What to Look For in a Professional Makeup Artist

New to the concept of hiring a professional Makeup Artist? You are not alone.
I was once where you are – over a decade ago, I was a young Bride-to-Be, aimlessly searching for my fairy godmother, so to speak. Someone magical, someone who would give me a “The Princess Diaries”-style makeover. I perused the bridal expos, searched online, asked friends for recommendations. I had no idea what made a Makeup Artist “good”; no concept of the education, skills, and materials required of such an expert who could transform me from Everyday Nikki to Bridal Nikki. I searched around until I found my artist. She was at an expo and she offered a great price. In addition to that, she said she was a Mac-Trained Artist (sounded great to me). She was friendly, and wore beautiful makeup. One of my bridesmaids, who was with me at the time, reassured me that I made the right choice. I was sold!

Throughout the months leading up to our wedding day, things started to take a turn in a different direction. More than once, my MUA reached out to me via email to increase the rate. With each request, I agreed. At the time, I was a people-pleaser to the extreme – I didn’t want to question the rate increases, nor did I want to add tension to the vendor-client relationship; it was getting closer to the wedding date and I was afraid that if I pushed back on her requests, I would lose her as a vendor. I also didn’t know any better. That is on me to not notice such an obvious red flag. Nevertheless, I moved forward with the rest of the wedding planning, and never really gave it much of a thought.

On the wedding day, things did not improve – her demeanor was icy, her kit was unsanitary and limited in shade range, she refused to apply false lashes on anyone, didn’t apply any makeup to anyone’s eyebrows, double-dipped products, and double-charged me. I was left with disappointing makeup that didn’t last past the ceremony, and a bad taste in my mouth once the excitement and joy of the day settled down. When myself and the wedding party were getting ready for the wedding, there was a frenzy of making sure everything was running smoothly, so the makeup was not the biggest priority of the day. In retrospect, I wish I had known then what I know now.

Today, I take pride in how I treat my clients, sanitize and supply my kit, provide transparency in my pricing and terms of contractual agreements, and utilize proper makeup application techniques. I also go to great lengths to educate others on what to look for in a reputable Makeup Artist. So, without further ado, here is a little list for your reference on what to look for in a Professional Makeup Artist:


    • Cleanliness: An integral aspect of an artist’s job is to maintain a clean-as-a-whistle kit. Every artist must use palettes and spatulas to scoop out liquid, cream and loose-powder products to work from. An artist should never ever use original applicators on a client, only disposable lip wands and spoolies, and must not ever double dip (dipping a used applicator back into a product) – this will contaminate the product and must be tossed. All palettes are to be wiped down and sprayed with 70% alcohol between each client. If you see these basic practices not followed – RUN.

    • Communication: When in doubt, expect consistent communication on every detail of your booking – contracts should be supplied, quotes and invoices made available upon request, and original rates honoured. There should never be a point in time where information is vague or confusing. It is your right as a client to ask for everything in writing.

    • Experience: An artist should be trained and have everything they need in order to appropriately offer services to every client who sits in their chair – any race, skin tone, age, or skin condition. Adaptability and range of skill is vital. For example, there should never be a point in time where you should worry about supplying your own foundation out of fear that your artist won’t have your shade.

    • Appropriate Pricing: There is such a thing as a service being priced too low; even if your artist is in training, they should be expected to charge you an appropriate fee for their time and products. Regardless of experience, your artist still needs to supply a proper kit with disposables. For example, if the average price of a reputable artist in your area charges $100 per application, a newer artist should be charging no lower than $65, in my personal opinion. If you have a prospective artist you are looking to hire and they are charging a really low rate (ie. $25 per application), you must question if they are making enough money to supply an adequate kit. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    • Style: Do your research when looking for an artist; do they specialize in full glam or more natural? What style speaks to you? Look through a prospect’s portfolio and see if you like what they are offering. Oftentimes, a lack of understanding about different styles can lead to disappointment.

    • Reputation: Word of mouth is powerful. A positive review or recommendation by one happy client can lead to several new bookings – ask around and research in community groups online. Reputation speaks volumes and oftentimes is the best way to find an artist.

This may seem like a long list of items to remember, and it is. But it is important to have as a reference tool for when you are looking for an artist. Your hard-earned money and trust is valuable, so be careful who you give them to. Educate yourself and you will find the Fairy Godmother of your dreams, I promise!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *