After a headshot shoot, when the makeup artist is just out of earshot, we’ve often had clients frantically whisper to us, “psst! Do I tip the makeup artist?!” Whether or not to tip your makeup artist is a complicated question. And it should start with what kind of makeup artist you’re dealing with.
If any makeup artist is tipped, it’s most commonly the wedding makeup artist. Some estimates are that about 80-90% of wedding vendors in general (including makeup artists and hair stylists) expect a tip. This is because a wedding is a luxury event, and all the vendors involved are supplying a customized, luxury service. For a wedding, a makeup artist usually travels to your location, provides a consultation and communicates back and forth on ideas for the look you’d like before the event, and even purchases supplies and makeup specifically for your application.
Don’t freak out if you just realized you’ve never tipped the makeup artist at Sephora or Nordstrom for the time they spent teaching you how to contour. It’s generally considered not necessary to tip a counter makeup artist, and some stores even prohibit it. These makeup artists are actually salespeople with makeup skills and sometimes training, but their end goal at the counter is to sell you a product. Never go to a makeup counter for a makeup application for a photo shoot. These makeup artists are unlikely to have the skill or inclination to apply custom makeup for your needs, and the products are not likely to be specially made for photography. And again, their main objective is to test products on your face in order to sell them to you, which is great for when you’re sampling products you’d like to buy for yourself. But don’t think you’re cheating the system by having a salesperson at a makeup counter do your makeup for free for your photoshoot. Every time someone has come to our studio after doing this, they always end up unhappy with their look. We’ve had to start stocking makeup removing cloths in the studio so clients can remove their counter-applied makeup before their session.
Makeup artists for headshots/portraiture/commercial shoots: MAYBE
If tipping a wedding makeup artist was a reasonably solid “yes,” and tipping a counter makeup artist was a pretty solid “no,” then tipping a makeup artist for your headshot or portrait session is a definite “maybe.” For hair salons, a rule of thumb some people subscribe to is that you tip the stylists who work for the salon, but not the salon owner. Some people extend this idea to makeup artists: tip the makeup artists who are booked through a salon or agency because they do not keep the whole fee, but do not tip freelance artists because they keep all of their fee. But this isn’t a reliable measure since freelance artists are self-employed small business owners who have expenses an employee would not, such as insurance, marketing costs, travel costs, licensing, and materials. Some makeup artists can spend anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 a year on the makeup and brushes in their kit and the sterile disposable items they go through. Since there is no industry standard “yes” or “no” for tipping with these kinds of makeup artists, then both freelance and agency artists usually have their fee structured in a way that they’re not relying on a tip to complete their fee, so a tip isn’t necessary. But some people are more comfortable tipping anyone in the beauty/service industry, and if you’re one of these people, then feel free to tip your makeup artist. They won’t turn it down and they’ll definitely be appreciative of it, while not expecting it. A good rule of thumb on tipping makeup artists in this category is: “never expected, always appreciated.”
- Come ready for them. Follow their instructions to prepare for your session, which usually involves coming with a clean, makeup-free face.
- Communicate with them. Be honest about what you want and don’t want before they start the application, then trust them while they apply makeup, then give them honest feedback afterward so they can make changes before you get in front of the camera. If you’re happy with the makeup, speak up and tell them you like it. If you’re unhappy with it, speak up as well, so they have a chance to adjust what they did to your liking.
- Don’t hold a mirror to watch what they do. Again, you must trust them to listen during the consultation and use their skills to apply makeup, without babysitting what they’re doing. A mirror in your hand also gets in their way and slows down the process. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and the makeup artist will answer.
- Give them a positive review. If the makeup artist has a listing on Google, Yelp, or Facebook, give them a positive review, or offer to write a testimonial for their website. Follow them on Instagram if they have an account. More follows on social media means good marketing for them.
- Refer the makeup artist to your friends and colleagues, so they can continue their awesome work.
If you’re ready to book a headshot session in our Chicago studio with a makeup artist, do that here!