for their edge. Bold lips and eyes are a guarantee at this critically-acclaimed makeup house. Collections names such as Fearless Femme and Temperature Rising are perfect for creating a sexy, confident look. Also try the counter at Nordstrom or the shops on Union and O'Farrell.

3. Bare Escentuals Boutique

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845 Market St
San Francisco, CA
(415) 357-9804
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This mineral makeup line is another San Francisco company, which is all about healthy skin and giving back to the community. Allure’s Best of Beauty winner many times over, BE will leave you dewy and fresh while covering any dark circles. Minimum purchase varies for a complimentary makeup session, but typical bridal appointment is $40.

4. Sephora

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33 Powell St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 362-9360
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Can’t commit to one brand? Try a multitude at Sephora. Their skilled artists will determine what line is best for your skin based on the look you’re hoping to achieve. The makeup session costs $50, which is placed on a gift card for you to spend as you wish. Best for brides of all types! Sephora also has Union Street and Market Street locations.

1. Benefit Cosmetics

2117 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115
A San Francisco gem, this cosmetic company's motto is: “Who says makeup has to be serious?” Also known for their incredible brow arching, this makeup company will help you conceal or enhance pretty much anything on your face. They also have several other SF locations in the Marina, Cow Hollow and Union Square, check the site for addresses.
2117 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115

2. MAC Cosmetics

2011 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115
MAC artists are known for their edge. Bold lips and eyes are a guarantee at this critically-acclaimed makeup house. Collections names such as Fearless Femme and Temperature Rising are perfect for creating a sexy, confident look. Also try the counter at Nordstrom or the shops on Union and O'Farrell.
2011 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115

3. Bare Escentuals Boutique

845 Market St, San Francisco, CA
This mineral makeup line is another San Francisco company, which is all about healthy skin and giving back to the community. Allure’s Best of Beauty winner many times over, BE will leave you dewy and fresh while covering any dark circles. Minimum purchase varies for a complimentary makeup session, but typical bridal appointment is $40.
845 Market St
San Francisco, CA

4. Sephora

33 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Can’t commit to one brand? Try a multitude at Sephora. Their skilled artists will determine what line is best for your skin based on the look you’re hoping to achieve. The makeup session costs $50, which is placed on a gift card for you to spend as you wish. Best for brides of all types! Sephora also has Union Street and Market Street locations.
33 Powell St
San Francisco, CA 94102