How to choose a wedding and special occasion make-up artist?

I love my job and I like to make people happy. Even if you don’t choose me as your make-up artist, I want you to have the knowledge to find the right artist for you! By asking some key questions and being armed with some top tips from me, you will have a head start on your search. I feel saddened that by the time some clients come to me, they have already had a negative make-up experience. Some of them were brides who really disliked their wedding make-up, their disappointment is reflected in the wedding photos forever! I would like to help you avoid make-up disasters.

Don’t be shy, ask your questions, a good make-up artist will not be offended, they will be happy to answer, proud of their profession and acquired skills/experience.

Where did the artist study? 

How long was the course? 

Is it a recognised course? (Check the reviews for the course).

How long has the artist been qualified?

You can’t fast track skill and experience. An intensive, one week make-up course is not going to instantly produce a skilled professional. The course should be taught by a qualified tutor and be an industry recognised qualification. Spending a few hours learning from someone who happens to like make-up, even if they are pretty good at it, cannot replace all the elements in an endorsed and regulated qualification. Being a make-up artist is not a hobby, it’s a career. There is no substitute for extensive work experience and that takes time, there are no short cuts for learning on the job.

What has the make-up artist been working on?

Is the work varied and does it reflect the area of make-up you want? Can you see examples of bridal work, prom girls, photo shoots, fashion or whatever area you are looking for?

Is their professional C.V current and shows a consistent working history without huge time gaps?

I studied at West Thames College, a recognised and respected college in the industry.
The course spanned two years, covering production arts/design, hair and a wide spectrum of make-up areas. I have now been qualified for 8 years, gaining lots of experience in TV, Film, Magazine, Fashion, Special Occasions and I am privileged to have been a part of hundreds of beautiful weddings.

Does the artist have a website?

A make-up artist’s website is a very public online portfolio and illustrates the artist has the confidence to showcase their own work. Clients can window shop and view the quality and variety of work a make-up artist has achieved. You would be surprised how often photos are posted on Facebook or Instagram and they are not owned by the person posting them and claiming it to be their own work!! Images on websites are monitored and have intellectual property status, they are owned by the artist who created the look. I believe a website demonstrates the artist is dedicated, qualified and committed to their business.

Does the artist have readily available testimonials and reviews?

You should be able to read reviews via the artist’s website, Facebook review page or similar. This is a fantastic way to read personal appraisals, that are not falsely biased and come directly from a reliable source. Honest and genuine opinions are the greatest recommendation.

Can the artist show original images and are they wide-ranging?

Make sure the artist has photos of real brides, not just models etc. If they have credited the photographer, then it gives you a chance to see the original photo that hasn’t been enhanced on an app. Does everyone have the same make-up design in the photos? Make-up should not adopt the ‘one size fits all’ approach, a skilled artist can read a face, they can enhance natural features and create distinctive artistry.

Available for a chat?

When you decide on booking your chosen make-up artist, are they approachable, are they happy to take a call from you? Do they return your call in a reasonable time? Are they only interested in emailing or texting?  Is their attention to client care and communication good? These are indications of a professional artist who cares about their client and demonstrates a good working ethos. You need to get on with your make-up artist, to build up rapport and trust, you need to be comfortable enough to voice your needs and expectations.

Does the make-up artist have public liability insurance?

Common sense is not as common as it should be! It is far better to have insurance in place for unthinkable problems! All make-up artists, even self taught artists should have public liability insurance; protection for clients, for property and themselves.

Does the artist offer Bridal Trials?

If a make-up artist wants to meet you on the wedding day and do your make-up for the first time, be very very suspicious and end contact!! A trial is compulsory for my brides. The trial is the right opportunity to spend time and experiment, to try out different looks. Brides often choose a design that’s entirely different to their original ideas. A trial is essential to ensure products suit your skin and safeguard against sensitivity issues, I can use alternative brands where necessary.

I am fully qualified in airbrushing and my brides love the lasting, flawless application of air brushed make-up. The trial is the right time to illustrate how and why airbrushing is adapted for your wedding photos. Your make-up will need to have a little more coverage, to appear a little brighter, to appear a little more defined. A professional camera tends to show all flaws and wash out colour so it’s important to have the correct coverage and balance of colour. Wedding photos are forever, your artist must ensure you have the perfect look.

Apart from refining your design, there are other important reasons a trial is essential. A good make-up artist will explain that leading up to your occasion, it’s important to have a good skin regime and how to achieve this. Radiant, hydrated and blemish free skin will create the best canvas for make-up and give it the best durability. One thing make-up cannot disguise is skin texture. At trials for my brides, I give my valuable top tips information guide, this is to avoid last minute make-up disasters, for example: Don’t go for a sun bed or have a spray tan the day before or on the day of your occasion. Patch test and trial your chosen tanning product weeks before your occasion.

  • If you are not happy during or after the trial, don’t be scared to speak up. A good make-up artist will happily implement small changes on the day or offer an additional trial at reduced cost.
  • At your trial look out for a clean, sterile and organised kit. Sanitised hands and clean brushes are priority. Sanitation is key, you do not want conjunctivitis on your special day!

Does the artist have fair terms and conditions? To protect you both? Such as a deposit to secure dates.

Clear terms and conditions indicate reasonable, well structured intentions and should protect the client and artist. A client needs to know that the make-up artist has secured their special date, that means closing their diary for you and dedicating adequate time for your event. The most common way to secure a booking is to pay a deposit. Simply booking a trial will not secure the event date is booked, it is only securing the trial date. The make-up artist will not take any other work once the deposit is paid. It is reasonable and fair for the client to ensure they pay the deposit on time as the artist is agreeing to hold your date and turning away other opportunities for work, that is why the deposits are usually non-refundable, as compensation for lost work if the booking is cancelled.

What are the fees?

Make sure the prices are properly explained and there is no room for confusion. Your make-up artist should commit to their fees in writing, along with their terms and conditions. Package prices should clearly explain if trials are included, who is covered in the trial (for example; is it a trial for the bride and one other, or just the bride?). Is travel an additional expense? Does the price quoted include a breakdown of costs and a time schedule for payments? Is the method of payment mentioned and adequate clearance time stated?

Are additional products and services mentioned?

For example, I always recommend you take your chosen lip colour and a transparent powder on the day of your occasion to top up throughout the day (I can make recommendations and order the items). I offer a complimentary facial on certain bookings.

I hope that helps you find the perfect artist for you! Enjoy your special day!

Alexia Jade X