These hair and makeup experts will help you look your best on your Big Day.
Planning for your Big Day entails making numerous conscious choices, from the friends and family you want on your guest list to the venue to what vendors you choose to support, and that includes the Black wedding professionals in our region. This list of Black Philadelphia-area hair and makeup experts for the bride and groom (and everyone else in the party) will help you achieve a look that is perfect for your personal style, whether it is natural and sleek or statement making, from the first step down the aisle to the last toast. This is not a comprehensive list of all the experts, but it is one we will add to and grow. We have also created a list of Black-owned wedding planners, florists and decor pros and a lineup of photographers and videographers; we will expand to feature professionals in food, entertainment, fashion, paper goods, wellness and fitness, and more. (Please email suggestions to [email protected])
The 25-year-old makeup artist behind Modish The Label, who hails from West Philadelphia, always knew what her passion was. Brows and mascara were her thing, she says, particularly in high school. In college, she says she spent much of her time in her dorm room experimenting with different eye shadows; from there, she went on to experiment on friends and family till she was ready to accept clients. She worked with local photographers, traveled to and from New York for fashion shows, and eventually landed a gig with MAC Cosmetics. The traveling talent specializes in three categories of glam: natural, for those who favor a light-makeup style, where the skin is “dewy and fresh,” she says; soft, for people who like a “more radiant and diffused look with warm shadows;” and full, for the bold. Her favorite wedding-day look is a “natural brow [and] a soft, but shimmery lid with warm shadows in the crease topped with a wispy lash,” she notes. “Weightless foundation with a luminous glow, bronzed cheeks, a hint of blush and highlight, of course!” She likes to finish that off with a neutral liner, mauve-hued lip and a gloss — with the slightest bit of shimmer.
Just B Beautiful’s owner has been a hair and makeup artist for more than 15 years. But it was 10 years ago that she decided to focus on something she says she “truly fell in love with.” That was, of course, the wedding industry. She and her team have served brides around the globe, as well as designers during New York Bridal Fashion Week — Berta and Julie Vino, to name a few. Just B Beautiful offers on-location services, specializing in airbrush makeup and updo styling. Wilson has a network of bridal experts, a blog, bridal beauty podcast and YouTube channel — endless inspiration for those planning their Big Days. As for her inspiration? “I am the person who LOVES LOVE,” she says. “Being a part of one of THE most important days of a couple’s life is so intimate and special; each story [is] so different but leads up to the same thing. You can’t help but to be inspired and give 110% each and every time.”
This makeup artist, who began working at beauty counters and has been in the industry for more than eight years, says he is proud of his ability to walk away from being comfortable and doing things on his own terms. That means providing custom makeup packages for his clients, who range from simple and minimally driven to ultra bold. “These women are strong, hard working and resilient,” he says of those who come to him for Big Day beauty. “These women support, encourage and uplift me every chance they get.” He loves being able to contribute to someone’s happily ever after, he adds. “I want the bride to look back at her pictures years down the line and say, ‘Wow, I was beautiful and classic on my wedding day.’”
With Shades of Jacen, the Philly-born and raised expert champions the philosophy his mother taught him at an early age: Accept and love who you are. “Everyone is different; be true to yourself in order to achieve who you are and what you want to be. But you must be comfortable in your own skin.” It’s an idea that has driven him, and has made him popular when it comes to showcasing your personal beauty, inside and out. The makeup artist is a contributor for Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia, has worked with designers like Gucci, and for brands such as Kevyn Aucoin. (Oh, not to mention collaborating with Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 and making appearances on TV shows like Say Yes to the Dress.) When it comes to your Big Day look, he works with the bride and groom (for the latter, light application of an anti-shine product and airbrushing to correct scars, blemishes or hyperpigmentation), as well as the bridal party, junior bridesmaids — even the flower girl (who is complimentary). Other offerings include the Rock-Out Reception: a touch-up or complete makeup change before the party, for those who want to take it up a notch after saying “I do.”
The founder of 2B Groomed says that groomsmen events are his specialty — and those come complete with favors, gift bags and light bites, as well as cuts, trims and shaves for your group. (Think of it like a pamper sesh for the gents, a spa day for the fellas, to enjoy a convivial experience ahead of the wedding itself.) In business since 2003, the salon is committed to the tradition of barbering (and feels like a modern ode to historic sensibilities), with its team of experts ready to help you keep up your sleek appearance. “It’s my passion to truly help men find the best statement of self through style, sophistication and standards,” says Rhaney. Otherwise, expect services ranging from the clipper cut to a head shave, from beard and mustache sculpting to straight razor shaves. Even facials are on the menu here; applied by a master barber, the treatments include a rotary brush exfoliant facial cleanse, essential oils, massage creams and more to soothe the skin. In response to the pandemic, 2B Groomed is partnering with Boys & Girls Club — more on that effort will be available on the website soon.
MarCia V. Williams
The expert behind Embellish Beauty Concepts LLC and Embellish Beauty offers on-location luxury hair and makeup, and has 24 years of experience in the industry. She launched her bridal hair and makeup biz for women in the tri-state area back in 2010; she has also worked with celebs and on-air TV personalities. Ask her what she likes most about weddings, and she will say it is “being able to connect with everyday women as I build relationships and create the most magical looks for their [celebrations].” Her inspiration is the “transformation of that inward beauty with just a simple brush stroke,” she says. “Helping each bride realize their natural beauty on another level is so beautiful.” By the way: She just launched a line of natural lipsticks boasting a formula that is vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free and gluten-free.
The woman behind MS Artistry Makeup did the makeup for Kerry-Anne Perkins, whose first look with groom Michael Gordon went viral during the Black Lives Matter protests earlier this year. In fact, being a part of that wedding is a particularly proud moment for her. “Their special moment touched so many people during a troubling time,” says Sawyer, who has almost 10 years of experience in the makeup industry. She received her training and certification at Jean Madeline Aveda Institute and was a former pro artist with MAC Cosmetics; she specializes in bridal style and says she loves putting a smile on the faces of her clients after they get a glimpse in the mirror for their reveal. What drives her? “The themes and colors my brides come up with are inspiration enough!”
With her Mia Farah Beautique, this MUA, hair stylist and educator can do what she loves best when it comes to weddings. “Building a connection with each and every bride … never gets old!” The licensed cosmetologist’s resume reads like a who’s who of the beauty world; her 20-plus years in the industry have led her to MAC Cosmetics, Chanel and Christian Dior; her work can be seen everywhere from Black Girls Rock to The View, and she has been requested by celebs like Chandra Wilson and Anika Noni Rose for red-carpet appearances. But that shouldn’t be any surprise: The Drexel Hill-based Lyn is skilled in the airbrush technique and custom-blend color foundation, and provides natural coily hair styling, formal looks, updos, braids, blowouts, clip-in extensions, personal bridal accessory shopping, false lash application, brow grooming, skin analysis, honeymoon glow makeup lessons — and more.
The makeup artist and licensed esthetician, and owner of TopFlight Studio, has worked in the industry for more than 11 years, largely in the Philly, New Jersey and New York areas. She has done two weddings for our beloved Eagles players — Rodney and Erika McLeod, and Brandon and Carlyne Graham — as well as individuals like yoga guru Adriana Adelé Akintobi, who married Shane Christopher O’Halloran at Talula’s Garden. In addition to bridal makeup, she also offers facial packages (and TopFlight has hair, makeup, lash, skin and waxing services). She loves learning more about each client at the trial prior to the Big Day. “It’s really fun curating a look for my bride based off of her dress, wedding details and personality,” she says. And whether you prefer a natural look or more over-the-top, the expert says she is here to help you embrace your style sensibilities. “The goal is always to make them look like the best version of themselves on the most important day of their lives,” she says. “To be a part of that, and help boost confidence, put a smile on their face and see happy tears in their eyes is the most fulfilling and rewarding feeling.”
In early 2017, the founder of Glam by Sharan Bridal Makeup Artistry booked her first wedding for a friend’s family member — and she’s been a top choice ever since. Case in point: She has had brides from different states travel to Philly and book her. She even once had a bride from the U.K. “That was really special,” says Osei-Tutu, who provides packages for the bride, bridesmaids and family members; she also will accommodate touch-ups should you need her to stay on-site a little longer. She says she loves being able to see the joy on her clients’ faces and she is touched by the couples who have faced challenges to their wedding due to the pandemic. “Their resilience and perseverance to not cancel, but reschedule, is truly inspirational.”
With her namesake Sheena Marie Makeup Artistry, the self-taught, Philly-born talent provides on-location luxury services to multicultural brides. She started her biz four years ago and has, since then, earned notice in the industry — she even was spotlighted on BET.com — and credits her hard work, passion and determination for her success, earning her a notable client list and the chance to travel the world. Back home, she provides trials at a suite at Image Studios in Bryn Mawr; day-of and on-location packages may feature lashes for all having their makeup done (from bridesmaids to the mothers of the bride and groom) to male grooming, depending on a couple’s needs. (And she has taken extra precautions during COVID-19, including certification through Barbicide, wearing PPE and more.) She describes her true aesthetic as being able to enhance the beautiful features of her clients with timeless, classic and natural glam styles. “Getting to know my [clients] and making them feel beautiful on one of the most important days of their lives brings me so much joy and inspires me to continue providing makeup services.”
The founder of Philly’s Duafe Hair Salon started her space for brown women who want to wear their hair authentically and naturally, and for the work to “supercede what their expectations are,” says Scott. “We take our time to get the end result they deserve.” The salon has been showcased in several publications (Vogue and Ebony, among them), has worked on awards shows (the GRAMMYs, the Kennedy Center Honors and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner) and with celebs such as Janet Jackson. “We service people in all walks of life; our ultimate focus is for you to love your natural hair in the process.” For weddings, the salon and its team focus on loc updos, natural styles and kinky, straight weaves. “We are perfect for the bride who chooses not to relax the hair: Our goal and mission is to maintain the natural curl.” The salon is also popular with Muslim women who come to get their hair done for their wedding. The 3,000-square-foot space (which feels akin to walking into your favorite family home, with an African aesthetic and decor) offers two intimate areas for more privacy, which is particularly important during the pandemic. (Other COVID-19 updates include sanitation stations, spread-out work areas and mindful scheduling of stylists.) Ask her what she loves about working with brides, and she says she appreciates when women come in with their dresses. “We’ve mastered how to style natural hair with precision no matter what you wear. We will make sure your hair is naturally coiffed.”
This hair stylist has been making magic for seven years but began specializing in curly ’dos over the last three. McCutcheon, who works for ONLO Beauty and has done photo shoots with spots like Free People, is also prepping to open her own space sometime this fall. She’s done hair for all kinds of weddings, including for Adriana Adelé Akintobi, who married Shane Christopher O’Halloran, and says she loves hearing her clients’ vision and bringing that to life. “I love being part of a memory someone will have for a lifetime — and knowing that my hairstyle made their day that much more special!”
Getting married? Start and end your wedding planning journey with Philadelphia Weddings’ guide to the best wedding vendors in the city.