Makeup Budget: An Ode


The Dreaded Budget. It keeps you up at night. It makes you second guess every coffee you've bought on-the-go. It makes you want to elope. 

Lovely bride, dear reader, fellow makeup enthusiasts… I’m here to talk to you about the dreaded budget and how me (us) as MUA are involved and calculated into the equation.

Now, half the people reading that first sentence already closed the tab. The rest of you thank you for reading on. I usually try and approach these topics with a certain humour attached to it – I don’t want it to be another do-and-don’t read, I don’t want you to go ‘ah, another one!’ yadda yadda what what. This is just a fact-presented read that you can make of it what you want. 

I’ve asked my peers what it was they wish they could say if they had the platform to say what they want without fear of backlash.  We get that a lot. 

So here it is, the #1 issue we get: 95% of the photos you print, frame, post and show your grand kids one day will be of your (and your husband’s) face. So, while makeup might not seem as the most important expense as it’s a day-only service and not something you have to show physically after the wedding day, it features quite prominently. Now, I don’t care much for table decor which is why I won’t give two thoughts to having it at my wedding, and you might feel that way about makeup but heavens I have NEVER met a woman who did not care about the way she will be immortalized in photos, wedding or not.

So let me break it down:

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Good makeup, quality makeup, costs money. You walk into MAC and WHOOSH! Suddenly you’ve depleted your savings account and your bank phoned because they suspect fraudulent activity on your card. That’s just for you.

Now, us mua’s have to have THAT MUCH MORE makeup (not to mention grips. Hallo, 300 grips gone in 3 weeks) than you because we must cater for skin colours, skin types, skin conditions (yes there’s a difference between skin type and condition) and different look options. Which sounds easy until you realize we literally are the rainbow nation.

On average a makeup artist with 5 – 10 years’ experience charges R3000 – R4000 (including a trial) for the bride. This is not because we’re scamming you. Break that down into the HOURS we spend with YOU – say 3 on the trial day and 3 on the wedding day – that’s JUST R500 per hour at least.

Now say it’s a weird month and you only get a bride per weekend on an average of 4 weekends.

R3000 x 4 = R12 000 – sounds okay but now we have to deduct rent/bonds. Then food. Then insurance. Then child things (I don’t have children but I try here, okay) and oh wait, STOCK.

So how much is our stock? An average product at MAC, Inglot, and Bobbi Brown for us, even with discount runs to about R300 (some more, some less hence average) And with a technical recession in Saffaland, our stock only becomes more expensive. Fuck.  

I have about 80 different products in my makeup kit.

R300 x 80 = R24000 – (this excludes the eyeshadow palettes which are about R3000)

R27 000 worth of stock that needs to be replaced every few weeks.

Me, tearing my hair out when I see my stock receipt.

Me, tearing my hair out when I see my stock receipt.

This is also why we have clauses in our contracts stating minimum persons bookings. We also have to take into account hours spent on admin, it’s not a simple 1,2,3 book-you system. Some clients require more attention, others are so chilled they make ice seem high-maintenance. You don’t dispute your lawyer for admin fees because it’s part of their job, but I have seen that with every creative field, people dispute our fees as it’s not it’s not a job based on numbers nor usually attached to a BA, Ph D or Masters degree.

Your argument can be ‘you don’t have to use that expensive foundation’ or ‘use cheaper stock’ and then my first response is sure, but you’ll look like shit. The cheaper quality makeup is not made to withstand a 12hour party with crying and eating, more crying, sweating and dancing etc. Sure, there are cheaper alternatives that work great, but they are few and far.

And heaven forbid that ‘cheaper’ alternatives that the cheaper makeup artist uses doesn’t hold (which it doesn’t) then you start going batshit because how dare someone do that to you?!

 No, you will be doing it to yourself because you insisted that I (or my peers) are too expensive. I can agree that while yes it might seem expensive, I have to disagree.

If cheaper, great quality products existed, we’d be using them too. We also wet ourselves (excitement or nerves, it can be both you never know) when we stock up. Juss… and then when you’re equipment breaks you properly poop you pants.

How many people you want to have in your bridal party is up to you but telling us we’re expensive because you’re paying for hair and makeup for 7 bridesmaids, you mom and mom-in-law and your granny (they hate having it done) then yes, for 11 people it will be flippen expensive. PLUS we have to get an assistant in.

And to top it all off, I myself insist on doing only one wedding a day (unless it’s an early morning wedding which has also happened only twice in my 8 years) and I’m not a multi-person company so I can’t send you my employees to do ‘Marnel’ … unless that’s something I should look into. But you’re paying for the person and their name/expertise.

Years ago I had a similar article explaining the meaning and cost when presented with the phrase "I want x x x but I don't want to pay a arm and a leg - or as the Afrikaans ladies say - 'n plaas se prys (a price for a farm)". Four years ago based on black market prices (the internet hey!)  for an arm and a leg you would pay R24 000 and by now you're probably looking at a lot more and that's not what we charge. The idea to pay for a service and expect it to become cheaper is quite mind-boggling. This isn't Makro.

Trust us when we present you with the quotes, that this is our job. It’s our name on the line too so why would we try and do anything less than our best? And yes you won't always be able to afford everything but we can't either.  We're just trying to live a life doing what we love to do. 

The Paris Diaries (a.k.a I BOOKED A F*****G WEDDING IN PARIS.


Where to even start?

As most of you probably know, I'm OBSESSED with Paris! It is a city like no other, and if you don't understand the obsession you've probably not been there (some people have and hate it and we'll leave it there...because you're wrong). The City of Lights of The City of Love, whatever people call it, there's magic in the air. 

Now as a workaholic I have always wanted to work there but I was also torn between taking an ACTUAL holiday and not work and take time for myse...ppppffft as if. I think after I came back April 2017 it took my about a month before deciding to go back. With what money and credentials I had no idea but us Toerien-women are like pitbulls - if we have an idea we cannot and I mean CANNOT, let go (love pitbulls, they're fantastic dogs). So I decided May 2018 would be the month, come hell or high water.. or SARS.


Enter Marcelle, who saw the shoot I organized in 2017 in Paris and contacted Janita who in turn referred her to me (in her words) "I have no idea how she organized it, I just gave the dress". Marcelle and Johan were planning their elopement and we started chatting about the details until, out of curiosity I asked but when were they planning on doing this. 

MAY 22nd 2018... I think a collective shriek went across the globe and I told her that was square in the middle of my (still in planning, unpaid) trip. She promptly paid me a booking fee the next day. Right, pee'd my pants.


What followed were months of denial, chats, whatsapps between me and Marcelle, ideas of how the hell to book possible jobs, how to make my kit compact/travel friendly... basically not believing THIS till-you're-on-the-plane-thoughts. 

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I mailed and stalked agencies like a frikking PI. Updating and "streamlining" my website, Instagram, Facebook etc to present the best version of Marnel-the-makeup-artist and although I received responses from some agencies, most were very nice but concerned that most of my work was bridal. You know when you've got a feeling about something and you have no idea why but you're like maybe I shouldn't try so hard and focus on THAT right now? Yeah, that was me so I decided to rather focus on planning shoots I've dreamed of doing, visualizing the shots I want in my portfolio and basically I knew that I would 110% enjoy myself because it was MY dream. Deciding to not do what I initially thought I would felt like I gave up or I failed at that... but somehow I'm not bothered about failing that. My plans became better.

Honestly, I have no idea how I managed this. Between mailing strangers in a foreign country (luckily Ian Holmes was a massive help!), telling them about an idea and how you'd love for them to help you realize this vision, hoping and praying that your work impresses them enough to trust you, organizing MODEL models and feeling absolutely shit not being able to pay them... because you know, the Rand and le'Euro exchange rate is killing us. Sourcing gowns was easy but deciding to not only take Janita's dresses was a big 'thing' for me as I actually do enjoy working with other designers as well and I don't want to give the idea I'm preferential; it's just a massive perk having her as my sister too. 

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It's flippen daunting. And yes I have people sneering because 'are you off to Paris AGAIN' (really dragging  that 'agaaaaain like thanks Carol, I get it!) and 'wow you go overseas a lot!' - yes, because I don't have kids, I don't buy new cars, I don't pay any loans because it's my choice. 

ANYWHOOO... photographers came on board including Kusjka du Plessis (we did the wedding and a shoot together!) - special shout out to The Paris Photographer, Rachel Calvo, Ian Holmes, Carolina Evanno, I got dresses from Janita Toerien, Elli-Nicole Bridal, Anna Georgina and Safanja, the most GORGEOUS rings from Marion Rehwinkel Jewellery and then the day came: my tassie was gepak en ons was op die vliegtuig.

Guys... it was the unreal. The wedding was a MASSIVE SUCCESS! I would probably sell my one kidney (any takers?) to do this again! Everyone involved were so happy, everyone was so excited and my gosh... the photos. THE PHOTOS YOU GUYS!! JUST HAVE A LOOK!!

Two weeks of living in the city walking around as much, as late, and as far as I pleased was effing phenomenal. Carrying my entire/compacted makeup and hair kit was a little more difficult but a small price to pay. Mind you, the season decided to switch from 20 degrees to 30 degrees average in 2 weeks so Accuweather betrayed me.

I got to visit the Yves Saint Laurent museum (located in his old studio), I had drinks on the Seine, I got to walk in a downpour almost every day because summer in Europe hey... but hell, the rain was amazing! I got to see the show at Lido and I downloaded the can-can song immediately afterward because my inner child is a dancer and not a vet as I thought all these years... I went to the Louvre for FIVE HOURS (3rd time is the charm truly) and I got to shoot in the greatest locations in the city. And I discovered Croque Monsieur... yes it's simple but goooooood!!!

Gosh the one shoot (with Kusjka) was insane - model had cancelled the day before and fellow Saffa living there, Samantha, stepped in to help again! Except I apparently bought the wrong ticket type for travelling out of the city and got stopped on the platform by this toad-looking boy (he might be toad-looking only because he behaved like it) and penalized  35 Euro... mens dit vat mos nou alles in jou om hierdie padda-seun nie plat te duik nie,veral as jy 'n kop bo hom uitstaan. I'll let you do the math. So eventually I get to Sam, who lives in the post picturesque town, cobblestone streets (me freaking out because they drive on the wrong side of the road), hills and greenery, just so beautiful. Makeup did, hair did and off we go! Straight into afternoon traffic which is just as bad, for me at least, as CPT traffic. 10km takes you forever. Which was actually a blessing in disguise as we had the most beautiful light at the Louvre by the time we arrived. 

Which ended up me doing shopping... and not even (just) clothes mind you, just trinkets and 'stuff'. Sneakers..magnets... coffee cups etc... but enough to take my collective baggage (Emirates allowed 2 bags of 23kg's each for economy passengers) from a healthy (SA - PAR flight) of  22.1kg and 23.4kg each to returning with 24kg and ........... 36kg... 60kg TOTAL

HOW DID I GAIN 15kg of LUGGAGE?? The poor gentleman (here after known as man-angel) helping me with baggage check let the 1kg slide but politely informed me I had to redistribute my contents and promptly brought two bags (like 25 x 30 cm) bags to help me, which again I somehow managed to fill with 4kgs (of wait for it) makeup pallets and 2 pairs of sneakers. Meaning as a Economy passenger, I'm still very, very overweight. This all happened after I paid a fortune to have my bags wrapped.

So, bags wrapped - unwrapped to take out crap - tried to rewrap, can't do it myself, head back to have it wrapped properly - pay to have the big bag wrapped again - redo check in - get sent to original guy to continue check in - sent to Emirates desk to pay for extra luggage which man-angel did for me by translating French-English, English-French back and forth - baggage paid while being wished a wonderful flight - continue with man-angel to get me on the flight. This all took about 90min, I was sweating like a pig, I was red from wrestling with my bags on the floor, square on my bum in the open airport surrounded by panties, tops, ziplock baggies, makeup, toiletries etc all while making sure any fragile items are still in their secure positions... I was DONE. Laughing manically, but done. 

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I'll be adding some more images over the coming days/weeks so keep an eye out!

And to the Carols of the world, yes, I'm already planning my next trip!

I made a Blog... Again

marnel toerien - claire thomson photography

Yeah… again.


I initially (after a brief blog career of 2 minutes) decided to stop writing because I felt I was becoming negative. Or maybe I didn’t have anything to say anymore.

When or if you decide to keep reading please note the following and consider this a disclaimer:

1.) I love my job. Yes, to the degree that I am writing this while I’m supposed to be resting. At least I’m in bed.

2.) When I'm writing about experiences is does not mean I’m ungrateful - nor am I pointing to a person in particular. However, I am or rather have experienced... things...which is not to say that they’re negative to the point of crushing me but I’ll get to that.

3.) At least I can do this for a living. But as with every career there will be experiences and people that rain on your parade and there will be people that in one second remind you how amazing and effing awesome this job is.

4.) There might be light swearing involved sometimes. You were warned. Jammer Tannies!


SO… that being said what will I blog about?

Makeup tutorials? BAHAHAHAHA NO. There are literally 2 million+ videos on YouTube on how to do a smokey eye. You don’t need my take on it.

Makeup videos for fun? Maybe, I’ll see how I feel and how many innocents I can come to sit for makeup

Glam-Masters-whatever-it’s-called challenges? Maybe, don’t know.

Instagram trend looks? F*** no. I get it, the makeup LOOK looks cool. Do I as a makeup artist think it’s cool… not necessarily. I think most of what we see is the blue eye-shadow of the 80’s. I can go into a whole article (hey, heey) about Instagram. Not the bloody algorithms because I don’t think the internet-gods even know what’s happening there.

I'm not doing a fitness blog, or food blog, or parental blog, nor a fashion blog or lifestyle Feng-shui blog so if you're looking for some enlightenment you're on the wrong site I think. I'll leave that to people who run, who cook great food (send me some!), those who have kids, those who have fashion sense and those who know what Feng shui is.

What do people want to know from me then you might ask? Well, how to do their makeup without feeling like a clown, or a drag-queen (R.E.S.P.E.C.T) bit actual nice, do-able makeup.

Yeah, your makeup will always look amazing if you only show how you do it on yourself (yes makeup influencers I'm looking right at you) but I want to show something… better? More? Something that’s not Instagram-perfect. Something you can relate to. Something real.

That’s what I want to write about. And occasionally show you what fun I get to have on the job.