Insider Tips on Choosing the Best Makeup Artist For Your Wedding
I empathize deeply with brides-to-be. Most haven’t planned big events before, and some have never had their makeup done professionally prior to getting engaged. Suddenly they find a whole world of people ready and eager to work with them. How can you make sure you’re making the right decision? Here are some questions to answer before you sign on the dotted line.
1. Do you like their work?
This seems obvious, but it’s probably the most important consideration – do you like the artist’s portfolio? (And yes, they should have one – even salon employees who don’t run their own businesses can usually send images of their work if asked.) Does the makeup appeal to your tastes? Does it look blended, feature-flattering, and cohesive? Is it clear that the artist is skilled at working with a range of skin tones, ages, and makeup styles?
Evaluating makeup is easiest when you can view close-up photos of the makeup. Not all artists have many photos that show their work clearly. Unretouched before & after snapshots can be quite helpful as you’ll be able to see exactly what difference the makeup made for the client. (And if you find yourself thinking “she looked better before,” that’s probably not the artist for you.)
2. Do other people like their work?
Finding an artist through a recommendation from someone whose opinion you trust is a great way to start your search. Photographers can usually suggest makeup artists who have made their jobs easier (after all, good makeup means less time spent retouching, while bad makeup is a nightmare to fix in post – which can result in added expense for you). Venues will often be able to suggest artists who will come to you, saving you time and stress on your day.
And a FANTASTIC source of referrals is other makeup artists! If you contact an artist whose work you love, and they turn out to be unavailable for your date, ask them for a recommendation – good artists know others who offer comparable work and professionalism, and that will save you a lot of frustration.
The most trustworthy referrals are ones where money wasn’t a factor – after all, anyone can buy an ad or pay to be on a referral list, so make sure you check more than one source. And of course, client testimonials are very helpful. Many brides review their vendors online, which is a great way for you to hear the voices of an artist’s past clients. Seek out artists who aren’t the only ones talking themselves up!
Here are some other things you can look for:
- Artists who have professional clientele. Have they done verifiable work both in and out of the wedding world? This can help you distinguish working artists from fly-by-night operations.
- Artists who belong to professional associations. These could be makeup-specific (such as The Powder Group), or wedding-specific (local collectives are becoming a popular way for vendors to work together). Artists who are engaged with their community are usually going to be very invested in their career.
- Certain bridal blogs (such as Offbeat Bride) curate their advertisers according to fairly strict guidelines. And being published in blogs and magazines is another outside vote in an artist’s favor.
3. How much experience do they have doing weddings?
Being able to do makeup well is key, but weddings are very different than most types of makeup jobs. The makeup has to be more long-lasting and water-resistant than almost any other professional scenario we encounter (besides underwater photography!) It has to look good in person, in every imaginable lighting situation, as well as on camera and video. It has to flatter the bride (and the bridesmaids, and the family members, and sometimes the groom and groomsmen as well) and keep everyone looking fabulous, but still recognizable as themselves. An artist’s portfolio should feature a good variety of photos from real weddings.
Wedding artists also have to be able to work quickly and efficiently in sometimes challenging conditions, and maintain a calm and upbeat demeanor so that the experience is a relaxing and fun one for you and your group. They need to be responsive and helpful before the wedding so the timeline can be established and everything stays on schedule. They also need to be reliable and punctual. Read reviews carefully to ensure that you hire someone who is both a good artist, as well as a responsible businessperson.
4. Is the artist going to make your big day easier?
I always recommend on-location services for brides – making a trip to a salon on a hectic morning adds time, stress, and the potential for Murphy’s Law to kick in (bridesmaids get lost, moms are running late, parking is hard to find, etc.) Having beauty pros come to you at your home, hotel, or venue may cost more, but every minute of your wedding day is valuable (and passes so quickly!) – the more you can relax and enjoy it, the happier you will be.
Be sure to ask what the artist will need to do their job – some, like myself, travel with a chair, table, extension cord, and even lighting if needed, but others will need that to be provided. Ask in advance to minimize last-minute scrambling or unpleasant surprises.
Pre-wedding communication is also essential. Choose an artist who responds to you in a timely manner, answers your questions, and facilitates easy scheduling (not to mention someone who listens to what you want for your makeup!) You don’t want to worry about whether or not your artist is going to arrive on time, or whether they can accommodate an increased headcount. This is something to pay close attention to in reviews – did the artist make the bride’s life easier? Were they a pleasure to work with?
5. Are there any red flags?
I prefer to focus on the positive, but there are a couple of things you can look out for when you’re reviewing an artist’s portfolio – or meeting them for the first time:
- Inconsistent work. Is their portfolio all over the place in terms of style, taste, and quality of work? This can mean a few things – perhaps they work as a team, so the portfolio is made up of the work of different artists (in this case, just make sure you know who you’ll be working with and that you like that particular artist’s work). But it can also indicate that the portfolio has been padded with stock images or stolen photos. Here is a helpful article about identifying when photo theft has taken place so you can avoid being duped.
- Unqualified. I keep hearing stories about artists who ask their clients to bring their own foundation – this indicates they don’t actually work as an artist (it’s expected that makeup artists carry a range of foundation suitable for a global range of skintones – beautifying skin is the most important part of our job!) You wouldn’t hire a photographer who needed you to provide the camera, right?
- Poor communication. Simply put, you should get your questions answered in a timely manner. Be realistic with your expectations (artists, like anyone, are not available to communicate 24/7), but if it’s taking more than a week to hear back, that’s a problem. And in person, artists should be friendly and forthcoming.
- Poor hygiene. Brushes should be clean, hands should be clean, and disposables should be used – that’s how pro makeup artists protect their clients!
Choosing the professional who is responsible for how you’ll look on your wedding day (and in all of your photos) can be challenging, but by knowing what to look for, you’ll be able to make an informed choice and have a gorgeous, stress-free wedding day.