Tips for Working With a Wedding Makeup Artist

Finding the perfect wedding makeup artist can feel overwhelming. Continue on for tips about working with a wedding makeup artist.

By Maggie Mahoney

Tips for Working With a Wedding Makeup Artist
Photo by Zola

Your wedding is bound to be the most photographed day of your life, so the stakes are high when it comes to looking your best, while also feeling confident and beautiful. Makeup artists are part of the magic behind a great wedding look (if wearing makeup is your style). However, with so many options when it comes to stylists and makeup artists, narrowing them down can feel overwhelming. Zola has you covered with everything you need to know about working with a wedding makeup artist.

Table of Contents:

Part 1: Wedding Makeup 101: Finding Your Look

Seek Inspiration

Makeup is a powerful form of self-expression for many people who wear it. With so many products and makeup aesthetics in existence, the options for makeup looks are endless. To help you get started with finding your wedding makeup ideas, look to visual aids such as Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration.

Making a mood board on Pinterest can be a helpful way to track what styles, color palettes, and aesthetics you gravitate toward in terms of makeup. For example, you may realize that you love a winged liner on the eye, or enjoy the look of peachy tones for blush and lip color shades. If you have particular makeup artists, celebrities, or people in your own life whose makeup you admire, also visit their pages on Instagram and save your favorite posts that they make so you can look back later for reference. If you prefer more hands-on methods, you may even decide to make a physical mood board from cardstock, printed photos, and magazine clippings.

Consider Your Wedding Colors, Dress, and Overall Style

After you have gathered basic inspiration ideas, turn to examine your makeup style, your wedding dress, and your wedding theme and colors to narrow down your focus. For example, you may love smokey eye looks on others, but the style itself may not fit your personality. Or, you may like red lipstick looks, but if your wedding colors are shades of green you may want to avoid them to not look like a Christmas catalog. In the end, you want to select a makeup look that feels like you, just a bit elevated. If you tend to not wear much makeup, this could mean that you choose a very natural, but enhanced look. If you’re someone who wears makeup every day, you may want to go bolder with your look.

Questions to Ask Yourself

During the process of finding inspiration and deciding on your wedding makeup look, you will want to check in with yourself often. Here are some helpful questions to keep you on track:

  • What aesthetic vision do I want to embody? Do I want a natural look or something more glam or unique?
  • What type of makeup makes me feel the most confident and happy?
  • How will different wedding makeup looks hold up throughout the day?
  • What facial features do I want to highlight on my wedding day?
  • What makeup products do I dislike or want to avoid?
  • What colors best suit my skin tone?
  • How well does this makeup look coordinate with my wedding dress and theme or colors?

Part 2: Choosing and Booking Your Wedding Makeup Artist

How to Search for Makeup Artists

The best way to find makeup artists is a combination of word of mouth and social media. Asking married friends or family members whom they used can be a good jumping-off point if your styles align. However, social media is another great place to discover talented makeup artists in your area or anywhere in the world. Don’t know where to start? Check out Zola’s database of beauty professionals and filter by your location.

Essential Qualities in a Makeup Artist

Makeup artists come in many unique forms, but a good makeup artist possesses certain key skills and traits. Here are a few qualities to look for in a professional makeup artist:

  • Cleanliness and organization (when it comes to taking care of their brushes and workstation).
  • Creativity and being quick on their feet (able to pivot if the direction is not what you want, and capable of coming up with clever solutions in the face of a difficult situation).
  • Strong time management skills (so that your wedding makeup look will be executed efficiently and well under time constraints).
  • Personable and communicative (so that they can get along well with you and your wedding party—if they are doing makeup for them too—and understand your vision clearly).
  • Professional (can separate constructive criticism from a personal attack, and stay calm in the face of a problem).

Vetting Makeup Artists

A great way to get a sense of potential makeup artists’ styles and skill levels is to look to social media. Instagram, in particular, often serves as a sort of virtual portfolio for many makeup artists, and it can give you a sense of their past client looks. When meeting with a makeup artist, you can also request to see his or her makeup portfolio or personal website and see some of his or her references or reviews from past clients. Do your due diligence and, if possible, talk to brides that have worked with him or her before, so that you know what to expect of his or her wedding packages, and so that you are well-informed before making your final decision. Some questions that you may want to ask a makeup artist before booking include:

  • What type of makeup do you specialize in or feel most comfortable doing?
  • How much experience do you have doing wedding makeup specifically?
  • How do you charge, and what are your rates for wedding makeup?
  • Do you offer a wedding package? What is included?
  • Is there any skin prep that clients need to do ahead of their appointments, such as washing the face?
  • Do you allow brides to bring their makeup products or do you provide products?
  • How do you accommodate working with a variety of skin types and sensitivities?
  • What do you recommend in terms of skincare regimen leading up to a wedding?
  • Can I book you for doing makeup for my wedding party too?
  • How comfortable are you with doing makeup styles similar to this (show reference photo)?
  • How do you ensure that the wedding makeup stays all day? Do you offer touch-ups?
  • How would you handle a client not liking a completed makeup look?
  • Walk me through a typical wedding makeup consultation with you.
  • What type of inspiration would be useful for you to work off of?

You will also want to provide potential makeup artists with some general information about your skin type and history so that they can tailor the products to fit your skin and ensure that you don’t break out or react badly to any products.

Pricing and Booking

The cost for makeup artists can vary widely based on the area they are located in, their experience level and prestige, and the level of wedding makeup service that they provide. Well-known makeup artists with years of wedding industry experience will cost quite a bit more than a lesser-known or less seasoned makeup artist. The same is often true for makeup artists based in big or popular cities, who may charge more than makeup artists in smaller towns. According to Thumb Tack, as of this year, nationwide wedding makeup artists cost on average between $90 and $475. Here at Zola, we recommend reserving around $300 for your wedding hair and makeup to be safe.

In terms of your wedding planning timeline, earlier is always better when it comes to booking a making artist for your wedding. As soon as you have your wedding date, you can feel comfortable to begin the search and book as soon as you find the right makeup artist for you. Skilled makeup artists can book up fast, so book four to five months in advance, especially if you are getting married during a popular season or time of year.

The Wedding Makeup Consultation

Your makeup consultation is a great opportunity to narrow down and perfect your wedding look. The wedding makeup consultation can be especially invaluable if you have a general idea of what you like, but haven’t finalized a perfect look, or if you’re choosing between two distinct styles.

You should come into a wedding consultation with as much specific information as possible to aid your makeup artist in understanding what look you are going for. This can mean showing reference photos of makeup looks that you enjoy, photos of your dress and wedding hair, and color palettes that you like and that compliment your wedding colors. You should also give him or her context about your skin type, product preferences, and likes and dislikes that you have when it comes to makeup (if any). You can be as specific or as general as you’d like, depending on if you prefer to have your makeup artist execute a specific look, or you would rather that he or she experiments and have full creative freedom or anything in between.

Don’t be afraid to speak up throughout your makeup trial about what you prefer and to give any notes or tweaks to your stylist. Think about the consultation as your actual wedding day—you want the end result to make you feel beautiful and fulfill your vision.

Consultations can also be a great way to decide between makeup professionals before you book (if you’re willing to pay for multiple). During consultations, you will get to see makeup artists in action, get a sense of their personalities and how well they work with people, and see how they take direction and apply the inspiration you provide them with.

Part 3: Dos and Don’ts for Working With Makeup Artists

Things to Do

  • Do take care of your skin prior to your wedding.

Makeup artistry, no matter how good, can’t completely transform poorly cared-for skin. The base is so important in building a makeup look, so ensure that you clean and moisturize your skin in the months and weeks leading up to your wedding. This means no sleeping in your makeup, no matter how tempting it may be. This also means staying hydrated and using gentle products that won’t irritate your skin.

Some brides may be tempted to get a facial or a chemical peel or another fancy treatment a few days before the wedding day, but this is a big mistake! With facials and peels, it is difficult to know how a person’s skin will react, and there is the possibility of peeling and redness. Avoid changing up your skincare routine close to the wedding, and stay consistent.

  • Do have your hair done prior to your makeup application.

Hairstyles, especially wedding styles often include the use of heat tools. To avoid melting your makeup, make sure to meet with your bridal hairstylist prior to getting your makeup done. Even if your wedding look doesn’t include heat, generally it’s easier to work in the order of hair, followed by makeup.

  • Do treat your wedding makeup artist with respect, and ask that your wedding party and others in your wedding do the same.

Makeup artists play a huge role in making you feel your best on your special day. To convey your gratitude, treat your makeup artist with respect and kindness for his or her expertise and care. It can be easy to get stressed or snappy on such an important day, but remember that your makeup artist is a person with feelings and you’re both working toward the same mutual goal.

  • Do ask questions.

If you need clarification or are unsure about anything, ask your makeup artist. This ensures clear communication and keeps the two of you on the same page throughout the process.

  • Do be open and honest throughout the makeup application process.

In the same vein of asking questions, don’t be deterred from communicating if something isn’t working for you, or if the look isn’t turning out the way you envisioned. As long as you’re polite about it, your makeup artist will appreciate you speaking up early and sharing your concerns.

  • Do consider how your makeup will look in wedding photos and in different types of light.

Your makeup artist should already apply makeup with the knowledge that you will be photographed often throughout the day, but you can always ask them what products, such as setting spray, primer, foundation, and powder, they recommend to work well with flash photography or varying types of light. If you prefer a matte look, as opposed to something dewier, communicate that to your makeup artist too.

  • Do prepare for touch-ups.

Well-applied makeup using the right products should last all day. However, having a plan for if your makeup requires a touch-up can’t hurt. You may ask that your stylist leave you with sample sizes of your lipstick and powder or other essential products such as oil blotting sheets so that you can reapply if needed.

Things Not to Do

  • Don’t assume.

This can apply to tons of different situations that arise when working with makeup artists; however, the main takeaway is that there is no such thing as too many questions or too much communication. If you’re confused about what services they offer, what products they are bringing, if something is included in their hourly price or not, always ask rather than guessing.

  • Don’t be rude or unappreciative.

There is a difference between constructive criticism and impoliteness. If you don’t like something that your makeup artist has done, saying you hate their work is both unproductive and in bad taste. Remember to be specific about what isn’t working for you when you critique and present your criticism in a way that considers the makeup artist’s feelings and still shows appreciation for his or her work. For example, if you think that the eyeliner is too thick, but you like your face makeup, you may want to say: “I love how dewy you made my skin look. The eyeliner is a bit thicker than I am usually comfortable with. Can we thin out the line a little?”

  • Don’t forget to tip.

Depending on your makeup artist’s rates and what is included, tips can vary widely. However, if you liked the final look, a tip is a wonderful way to show your appreciation. A 15-20 percent tip is standard.

  • Don’t undermine your makeup artists’ knowledge or judgment.

The final say should come down to you, as you are the bride; however, makeup artists are often highly knowledgeable and have great insights into which looks work well with specific skin types, tones, or facial features and structures. If your makeup artist has a suggestion about makeup products, be open to listening to it rather than being dismissive. You don’t have to go with all of his or her suggestions, but hearing him or her out can be a valuable learning experience.

Wedding makeup artists can work magic to elevate your wedding look and make you feel confident and put together. In order to feel your best and get photos that you can look back on with pride, choose your stylist carefully and make sure that they are someone whom you can trust. While working with your chosen stylist, remember that communication and collaboration are everything.

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