A long long time ago in a blog far away, I wrote about this rather uncomfortable subject. That blog has since gone the way of the dodo bird when the new site launched, and for a while it was forgotten. Two recent incidents have prompted me to resurrect the subject and dust it off once more: the sudden crop of “weekend warrior” makeup artists undercutting legitimate companies giving women a false idea of the value of a professional makeup application, and the recession that forced all of us to take a look at what we are buying.
While I can’t speak for others, I can say with absolute confidence that our rates accurately reflect our passion and performance in our craft. Doing makeup is just so personal… not only do we work with makeup, but we also work with peoples insecurities, their personalities, their opinions. I’m here to say that there truly is no better feeling in the world to give a client the mirror and have her tearfully tell me that she’s never felt more beautiful. To be able to create that feeling, that emotion for a woman… you can’t put a price on that. It’s the best gift I can give to this planet, it’s what I believe I was put on this earth to do.
There is no more of a sensitive subject than money. While we casually dish up the details of our sex life over cocktails with our girlfriends, we guard our financial picture with fierce secrecy and vagueness.. as we should! Your finances are no ones business but those whom you share an account with (and let’s face it, the IRS). So to talk so bluntly about why makeup artists charge their rates is not to offend others by raising such a taboo subject, but rather, to help you understand that makeup artists (generally!) do not command exorbitant prices “just because we can”, but that there really is a method to our madness.
On any given job, I likely have approximately $5,000 worth of product with me.
My exquisite, top of the line Ninja Jet Airbrush Compressor ran me $230 (with a coupon.) My gun was an additional $60. Then I paid $350 (the DISCOUNTED rate) for a one-day, Master HD Airbrush Makeup Class. Before I airbrush you into smooth, velvety perfection, I’ve already invested $640. That’s not even counting the actual foundation. I’ve invested in the highest quality equipment and products, and then invested again in my skill set to make sure I was using my fancy new stuff correctly. Every artist that works for our company has a similar story, from 6 month academy training to week-long intensive classes. This high price doesn’t just apply to my airbrush- every artist on our team has a minimum of three different foundation lines with them at any given time. My favorite line is Makeup Forever in HD, a professional line from Paris that runs me $28 a bottle after my professional discount. The best liners on the market are by Urban Decay, and only a couple months ago did they start offering a professional discount. Before they ran us $22 a piece. I have about 3 eye liners and about 5 lip liners with me at all times. And of course, you can’t use pencils for every look, so I also keep a gel and a water-proof sealant with me as well… I could go on and on cataloging everything in my kit, but you get my drift. Makeup and equipment is extraordinarily expensive, education is expensive, and we need plenty of both to be a seasoned and prepared artist.
Advertising is for BOTH of our benefits
Being a great makeup artist doesn’t do our clients or our company any good if they can’t find us. Advertising is generally thought of in terms of being a boon to the company, and it is! But it is equally a boon to the client! Think about a time that you really needed something but couldn’t find exactly what you were looking for, so you settled for something less. The worst is later, you found out that so-and-so knows of this tiny little place that she just happened upon and got exactly the thing that you searched so long for! This is exactly why advertising doesn’t just benefit us, and why you NEED us to advertise. It isn’t cheap to buy ads or listings on websites, and that cost has to be taken into account when we price out our services. Part of what your paying for when you book us is the luxury of having found us in the first place.
We have to remain competitive with companies and artists of the same caliber.
Remaining competitive and in the same price range of companies or artists of the same caliber is absolutely essential to our success. While the gamut of pricing may run from budget artists all the way to luxury artists, by placing our pricing in the same bracket as other companies whom we feel offer comparable services, we remain competitive and yet reasonable at the same time. Also, this helps prevent unethical strain on business relationships, and improves the industry overall.
Rates vary with the region and cost of living
A makeup artist living in California will likely charge substantially more than our Las Vegas-based company does. That is completely reasonable, considering that the cost of living in California is equally more expensive. Quite simply, a dollar goes a lot farther here than beach-side.
Your paying for both time AND skill
Recently, we had a client explain to us that she needed a lower rate because many of the extras we include in our standard service did not apply to her. The reason we were not able to offer this lower rate is because although she may not have wanted her hair pinned up, it took the same amount of time to blow-dry and curl it as she requested. She may not have wanted false lashes, but applying lashes only takes about five minutes and therefore does not drastically impact the overall time of her services. What I’m trying to say is this: We won’t sell our time for less simply because the perception is that the skill needed for it is less.
A pretty penny…
We aren’t crying poormouth- I positively loathe when companies and professionals do that to justify their rates. We make good money and are not ashamed to say so! Any professional who invests in their career and passion is absolutely entitled to charge accordingly. A professional makeup artist, from her kit to her skill, is worth every pretty penny you’ll invest… and a cheap makeup artist will almost always cost your much more than dollars in ruined photos, last minute cancellations, and unprofessional products.