what it costs to be a make up artist | cat robertson

As wedding season approaches, I see lots of brides on social media asking fellow brides-to-be for help and advice with their wedding planning. As a makeup artist, I usually pay closest attention to the regular topic of conversation which appears almost weekly:

“How can makeup artists get away with charging so much? How can “Makeup Artist A” justify charging £X amount, when “Makeup Artist B” only charges £Z amount? Am I being ripped off?”.

The comments which generally follow on from this usually mention costs of as little as £15 - £20 for bridal makeup, and many makeup artists being accused of charging “way too much”. Even some makeup artists themselves say that no one should be charging more than that! I would like to take a wee bit of time to outline what I spend myself on the everyday running of my business to hopefully clear up why we charge what we charge!

Everyone’s favourite search engine, Google, is often the first port of call in finding wedding suppliers. Type in “Glasgow Makeup Artist”, and up pops my site on the first few pages. To create that website, I hired a web designer, Gary, to design and build it. I had to pay to have my logo designed, to change or add things, for web hosting and my URL. If I didn’t hire Gary, I would probably appear on page 1,000,000 of Google search, as I have no idea about SEO (don’t ask...), so he’s a necessity in my opinion! Gary is a legend.

Alternatively, you may have found me via an online directory or wedding collective. I pay every year to advertise on these sites. Wedding fayres are great, but these are expensive (bearing in mind I’ve already done 4 this year and it’s only March!). And if you didn’t find me at any of those places, chances are you saw me on Facebook. Did you know that Facebook charges businesses to have their posts seen? If I posted something without “boosting” it (i.e paying anything from £3 upwards), chances are it would be seen by about 45 people, which is crazy considering I have over 1000 followers! So that’s a whole bunch of money, before I even have a single booking.

I spend around 12 hours a week sending emails, making contracts up, social media-ing and sending out invoices. I technically don’t get paid for any admin hours I do, but I couldn’t run my business without doing it! For many brides who get in touch with me, they will go ahead and book a trial. Trials are such an important part of bridal makeup. They help us get to know each other better and understand what you want on your wedding day. It makes the wedding morning much for relaxed if we’ve met before and know each other a little. But where do trials happen? Sometimes I do up to 5 trials a day, so travelling round to everyone isn’t practical. To make this a little easier, I hire a studio space next to Glasgow Green with some other AMAZING wedding suppliers. Hiring a space means paying rent every month, but it also means I have a beautiful, bright, professional space I can bring all my brides to, where they can enjoy a cup of tea and chat whilst trying out their wedding makeup.

But before I can have anyone in my studio to have any makeup applied, I need insurance. If I didn’t have insurance, I wouldn’t be covered if anything went wrong. I wouldn’t have public liability insurance if someone fell over my makeup bag and broke their leg for example. I’m sure it makes all my brides much happier knowing this is all covered! The bottom line is, if you don’t have insurance (mine is with BABTAC), you shouldn’t be trading as a makeup artist. I pay this every year without fail. Another expense, but one I can’t do without.

I haven’t even mentioned the most important thing about my job yet! Makeup! Now I can’t say for sure how much I have spent on makeup in my 2.5 years as a makeup artist, but I’m willing to bet around £4000. At least. I need a shade of foundation for every skin tone. Foundation goes out of date, so needs to be replaced regularly, even if it’s hardly used. I need different primers for different skin. Some things need replaced every week like cotton wool, mascara, eyelashes and cotton buds. I need different coloured eyeliners (gel and pencil), a whole host of blushers (cream and powder), bronzers, highlighters, moisturisers for different skin types, and more eyeshadows than you can shake a stick at. Every lipstick needs a matching lip liner. The list goes on and on! But as a professional makeup artist, I can’t turn up to a job without every possible piece of kit I may need. If you’re hiring a makeup artist and they use the wrong colour foundation claiming it will “warm up your skin tone”, chances are they just haven’t spent the money getting all the foundation they may need.

So you’ve had your trial and have decided I am the makeup artist for you. Great! There is nothing I love more than a happy bride who wants me to be part of her day. We arrange timings for the day, and your morning prep is starting at 7am in the deepest, darkest Scottish wilderness. Public transport isn’t going to get me there unfortunately, so I need a car to get to the majority of my weddings every week. My car isn’t cheap to run. It needs serviced yearly, petrol funds, and the usual wear and tear costs, MOTs, yadda yadda yadda. I simply could not do my job without my trusty green Fiat 500!

Your wedding day arrives, and I rock up at your beautiful venue in plenty of time. But it’s December, and pitch black outside. I can’t do makeup in the dark (trust me, I’ve done makeup for fashion shows in nightclubs before!). But my professional lighting system will save the day! I had this imported from America and is one of my best purchases as a makeup artist. I take this everywhere with me. Sometimes even the lighting in hotel rooms in the middle of the day isn’t great for makeup application, so I always make sure I have the equipment to apply your makeup as best as possible. You don’t want to be walking down the aisle with an orange glow!

After all of those expenses, which I’m sure most people would never even think about, the rest is used for me to live on. Makeup artistry is my bread and butter. This is what I do day in, day out, and is how I pay my bills and buy my food. It isn’t something I “do on the side” of another full time job. I pride myself on how I conduct myself at weddings, I have dealt with every situation imaginable! But I will always remain professional and calm. I have never let a bride down, which unfortunately can’t be said for many others working in the industry. Remember, your makeup is going to be on show all day long, as well as being in all of your pictures for years to come. So why try and scrimp on something so important?

Image by Tub of Jelly

Image by Tub of Jelly

Hopefully this has cleared up why makeup artists aren’t ripping anyone off. They charge what they do because it is their job, their passion, and guarantee you look absolutely gorgeous for your whole wedding day, and well into the night!