The top six pet peeves of makeup artists when dealing with clients

Cover photo via Happy Skin Cosmetics

Getting glammed up by a beauty pros is a special treat. Aside from our trusty online beauty gurus, makeup artists are our up-close and personal source for the hottest trends, the latest beauty technology, and cutting-edge techniques. It’s also nice to just sit there and have someone else worry about getting our wings even and the eyeshadow blending just right!

However, while we enjoy having someone fuss over us, we might take for granted the basic guidelines to creating a positive experience for both parties. So we asked a bunch of seasoned makeup artists to ask about their client pet peeves, and what we can all learn about how to behave while on the chair. Let's dust up our manners!

She's got this!

She's got this!

Pet Peeve #1: The client has no respect for the expertise she's paying good money for

“Even before we begin, some clients already tell me, ‘Please don’t put too much, just what’s needed. Keep it light!’” -JU
“The one I hear over and over again is ‘Don’t put on too much makeup! The eyebrows are too thick!’” -NI
“During a trial session, a bride insisted that I apply foundation that was at least five shades lighter than her skin tone!”-ACS

There is the all-too-common issue of clients being a little too specific and even downright misguided with their comments and requests, even when the results are sure to be unflattering. Remember that these are trained professionals, and that you hired them for their expertise. Says JU, “I clarify that flash photography will wash out the finer details in our features, like lashes and brows. This is often why makeup on special occasions like weddings is thicker. That is, unless it’s an outdoor wedding and the majority of photos will be in natural light.”

After clearly discussing your palette and look peg with the artist, it’s time to let them take the reins. They want you to look your best, too, as a sub-par job would also reflect badly on them or potentially undo the reputations they’ve worked hard to build. NI assures, “Trust me. Leave it to me. You’ll feel and look great after this makeover!”

If you feel really uncomfortable with what your artist is doing, speak up but do it nicely. It’s definitely okay to ask questions or make requests but if your artist recommends against it, trust that they are looking out for you.

Good quality makeup and tools don't come cheap

Good quality makeup and tools don't come cheap

Pet Peeve #2: When the haggling becomes downright embarrassing

“Are there no discounts? Throw in the airbrushing for free! Why is your transpo fee so expensive?!” -BI
“The haggling is the most annoying part. I often get, ‘Don’t I get a discount? So expensive!’” -NI

While there’s nothing wrong with trying to get the most out of your moolah, understand that you get what you pay for. That means funding makeup quality and skill enhancement (additional training and continuing education) of the artist. “Being a freelance artist, most of my clients are are home-serviced,” explains GRS. “My fees for hair and makeup are very reasonable yet I’m always asked if they can get a discount. Aside from the time spent doing your face, we also have to contend with traffic to get to your home on time. We spend not just for makeup but lights, makeup chairs, tools and other accessories to make your experience more comfortable. And we have to cart all of that around to all of our bookings.”

Don't expect or feel entitled to a discount just because you're friends with the artist. Wait for them to be the one to offer; otherwise, don't bring it up! If you’re on a really tight budget, shop around for a makeup artist whose published rates match your requirements. For weddings, it helps to check out bridal fairs where some makeup artists offer special discounts and service packages. And if you’re wondering if spending extra on a known makeup artist is really worth it, look for reviews of past customers.

Makeup artists work with your features, not against them

Makeup artists work with your features, not against them

Pet Peeve #3: When they think we are special effects artists and/or plastic surgeons

"There’s a lot of ‘I want to look like this or that…’, but their facial features are quite the opposite of what they want the look to be modeled after. I’m not Belo! I wish I could say, ‘Why do you want that look when you’re actually prettier?’”  -CH
“What’s weird is when they request to look like a certain celebrity who looks nothing like them. Then they repeatedly ask [throughout the session] if they already look like that person.” -FL

With a ton of contouring and perhaps some prosthetics, you can probably transform into your favorite celeb. But please don’t! While Paolo Ballesteros can look like just about anyone, you don’t want to look unrecognizable unless you’re attending a costume party or doing a cosplay. Makeup artists can perform not-so-minor miracles like making your dark circles disappear or giving you a perfect pair of brows when your natural ones are practically nonexistent. But they can’t make you look like someone who has a completely different face.

Your pegs are there to give your artist guidance on the look you want to achieve, not to copy it exactly. The key elements of the #FOTD you want - the colors, the application, the formula - will be customized in a way that suits your face best. The MUA's job is to make you look like the best version of yourself, not a carbon copy of somebody else.

Pet Peeve #4: When clients give zero f*cks about instructions and can't be separated from their phones

“It’s annoying when clients are glued to their phones while I’m doing their makeup. Clients cause delay by doing various tasks other than sitting still and letting us work. And when we start to run late from those delays, they’ll be hurrying the process along. It’s very stressful!“ -FL

A full face plus hair can take at least 30 minutes to do, so you can expect to warm your seat for a while. TBH, it can be a bit boring but the makeup chair isn’t the right place to be checking on your Facebook feed the whole time. Your makeup artist may occasionally give you directions on where to look or how to angle your head, so it’s important for you to pay attention and not do anything else in the meantime. If you’re preparing for a big event, use this opportunity to chill out and relax!

For makeup artists, it’s important to be sensitive to your client’s demeanor. A bit of small talk can help build rapport with your client and keep them engaged during the session, or soothe them if they’re feeling nervous. Others may prefer the quiet so be respectful of that as well.

These are tools of trade, not a display demo

These are tools of trade, not a display demo

Pet Peeve #4: When the client asks way too many questions

“People often ask, ‘What makeup are you using?’ If they ask why I do this and that, or if they ask about what makeup I’m using, I explain to them in a nice way.” -BI
“I am asked a lot on the best concealer to use to remove eye bags and wrinkles around the eyes. I tell them that their best friend is a peach or salmon corrector and top with a concealer to hide the dark areas but to get rid of wrinkles, they need Botox.” -GRS

This is a bit of a gray area. Some artists don’t mind when you ask about the products they use, while others find it awkward. One or two questions should be okay, but asking them about everything that they’re doing and using distracts them from their work. It’s a makeup session, not a makeup lesson. If you want to know what they’ll be using, the makeup is often laid out beforehand or you can watch attentively and ask to take a closer look at the products after. And please, don’t treat their kit as a makeup counter and swatch everything indiscriminately! Make sure it's ok first by asking permission but even then it would be kinder of you to let them conserve their products for their professional use.

On the part of makeup artists, try to be patient and gracious in answering questions. There’s often a genuine interest in learning more about beauty on the client’s part, but they may be too shy to go to the more luxe makeup counters for pro recos. Spread the makeup love!

Make a quick phone call, or at least send a text!

Make a quick phone call, or at least send a text!

Be considerate about making the booking and, subsequently, cancelling

“One of the things that really annoy me is having a client suddenly cancel a booking in favor of a friend who can do it for free.” -BI

How can you not cringe reading that? When you book your artist (or any other supplier, for that matter), remember that they are blocking off that date and time exclusively for you; they could have scheduled another client, but instead they chose to trust your word. Show up on time and well-prepared, with your face clean and your pegs on hand. If you really must cancel though, give proper notice at least a week ahead so they can offer the slot to someone else who may want it.

Makeup artists should definitely follow the same courtesies. Keep your schedule organized so you don’t miss appointments, show up late, or double-book. And in case you suddenly get sick or have an emergency, it’s best to have a Plan B (like having a fellow artist take over) so you don’t leave your clients in a lurch.


If you’re wondering why you have to follow any of these at all, the truth is that you don’t. These are really just loose guidelines that can contribute to a pleasant and stress-free time with your MUA. Even if it’s unlikely that you’ll have the chance to work with your artist again, it’s just nice to be nice to others. And that’s a kind of beauty that no amount of makeup can give.

*Names have been changed