The Fab-Bride Series: Choosing a Makeup Artist, Step 1: Searching and Portfolio Review

Dress, check. Location, check. Cake, check. Makeup Artist? Probably hasn’t crossed a bride’s mind in the early stages of planning.

Model: Stephanie Cleary
Photo Copyright: Anne Kitzman
Makeup: Kimberly Roberson
Hair: Shyla Nicole Thompson

I feel for the modern bride, as wedding planning can be stressful enough, that sometimes makeup is the last item on the big wedding to-do list. Some brides opt to do their own makeup, while others have a friend who knows a friend who has an idea of how to do makeup. Then there are those who truly understand that a professional makeup artist, makes all the difference on the big day.

In the progressive world of technology and social media, finding a makeup artist can be simple. But finding a makeup artist who can work with your budget, your bridal party, and does a slammin’ job can be difficult.

I’d like to provide simple steps for any bride to choose her makeup artist for her big day. So what’s the big deal about hiring a makeup artist for your wedding? First, you get to wake up and sit in a comfy chair while someone else worries about making you look picture perfect. Second, an extra set of eyes will be able to point out and correct anything that may show up in your wedding pictures- for example: puffy eyes, tired undereye circles, a minor blemish, or a random rash that popped out of no where! Third, from my experience, makeup artists are also the “un-licensed on-site wedding day therapists” we are willing to hear you vent, cry, share your joy, and we have a knack at putting a stressed out bride to ease before walking down the aisle. We have an intimate relationship with our clients and brides, and it’s our jobs to make you beautiful as well as make you feel as comfortable as possible on your big day.

“A makeup artist does intimate work. More intimate than a hairdresser or personal assistant. Like an artist caressing a canvas, Rutledge touches and transforms faces, erasing flaws and reshaping contours. He brings out beauty, confidence, the sheen of stardom.” by Keith Alexander (Washington Post article about Makeup Artist Derrick Rutledge)

So off you go, and Google “Wedding Makeup Artist in Washington DC,” or whatever location you are having your wedding in..and Google gives you 1568926230 Makeup Artist search results. Go ahead and click, but keep these notes in mind while window shopping for a makeup artist:
Does the makeup artist show range in technique, skin tone, and different media?
Quantity vs. Quality: Do not be fooled by the multitude of pictures an artist may have on their site. I’ve seen some portfolios where a few number of models were used, with different looks, sometimes the same looks, just a different pose. You should look for diversity, the models and photos should be “strong.” Natural/Non-Makeup looks should have the same impact as an Avant Garde inspired look. A portfolio of ten strong images with great makeup styling versus a portfolio of 100 images with weak makeup styling will always overrule.

Look for video reels or behind the scenes footage- how does the makeup look in the footage versus the final image in the portfolio?

Keep in mind that all photos are re-touched, so what you see, sometimes isn’t actually what it really is. Skin should look like skin, you should be able to see the pores (clean pores of course!) of the models featured on your artist’s page. The more pores you see, the better the makeup artist when it comes to foundation matching and blending, if the skin on the photo looks too smooth or cartoonish it may mean that the foundation was so bad, the photographer had to retouch the entire skin surface. Though, might I add, the smoothing of the skin may also be the style of which the photographer preferred to use for the shoot.

Eyeliner. Look at the application of eyeliner, if it is the same in every model, it means that the makeup artist is not well-versed in different eyeshapes. Same goes for eyeshadow.

Does the artist blend and creat eye looks suited to the model? Or does it look like she does the same technique on every model?

Eyelash application. Simple enough, the false eyelash should rest on the natrual lash line, not on top of it, where there is a noticable gap.

Lips- is the coloring even and balanced? Are the lines straight and is the lipstick blended nicely?

Contour and Blush lines: are they blended to show barely any line or demarcation and are the appropriate colors used?

Do some of the artists’ makeup looks push the envelope? Does the artist display any complex looks or techniques? While this may not seem important in wedding makeup, it does play an integral part. An artist who can perform a multitude of looks and techniques goes to show how talented the artist is and how they can create what you request.

The”Bio” or “About” section should highlight the artist’s recent projects, and a short tidbit about their journey in becoming a makeup artist. The grammar and punctuation should be readable, not choppy as if they copied and pasted, then attempted to format it to their experience. Noteable achievements such as fashion shows, publications, awards and films also matter, as it states that those clients trusted the makeup artist enough to perform the task for a major project. Does the “Bio” section match the portfolio pictures? For example, a makeup artist says they were published in “X Magazine,” does she have proof? Does her stated career longevity as a makeup artist match her images? (This meaning paying close attention to technique and notable credits)

Once you have reviewed the makeup artist’s online portfolio and are atleast 70% sure you would like to contact them, HOLD ON. Go back to and google the artist. Google their full name and business name. Look for Yelp, Thumbtack, or Wedding Website reviews. If you find nothing, chances are they are either not well-versed in their internet marketing, or that their clients did not care enough to review them. You can always ask the makeup artist to give you client references if she does not have sufficient reviews. See if the artist has a Facebook Fan page, Twitter, or blog- does she make an effort to stay in communication with current or future clients?

Lastly, DON’T STRESS. Simplify it by picking a few favorites, and narrow your search down to three makeup artists of who’s work you really like, bookmark their sites and Facebook Pages, and take a couple days to “Stalk” their sites. Get input from your bridesmaids and friends.  Get to know the artists before they get to know you. You definitely should not consider makeup artists who get too personal, vulgar, or negative on their sites. You do not want an unprofessional makeup artist on your big day, complaining or bashing some rival makeup artist (or other industry people) or how her baby daddy didn’t pay his child support. (LOL)

My mantra is “Quit complaining, and create something beautiful,” I can’t recall who quoted that originally, but every makeup artist should have the same mantra while performing their duties.

Next: Choosing a Makeup Artist, Step 2: Making Contact


One thought on “The Fab-Bride Series: Choosing a Makeup Artist, Step 1: Searching and Portfolio Review

Comments are closed.