5 Things to Look for in a Makeup Artist

Asheville Makeup and hair artist

Hey guys! I wanted to share an article that I wrote which was featured in AVLToday about how to find the right makeup artist for your wedding, especially when you’re a destination bride coming in from out of town. I hope its helpful and that you love it! Let me know in the comments….

Here in Asheville, those of us who work in the wedding industry are in the full swing of our busy season, which runs from April through November. Planning a wedding can be stressful, even if you are planning an intimate elopement... and especially if you are a destination bride traveling to Asheville for your big day!

Picking the right vendors from afar can be especially difficult because you may not have the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face before deciding whether you would like to book them. With the wealth of options here in Asheville, one can be left wondering how to even begin to narrow the search.

As a hair and makeup artist specializing in the high end of the wedding and events market, I might not be able to help you choose your caterer from afar (although I would be happy to help taste their desserts for you...), but I can certainly give you some tips on narrowing your search for the perfect glam squad for your special day.

1. Consider Your Bridal Style

First, and MOST importantly, it is imperative that before even beginning your search for the right hair and makeup artist that you take a moment to reflect on your personal style and how you want to look on your wedding day. Some brides prefer a natural or bohemian look, while others seize their wedding as an opportunity to go Full Glam. Either way, when looking for a makeup artist, consider the work in their portfolio as a whole, and look for a theme throughout their clientele. Most of us are versatile, but definitely have a space that we prefer to work in, whether it is retro winged liner and red lips or Full Glam with full coverage, dark smoky eyes, nude lips, and a heavy lash. For me, it’s that in-between space that I like to call Natural Glam. Coverage is pinpointed to areas where it is needed most, but soft enough to keep skin looking like skin; the eyes are defined using neutral shades and the perfect fluttery lash, cheeks are flushed, and lips are kissable.

Pro Tip: If you are a natural gal in your everyday life, opting for a Full Glam look on your wedding day may feel overwhelming and unnatural. I generally like to start my clients off with my “base look” and have them direct the amount of glam thereafter.

2. Take A Closer Look

Many of my brides find me through Instagram, which I am always flattered by! If you are a bride scoping out hair and makeup artists on the ‘gram, take an extra moment to fully examine the photos you are looking at. Is there a soft touch filter applied to the face blurring out any imperfections in the makeup application? Are bobby pins visible through the updo? As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, some of the finer details I like to pay attention to when zooming in on a photo are the undereye area and the eyeliner. More specifically, I am looking to see that the under eye area looks fresh, youthful, concealed of any dark circles, brightened, and properly set in a way that does not crinkle up or make the area appear dry and aged. For eyeliner, I am looking to see that it is straight, bump-free, and even, for those inevitable looking-down-through-the-lashes shots that photogs always seem to get on your wedding day. If you want to be super picky, zoom into the inner corner of the eyeline, as that area is the most common for skips, bumps, and eyelash glue residue. And while you’re at it, check the outer corner of the crease area to make sure that the shadow is blended to perfection!

3. Set Up a Trial

I know this may be difficult for those of you planning from out of state, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to schedule a trial before your wedding day! Even if you have been super diligent about scoping out your desired artist’s work, until you actually sit down with your hair and makeup artist, you won’t truly know what you’re in for. As an example, when I was getting married, I ended up needing a second hair trial: not because my hairstylist wasn’t amazing, but because what I was so sure that I wanted didn’t actually end up being what I did want once I saw it on myself.

As you are pinning looks to your inspo board, there are many factors to consider like hair length, texture, cut, color, or face shape, skin tone and condition. You can’t really be sure how your inspo board will translate to your head until you actually sit down with your artist and try it out. This is also a great way to get to know your artist and their personality. Do you vibe? Do you trust that if you change your mind on the day of your wedding that they can hang and deliver what you want? If you absolutely cannot schedule a trial, be as upfront as possible with your artist about any skin conditions, personal hang-ups, hair type and texture, and anything else that might help them. In these instances, I often ask brides to send me photos of themselves without makeup, their hair down and in its natural state, and even a picture of themselves out on the town with the makeup they are used to wearing for a special occasion.

Pro Tip: A great time to schedule your trial could be your for your engagement photos, your bridal portraits, your bridal shower, or even your rehearsal dinner. That way you get to kill two birds with one stone.  

4. Product, Product, Product.

I am a product junkie. I love pretty packaging, creamy textures, and saving up for a luxurious splurge. That said, not every makeup artist is rocking Tom Ford and Chanel in their kits, and that’s ok. Honestly, with the rise of YouTube and Instagram, the beauty industry has totally leveled up, and even some drugstore products can go toe-to-toe with many high-end brands. That said, take note of the ratio of high-end to drugstore products in your makeup artist’s kit as compared to their price for services: meaning, are you paying a premium price for bargain products? With proper technique and knowledge, you can certainly get a beautiful finished result using drugstore makeup, but the price should reflect that.

Pro Tip: Also note that while the initial finished result might be flawless, the longevity of wear might not be.

And while we are talking about product, let’s move right along into my fifth tip for finding the right makeup artist.

5. Hygiene

Now this really should be Number One, but until you’ve actually gone through the search to find a makeup artist and sat down with one, you couldn’t possibly assess their level of cleanliness. Here are some things to look out for when assessing the condition of their kit and practices:

  • Are their products tidy and not covered in makeup dust and goo?

  • Are their brushes clean? A minimal amount of staining is normal on brushes that have white fibers, but if the brush LOOKS dirty, it’s probably dirty, and a great vehicle for spreading bacteria. (gross)

  • Also make sure that your artist is sanitizing brushes between services (yes, that means before every one of your bridesmaids).

  • This goes for beauty sponges as well.

  • Your artist should never be working directly from the wand that comes on the mascara they are using unless it is your personal one you are keeping. Disposable wands and mascara brushes (that are cleaned between each client) are a MUST.

  • The same thing goes for eyeliner, lipliner, and lipstick. Each item should be sprayed with isopropyl alcohol and wiped clean before use on a new client.

I cannot stress enough how important this is, and I hate to say it, but some newer and self-taught artists just don’t know to do these things, or don’t properly build it into their timeline.

Now that you know a few things to look for when hiring hair and makeup artists, I should also mention that wedding season in Asheville is NUTS, and that our books get filled up fast! So if there’s an artist you’re dying to work with, I recommend reaching out to them well in advance of your wedding date to secure your booking.

And if you’re still at a loss where to begin, ask for referrals from your planner or photographer, or fill out my handy inquiry form and let’s chat!

Happy planning!