Creating your first portfolio as a Bridal Makeup Artist

Creating your first portfolio as a Bridal Makeup Artist

Your portfolio is the key to your success.

Your portfolio is probably the most important part of your armoury as a makeup artist.  It will be the deciding factor for a bride whether she chooses to initially email you or not so it has to look great.  When you are first starting out this can be a hard thing to get off the ground but you have to start somewhere!

When I started out, I organised a mini photo-shoot with a local photographer who wanted to do a ‘test’ for his portfolio, I asked my cousin who was keen to get into modelling if she would mind posing as a bride which she was more than happy to do, everyone was a winner!  I borrowed a dress from one of my married friends and off we went!


Alternatively, every time you make up a friend, family member or a client, make sure you take a good, high resolution close up photograph of beforeand afterthe finished makeup look.  Future brides always like to see the transformation of previous clients (even if it is your mum or sister) You may also be able to obtain a copy of the professional photographer’s image if your client was a bride.

Another option in building your portfolio is to assist other makeup artists. Many bridal makeup artists need help with large wedding parties.  It is a fantastic chance for the newly qualified bridal makeup artist to learn the skills required in coping with the special demands of a nervous bride or emotional mum and to show what you can do, as well as having professional photos at the end of it.  Please do bear in mind though, the work would need to be entirely your own.  It would not be good practice to put the other makeup artists work as your own.  Explain you are trying to start your portfolio and would she mind if you worked on one of the bridesmaids yourself so you can get a nice photo to use on your website.

It is extremely important to note, if you do assist another artist, and post work from the day on your social media, you must always credit them as well, as they were the one that got you the job in the first place and you are more likely to be asked again if you follow good practice.


Initially these photos can be gathered in a gallery on a Facebook page or on an Insatgram profile (or both) these platforms are hugely popular and an absolute must for makeup artists today, especially when you are starting out, even if some people still prefer to look at a book.


Eventually you will need to have your portfolio accessible on a professional website which will be your showcase, and be the focal point for your work and your business.



Are you playing it safe?

Are you playing it safe?

When starting up your new business as a makeup artist, the most important aspect is to be aware of the health and safety requirements concerning both you and your client at all times.

Cross Contamination

This is the most important aspect of your work as a bridal makeup artist.  You must ask your bride to inform you of any infections such as conjunctivitis, cold sores, impetigo, boils, stiesor shingles so you can manage any risk. Some of these conditions are contagious and could therefore contaminate your entire kit and could also mean you could infect others.

Makeup should be avoided if your bride has any of these problems and, if it is a trial, change the date to allow for the bride to recover. If on the day of the wedding your bride is suffering from any these things, you must ask her to provide her own makeup and if you use only disposable tools you will avoid any cross contamination.

Another point to consider is that if you are suffering from any of these conditions yourself, great care must be taken not to use any of your tools or makeup from your kit on yourself.  Do not touch your face or the infected area while with your bride and carry and use your hand sanitizer frequently.  It is imperative to keep your hands clean and to use clean makeup brushes, disposable mascara wands, cotton pads etc.

Clean Kit

  1. In between every client you must clean your makeup brushes. Always carry a makeup brush cleanser or use an antibacterial soap & hot water to thoroughly cleanse the brushes.
  2. Eye shadows and blushers can be cleaned by the use of a spray-on alcohol that dries quickly to sanitize them.
  3. Lipsticks, eyeliners and lip liners can be cleaned by using a hot, wet cotton pad and wiping down the lipstick, taking off the first layer of colour. You can then sterilize with an anti bacterial spray.
  4. Pencil tools such as liners for eyes and lips can simply be sharpened (using a pencil sharpener) taking away the first layer and resulting in a clean fresh layer ready for the next client.

Lifespan of Makeup Products

Be vigilant and check the lifespan of your makeup products. Out of date makeup can cause skin reactions and will be very obvious to your client by its smell.

All cream-based products will expire eventually although most have a year lifespan. Check your lipsticks, glosses, cream shadows, cream liners, foundations and concealers regularly. Mascaras however need to be changed ever 2 months.  Powder-based products such as blushers, powders, and eye shadows can last much longer as they are not liquid based and therefore don’t require preservatives to keep them fresh. Keep them clean with an antibacterial spray as described above.

Other equipment

Be wary of using heated tools!

If you do hair as well as makeup, using heated tools is one of the biggest dangers.  It is extremely important to take your time in blow-drying, curling or straightening hair. Taking it slowly and concentrating can mean avoiding accidents, as you don’t want to singe the bride!

It is also important to make sure there are no trailing cables or leads for you or your bride to trip over.

   The Dress

Never touch ‘the dress’.  It is highly unlikely that you would be asked to iron the wedding dress as you are not employed to do that, but it has been known!  If asked – politely decline!  If asked to do any touch-ups once the bride is dressed, make sure she and the dress is properly protected from any makeup fallout.

Sometimes you may be asked to help a bride get into her dress. If this is something you feel you would like to assist with, thoroughly wash your hands before you do so, and make sure you have no remnants of products on the back of your hand or arms.


All makeup artists should carry insurance to protect themselves, their kit and their clients. You can obtain this from various companies such as ABT, BABTAC, and Salon Gold (UK)


How do I start my bridal makeup business?

How do I start my bridal makeup business?

Starting up your own business can seem daunting but it is actually quite straight forward. Just remember being your own boss and working for yourself is fantastic and allows you more freedom than a conventional 9-5.  You can work as hard or as little as you feel you want to, setting your own hours and fees.

Listed below are some considerations that you will need to be aware of when setting up your own business.

Sole Trader or Limited Company

Setting up as a sole trader is relatively straightforward and easy to do. You will need to inform the HMRC that you are trading and you must complete a self-assessment tax return form every year to declare your earnings upon which you will pay tax on the profits as well as National Insurance Contributions. You may need the help of an accountant to do this for you but it is quite easy to do yourself and there are many apps now available that can help you do this.  In the United States of America you would need to inform the IRS.

To begin with, it may be better for you to be a sole trader but if your company expands dramatically, you may well want to become a limited company. Setting up as a limited company is a little more complicated as you’ll need to register your company with Companies House after which, you will receive a Certificate of Incorporation detailing when your company was formed and its number.  This can be done online, as can setting up as a sole trader. There is in-depth guidance on how to do this on their website.

Record keeping

You will need to keep clear and accurate records of your earnings and expenditure which means all receipts must be kept for any spending in relation to your business and invoices should be raised for each makeup job that you are employed to do. You can easily find invoice templates online and a simple spreadsheet is useful to record your income and outgoings. You will find it much easier to complete your self-assessment tax returns by being methodical in your record keeping.


As a sole trader, you will need Public Liability Insurance but this is not too expensive. It protects you from claims if a client has had an allergic reaction to the makeup you use, you damaged a bride’s dress or someone tripped over a hairdryer cord or your makeup kit and damaged themselves.

It all sounds rather formal but it paves the way for a successful and thriving career if it’s set up correctly from the start!




Checking out the market for a bridal makeup artist

Checking out the market for a bridal makeup artist

One of the most important things to do before you set up business as a bridal makeup artist in your area, is to make sure there is a market for your services by checking out the competition.  This can be done by searching the internet to find other makeup artists in your region (and outside), in particular those specialising in bridal makeup artistry.  You can then enquire about their rates, albeit this may be better coming from a friends email rather than your own, as it will look rather obvious and they may not want to share their info!  This is a great way for you to gauge how much you can charge in your area without under or over pricing yourself.

Look out for wedding planners, dress shops, florists and wedding photographers/videographers all of which can be approached with your company information, business cards or a polite introduction email with a reference to your work.

It is also a good idea to check on wedding venues in and around your area such as cathedrals, churches, chapels, hotels, manor houses, barns, historical houses– even some garden centres offer themselves as a wedding venue!  You could visit many of these venues personally in order to drop off a flyer or card.  Most venues have a preferred suppliers list, you can enquire about this and see if your work would be up to the standard they require to put you forward to potential brides.

Attend as many Wedding Exhibitions and Fairs as possible so you can meet and network with other industry professionals and potentially distribute your flyers, business cards and price lists.  It is important to show an interest in their company first however as nobody likes to be sold to when they have paid good money to exhibit at the event, be respectful and ask the right questions before talking about yourself.

It is also a good idea to list your business in a wedding directory as well as local business directories.  These can often be in the form of a blog or website and can be found quite easily via a Google search.

Advertise your services in county magazines and/or local newspapers.  Sometimes this can be expensive but if you can submit some editorial about you as part of the deal that makes it more worth while. 

Ensure when setting up your website, or having someone else set it up, that it appears on the first page of Google, for instance. This is achieved by using carefully selected keywords, such as ‘bridal makeup’ and your area, ‘makeup artist’ and your area, ‘wedding makeup’ etc.  It can easily be done on your introduction page, i.e. About Me.  Try and introduce as many keywords as you can think of bearing in mind what a bride will be searching for.  You can use a keyword search tool such as which will help you.

Use social media.  Set up a Facebook page for your business.  Use Twitter and Instagram as well as Pinterest to promote your business and other services to gain followers.  ‘Liking’ other wedding suppliers is a great way of gaining interest and likes for your own profile. Make sure your pages are updated on a very regular basis with relevant photos and comments. You can link these to your website to help drive potential clients in your direction.