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Friday, 14 March 2014

Wedding Makeup Series Part 2: What should I look for in a makeup artist?

If you didn't catch my first post on whether to hire a makeup artist or not for your wedding, you may want to click here! If you're looking into hiring one, read on! Grab a cuppa as it's a long post! I know I won't have covered everything, so if I've missed something, please ask me and I'll help if I can. I’m not as up to scratch on hairstyling, but these questions should work for both.


First and foremost, look for your artist (duh!). Googling makeup artists in your area may come up with all sorts of artists - for fashion, TV, film, stage, special effects, etc. While plenty work in many areas, not all will be suited for your needs, so obviously look for bridal specific websites or pages on their websites.  Once you've found one you like the look of, take a good hard look at their website or page. They should have a variety of examples that look like they're from different, real life weddings and events (this goes for your wedding photographers as well!). Before and after shots can be helpful when choosing, although this is dependant on their clients agreeing to put the before shots online so plenty of artists won't have these. Make sure your artist is local or local-ish to you before you contact them - a lot of artists will travel to you, but that will almost definitely cost you more.

Before I start on specifics, remember: no one can choose your makeup artist but you! You need to go with your own gut feeling about who will work best for you, and remember if you have a trial with someone and you don't like them, you don't have to book them. I've listed some things to think about/questions to ask below, but a lot of this may be answered on the artists website, so click around and have a read through first! There are a million and one specific questions you may want to ask your artist, but don't be afraid to ask , no matter how silly it may seem to you. It's your money, face and wedding day photos after all!

Questions to ask/Things to think about:

What makeup do you use? This is a question that will make most pros roll their eyes if you ask them, but it can be important. The answer you're looking for, unless you have a specific question in regards to allergies or similar, is something along the lines of "I use a wide variety of brands to ensure I get the best results on the day." You are not looking for "I only ever use MAC/Chanel/whatever!" A good MUA will have a wide variety of brands, (often including professional brands that most people won't even have heard of) but trust me, if you like the results you've seen on their website, then it's good stuff! If you're hung up on only using one brand, I'm really sorry but you need to throw that thought right out of the window!  I don't know *any* makeup artist that only uses one brand unless they work for the brand.

What do you charge and what is included? Now this is a minefield, as there will be a huge variation in cost for makeup artists and this can depend on so many things - what city you are in, the size of your bridal party, whether you're having hair and makeup, or one or the other. However, your artist should be able to give you a clear breakdown of costs of costs and what is included, for example "Brides Makeup and hair + Bridal Trial (Bride Only) = £XXX, plus bridesmaids/MOTB hair and makeup £XXX each, (wedding day makeup/hair only, no trials)" If it's not clear, ask for a breakdown. Sometimes prices will be listed online, but in my experience, most will give you a quote for your party instead, as putting something like  'Bride + 2 Bridesmaids incl. Bridal Trial = £XXX" online will result in people contacting them and saying 'But it says £XXX! Why won't you do my nine bridesmaids, my mum, my mother-in-law, the Vicar, my cousins, dog and next door neighbour for that amount?!!", so don't be suspicious if they're not. 

And remember - makeup artistry isn't cheap. It doesn't have to cost you the earth, but it's worth Googling and comparing artists in your local area to get a good picture of what you 'should' be paying. I can’t tell you what you should be paying because it varies so much, but don't expect it to be twenty quid, okay? A skilled makeup artist will be worth the money, I promise. Once you’ve set your date, start researching so you can get a good idea of what it will cost and start working it into your budget.

What is this contract? Why am I paying a deposit? Your makeup artist, like every other vendor you're hiring for your wedding, is a business. I will say it again - they're not a person doing it for a giggle, they're a business. It's in their interest to protect their business, so like other things you'll get for the day, you will most likely have to sign a contract, pay a deposit, or similar to guarantee your booking. Like anything else you might have to sign for your day, read it carefully. It will most likely have boring details like cancellation policies, etc.

I have scars/pigmentation/scalp issues/tattoos/allergies/another skin issue/tattoos I want covered. Can you help? This won't be relevant to everyone, but if you do have an issue, it's better to let your makeup artist know straight away so they can look after you to the best of their abilities. If you're looking for them to do makeup on other people in your wedding party and one of them has an issue, make that known as well. A good makeup artist should be able to cope with any of the above 'issues', but it does make it a hell of a lot easier on them if they know beforehand, and you know any concerns you have will be looked after. Win-win.

With regards to covering tattoos or large birthmarks, etc., this is often a service you'll have to pay extra for, so make it known before you get your final price - no-one is going to do it on the day for you if you haven't told them first! It's time consuming, a different skill and using probably different products - that's why it'll cost more.

How will you ensure my makeup/hair will last on the day? Again, every  artist will have different ways of ensuring this. All artists should be able to tell you they'll use thing such as long wearing foundations, setting sprays, layering techniques, or a combination of these or similar techniques to ensure a long-lasting look. Someone MUAs will build a little touch-up kit for you to take with you (often these will have powder or blotting paper, q-tips, a lipstick or sample of the lipstick you're wearing, breath mints etc.), some will purchase a lipstick on your behalf for you for you to take, and some even have an option where they will charge extra for them to stick around and do touch-ups after the ceremony, etc. Again, this is something that’s probably going to be on their website, but it may be worth talking about in your initial consultation if you have concerns. It's certainly worth talking about if you're getting married in a different climate than you're used to, or in a particularly hot/humid time of the year.

What happens at my trial? Lots of people don't understand why you have trials for your wedding, but they're for lots of reasons! Basically, it's to make sure you'll be happy with your makeup on the day – you’ll be discussing your skin/hair type and how to care for it before the day, your dress style and colour scheme, what style and colours of makeup you like, what you'll need for touch-ups – everything! All of this also cuts down on time on your wedding day when you'll feel like every second counts. Your artist will talk you through how they do their trials, but they can be really fun as you get to see your ideas come to life! Your artist may ask for a photo of you before your trial too, so they can see your skintone/hair type, etc. At the end of the session, you most likely will have seen your final look - squee!


Do you have references? If a makeup artist gets good feedback, they'll probably be shouting about them anyway on their website or Facebook page because they're great for their business, but if not and they're something you feel comfortable seeing, feel free to ask!

What qualifications do you have? In some countries/states you need qualifications to practise makeup or other cosmetology/aesthetic services, but in some you won't. Make sure if you have local laws requiring qualifications that your artist is legit and has what they need to work, but remember that regardless of this, the persons work should speak to you instead of what school they went to. You can be qualified through the roof but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily any good. You don't need to ask what school someone went to if their work speaks for itself.

How do you chose what look to go for? Can I send you pictures? Gathering makeup looks that you like can be really helpful to your artist – much like when you go to the hairdresser! Sending them a link to your Pinterest board with 1,001 totally different images on won't help them work out what you're looking for though, so try to narrow it down and if you can, let them know what it is you like about the look, i.e., "I love this colour eyeshadow," "I like the pin-up vibe here," “This hairstyle would suit my dress.”   Bear in mind one look may look totally different on different people, so if your artist tries to explain how to change something to work for your skin tone or eye shape, please listen to them!

I’m a person in black/Rainbow Brite Impersonator and I wear crazy/heavy makeup day to day. Can you still help on my wedding day? I know lots of people who wear ‘non conventional’ makeup still want help on their big day. If you normally wear a lot of makeup or a certain style of makeup, mention this to your artist and/or show them photos and stress you want to look like you! They may even ask you to wear your usual style to your trial so you can nail your wedding look together. If you do wear this style of makeup and your artist won't listen to what you want and work with it, don't book them. It's a simple as that. There will be someone out there who will help you make a 'bridal' version of you, I promise.
Keep hygiene in mind!

This is probably the most important part! A quick Google of 'how can I tell if my MUA is hygienic' should tell you all you need to know, but if your artists kit looks dirty, smeared or dusty, if their brushes don't look clean, if they double-dip products (i.e., use the mascara brush that comes from the tube when it's not a fresh tube that they will only use on you, apply lipstick straight from the bullet without disinfecting before and after, applying lipgloss from the tube), have dirty nails, don't have disposable mascara wands, if they don't sanitise/wash their hands, any one of these is a massive red flag. Run away, run away, run away. You might feel comfortable sharing makeup with a friend or sister (I may share a lip balm with my sister for example, but my professional kit is cleaned both during and after each shoot or client, and I make sure they SEE me doing it!) but a professional needs to keep clean at all times -risking giving a client pinkeye is not even thinkable and that is NOT something you want to deal with on your honeymoon. Seriously, hygiene is so important in a professional for health reasons, plus people who don’t clean their kit usually don’t take care of it in other ways – dirty brushes don’t blend as well, unsharpened pencils won’t get as crisp a line, etc., so you won’t get as nice a result anyway!

Disposable mascara wands.

My mate’s doing my makeup!
What about if you want a non-professional to do your makeup? A friend, a cousin, etc.? This is sometimes awkward, because we're all awkward talking about money with friends and family. If they're good at makeup, whether they're pro or not, and they're close to you they may well offer, which is great! Someone offering to do your hair or makeup is a really nice gift, no? However, whether they're a pro or not, you should still ask them to do a trial, and you shouldn't take them up on the offer if you're not 100% confident they'll do a good job. If it's someone close to you, things can get pretty awkward if the result is not what you were expecting. You don't want to hate the makeup on the day and associate those feelings with your friend! You can always use the 'I'd prefer you to relax and enjoy the day,' line which is pretty legit, and lots of people do genuinely feel that way about people offering them services on the day. However, if you do want someone close to you to do it and they don't mention it, ask them what they'd charge - they may give you a good rate, and you won't know if you ask. If they do offer it for free, it's nice to maybe give them a gift if you can, but at least make sure you shout about your makeup to everyone you know and help promote them a little.

Generally speaking, if someone doesn't offer, please don't ask them to do it for free , especially if they're a pro and that's how they make their living. It's not a nice conversation for them to have and you won't get the answer you want. It's their business, after all! Too many makeup artists and hairstylists get people crawling out of the woodwork when their wedding comes around and it's very frustrating. This goes for all services – cakes, photography, etc. I don't mean to lecture, but it's a bit of a pisstake.

Phew! Well, I hope that helped someone out there! If you can think of anything I’ve missed, please let me know! I'm going to be addressing those of us who are doing our own wedding makeup in my next posts, as well as putting together an inspiration gallery for bridal makeup.


  1. great post, you covered a TON of important info!!

  2. Do you ever do bridal makeup in your artistry work? If so, how has your experience been? I have heard so many horror stories about brides behaving badly, I feel nervous for anyone who does hair or makeup for a bride these days.

    1. I've done a good few brides, yes, and luckily my experiences have been good, but I have heard a few horror stories. It's unpleasant when you have someone in your chair who isn't happy, but most MUAs understand the stress that comes with the day and generally are good people-persons so they can handle it if it does happen and fix any issues.


Thanks for reading! Got a question? Catch me on Instagram @staybeautifulmakeup or on Twitter @robynheartsslap