Managing Makeup Expectations: Realistic vs Client

I have always said that makeup artistry is an art. The face in front of you is your canvas and makeup is your paint.

I am sure that some of you, at some point have been asked to makeup for someone else, whether it’s a family member or a client. I am also sure that at some point you have had to balance/ manage the reality expectations and client expectations, when it comes to makeup application.

Often the person sitting in your chair has an idea of what they want from their look and have throught about its outcome, so when the reality of the makeup application does not meet the fantasy then the fault is yours.

It is important if you are a makeup artist/ starting out or do it for fun that you are able to manage the realistic expectations with that of the Clients.

Realistic Expectations


Makeup has the power to create confidence and transform the person sitting in your chair, but whether you are using makeup to bring your ‘clients’ facial features or enhancing their natural beauty or even creating a glamorous looks, you have the ability to make your ‘client’ feel special and beautiful.

Makeup also has the power to downplay features or create illusions. It can help to make dark circles disappear, make eyes look bigger or smaller, lips look fuller and can help to conceal a number of skin issues. A skilled makeup artist has all of these abilities.


Even though as a makeup artist you have these amazing ‘super powers’, it is very important to have a realistic expectation of makeup. Makeup artist do not, not matter how much we want to be able to, have the ability to completely remove skin issues or conditions.

Usually disappointments with makeup, especially on the part of the ‘client’ can come from believing that makeup has the power to do things that it simply can’t. Makeup can help to downplay skin issues and conditions and at the same time it can highlight the features your ‘client’ does like.

It is very important that your ‘client’ understand that makeup is not a permanent solution to life’s problems but that is what makes makeup so appealing, the fact that it is a temporary solution. For one day your ‘client’ can feel like Cinderella. It can bring confidence to individuals who sometime feel (I’ve been there) that their face is not ‘prefect’.


The great thing about makeup in comparison to other cosmetic procedures is that it is pain feel and very relaxing in its application. Makeup allows you to change your look from day-to-day to suit any occasion and this is the immense appeal to makeup, the only risk to makeup application is that your ‘client’ may not like how it looks – but then you can just wipe it off and start again.

Client’s Expectations 


As a makeup artist, as well as managing the realistic expectations of makeup, it is also just as important to understand what you can reasonably expect from the application and the result. This is the best way to manage the expectations of the Client.

I can tell you from experience that some makeup applications can take longer to apply than others. For example, a simple daytime look could take up to 10 minutes but a more glamorous application, for special occasions or an event can take much longer to apply.

This also means that the costs for various applications can vary also and this is more so on the type of product you use on your Client. These are some of the things that you should discuss with your ‘Client’ before they get into your chair. It is not just what they expect from their look (the actual application, as discussed above) but also the duration, costs and products being used.


It is also important for your ‘Client’ to know what to expect physically from the makeup application. I have often had ‘clients’ who feel uncomfortable once the makeup is applied, these are usually those people who do not usually wear makeup.

Let your ‘Client’ know how long they will have to sit for your and how heavy or light the makeup will be on the skin. It is so easy for a ‘Client’ to become excited over wearing false lashes but are they aware how heavy the lashes will feel? Have they ever wore lashes before? Are they allergic to lash glue? These are the things which need to address before the application takes place, so your ‘Client’ has allowed for the time and understand what is involved in the makeup.


One of the things I always get really uncomfortable about when having someone do my makeup is, when they way to close to my face. As a makeup artist, you need to get physically close to your ‘Client’  to work with the makeup, you need to touch their skin. This can actually be quite surprising to someone people and they may feel as if you are invading their personal space.

The best way, I have found to manage this expectation is to let your Client know what area you’re going to be working on, tell them they you will be leaning in close to them.

Overall, as a makeup artist you need be able to let your ‘Client’ know what to expect from the application as whole before you put any makeup on. This is why consultations before application are great, you get to find out so much about the person siting in your chair before you have been begun to apply makeup. From experience if you follow the steps I have discussed above your will rarely have a disappointed Client and that is another person you can add that will recommend your work.


Tips for beginner makeup artists

  • Practise as often as you can on other people – if you are unable to practise on people you can buy practise heads which are a great beginner tool;
  • Try new products – experimenting with new products will help you keep on trend and your Client will get to try the news makeup as well;
  • Never be ashamed to ask for makeup samples – these are a great way to try new things;
  • Volunteer when your first starting out – there are great charities who bringing makeup artist to do makeup for their patients, this is a great way to practise on people and a great way to build your portfolio;
  • practise reproducing looks from magazine;
  • Keep a portfolio of your looks;
  • watch makeup related videos – I cannot tell you how much I have learnt from youtube videos.



2 thoughts on “Managing Makeup Expectations: Realistic vs Client

  1. As a former MUA, I was nodding along to everything. We might be makeup magicians, but not surgeons!

    Great article and I hope clients and new MUAs realise that true beauty comes from within, we can only enhance what’s there.

    Liked by 1 person

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