September 30th, 2012, 10:12 PM
An article I wrote about makeup artist pricing and tipping
Hey everyone! I just wanted to copy over a little thing I wrote about what goes into our pricing for when customers don't get it or the general public wonder why makeup "costs so much"
I just wanted to take a moment to break down what goes into pricing for makeup artists. I’ve read many a posts on various forums from clients questioning the pricing and as it appears, most people outside of the industry do not understand the fees included. For special occasions, getting your hair and makeup done helps take the stress of getting ready off of your shoulders. You feel relieved to know that someone professional is going to take care of you, feel a bit pampered, and for a couple of hours the attention is on you for once. It should be an enjoyable, relaxing experience with you looking amazing when all is said and done.
There are different types of applications and different venues you can go through to get ready, all costing different amounts of money.
Getting your makeup done at a makeup counter in a department store or at a cosmetics store (think of MAC freestanding stores or makeup stores in NYC, etc) may cost you between $50-$75. The fee can be paid outright or you are required to purchase a certain amount of product in return for the application service. This fee is set to account for the time that the artist is spending away from the floor with you versus making sales with walk-in customers. After all, it is a retail location and makeup application, while a service, is considered a courtesy. The makeup artists at these locations are paid either a flat hourly rate or on commission. Most often, they do not get any bonus or added perk for taking an appointment. Tipping is generally accepted and very much appreciated from artists at these locations. If you were satisfied with the service and your artist, then feel free to tip (around 20% is standard, just like you would tip your waiters at restaurants). You should never be bullied into tipping and it is absolutely rude and inappropriate if an artist were to ever comment to you if you decided not to.
Many hair salons also offer makeup services, which is very convenient for many clients getting ready for a special event. From what I’ve seen for most salons, makeup applications range in price from $40-$85, possibly more if it is a very high end salon in the fancy part of town. From the position of a makeup artist, I find $40 to be an extremely low fee to charge personally( I will explain below). And to add, most artists at salons also pay a fee to rent out their chair so the entire amount isn’t even going to them. Again, tipping is absolutely accepted and VERY appreciated for these artists (again, if you’re satisfied with the services). Personally, if I were getting my makeup done at such a salon where it costs $40 and the artist did a wonderful job, I would probably tip over 20% because that fee is far below industry standard in most areas. But, that is just me and it is not required to tip nor is it required to top above and beyond.
Now, let us come to where the main confusion with pricing for makeup artists comes from— Freelance makeup artists. Freelance makeup artists work for themselves and come to you on location, say for your wedding day, or what ever is required to them. Pricing will depend on a number of things and I will expand on them below: your location, the nature of the makeover, the number of people receiving makeup applications, the cost of the makeup kit, travel.
Your location— In every region there is a market standard rate for makeup artists, hairstylists, photographers, etc. In larger cities, the market standard is higher due to the cost of living, maintaining ones kit, gas prices, etc. Higher cost of living will always equate to a higher cost for services. The sheer cost of starting and maintaining a business sets a standard rate for artists. Furthermore, if an artist quotes prices drastically lower than industry standard then she/he would be undercutting fellow artists and making it harder for all artists in her area to earn a living in their profession.
Nature of the Makeover— There is a difference in pricing for brides, bridesmaids, prom applications, personal photo shoots, etc. Makeup for brides versus prom girls or bridesmaids costs more because you are the focus of the day, and the main concern of the makeup artist is to insure that you feel pampered, your makeup looks lovely and will last all day, through photos, the ceremony, dancing, etc. Furthermore, the artist is going to spend a substantial amount of time with you compared to the bridesmaids, at least an hour. She/He is going to take their time, possibly take a few extra steps to complete your makeup, etc. It really is a luxury service and at the end of the day, your makeup should still look exquisite. Furthermore, he or she will probably include the lashes for free in the application and also gift you with a lipstick or blot sheets for touch-ups throughout the evening were bridesmaids and prom girls will pay for their lashes separately. Pricing for personal photo shoots tend to be higher, closer to rates of bridal makeup, because certain steps and product are required for the makeup to photograph wonderfully and for you to look your best on film. These steps add a little bit of time onto the makeover and the products used to achieve the looks are an added cost to the artist to keep stocked in their kit.
Number of people: For a wedding party, some artists offer wedding packages for larger parties. It helps the party save a little bit of money and it guarantees the artist a certain amount of income. Some artists also have luxury packages available where she/he will spend all day on site to touch up the bride and wedding party throughout the day, truly guaranteeing you flawless makeup from start to finish. It is pricey but you definitely get what you pay for and it’s one less worry for you. The fee is higher to account for the hours that the makeup artist is spending on site.
Cost of maintaining a kit: A makeup artist who owns her own business literally builds it from the ground up. They supply their own business cards, pay for and often design their own websites and social media, pay for their own advertising with wedding vendors, etc. The products that makeup artists use to makeover their clients can be very expensive. Quality products do not come cheap, often have to be ordered in bulk, and are not always found locally. An artist can not simply stock their kit from the makeup section of a drugstore and call it a day. One makeup brush can cost upwards of $50. I have at least 30 brushes in my belt. A simple kit costs thousands of dollars to build and then must constantly be maintained. Therefore, when we set our prices, we need to keep in mind that a certain amount of our fees is going right back into our kit.
Travel: Gas is expensive and we have to make car payments and insurance. Our car is how we get to most gigs and most fees are set to account for a certain amount of travel. If we are travelling over a certain distance or we must take a plane to the location, we’re going to ask for that cost to be covered by our clients. Otherwise, we’d essentially be paying to go to work and would end up in a deficit.
Now, the biggest question comes to tipping. For a personal service (bridal, prom, personal photoshoots, etc), unless gratuity is included into their pricing, tipping is accepted and very much appreciated if you feel that their services were satisfactory. How much you should tip is really dependent on the cost of the service and how satisfied you are. If the service is costly for you, you don’t have to tip them 20%, any bit is greatly appreciated. Also, word of mouth and a recommendation for future work, is perhaps the greatest tip of all. That is how we stay in business and keep food on the table. Freelance makeup artists have no job security and really make their own opportunities so guaranteed income from future clients makes us very happy!
In conclusion, while the cost may seem like a lot to you, the cost of of starting and maintaining a business in a competitive environment with little job security and a high cost of living makes these prices necessary and standard. The entire cost of the makeover is not profit for makeup artists. The vast majority of it goes towards paying our bills and maintaining our kits. I hope this helps!
If you have an questions, feel free to contact me!
January 2nd, 2013, 08:58 AM
Thanks for the great insight.
January 21st, 2013, 11:36 AM
That is some great info!!! Both for the consumer and the MUA who is starting off!!!
February 12th, 2013, 09:21 AM
Really great article. Makes it easier for those outside the industry to realize how much work we really do.
February 14th, 2013, 09:11 AM
thank you for this, i have recently gotten into doing freelance makeup for events and was having a difficult time deciding on what my rate should be! now i feel confident in charging what i do!
December 4th, 2013, 05:09 PM
Great article! It's so easy to not understand all the little (or big) costs. And even though the makeup is expensive, you have to have a variety for every skin color, and for a huge range of looks etc.
December 12th, 2013, 05:28 PM
Very good points, thanks for this! I think people sometimes underestimate how expensive makeup really is..
March 4th, 2014, 03:36 AM
That's perfect, thank you!
March 7th, 2014, 01:17 AM
with my pricing, everyone in a bridal party is exactly the same.
I take all the steps with all my clients to ensure they are all going to have the best of my ability as an MUA.
Just my way of doing things.
also, dont forget we also paid mass amounts of money to actually get qualified!! I spend $8k on courses!!