Pre Wedding Journals | Selecting the right makeup artist for YOU

Snapped by Sarah Clements Photography, made up by Kasia Stanicich

Snapped by Sarah Clements Photography, made up by Kasia Stanicich

We’re in the height of summer, the wedding season is in full swing, and engagement season is only just slowing down which means you must be about ready to book your bridal trial… or, if there’s no ring on your finger yet (or maybe there’s two rings already) there must be a few upcoming events you want to get dolled up for - am I right? Orrr am I right?!


So, which makeup artist do you use? Selecting the person MUA for the job can become such a daunting task with the hundreds, or what seems thousands of locally available artists around coming at you from all directions. Trust me on this - they are not all the same.


Let me take you to a time, a time where a makeup artist was applying false lashes on me. WITH SUPERGLUE.

And another time where I was told to take a lipstick of another MUA for the day and just return it to her the next day.

Or another time where my pasty face was subject to the same colour foundation (or do I call it paste) as my super tanned friend.

Two of those situations were from the same experience. Regardless, NOT COOL.


Moments like these are what brought me bring a sort of ‘process’ to the Christchurch Weddings directory - Think of it as quality assurance to protect the brands on the directory, my brand, and of course YOU. Every single makeup artist within the vendor community has sponged and brushed my face to perfection, and truly upholds the highest standards. I cannot stress enough how important it is to do your research when it comes to selecting your wedding makeup artist, not only for style and your own inner confidence, but for health reasons as well. Unfortunately it really isn’t as easy as going for a more expensive MUA and being safe. I know for a fact there are so called professionals out there charging $40, and others claiming the same label charging $100 all with the same poor standards.

With all that being said, let’s chat about what you should expect from a bridal trial.


The Selection Process

Like all creatives, it’s music to a makeup artists ears to receive an enquiry saying someone adores their work and wants to book. This is a great way to kick of your relationship, but do take some time to look at different MUAs and see whose work you like best. Some will ‘specialise’ in a more glam face, some a more natural look, some will go for big bold colours and others for a flawless, natural looking complexion. Read the reviews, look at their work and also look at captions to see what aspects of makeup they might promote before you enquire, then go with some who you think will suit you the best. It’s ok to have a couple of trials with different people if you’re feeling torn, after all it is your wedding day!


Time and Cost

Depending on how full on you are wanting your bridal look, expect to allow about an hour to an hour and a half for your trial. The cost will vary, but it’s usually slightly less than the price of your makeup on the wedding day. I would politely decline if a makeup artist plans to fit you into a 30 minute time slot, and on the flip side I would reschedule if you cannot fit in up to 1.5 hours for the MUA to work their magic. More and more makeup artists are putting their pricing online now, but you may still need to clarify this with some.

Looking through to your wedding day, you may be charged travel charges or an early fee if the MUA has to begin work at a very early hour. This is quite common practice. Remember also that these people are spending the majority of the day with you, so it’s important to provide them with some refreshments they can easily eat and drink in between making people up (and sanitising again).


Know Who You’re Working With

I personally expect that the makeup artist doing a trial will be the same person making over the bride and her bridal party on the wedding day. That being said, it totally depends what you are comfortable with, but it’s also important to have those expectations set from the get go.

A number of makeup artists promote a one wedding a day policy, where you can rest assured that you will be the only bridal client up until the time of your ceremony.

Other makeup artists may be the main face of their brand, but also have a number of other amazing MUAs working or contracting to them, which means they may not be your sole makeup artist on the day. This can be great, but clarify from the time of enquiry as to who will be making you as the bride up, and who will be making your bridesmaids, mother, mother in-law, sisters or whoever up as well. Scenarios like this can be handled a number of ways so it’s important to find out how this will go down. Will it be an even split ie, one MUA doing your entire face and another on the rest of the party? Or, will the employee or contractor be prepping faces and the main makeup artist focus on eyes and lips?

If you have a larger bridal party, it may be necessary for an MUA to bring an assistant to clean brushes or even prep the face, but they should advise you of that when you enquire.


The Consultation

This can be a huge contributing factor towards your trial taking longer than normal, but necessary all the same. Every trial should start with a consult. Your makeup artist should ask you what your skin is like, if there are any conditions or areas of concern, and if there are any products you might react to. During this stage of the process you will be asked how you would normally do your makeup, or how you like it to be done by a professional, and what products you tend to use. For me, my day time look is quite natural, but I love a bit of glam on special occasions so I can sway either way depending on the look I want to go for.

They should then ask you if you envisaged any look in particular for your wedding day. Taking in images of looks you like can be a huge help to an MUA, and they can also explain to you how a certain look will appear in real life. You might be thinking, the same as the photo you idiot - but with the editing tools available these days what might appear to be a natural look, could be more full on in real life so it’s important to understand that.



Every makeup artist should have an extensive knowledge of different skin shapes, skin types and texture, as well as a sound general understanding of different skin conditions (ie ezcema, acne, allergies, psoriasis) and medications (ie; accutane, dicloxacillin). While they can provide some recommendations on products to use/what to try, I would always seek out the opinion of a specialist before changing your routine too drastically. What might work for one person might not work for you - To give you an idea, you can check out my own personal experience in the lead up to my wedding HERE.



Honesty is always the best policy, and goes a long way to creating a trustworthy relationship. If you’re not going to look good with a certain colour on your face, or a certain makeup trend/look - expect your makeup artist to tell you during the consultation process. Of course, you have the right to soldier on and try it anyway but the chances are you will want to wipe it away and start again. Just what a trial is all about!


Quality Kit

As a bride, you want to feel special on your wedding day - I get it, and MUA’s do too. That’s why they invest time, effort and a tonne of cash into their kit to provide you with the best products available on the market. In every kit you will most likely find a wide range of products, from drug store to high end that all do an amazing job. With the way the makeup game has changed over the recent years, definitely do not snob a product (or the MUA using the product) just because it has a lower price tag - it can sometimes be better than an option three times the price! If cruelty free is your thing, definitely make your request clear when you enquire. Most makeup artists will have plenty of options available in their kit, some may need to do a quick background check, and some just may not be for you.



Hand in hand with having a quality kit is ensuring quality hygiene standards to compliment it. Every makeup artist should have in their kit a truck load of disposables, and efficient ways to combat bacteria and contamination.

Single use mascara wands and lip applicators are a MUST, and you will find in a number of kits things like sponges, cotton buds and rounds, handy towels and tissues, as well as mixing trays and spatulas for scooping product out of its original home and into a seperate clean space before applying on you to prevent any kind of contamination.

There should be no double dipping at all when it comes to liquid, cream or loose powders - products with these consistencies cannot be wiped clean the way a pressed powder, compact or solid product can be.

Every kit should include hand sanitiser and most makeup artists will make a point of prepping their hands in front of you for piece of mind.

You’ll also find liquids like isopropyl alcohol mixes for cleaning brushes, although there will be multiple sets of them too! No two people should be subject to the same brush on their face - unless it has been cleaned.

Makeup artists should never be blowing on brushes or product, or on you!

Any pencils should be sharpened after every use.

If a mascara wand is going into the packaging, it should only ever go in once. If the makeup artist needs to go into the tube for a second lot of product, a new spoolie should be used. The same goes for lipstick if it is being applied straight from the tube to the applicator.


A number of these tips should also be applied to your own kit at home, no matter what the size! The older your brushes and product get, the more prone they are to germs and bacteria. Clean your brushes, and keep an eye on how long you have owned a product for. If you’re all of a sudden experiencing irritation, it could be from an expired product. It’s important to also avoid sharing products to prevent contamination which I know may sound like total overkill, but if I pulled up some pictures… well, you’d never do it again!


Getting to Work

Once you and your makeup artist have chatted about the look to go for, it’s time to get to work.

I personally believe it is great practise to be handed a compact mirror say about the size of your hand so that you can take a look as you go. Your MUA will often prompt you when to look, otherwise take a look when they’re in between changing brushes or product.

I will always turn up with a moisturised face and lips, but don’t be surprised if your makeup artist takes makeup remover of some description to wipe the canvas totally clean before starting to prep the face.

You’ll most likely talk more in depth about which colours to use as you go through the process, and your MUA will be able to explain what certain colours or hues will enhance your features or compliment your skin tone. They will start with a light hand and show you how it looks before they build on depth and coverage, it’s just not easy to go back if they go in with a heavier hand to begin with..

As you go through this part of the process, your makeup artist will most likely write down the products used to keep on file as a reference for the big day, and at the end may take photos of the finished look.

Use this time as an opportunity to get to know your MUA too. Yes, you are employing them to do a job, but on the day you’re also spending a huge amount of time with this person on such a memorable day so it’s nice to know you can enjoy yourself around them and have them fit in.

Your makeup artist may nail it on the first go, but quite often you can find yourselves just having a good play around with makeup until you reach the desired look. Whatever you do, it’s important to speak up if you’re not sure about how something looks - no matter how silly it may seem. Every MUA wants you to leave feeling confident and beautiful, and confident in their ability too, so by not speaking up you’re only short changing yourself. The whole point of a trial is to experiment and change things around, so make the most of the opportunity and ensure you’re leaving happy.

If you do happen to trial with a couple of artists, send a courtesy email or phone call to let whoever missed out on the job know know why you haven’t booked them. It’s only human nature to feel confused if you don’t manage to secure a booking, and when it can be such a simple thing as you just feeling like you got along better with someone else it’s important to provide that piece of mind. If there are any concerns about hygiene or professionalism it’s important to raise them too. With that on the record, say so politely - you’re definitely not out to hurt feelings!


Well, that's that! I've pretty much conjured up a novel for you. I genuinely hope that this 'beauty babble' has schooled you up on what to look out for when it comes to your makeup trial, and what you should (and deserve) to expect once you go through the process. Never ever be afraid to speak up if you have hygiene concerns, and always keep the lines of communication open throughout your trial to ensure that you leave the happiest version of your made-up self.

Until next,

With love, Lucy_4 Grey.png