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:

Breaking it DOWN.jpeg

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.