How to Find and Choose an Inclusive Wedding Make Up Artist

Hello beautiful you!

Moving onto our penultimate inclusive Make Up Artists series. Today, we are joined by the very brilliant Joyce Connor, Alison Cameron, Suki Miles and Helen Leonard to share every tip you need to know to help you find a brilliant MUA for your wedding day, what to look for and what to avoid!

If you missed part 1 and part 2 , ensure you catch up, they were cracking!

Joyce Connor MUA | Alexandra JaneJoyce MUA: Photo: Alexandra Jane

Welcome the incredibly talented lady with the infectious smile; Joyce Connor founder of Brides and Beauty is one of the most popular MUA’s in the southern hemisphere of the UK wedding industry, with a deliciously diverse client base and needs no introduction on here as one of Nu Bride’s Ambassadors ! Joyce is also a volunteer for Look Good Feel Better charity dedicated to providing beauty workshops for women undergoing cancer treatment.

Highly sought after MUA, Alison Cameron, started her MUA journey after being selected to join the prestigious Mac Events Team in 2006 and works extensively in the bridal, TV, film and fashion industries. Alison effortlessly has one of the most diverse client bases and works tirelessly to provide impeccable, beautiful make up for every race, colour and creed! Alison is fluent in British Sign Language and also works within the Deaf community and teaches Make Up to Deaf students at Oak Lodge School. Alison’s work is impeccable and she knows how to do inclusive with her eyes closed!

Suki Miles: The coolest, calmest, trendiest MUA I know. With over 10 years experience in the industry. Suki works passionately and inclusively, she also works extensively in fashion, TV and editorial and bridal and has an eclectic client base. Suki is also a popular teacher and teaches Make Up at West Thames College amongst others.

Helen Leonard: is another passionate MUA and hairdresser who enjoys providing inclusive hair and make up services for all! Helen started her journey in beauty as a hairdresser and went on to train at The Make Up Artist Academy in 2009 and now works extensively in editorial, fashion and bridal, to proudly cater for all ethnicities.

Finding An MUA that works with EVERY ethnicity

Joyce ConnorMUA Joyce Connor | Photo Marius Liebus

Joyce: When it comes to finding the perfect make up artist for you it can be a minefield.

Firstly go by word of mouth recommendations.

Have you attended a wedding and loved the make up the bride had? Was that a make up look that you would like for your wedding? Contact the bride and check who her make up artist was. Look at wedding blogs, Pinterest and magazines for visual inspiration too.

asian_london_bride_make_up_bridal_alison_cameron_traditional_weddinglAlison Cameron MUA | Photo: Alexandra Pichon

Alison: Personal recommendations and a good reputation will always speak for itself. Ask around, but if you want to look further afield head to a MAC Cosmetics counter. Maybe I’m biased as I spent 8 fantastic years working for MAC, but there are some truly talented artists who work on their makeup counters. Because of the training they receive they are able to work with EVERY single skin tone without a second thought.

Book a makeup lesson on counter and you will get a specially trained artist who may be able to assist you with your Bridal makeup. Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier have great artists too.

You could also try asking your wedding photographer. Most photographers have at least one makeup artist who they like to work with and who are happy to recommend because good makeup equals happy, relaxed, beautiful brides and which makes for better pictures all round! Alison Cameron MUA

Helen Leonard | Slick PhotographyHelen Leonard MUA | Photo: Slick Photography

Helen: Take advantage of the benefits of social media. Pinterest, Instagram and even Facebook are a great way to search for MUA’s. For example, you can search using your chosen ‘hashtag’ such as #londonmua #blackbride #asianbride #promua #birminghammua, etc. You should see a wide array of talented MUA’s work, making it easier to see if their style matches your personal taste.

Nikos Gogas - Grace by Nu BrideSuki Miles MUA | Photo: Nikos Gogas

Suki: Discover professional MUA’s in your local area by searching online via google. Check their online portfolio and look for diverse examples of their work. Check their biography and check that they are fully trained and insured.

Insurance is only given out to professionals that are certified.

What to look for?

Joyce Connor - Carey SheffieldMUA Joyce Connor | Photo Carey Sheffiled

Joyce: Definitely check out a make up artists websites in detail.

Do they have a full range of make up looks?

Are the brides featured similar to you in skin tone?

If you look at a MUA’s portfolio and don’t see a similar skin tone to yours, but like the look of the make up artists work, you can ask if they cater for your skin tone.

Alison-Cameron-Freelance-Makeup-Artist-Bridal-Image-003Alison Cameron MUA | Photo: Alexandre Pichon

Alison:  Look for an artist whose work depicts the mood and style of make you are going for.

Try and find examples of their work where you can see the makeup (especially skin) close up. That way you can see their brush technique and ability to transform. You can also see if they are heavy-handed or sloppy and how well they can blend. (Nu Bride: Brilliant tip!)

1978901_1563712537199212_1651308035525089158_n[1]Suki Miles MUA | Photography: Atomik photography

Suki: Qualifications…. Most professional MUA’s who have undertaken full-time Makeup training in HND – BTEC in Specialist Makeup or a BA in Media or Specialist Makeup, will have a full kit to enable them to cater for all skin tones. From the lightest porcelain to the deepest ebony.

Don’t be afraid to ask whether they are used to working on your particular skin tone, if you don’t see examples of your skin tone and type on their website, ask to be emailed examples of their work.

What to avoid?

Carey SheffeldJoyce Connor MUA | Photo Carey Sheffield

Joyce: Avoid portfolios that are full of over edited images.

You won’t be photo-shopped on the day of your wedding, it will be you, that your guests are seeing, not a photo-shopped version of yourself. Joyce Connor MUA

There are lots of make up artists that specialise in weddings. Bridal, TV, Film and fashion make up are all different. Bridal make up has to last all day once its applied. Fashion make up is heavily edited so you often don’t really see the raw, unedited image before its processed in photoshop and printed for magazine or online use.

Nathan Pask | Alison CameronAlison Cameron MUA | Photo:Nathan Pask

Alison: Look closely at the artists work for overly photoshopped or plastic looking images. ALL images in magazines, bar none, are photoshopped to some degree.

But there is a line and it is often crossed. A multitude of sins can be hidden by technology these days under the guise of an Instagram page that has 10K plus followers and 100’s of glossy images taken with a DSLR camera, but all the life of the skin has been sucked out of the makeup. You won’t know how good they are until you have booked a trial (and spent money).

Helen: Avoid having a trial at the last-minute. Try to book at the very least, 8 weeks before your big day where possible. This allows for any changes and gives you peace of mind in the run up to your wedding.

Never book a makeup artist without a trial. The last thing you want is for a random application on your big day. Seeing what you will get in advance and allowing time for tweaks is worth more than a thousand words. There will be no second guessing and both you and your makeup artist will be on the same page on your wedding day.

Try not to follow any major trends at the time of your wedding, instead I recommend choosing looks that most represent you, so that when you look back at your wedding pictures you recognise yourself as you. Helen Leonard, MUA

Nikos Gogas - Grace by Nu BrideSuki Miles MUA | Photo Nikos Gogas

Suki: Avoid makeup artists that advertise on Gumtree or similar sites offering their services at knocked down prices. Generally these people are unlikely to be trained or insured and it could be to your detriment, as there is no standard that they have to adhere to. The phrase “you pay peanuts you get monkeys” springs to mind.

How to overcome challenges if you don’t see examples of your skin type or tone in an MUAs portfolio.

FO Photography-0113Joyce Connor MUA | Photo:FO Photography

Joyce: Some make up artists don’t show their entire portfolio online. A make up artist that has a diverse portfolio, is more likely to be able to cater for all skin tones without you having to ask the question; ‘Do you cater for my skin’.

Alison Cameron MUAAlison Cameron MUA | Photo: Maria Murray

Alison: Look at the MUA’s portfolio. Do you see brides that look like you represented well? If so, always have a trial and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If you don’t see yourself represented in an MUA’s portfolio, it means either they haven’t done any clients that look like you, or they haven’t taken the time to promote it. Either way, I don’t think that’s a good sign. An inclusive MUA should WANT to show their diverse skills in the best possible light and so should prioritise that in their portfolio. Alison Cameron MUA

Helen Leonard | Slick PhotographyHelen Leonard MUA | Photo:Don P Photography

Helen: If you don’t see exactly what you are looking for, try not to get disheartened. Any good inclusive makeup artist should be able to advise you on whether or not they can provide you what you need. Just ask, the worst that can be said is no.

Each and every woman is unique and I can tell you from my experience, that whilst I do work on all skin tones and feel this is reflected in my portfolio, it is impossible to display the full array of my work at any one time. Any professional MUA will have the right tools, techniques and products to provide your desired look. It’s all about making sure they understand what your needs are, so early and clear communication is key.

Suki MilesSuki Miles MUA

Words of Wisdom

Opulent-Country-House-Wedding-Inspiration-Benjamin-Wetherall-Photography-Extraordinary-Days-Events-Bridal-Musings-Wedding-Blog-29Joyce Connor MUA | Ben Wetherall Photography

Joyce:  Have a budget in mind for your make up before you start. Book the person whose portfolio you like the most for a trial session.

Be honest. Tell them what you do and don’t like.

A good make up artist will do a thorough consultation before they start your trial. This should involve asking about your skincare, day and evening make up routine. Joyce Connor, MUA

The make up artist should also ask about the type of look you were thinking of achieving for your wedding day.

Gather some images so they have an idea of what you think might suit you. Good make up artists listen to you but have valuable input too. Their experience in weddings can count for a lot!

Alison-Cameron-Freelance-Makeup-Artist-Editorial-Image-012Alison Cameron MUA | Photo: Jayesh Pankhania

Alison: Build a rapport with your MUA. After all, they are going to be with you on the morning of one of the most special days of your life!

Choose someone who is calm, professional and knowledgable. And lastly go with your gut…Someone that makes you feel comfortable as well as having amazing makeup skills. Alison Cameron MUA


Helen: Look for a makeup artist that can showcase your preferred style in their body of work, or as close to it as possible.

1. Communicate. Don’t ever be afraid ask questions, that’s how you will find your answers. Once you have found your artist, continue the communication, ask questions, ask for changes if you need to during your trial – a good MUA will be responsive to this.

2. Buy your dress first before booking your MUA. Many brides prioritise their wedding dress and leave hair and makeup as an after-thought without realising, they are all as important as each other in completing your overall look for your big day.

tribal fashion umbarSuki Miles MUA | Photography: Atomik photography

Suki: A wedding day is thought to be one of the most important days in a woman’s life. Always book a hair and makeup trial, on average they cost between £80.00 and £120.00, but it is a very well worth it and will make you feel confident that  the correct makeup colours and style will be used on your special day .

Don’t be afraid ask your makeup artist if they are confident to work on your skin tone, if they are apprehensive, or say that they have never done it before, then swiftly move on. Use someone who is confident and has a diverse portfolio, great feedback and training to back this up, your wedding day IS NOT the day to be someones guinea pig.

Now that should get you started!

What an incredibly talented bunch of MUA’s and women – Thank you enormously Alison, Joyce, Suki and Helen!

For more information on the lovely ladies please visit their respective websites:

The Talent

Alison Cameron MUA

Joyce Connor MUA / Brides and Beauty

Suki Miles MUA

Helen Leonard MUA

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