Things Make-Up Artists Wish You Knew (But May Never Tell You)

We all have things we wish we could tell our bosses, co-workers, customers or clients. Make-up artists are no different, but you may be surprised about some of the things we wish we could tell you! From the happy tears we shed for you after we pack up our tools, to the not-so-pleasant things we wish we could avoid, here are some of the things us makeup artists wish we could tell you:

1. Please, please hold still.

This is number one and for good reason. Often, I face clients in a chair facing a window (natural light is the best for makeup applications). This can cause major FOMO when everything is going on behind you, so I try to tell whoever is sitting in the chair that if they need to move for some reason, to let me know so I can back away. Some people are also nervous or fidgety because they are active-minded. However, we are doing tiny detail work, right next to your eyes, or on your mouth. We don't want to accidentally poke you or smear your lipstick. You're helping us (and yourself) when you stay still, follow our instructions for where to look, and refrain from talking while are working around your mouth. This goes double when we are airbrush artists- if you turn your head while we are working, we risk spraying your fresh, perfect updo with flesh-colored makeup that is water-resistant and will not come out without shampoo.

2. There's no need to apologize.

One of the most heartbreaking things we hear as makeup artists, is apologies for your appearance. We all have insecurities, especially when our hair and makeup isn't done and we aren't dressed yet. But almost every makeup artist I know, wishes our clients let us take them by the hand and make them feel amazing without feeling like they are being judged by us. While it is important for us to know what you love about yourself and what you would like to conceal or diminish, we have seen all kinds of people in our line of work, and those of us who are good at it see the beauty in everyone. Let us take care of you, and don't worry about saying sorry.

3. People don't yell for someone (in our face).

This is especially frequent during weddings, where there is a lot going on. Clients often yell when I am only a few inches away from their faces, for someone who is all the way on the other side of the room. It is incredibly helpful for us if you let us know you need to get somebody's attention. That way, we can back off (or go get that person for you).

4. Help us to help you.

When a makeup artist asks "what are we doing today? or "what are you thinking for your makeup?" we are asking what kind of look you want to achieve. Don't worry, we are professionals that will do a complete makeup application (unless you ask us to leave something out). We are experts on how to apply makeup in general; we are asking for your style. Whether its an individual application or a busy wedding morning, we are trying our best to quickly understand what you want so we can give you that great look you want. Terms related to makeup artistry can be really vague and subjective, and mean different things to different people. Sometimes this means there's a communication breakdown and that smokey-cat eye-natural-but-bold-dark-winged-liner look can get lost in translation. If you find what you're looking for to be harder to explain, we would love it if you brought us a picture of your dream look (if you're searching for the perfect look and don't know where to start, take a look at my Pinterest account which has customized pinboards, organized by features and personal style).

5. It really hurts when you undermine or trivialize our jobs.

Makeup artists do the work we do because we love it, and because it is a career. We don't do this work because it is easy, because we are stupid or lazy, because we are shallow or because someone else is providing for us financially. It is routine to be asked if we are "just" makeup artists, or if we have another, "real" job. We are also often asked what our parents or husbands do for work, which is insulting and insinuates that we don't make a living off of what we do. The fact is, we are small business owners and entrepreneurs, or we work for someone who is. Our work might appear glamorous, fun or easy, but we spend a lot of money just to go to work, we are harshly judged on our appearance, work with people who are experiencing high levels of stress and emotion, and lots of other factors that nobody sees. The most laborious parts of our work (which are the parts we often are not paid for) are kept behind closed doors from our clients so that our time with them is focused on making them happy. There is a huge misconception that people go to cosmetology school because they aren't committed to a "real" education. It is also widely acceptable in our society to patronize or talk down to someone who chooses a career in a women-led industry. If you wouldn't ask a car mechanic or computer repair technician if they have a real job, please reconsider asking us that as well.

6. Please don't touch our stuff.

Our kits cost thousands of dollars. If you've ever been to Sephora and purchased a full face of products at one time, you know how expensive it can be. Now imagine doing that for every possible skin tone, skin type, and personal taste. In addition, we have to sanitize everything that we use so that we don't accidentally hurt somebody. We know that seeing the makeup all laid out is the grown-up version of a candy store, and we love it too! But we ask that you don't take our things, put your fingers in them, use them, pick them up or touch them. Also, please do not ask to use our products on yourself. We are paid to perform a service using those products, and it puts us in a difficult position to say no to you in a polite way when this would be a no-brainer to avoid doing in another arena (asking a chef to step aside so you can cook your own meal in a restaurant, for example). Also, if a client uses one of our products on themselves, it is often a condition of our licensing or certification that that product has to be thrown away, and a single product can cost anywhere between $20-50. Then we have to replace it. We want to make you happy, AND keep you safe, so please look but don't touch.

7. Money matters.

We love the work that we do. That being said, there are a lot of ups and downs to a career in makeup artistry. We use supplies that are expensive and frequently have to be replaced, and we have to pay for things like continuing education, certifications, licensing, taxes and more. When you hire a makeup artist, you are not just paying for a makeup application, you are paying for their experience (and the experience you will have with them), just like an experienced hairstylist or a hairstylist who makes house calls charges more than one at a discount salon. If you can't afford us, it is ok to tell us that we are out of your budget, but please don't tell us that we charge too much. Also, a makeup artist would never tell you these things unless they're asked, but just like any other service provider, cash is deeply appreciated and it is standard (but not required) to tip us the same percentage you'd tip a restaurant server if you think we did great work.

8. We are bummed that we often miss the most exciting part of your day.

We love, love, love helping you get ready! We also often don't get to stick around to see it all come together, or we see you in your wedding dress/killer outfit right before you leave. Even though we might be tired afterward, we always part ways with you hoping that you have an amazing time. We love when you send us photos (or let us get them from your photographer), tag us in your selfies and let us know how everything went. Sharing these with us means so much to us, and helps us to show you off on social media too (with your permission of course).

9. We are a clientele-based business that often "only gets to see you once."

Sounds a little confusing, I know. But if you meet us because you hired us to do makeup for your wedding, we are hoping you only have one of those. The one-and-done nature of our work is not like that of our hairstylist counterparts who may very well see you every 6 weeks for a haircut or a color service. It is for this reason that we deeply appreciate your positive reviews on Yelp, The Knot, or wherever people check us out. Also, we love when you share the photos of you that we post online and spread the word to your loved ones about what we do. In addition, we likely offer other services besides wedding-day makeup or the other service you got from us initially. We hope to see you again for a makeup lesson, special event, boudoir photos, your daughter's prom, or family pictures.

10. If you're not happy, please let us know.

I know it can be awkward to tell us if you're not feeling something that we did, but trust me- we would much rather hear it now than later. Our goal is to make you happy, and we can change or fix whatever it is that doesn't suit your tastes. When people don't tell us they're unsatisfied and leave us bad reviews instead, it destroys our highly-competitive business that we work tirelessly to build. It is never an insult to ask us to change a little something or say "that's just not for me." You won't hurt our feelings, and we can often tell you don't like something before you say a word. We love seeing your face light up when we get it just right, and you do too. Let us work together with you to get there.

To dish about other insider secrets, ask questions, or book a service, send me an email at or fill out the contact form on the "Contact Angela" tab of my website!


    © 2020

     Angela K Morris