Code of Conduct: Applying Makeup To A Client


Volunteering services to education for 80’s themed dance recital at a performing arts school. This girl was really cool.


If you’re a new makeup artist, and you’re starting to book jobs with strangers, you can be absolutely anxious about how you should present yourself and what you should do. It’s different when you’re practicing on your friends, because you’re already comfortable around them and it’s a much more relaxed, less businessy environment. If your first job is coming up, here’s a few things you should keep in mind before bringing out your kit and getting to work.  Some of them may be things you’ve never even thought of, and may surprise you, but they’re all vitally important. In a lot of ways, being a makeup artist is like being a tattoo artist. These are the rules I live by when working, and all the photo is of me doing what I do. 


  1. First things first, establish a contract. You can get gypped or even sued if you don’t have a contract written up. There are forms online which are standard contracts and they may be easy to amend yourself. Make sure the contact states your name and contact information, as well as the client’s information. You’ll need the exact date of the services and the agreed payment rate in the contract. To prevent the possibility of a lawsuit (which is real), make sure your contract states that you’re not responsible for any potential allergic reactions the client may have or any infections or ailments she otherwise might obtain. If for any reason, you get an angry Bridezilla, she can sue you and cite you as the cause of just about anything. If you’re working for a business or a company of some sort, make sure you have that contract so they don’t try to rip you off when it comes to your pay rates. Don’t do anything until the contract is signed and in your possession. Provide a copy with the client’s invoice.
  2. Ask questions, and be aware. Ask the person in your chair if he or she has any known allergies, and be aware of the ingredients and colorants in makeup products. Always ask about latex allergies, as lash glue is liquid latex. An allergic reaction on the eyelid is insanely unpleasant. Mineral makeups are also prone to giving people certain allergic reactions, such as millia. Certain dyes and colorants can also cause reactions or rashes in people, and if you can avoid this, it will work out much better for you. 
  3. Establish what the client is looking for. If possible, book a trial before an important event, so you have an opportunity to brainstorm and try new looks without time constraints. Occasionally, clients will request something that will truly look awful on them. You need to use your powers of persuasion and demonstrate alternative ideas to meet a happy conclusion in those scenarios but absolutely never assume an arrogant, know-it-all attitude. Treat your client with respect and use finesse in your suggestions. Ask her to humor you and allow you to try a few things, and tell her that if she doesn’t like them, they don’t have to be her final decision.If you turn it into an artistic bonding environment, you’re likely to influence her in a positive way. You can charge a non refundable fee for a trial, so you’re being compensated for your time.
  4. If your client should become rude or unruly, (and it WILL happen to you at least once in your life) don’t talk very much. Do the listening and let her ramble. This will happen a lot when you’re providing services for a stressful event, such as a wedding. Let her know you understand, and you’d like to be able to do the absolute best you can to make her happy. If she becomes too rude or verbally abusive, rather than arguing with her, politely leave the job and destroy the contract. If she’s already paid you a fee that isn’t non-refundable (in a way a trial fee would be), return her funds immediately. Be polite and well mannered when you leave the job, and explain that perhaps you aren’t the best fit for each other. Remember that it’s not only her that will hear you, but also the level headed and polite people around her. Speak more for their benefit. 
  5. Make sure everything is sanitized and presentable. When you’re working on someone, they want to be confident that you aren’t going to give them something contagious. Dirty, dusty palettes, unclean brushes, and lipstick with fuzz stuck to it are the kind of things that are going to make them want to run screaming. Make sure everything is clean and tidy before you get there, and allow the client to watch you sanitize every product both before and after use. Don’t double dip mascara or lipgloss wands. It’s really disgusting, and your client needs that peace of mind. If you’re filthy, they’re not going to suggest you to their engaged friend who’s getting married soon. 
  6. Your breath. If you don’t want to smell your client’s bad breath while you’re in her face, you have to realize that this goes both ways. Brush your teeth, and always carry gum or mints.
  7. Don’t try to do things you’re not confident in your ability to do. This goes really strongly for eyeliner and mascara applications, but the strongest for eyelash curlers. If you’re not confident in your ability to apply liner to the waterline or apply mascara to someone, practice on a friend until it becomes second nature. Don’t practice on a stranger whom you can poke in the eye. Eyelash curlers can be really painful if you make a mistake. Always slide and clamp slow, asking the client if it feels comfortable periodically. If you pinch her, her natural reaction will be to flinch or pull back, which can cause a serious injury, and even rip her eyelashes out.
  8. Be gentle in your actions and your speech. When directing your client, remember to speak politely and in a calm, low voice. If you keep her relaxed and comfortable, her face will stay relaxed and comfortable, which will put ease in your job. If she’s flinching or squinting, tell her to relax her face like she’s going to sleep, and use very gentle brush strokes. It’s actually soothing. I had a client almost fall asleep on me once during a shoot that ran late into the night, because she was starting to get tired and the soft brush strokes on the face can actually feel very relaxing. 
  9. Always allow the client to look in a mirror if she has any questions or wants any explanation about what you’re doing to her face. Sometimes, they’ll ask at inopportune moments and things will look messy. Explain to her that you’re nowhere near the final steps, and this is part of the process, and explain the direction in which you’re going.
  10. Always ask for photos. If your client enjoyed working with you and loves her final result, she’ll almost always be happy to give you a photo for your portfolio, whether it’s taken by a professional photographer or she allows you to take one yourself. Nobody minds having pictures of themselves looking fabulous circulating, especially not in the social media age.



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By Airi Magdalene

Real Life Makeup Artist and MakeupTalk Blogger