Questions to Ask When Hiring your Wedding Makeup Artist . . . and What Her Answers Mean


Questions to Ask When Hiring your Wedding Makeup Artist . . . and What Her Answers Mean

We all know the horror story . . . the makeup artist wordlessly picks up a brush and starts to paint, occasionally pausing to say, “trust me, I’m going to make you look fabulous!”  You wait, nervously, as layers upon layers of product are applied to your face.  “Voila!” the makeup artist exclaims, turning you to face the mirror.  You stare in horror at your reflection, completely unrecognizable.  And with no time to wash it off, that is the face your groom will see at the end of the aisle . . .

Okay, so I’m being a little dramatic.  But as a wedding makeup artist, I’m here to tell you that when I see the happiness in a bride’s eyes after we create her wedding makeup look, I also see something else.  It’s relief, unmistakably, so I know this story existed somewhere at the back of her mind.  I want to free brides from fear, so you can confidently choose a professional bridal makeup artist who is right for you.  I put together the following questions to decide exactly that.

Questions to Consider . . .

What education/training did she receive?

No license is required to be a makeup artist.  That means that anyone can hang a shingle (or post a website) and open for business.  This makes it essential to find out your makeup artist’s qualifications.

Some makeup artists hold a license in cosmetology.  This means they can work in a salon doing hair, facials, waxing, mani/pedis, and/or makeup.  However, makeup training in this program varies.  One of the largest schools in Denver, Colorado has a year-long cosmetology program, where only one day is spent learning makeup!  Although a cos license doesn’t mean she’s had makeup training, working in a good salon may mean she’s had the opportunity to further her education with classes.  Be sure to ask.

Other indicators of education include training with a makeup brand, an apprenticeship with a professional makeup artist, or attending a makeup school.

What is her typical week like?

This question can give you a ton of inside information, without directly asking.  For instance, you can find out if this is her secondary part-time job, or full-time career.  You can also find out how much of her time is spent actually applying makeup, which will greatly affect her skill and experience.  An example: three makeup artists each say they have 8 years experience.  One works in a salon where she does hair, and books about 3 makeup applications a month when the salon’s primary makeup artist is busy.  The next makeup artist did her cousin’s wedding makeup ten years ago, & has done makeup for family and friends on occasion, when she’s not working as an accountant.  The last makeup artist worked as a retail makeup artist for years, seeing dozens of clients per day.  Now, she averages nine makeup lessons per week, two salon makeup classes and one photo shoot per month, and books about 30 weddings per year.  All three have been makeup artists for eight years.  Can you see the difference in experience?

How did he get started as a makeup artist?

If he started in film . . . chances are the makeup will photograph well, because he understands lighting.  But if he’s a special effects artist, he may not have experience with beauty makeup meant to be seen up close, and miss details or blending.  Take a peek at it in outdoor light to make sure.

If he started at a makeup counter . . . he will have lots of hands-on experience painting all different types of faces, and have extensive product knowledge. Be sure to ask about his training, though.  Some brands only look for retail experience and he may not have been trained on bridal makeup applications (or trained on makeup at all).

If he started in fashion/runway . . . he will know the trends and how to choose colors that work.  He will create your look to compliment your features, your dress, and the wedding style.  But if he’s used to working only with models, he may forget that you are there!  Make certain he starts with a consultation, and understands that your face is not a canvas, it is your FACE!

If he started out doing makeup on his little sister . . . that’s how Kevyn Aucoin, one of the best makeup artists ever, started too!  But unless his portfolio looks just as good, his career should have included some sort of training.

Is she asking you questions about yourself before she picks up a brush?

Every makeup application, bridal especially, should begin with a consultation.  And not a short one.  She should ask you to describe your current makeup routine: the products, colors, how & where you apply them.  Extra points if she asks you to come to the trial in your everyday makeup instead of with a clean face.  Think about it:  every bride wants to look, “like myself but better.”  So how is someone going to make you look like yourself if they don’t know what you usually look like?

Your makeup artist should also ask you what you want to look like on your wedding day, and really listen to your response before making suggestions.  She should then ask about the details of your wedding.  The location (indoor/outdoor) and time of day will make a big difference in the lighting in which you’ll be seen.  The colors, flowers, decor, and mood of the wedding will help to shape the makeup look (romantic? natural? vintage? modern?).  Finally, the dress MUST be considered by your makeup artist.  Not only will she need to see the color (warm vs. cool) and style, but the neckline, jewelry, & hairstyle will influence the application as well.

In summary, the more questions she asks, the more you will like it.  Beware of anyone following her “creative vision” without regard to your opinion.  At the end of the day, the only person who needs to like the makeup is you, the bride!

Who was his favorite bride?  And his least favorite?

If you ask “what types of brides do you work with?” every wedding makeup artist will tell you he can do any style, work with any person, blah blah blah.  And he should be able to.  But if you really want to know his m.o., ask him about his favorite bride.  Listen for cues that you are somewhat like her.  If he enthuses about how “laid-back” she was, and how “she let me do whatever I wanted,” and you know you  have a specific look in mind, it may not be a fit.  Similarly, if his least favorite bride angered him when she was 5 minutes late, and you don’t want to follow a strict schedule for your big day, that could be a red flag.

Do you like her?

This may seem obvious, but seriously:  this person will become a part of your wedding day.  She will most likely be in the room when you are getting ready with your bridesmaids, will be one of the first people to see you in your dress, and one of the last people you hug before you walk down the aisle (right after one last swipe of lip gloss.)  She doesn’t need to become your bff, but she shouldn’t give you the creeps either.  Even if her portfolio looks like a Vogue cover, if you don’t want to be around her, she’s not a good choice.

Choosing your wedding pros is a challenging task.  Knowing what to ask can make the job easier . . . and hopefully will chase away the nightmares!

4 Responses to “Questions to Ask When Hiring your Wedding Makeup Artist . . . and What Her Answers Mean”

  1. I just stumbled upon your blog and I wanted to let you know that I am a big fan of this article. Great job!

  2. I wish I would have read this before going to my artist. Not that my makeup was bad on my wedding day, I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t me and I wish that I would have just done it myself. What fabulous questions!

    • I’m so sorry to hear that Alexis! If it wasn’t “you” and you didn’t like it. . . then it wasn’t good 😦 no such thing as “good” makeup if my client isn’t happy! i bet you were still a beautiful bride though 🙂

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