Let me tell you a story about a freelance makeup artist. It goes a little something like this:

How much do you charge?  
Only to be followed by this statement “Oh. That’s too expensive”


If you are a freelance makeup artist or hairstylist, then yawl know exactly what I’m talking about. Every freelance makeup artist has to answer that question every time they get an email inquiring about their beauty services. Don't even get me started on places like Glamsquad who are pimping us out at bargain basement prices and insulting the industry as a whole. The world has gone completely mad.

So, kittens with mittens! Do you know how much to charge for each job? Do you go for the quoted price or should you ask for a little bit more? 

Pricing our services is often one of the most challenging tasks for all beauty pros... but it's the most important when trying to earn a living.

Here’s the rub: Clients want a price that will provide value for their money while freelancers want to be compensated fairly for their work. No one ever sees eye to eye. But how do you earn an actual living doing what you love? 

Today I am going to share with you 20 Commandments On Setting Your Makeup Rates. On April 26, 2015, makeup expert Margina Dennis and I will be doing a webinar on “Setting Your Rates”.  Margina will be covering the topics of commercial and print, while I cover the bridal section. While this article is helpful for you to start to understand, there is way more that goes into the process than just these tips alone.



  1. The fee you charge should always be based on quality of your service, as opposed to quantity - Hey girl listen. Trying to do a lot of work at a low fee may often compromise quality, especially when fatigue creeps in. You know what I’m talking about. By the time you have done the 9th bridesmaid your ready for a stiff drink and you are counting the minutes until you are out of there. What should you do? Try to focus on offering high quality of services that will satisfy your clients and justify the higher fee you charge.  

2. It's ok to want to make a profit - Ok come on now kittens, I know yawl watch Shark Tank right? Any good biz person knows you are in biz to make a profit, not have a vanity project. I know this seems like an obvious thing but it is very essential to new makeup artists especially those who have never  had a business venture before. After calculating your expenses, always add an overhead. And always add profit. And taxes...and ....well..you get my drift.

3. You deserve a raise, girlfriend - As you grow as an artist, the more skills and experience you add to your craft. Keep reviewing your price so that it reflects your current levels of experience and skills. In addition, the prices of things keep on increasing due to inflation, hence the need to review your price regularly. Can I tell you that the rates I started out in in 1999, I still see freelance makeup artists charging today? Come on really? I know my rent is higher today than 15 years ago. People give themselves raises all the time, why aren’t you? You have my full permission to give yourself a raise!

4. Always know the details of the project before you quote - Have you ever heard “the Devil is in the details?” Yep and in makeup it’s no different. You seasoned pro’s know what I’m talking about. You quote for the project only to find out on the day it’s not anything like what the creative director asked for and you end up loosing your ass on it.  It is imperative to always estimate the effort that will be required to complete a certain job before quoting a price. To do this, you need to know as many of the details as possible and have variables in place in case it goes into overtime. Margina and I will be covering a lot of this very thing in our webinar.

5. More work doesn’t mean freebies - if your client gives you more work on your project than what you had agreed on the contract, then he or she should increase your rate. You should make this known in your contract and take necessary steps to factor this in. Even in the wedding industry, I see overtime happen quite often. Just because you are there on set or at a wedding doesn’t mean you are to get run over by the client. It happens a lot more than you think.


6. Base the price you charge on what the current job on offer is demanding, not empty promises - You all have heard this before. “If you do this for me cheap, I will have more work for you in the future”. Uh, really? More often than not, clients try to negotiate a reduction in price by promising you that they "may" have more work for you in future. Do not agree to this unless the client is willing and ready to sign the contract, for that future work, now. I would say 80% of the time this is complete and utter bullshit. If you teach them how to treat you, they will always treat you this way. 

7. Free work does not pay your bills- How many times have I been asked to donate my servies? Oh about 3 times a day I get requests. Either from a charity event or a test shoot. While thinking if this is the right call or not, always keep in mind that free equals to no pay. If you are thinking to do it keep in mind why you’re doing it and what benefit it has for your book or to feed your soul. Charity is great but I only give charity service to people who have used my business in the last year or if it's a charity I believe in. In regards to testing, I always be sure I love the photographer and model I’m working with.  Always “test up”.

8. Always work for money, not anything else - there have been many times that potential clients may ask you to work for other things like exposure or experience. Others will try to ask you if you would accept barter. Some makeup artists engage in barter but for me, cash is what pays my bills. Unless I know the person and willing to work for something really valuable that I need, cash is king, cha-ching-ching.  

9.Girl, why ya guessing on what to charge? - even as good as it is to give a rough figure before knowing the exact details of the project, never place a firm price before you know what’s involved. I know folks want an immediate answer but trust me on this, don’t guess and get the facts. Take your time on quoting. There isn’t anything wrong with it.

10. The Pain in the Ass Rate- as a freelance makeup artist you should be in control of what you charge. If you think that a certain project will be more challenging, or will require more effort than most do, raise your rates to compensate for that extra effort. I call this “Pain in the Ass fee”. If doing the job will require more work, more time and more effort than a usual job, charge for it. There is nothing wrong with it. Call time at 4am? Charge for it. Traveling to a destination wedding and you have to be at the airport with luggage? Charge for travel days. When in doubt, refer back to #2.

11. What is your competition charging?- As a freelance makeup artist you are not in the game alone. There are other makeup artists offering the same services as you. You can know what they charge by checking at competitor websites or hell, even calling them. Never pretend to be a client. It’s rude. Just call them or email them and say HEY, I’m working on my rates, can you let me know yours? Most artists won’t mind and to be honest, I like that we all can have the conversation. It’s too bad most makeup artists undercharge. Come to our webinar so we can teach you more about how to up your game and be competitive and profitable.

12. Expiration Dates for Your Job Proposals.- Kitten, would you like a client to offer you a five-year contract at a fixed rate that you have set today? Surely, in five years, inflation will have gone up, so be sure you have expiration dates if you get into long term contracts. We will discuss this more in the webinar. But it’s something to think about. Bride proposals can change too, especially if they change locations on where they are getting ready. Be sure to cover all bases.

13. Before committing to a pricing package, make sure that YOU fully understand it - Pricing packages  (especially in bridal) are a great motivator to potential clients. Take time to understand these packages and make sure that any package you offer makes sense to your biz. Every bride and every client is different...so before you offer packages be sure there isn't any grunt work involved because not one size fits all.

14. You can charge late fees - How many times have you shown up for a job and someone has made you late? In every contract that you agree on, always include a stipulation for late fees. (These types of fees will vary depending on the job) Also, clients who do not pay on time can inconvenience you a lot, hence, the need for this stipulation. Margina is masterful at this and will discuss this more in how to price your commercial rates. There are many ways to charge for this depending on what type of job you are quoting.

15. The Rush Fee- if the job or project you are about to take has a very tight deadline, then you should consider charging more for it. Need to drop what your doing, rearrange your day and cancel other things to make it work? Charge for it. 


16. How Low Can you Go? - when you hear a client saying that you are charging very low rates, then this is a sure indicator that you need to raise your rates. Or when you are turning away more work than you can take, it may be time to raise rates as well. Turn and burn is exactly that. Turn it too often and burn out is sure to come.

17. Lower prices do not essentially mean more clients - a widespread misconception among makeup artists is that the more they lower their rates, the more clients they will get. Not true. If I see Elf sitting on the shelf next to Armani, but I have a celebrity client in my chair, which product would I choose for the job? Your selling time, not a product…so think about your services and time as “inventory”. Lower isn’t better and doesn’t lead to more clients. I will discuss target demographics in our webinar.

18. Tracking Your Time To Be Sure You’re on Track-tracking your time will help you know the correct hourly rate that you are earning. There are plenty of online tools to help you track time. Lots of apps out there that can help.  I will give you a list of these in our webinar…I use them often and they really help me keep an eye on my biz.

19. You were rejected for your rate - Girl, it's ok. Don't apologize for trying to run your biz. Sometimes it feels very personal, but in all honesty, it's quite normal. Rejection isn't a bad thing. You have the right to earn a living like anyone else. Don't be sorry for what you charge.

20. Fixed Vs Hourly- in every project you bid for, you have to make a choice between fixed price or hour rates. In the world of makeup its all over the fucking place. Ensure that you understand the pros and cons of each well, so that you can know which to use, and when. 

I hope these 20 commandments are helpful in getting you to laugh and think about your biz. 

See you for our webinar on Sunday, April 26, 2015.