Make Me Up: Finding Inclusive Wedding Make Up Artists

Can you recommend a brilliant make up artist who can work with my skin tone?

Recommendations for quality make up artists (MUA’s) and photographers are THE most popular requests I get on Nu Bride on a regular basis.

Luckily I have a bucket load of photographers I can recommend with confidence and ease. But for quality make up artists, I have a much smaller pool that I feel confident recommending.

Of course this is great for the fantastic MUA’s who get all of my referrals, but when they are booked up (which is often, because they are brilliant) or are out of area,  I become a little stuck and so do some of you!

Sam and Louise PhotographyMUA:  Lovely Wedding Locks | Sam and Louise Photography

It frustrates me that I still get messages from brides-to-be saying they are struggling to find MUA’s that cater to their skin tone. That they struggle to be inspired or find MUA’s with examples of ‘themselves’, because so many MUA’s have little diversity in their online portfolios. This leads some gorgeous girls (and me) to ask the awkward question, E.g: Can you do make up for black, asian, chinese – [insert applicable] skin tones?

It always feels slightly contrived asking this question, as if we are Aliens with abnormal make up needs.

Most brides search for make up artists and inspiration online. Therefore a quality and inviting website with diverse examples of their work is so important.  Invite me in. Communicate that your service IS for me too.

As consumers, research has proven over and over again, we are more likely engage with a product or service, if we see a ‘version’ of ourselves in the marketing. We often need to see an example of ourselves to feel confident in booking or purchasing a product or service.

n (43 of 51)Rabbit and Pork Photography

To see some form of an ‘example of yourself’ in a make up artists work on a similar skin tone is imperative. Brides are looking for quality and to be inspired by make up ideas for ‘them’ too.

It makes sense doesn’t it?

Sometimes I am asked;  Is it a case of choice, do some MUA’s only provide make up services for their preferred race? Or is it simply a matter of  them not having an eclectic client base to be able showcase variety? People buy what they see.  For example, if an MUA happens to have lots of Asian brides in their portfolio – that is notoriously the client base they will continue to attract. Unless of course the commission their own, or get involved with styled shoots, to show off the range of their talent and expand their client base.

Make up Woes

Victoria Mitchell PhotographyMUA: Nelson Catarino | Photo: Victoria Mitchell Photography

I remember being a teenager and having zero foundation or powder choices for my skin tone. Luckily I had pretty smooth skin, so made do with just applying mascara and some funky eyeshadow.

Eventually Clinique started to diversify their range and introduced some darker shades. The only shade that was remotely dark enough for me, was so obviously the wrong colour, but it was the darkest shade available at the time, so with glee, just happy to be acknowledged in some way, I bought it. I  got dolled up for a little teenage bopper nightclub (remember those! lol!) I wanted to wear powder like my friends. It was a poor colour match for me,  I honestly looked like I had been embalmed, I was so grey. lol!

Bridal-Beauty-Nikos-Gogas-www.nubride.com_0734.jpgMUA Giselle Ali | Photographer: Nikos Gogas

In my acting days, having my make up applied by professionals, came as standard practice. Be it on a photo shoot, or on a TV set. I mostly enjoyed working with MUA’s creating new and exciting looks for me. However, 7 times out of 10, I would have to bring my own base / foundation to be catered to….That was 9 years ago and sadly I and others still face some of the same issues today.

Is there big a difference?

Lydia Stamps Photography 050MUA Jules Cardozo Marsh | Photo Lydia Stamps Photography

I was on a magazine shoot a couple of years ago talking to another great MUA Jules Cardozo Marsh and I asked if there was a difference between applying make up to black and darker skin tones in terms of application, of course she said there isn’t. Without question it is necessary to have an understanding of products, to be skilful and educated about skin types, melanin differences and the implications of this, but all of the fundamental skills of make up application are the same, regardless of skin tone.

Feeling Left Out

Binky Nixon PhotographyMUA:Natalie Danielle |  Photo: Binky Nixon

I receive comments from gorgeous readers, who have been invited to model for editorial photoshoots, where make up artists either evaded doing their make up, or asked them to do their own,  because they did not have products for their skin tone.

I can attest. I myself have experienced this more often than I would like to mention on shoots, where MUA’s are not prepared, or simply do not have products for black or darker skin tones. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, I just come to accept it. But at times it makes me feel completely inadequate. I have either been turned away completely (which leads to mutual feelings of embarrassment), or asked to provide my own base, or referred to other MUA’s who are the same race.

Whilst there is some understanding in feeling more comfortable or confident with an MUA who shares your race, this perpetuates another common misconception in the industry that only Black, White, Asian, Japanese [insert applicable] MUA’s can do make up on your skin tone. Yes, this myth does exist.

Some might think, what’s the problem with being asked to provide your own make up when working with an MUA? So long as you are comfortable and like the overall look, that’s what matters right? To a certain extent I agree, but if we are paying a professional, that is their job, not ours. A wedding photographer would not ask us to take some of our own pictures on our wedding day would they? On a professional editorial shoot, or on a TV set, in theatre….when my peers are all being given a full make over and a good old well deserved pamper, why should I or anyone be asked to do our own make up?

It’s these little inequalities that lead to feeling inadequate and different. It’s these little inequalities that some people may see as insignificant, that can ultimately lead to indirect discrimination.

Moving Forward

Sam and Louise Photography Sam and Louise Photography

These little mouldy oldie’s on photoshoots happens too often. Even in fashion industries, so much so, model, Iman got so fed up with having to blend her own foundation on photoshoots, she created her own make up brand now reportedly worth approximately $25 million dollars.

After nearly two-decades modelling, and mixing foundation formulations for make-up artists to use on her, Iman launched her line at JCPenney in 1994.  Source 

In 2015 there is NO excuse for brides and women not to be adequately accommodated for their make up needs. We have so many brilliant make up brands like Mac (which I adore), products and choices that cater to a plethora of skin types and tones.

I have conjured up a series to help us uncover some of the frustrations SO many of you seem to experience when faced with searching for an MUA for your wedding day.

I have called upon the experts and rounded up a few of my favourite inclusive MUA’s in the industry, (including Alison Cameron and Nu Bride Ambassador, Joyce Connor), who all have beautiful, eclectic, diverse portfolio’s and effortlessly cater to ALL skin tones!

I LOVE THEM and YOU will too. They have some great tips, will dispel some myths and get you inspired and at the end I will provide you with my little red book and holy grail list of some of my favourite and the most inclusive MUA’s I know.

The reoccurring message that has been reinforced by all of them, is that a professional MUA should be able to work with any skin tone and will have an online portfolio to reflect this.

First up next week, to uncover some make up myths and share a few tips to help you in your search for an inclusive MUA, the brilliant and insanely talented; Ana Ospina!


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6 Responses to “Make Me Up: Finding Inclusive Wedding Make Up Artists”

  1. Nathalie at Buttercup Bus
    June 24, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    This is a fab article. Having a mixed skin tone, which changes dramatically in the summer and winter, I can certainly relate to this!

    • Nu Bride
      June 24, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

      Thanks so much Nathalie, that makes perfect sense how the season can affect your skin tone and condition! So glad you could relate, stay tuned for the rest of the series

  2. Karen -
    June 24, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    Yet another brilliant Nu Bride post highlighting what needs to be changed in the industry in your imitable way. I look forward to the rest of the series!

    • Nu Bride
      June 24, 2015 at 8:32 pm #

      Thanks for your support and lovely comment Karen, stay tuned! Some great insights from the professionals coming up!

  3. Heather
    June 30, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    Thanks so much for launching this series. My wedding is right around the corner in October and I’m currently searching for a MUA. Ever since my fiancé and I got engaged and we were preparing for our engagement photos , I started panicking about make-up. I do my own make-up everyday but it’s pretty simple. Every time I have to get my make-up done professionally It brings up a feeling of dread. Thoughts of all those times I went to a make-up counter with my girlfriends and they all bought make-up or got a make over except for me because they never had a foundation for my dark skin tone.
    I love my skin & I’m really hoping I can find a MUA for the wedding who can enhance my natural beauty.
    I feel every time I have a wedding worry, I come to your site and read something insightful that reminds me I am not alone with these worries.

    • Nu Bride
      June 30, 2015 at 9:11 am #

      Hi Heather so glad you are enjoying the series and more important are feeling validated and comforted that your worries are not isolated and more importantly that there are some solutions too! Keep following there is lots more in store and hopefully your worries will have dissipated by the end of the series! Thanks so much for your kind comment, the make up counter experience truly resonates with me too! Thank you for following . Nova x

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