Tips for Hiring a Makeup Artist

ebblog tips I ran into an interesting dilemma this weekend that worked out for me very well but not so much for my client. It had me thinking about what it would be like to be on the opposite end of the spectrum: looking for a makeup artist. In reality I would not have to look very far because I have a network of supportive, fantastic artists to choose from but not everyone is in my shoes. So, for the bride to be, prom goer, etc. here are some great tips when it comes to hiring an artist.

Counter People/Sales People – The retail space is not ideal for securing an artist. In most cases the men and women who work at Ulta, Sephora and makeup counters are usually NOT makeup artists. As an educated and accredited artist who works retail events I can tell you that about 75% of those selling you your makeup products are not/never have been practicing artists. They may know how to apply your everyday face but do they understand contour, color theory, color correction, HD, photography, etc? Probably not.

Finding an Artist – There are great online resources of course, but always use extreme caution when meeting anyone from the internet. Most salons have at least one in house makeup artist. You can also meet great artists at trade shows, bridal shows, bridal events, fashion events, etc.

Business Cards – Always ask for them! If your prospective artists does not have one, then run. The business card should have basic contact information but do not be alarmed if there is no website/virtual portfolio. Given that internet photo piracy is all the rage these days, some artists/photographers do not post there portfolios for all to see.

Research – Now that you have established an initial interaction with an artist(s). Now is the time to take to the internet and research them.  Google, Yelp, etc are invaluable tools but always take the “reviews” with a grain of salt. It is normal to have one rotten review out of say 20 but if all 20 are neutral to negative, you might want to pass. Also, check with your local BBB (Better Business Bureau) as well to see if any complaints have been logged.

Discussion – Never, ever agree to anything until you have had time to have an actual discussion with your prospective artis(s). Agree on a time and a public place to meet. Make sure that you will have proper space, WiFi, and be able to hold an actual conversation. Think a larger Starbucks, coffee house, etc. I always suggest you come loaded with questions, the more the better. You want to discuss your expectations, their qualifications, rates, availability, etc. Make sure you know as much about them as possible. If they are late that is a HUGE red flag. Proceed with caution and bring an objective friend, parent, etc.

Portfolio – When you schedule your first meeting with your potential artist request that they bring their portfolio. If they do NOT have one, then my suggestion is to not bother. Even a fresh out school artist will have a portfolio put together that showcases their work.

Trial Run – Discuss whether or not this service is included in the artist’s standard fee. If not, inquire about pricing. Trial runs are great to get a feel for how your artist will work with you. A trial run can also help to forge a bond with your hired artist.

Contracts – Each artist should come with a standard work agreement/contract. Review it, talk through the details and make sure that the provisions provided suit your needs prior to signing. If you have any questions about the contract now would be the time to address them.  I suggest paying attention to terms like non refundable, deposit, prepayment, availability, timeframe, trial run, cancellation, etc. If you want changes to be made to the agreement/contract now is the time to bring them up. As their client you want EVERYTHING in writing, this includes changes made AFTER the agreement/contract has been signed.

I always say exercise caution and good judgment whenever you enter into a business agreement with anyone.  If you go through these steps and you feel comfortable, then sign on the dotted line. This is just a very basic over view and I can get very detailed. Is this something you’d like to learn more about? Let me know and good luck! Ashley

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share This Post


  1. AMEN!!! Thank you for pointing out that alot of the people who are working in retail at a makeup store are NOT artists. A trial run is super important I had one friend who did a trail run and the artist kept flaking for the first few appointments, then she finally did her makeup for a $40 trial fee, and OMG thank goodness she did the trial or else she would have been looking pretty scary for her event. Great tips and post!!

  2. Very interesting and informative post! But the color of the font and lack of spacing made it almost unreadable on my computer. Sorry but thought I should tell you.

    • I am SO sorry I have no clue where that came from. It is now fixed and should be much easier to read.

      • Wow, I just read it now that it’s fixed, and it is sooooo interesting and informative. I would not have known to ask many of these questions, including the idea for a “trial run”. So helpful!!

  3. I had the same problem as Allison. *rubs eyes and reaches for a cold compress* 😉 This was a very informative article and I’ll keep it in mind, if I should ever need to hire a makeup artist. :)

  4. So true! Trial runs are sooo necessary!

  5. It’s sad, but I would NEVER let someone from a makeup counter touch my face! It’s too bad, because I am sure there are good ones out there.

  6. Hiring a makeup artist for a wedding is tricky business. Contracts and deposits are a must! I’ve had people hire me on the spot but trials are def the way to go forward.
    I also always state in my agreements that any add-ons or last minute requests come at a price, even extra lashes or touch up kits

  7. These are great tips to know. Thank you!

  8. Great tips! I’ve actually met a lot of talented makeup artists at Nordstrom’s and MAC who eventually went out on their own to work independently.

  9. I’ve found the best makeup artists through word of mouth!

  10. Good tips!

  11. Great tips!

  12. Such a great post. I had a friend go to sephora where one of the sales people did her brows. She showed me a pic of them…. It was the dreaded halo brow.

  13. Great tips! I always ask for business cards when I love someone’s work. It usually comes in handy.

  14. I need to keep business cards on me!

  15. Gotta love business cards!

  16. Awesome tips. Every bride should read this.

  17. Great tips!

  18. Such a great post!

  19. Yes, I see a lot of counter girls or makeup consultants at dept stores/retail stores “advertising” themselves as MUA. That’s not often the case. Add the YT girls who call themselves makeup gurus or artists sans the credentials. Great post!

  20. Ive never had to hire a makeup artist since my sister is one but these are awesome tips to have!

  21. Great tips! I never hired one before, but I may consider it one day if I have a very important event to attend.

  22. A person behind the sales counter is usually just doing a job and probably is waiting for the day to end while a makeup artist is a career choice. You still need to make sure they know what they are doing and a trial run makes a lot of sense.

    • You would be surprised how many people don’t realize that. Only certain brands require you to be an active artist and even then the emphasis is still on sales.

  23. GREAT post, and I can’t even tell you how many times I got crappy makeup application from a makeup counter. :/

  24. So useful tips! Thank you!

  25. I don’t recommend getting your makeup done at a counter for your wedding. As a makeup artist, I spend 2 hours getting my brides looks exactly as they want them. Great post!

  26. It’s really sad because when I started working for MAC many years ago, we were all MUA’s – now it’s just all sales people!

  27. I remember looking for a makeup artist for my wedding and going to a counter and getting a trial run.. it was a disaster! I ended up doing my own makeup.

  28. I hear this a lot time and time again. When I worked at MAC years ago… things have certainly changed since. I had a client about 3 months ago come and see me… I had did the makeup for her sister’s wedding. She had gone for a trial at a counter and left crying. It’s such a difficult thing to deal with and in most times… a disaster to say the least.

    • Yes, it is. Even if a brand employs artist (MAC is still pretty good at employing MUAs) there goal is still pretty much sales and a trial at a makeup counter is never a good idea. The artist will be in a time crunch and trying to sell products obviously.

  29. Those are great tips !

  30. Great tips. I’ve actually been thinking about looking for a professional MUA for professional photographs. I’m great with doing my everyday makeup but I know that lighting can really affect how makeup colors show up on film. I saw this first hand many years ago when I went with my boss on a photo shoot and we were both stunned at how much her lipstick was so much darker in the photo than it was in real life.

    • Yup… I just had an issue with lighting and photography one a post I am working on for a hot pink lippie. It looked orange, so I had to put my MUA cap on and fiure out lighting and settings, etc. It’s much more than just applying makeup. =)

Leave a Comment: