Do You Like Getting Your Makeup Done by a Makeup Artist?

You may be surprised how some of our resident MUAs answered.
Publish date:
September 16, 2016
makeup artists, NYFW

Last NYFW-related post of the season. Promise. (OK, I can't promise, but I haven't thought of any other reasons to mention it again for at least a little while.)

Of the photos I took backstage at shows like Christian Siriano, Band of Outsiders, and Tommy Hilfiger (where I got to meet Pat McGrath for the first time — yay!), many of my favorites are of the models getting their makeup done by incredibly talented (and exhausted) makeup artists. Por ejemplo:

My absolute favorite might be this one I snapped of Hailey Baldwin at Tommy. It was literally 105 degrees backstage, but Hailey was not only completely at ease getting her makeup done, she even gave good face when she connected with my camera lens.

If there's one theme I see throughout these images, it's relaxation. The models all seem totally comfortable getting their makeup done by someone they might have met for the first time a minute ago. Obviously, that's part of their job, so they would have to get over any discomfort pretty quickly. Some might even argue that it's a glamorous experience, so what's there to even be uncomfortable about?

A lot, if you ask me.

I rarely get my makeup done by MUAs — the opportunity just doesn't present itself very often. And I've definitely had positive experiences. But the negative ones have nearly ruined it for all the wonderful MUAs I may encounter in the future.

One of those negative experiences happened just this past weekend. A number of editors were offered some mid-NYFW zhuzhing, so I thought, why not?

The results are why not, and they were so horrible I'm not even going to show you.

The MUA let me look through her phone at pictures of looks she could do for me, and they were all Instagram-style makeup, which just isn't me. I asked her to do a neutral-looking daytime smoky-eye/nude-lip combo; it seemed like a safe compromise between the polished-but-not-overdone look I was going for and her affinity for dramatic looks.

I ended up with huge, orange, unblended contour streaks in the general vicinity of my cheekbones as well as down the sides of my neck, which had been covered in too-pink foundation down to the clavicle. The smoky eye would have looked good if she'd tight-lined my upper lid or, you know, used mascara, but alas — that didn't happen. The concealer was so heavy that it sunk into every crepe-y crevice under my eyes. She also ended up using the same lip color she personally always wears, she told me, instead of trying to find a nude that would work best for my skin tone, which was far less olive than hers.

I was already running late to meet up with Caitlin for some shows, and I hate to make people feel bad, so I just thanked her and left a tip that I would've given to someone who'd done a great job, because I am a fool.

I texted Caitlin on my way to meet her to warn her about my makeup, and she couldn't hide her dismay when she saw me. Every time she viewed my face from a different angle, she found new places to blend or wipe away horribleness.

I said to her, "I had to ask myself if I don't like it because it's just not what I'm used to, or because she did a terrible job."

Caitlin confirmed: It was a terrible job.

And it's experiences like that one that will keep me from ever fully relaxing when a makeup artist is doing my makeup.

So of course, I asked xoVain contributors...

Do you like getting your makeup done by a makeup artist?

Kara: "Yes, so much, constantly. I am not a control freak about my look, and I love letting them play with makeup. When I worked at the Mall of America, I would go visit my friends at Nordstrom after work and let them do whatever they wanted. They were always so bored because women would be like, "Well ,I don't want to look like I'm wearing a lot of makeup," and I was like "OK, PUT IT ALL ON ME! Try something new! I don't care!" I'm also lucky enough to have a bunch of talented makeup artists as friends, so I can utilize their skills all the time."

Colleen: "Nope. No, no, no, don't touch my face, don't look at me, don't give me pinkeye. No, no, NOPE. If the waterline is even MENTIONED even 15 minutes before this horrible act has to go down, I am on a rocket to the moon."

Wendy: "I personally struggle with it. I tend to prefer having control over my face, and every time I've had my makeup done I always wish it looked different. I mean, if it were Lisa Eldridge doing my makeup I would never turn her down, but for the most part, I just practice and perfect my own makeup for big events."

Caitlin: "NO, I HATE IT MORE THAN ANYTHING. I don't like wearing foundation, and I have heavy eyelids with very round eyes, which it seems like a lot of MUAs don't know how to handle. You know the only time I haven't immediately gone into the bathroom with makeup wipes after getting my makeup professionally done? When Kim did her magic on me on Facebook Live. Girl's got skills, and she listens to what I like."

Kelly: "Definitely not. I've been scarred from too many experiences in the past. My skin is so dry that it requires just the right kind of makeup and application technique, otherwise it looks horribly cakey. I've had caked-on foundation every time I had my makeup done in the past. However I would make an exception for someone like Lisa Eldridge obviously. (Wendy, jinx!)"

Christina: "Yes and no. Yes, because they usually do a good job with my skin, and no, because I hate people putting their hands near and on my eyes, and they also often don't know how to flatter the shape of my eyes, so I end up with a heavy smoky eye (their go-to, I guess) that leaves me looking tired. I once had to do winged liner on myself at Bobbi Brown because the MUA there kept messing it up and removing it, making my eye red. I suppose it just depends on the artist themselves and how skilled they are."

Maura: "YES, please make me pretty! I've only gotten my makeup done a few times, but I just love it. It's so relaxing."

Tamara: "I've only had two pleasant experiences with having my makeup done by someone else, and both were at MAC, which was surprising to me. The first time, my makeup was done by a gal who seemed to have a really similar aesthetic to me, and the second was by my friend who is uber-talented and gorgeous. Other than that, I tend to really like how other MUAs do my eyes and hate the way the rest of my face looks. Too much foundation and concealer every time — I'm not going to a movie premier, I'm going to go eat pizza. I really hate the disposable mascara wands though both as a MUA and as someone they've been used on. I get that they serve a necessary purpose, but they never get my lashes looking right, so if falsies aren't being applied, it ruins the whole look for me."

Hannah L.: "I'm going to say no, I haven't enjoyed it with the limited experience I have. I am sure I gave people some bad makeup when I was 18 and working at a beauty counter, although one lady tipped me a fiver so perhaps it wasn't so awful."

Annie W. D.: "I never have, but I feel like if I did the very foundations of how I do my makeup would be shaken, and I'm not ready for my foundations to be so shaken."

Kristina: "I actually hate it when someone else does my makeup, but that's probably because I am a makeup artist and I'm very specific."

Morgan: "I love it! I'm always interested to see how someone else approaches my face, and I think having been through MUA training, I know that sometimes the result won't be exactly what I want. Also I just find it really relaxing."

Hannah: "I like how it feels to have someone touching my face, but I usually think they use too heavy a hand, and I always end up with a lip colour I hate."

Mari: "I love the feeling, except I feel like I know my face so much better. Generalizing, but I've never liked the results of my eye makeup, maybe because the artists aren't used to Asian eyes? Otherwise, I like it because it feels like pampering."

Sable: "I love the feeling of a pro massaging moisturizer onto my face. I like when people touch my face with a clinically intent non-creepy touch. It's like a non-sexy facial massage."

Allison: "NOPE! Maybe I have trust issues? That and I just don't like strangers touching me. I don't like other people defining my aesthetic, and I don't want other people touching my face. I feel like especially because I have very sensitive skin and I know what it can and can't handle that I'd rather do my makeup and end up with something possibly less fabulous than let someone else do it and look killer but have a massive break out because of it."

Lisa: "NO NO NO. I'm a makeup artist, so it makes me very unhappy when people can't get basic concepts like, oh, MATCHING MY FOUNDATION TO MY ACTUAL SKIN TONE. Clearly I'm scarred from bad experiences. That being said, when in the hands of people with actual talent, I feel great. But there's always several minutes of serious anxiety when a makeup artist I don't know is looking for a foundation shade for me. And OMG, don't get me started on brows..."

Dan: "As a boy, I LOVE getting my makeup done by someone, because I'm basically clueless when it comes to applying my own makeup. I recently had a photo shoot in my apartment (more on that soon) and I had a professional makeup artist come do me up. I've never felt more glam."

Kim: "As a makeup artist, I hate when other people do my makeup. My face is pretty difficult to apply makeup on successfully (I'm asymmetrical, my eyes are hooded and downturned, I have big pores, etc.), which is how I learned to do makeup in the first place. Plus I do a lot of stylistic things, like over-draw my lips and dot on beauty marks, which no artist would automatically think to do. I've only had one person ever apply makeup that I didn't hate, and even then, I still changed my brows and did a bit of the blending of the shadow. That being said, I think communication with your makeup artist is important. If you see something that you don't like, or you prefer something to be done a different way, definitely say it! I try to ask 653,689,643 questions while I'm doing a makeup application to better understand the person I'm working on. Pictures of looks you're interested in are always helpful too!"

Wow — we clearly have thoughts on this topic. How about you? Do you like getting your makeup done by a makeup artist? What else are you thinking about this weekend?