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  • Writer's picturePaje Honor

10 Things You Might Not be Doing as a New Makeup Artist (But are Crucial to Your Success!)

Behind the Mirror: A Journey into Authentic Beauty with Paje Honor


cute cartoon makeup artist surrounded by makeup products

Over the years as a pro makeup artist, I've experienced my fair share of trial and error. Double bookings, scheduling mistakes, burnout, dealing with unreasonable clients, forgetting my eyelash glue, and even showing up at the wrong address! – these are just a few of the countless challenges that I've encountered. Seventeen years later, there are still instances where I feel overwhelmed and overworked as a small business owner. One thing I've learned and find necessary in the overall success of my business as well as my own well-being is never losing sight of WHY I decided to become a makeup artist in the first place (and leaving my ego out of things). I'm inviting all new or self-taught makeup artists to read this blog and absorb any of the insight that speaks to you. It's not a blog telling artists what they're doing wrong, but instead, a moment I wanted to take to share and help you learn and grow into the best artist you can be for your clients and yourself!


I decided to create this blog post for all the newbies out there, or even the creatives who aren't keen or well-versed in the business side of their profession. I also decided to write on this topic because of a few real-life experiences I've encountered with other artists in my area this season, as well as seeing written concerns in online forums and groups by customers expressing their concerns and disappointments based on their own experiences with newer artists.


Whether you're just starting your journey as a makeup artist or looking to refine your skills and level-up, there are some crucial aspects of the profession that might not always be in the spotlight. Today, we're diving into 10 things you might not be doing as a new makeup artist, but trust me, they are absolutely vital for your success in this industry!


bohemian makeup studio with large windows and mirrors

1. Pricing Transparency

One of the most important things you might overlook is being transparent with your pricing. Clients appreciate knowing what they're paying for, so provide a clear breakdown of your fees to avoid misunderstandings and build trust from the start. Avoid giving people different prices just because you know them, and don't set your prices based on what other artists are charging. Take time to set financial goals for yourself and this will help you understand what you need to charge per application in order to make a profit. Take into consideration your time, talents, education/training, travel time, cost of products/tools, and other overhead costs. Remember, your prices aren't just a number you're throwing out there because it sounds reasonable or fair to the masses. This price isn't all profit either, so it's very important to set your price list according to the value and the cost it takes to stay in business.


2. Inclusive Practices

Diversity and inclusivity should be at the forefront of your business. Ensure that your marketing, portfolio, and client interactions reflect an open and inclusive environment where every client feels welcomed and valued. Do this not because you have to either, but because you genuinely want everyone to feel welcome, seen and included in your offerings. Go out of your way to seek models, friends, or family members who look different than you. Make sure you are creating looks on people who have a wide range in skin tones and textures, eye and face shapes, and range in age. You want people to find your social media or website and feel 100% confident that you are capable of servicing them and potentially their entire wedding party! The last thing you want is someone stumbling across your work and thinking to themselves "I don't feel comfortable hiring this artist because they are not inclusive".


3. Client Consent and Communication

In the world of makeup artistry, maintaining a strong line of communication with your clients is paramount. Begin by ensuring that you obtain informed consent for makeup application. Right from the initial inquiry, set clear boundaries and communication preferences. Remember, it's essential to have a contract in place, regardless of your relationship with the client – even if they're a friend!

Create an environment where your clients feel at ease discussing their preferences and concerns. Avoid putting any pressure on them or making them feel intimidated when expressing their desires. In fact, encourage them to do so. And if they bring up something they're unsatisfied with regarding their makeup application, respond with openness and a willingness to make adjustments. After all, it's just makeup, and you have the skills to tweak and refine their look to ensure they leave your chair with a smile.


4. Hygiene and Sanitation

Maintaining a high standard of hygiene is non-negotiable. Always sanitize your hands, tools and makeup products to protect both you and your clients from potential health risks. This means no double-dipping brushes/tools into product containers, always using disposables, sanitizing products before and after use, and keeping an esthetically pleasing, clean, and organized kit and set-up area. You want clients to be overly impressed with your kit, not afraid to sit in your chair! Whether you like it or not, they will be painting a picture of who you are as an artist based on the appearance of your kit and cleanliness of your work station.


5. Business Licensing and Insurance

To operate ethically, be sure to obtain the necessary business licenses and insurance for your area. This not only safeguards your business but also reassures clients of your professionalism and reliability. Believe it or not, these two items are a huge selling feature for clients who are weary of hiring a makeup artist, and creates a sense of safety and trust in their decision-making process.


6. Time Management

Punctuality is a virtue. Arriving on time (a few minutes early, but not so early that it becomes an inconvenience to your client) and sticking to agreed schedules is essential to prevent client inconvenience and demonstrate your commitment to their special day. Communicate how much time you need to arrive and set up your work station if you plan on offering on-location appointments. Discuss all parking and navigation concerns including road closures and construction well ahead of time and always give yourself more than enough time to arrive at your destination. If you book multiple clients at different locations throughout the day, I always recommend doubling the travel time in case you run into unplanned hiccups and need extra wiggle room to get where you're going. This will also alleviate so much stress about the "what if..." scenarios most of us play in our heads. Lastly, if you know you'll need extra time during the application because of the look they've requested, be sure to factor that into your contracted start/finish time with them ahead of time. I recommend suggesting to your wedding clients that their hair/makeup be finished 1 hour before they need to get dressed. You'd rather they have more time to relax, than be the reason they're late walking down the isle.


7. Ethical Sourcing

In an era where ethical concerns are paramount, use and promote ethically sourced and cruelty-free makeup products. Align your choices with your client's values for a responsible and ethical business. There are so many amazing brands who care about the planet and we as artists have the purchasing power to help create a 100% cruelty-free beauty market. There's no reason why you cannot create an ethical makeup kit in this day and age.


8. Honest Representation

When showcasing your work in your portfolio, be honest. Avoid over-editing or misrepresenting your skills to maintain credibility and build a loyal clientele. I'm not against editing your photos for social media, but in the sense of making sure the quality and composition of the image is flattering and esthetically pleasing. It's okay to adjust the contrast, temperature, background sharpness and tone of the image. Avoid applying skin filters, changing the colours of the products used, or altering your clients skin and body shape.


9. Refund and Cancellation Policies

Clearly communicate your refund and cancellation policies in the contract upon booking, and always collect a non-refundable retainer fee to secure their date and time slot. This will create mutual trust and ensure both parties are committed to showing up and holding their end of the agreement. Fair and ethical policies ensure clients understand their rights and responsibilities, preventing disputes and misunderstandings down the road. If you cannot commit to your contracted appointment, be prepared to offer a full refund and a valid, professional reason as to why you are no longer available. Take the extra measure of finding a reputable artist to take your place and communicate this option with your client ahead of time. Never leave a client hanging, be a "no-show" or leave your appointment before ensuring your client is satisfied.


10. No Gossip and Definitely No Undercutting

In our vibrant world of creativity, there's no room for negativity or competition among fellow artists. Under no circumstances is it acceptable to engage in gossip about another artist. We're all part of a creative family, aiming to lift each other up, not tear each other down. Respect your fellow artists, and if you happen to come across someone who isn't practicing safe or ethical methods, take a professional approach. Reach out to them, sharing your concerns as a peer. Your intention should be to help them learn and grow, not to criticize. Let them know that you've heard about an incident involving a client, and your goal is to ensure they avoid making the same mistake in the future. Remember, our primary objective is client satisfaction.

If you ever find yourself on the receiving end of such a conversation, set aside your ego and be open to graciously accepting help and feedback. It's all in the spirit of improving our craft.

Lastly, I implore you, do not engage in the harmful practice of undercutting your fellow artists. Always operate with integrity and tact, and recognize your own value. Lowering your prices simply to secure a client is a dead-end approach that can harm your long-term success as an artist. Respecting your fellow artists and your own worth is key to maintaining a thriving and supportive community.

cartoon illustration of makeup artists working in their studio

These often-overlooked aspects of being a makeup artist are critical to your success in the industry. Embracing transparency, inclusivity, and ethical practices not only enhances your professionalism but also sets you apart in the hearts of your clients. Keep these principles in mind as you embark on your journey to becoming a sought-after makeup artist. Your future clients will thank you, and so will your thriving business. Stay beautiful and ethical, my fellow makeup artists!


With love, and brushes,

Paje Honor

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