Why are good wedding hair and makeup artists so expensive?

Peak wedding season is approaching, YAY! I’ve seen so many questions on social media about wedding hair and makeup artist pricing…

‘Why are wedding hair and makeup artists so expensive?’

‘How can they get away with charging so much?’

‘Why does this HMUA charge ££££££ when that HMUA only charges £?’

‘Am I being ripped off?’

Its just a bit of makeup and hairspray after all…

The conversation between the brides to be inevitably turns to how cheaply other brides have found their wedding hair and makeup. This is sometimes as low as £15-£20 for hair or makeup or £30-£40 for both. Many times, wedding hair makeup artists are derided as charging ‘way too much’. Sometimes other HMUAs say that there’s ‘no way’ that another artist should be charging ‘that much’.

I’m just finalising my accounts for the current tax year. I am determined not to panic at the January 31 deadline this time… Therefore I know exactly what it has cost me to run my business this year. I thought I would share some of the expenses with you.

I hope it illustrates why wedding hair and makeup artists who are running sustainable, award winning businesses like mine charge what they do for their work. Of course, this is written from my point of view. Other wedding hair and makeup artists might think differently, especially if they are not in the South East of England.

Website

Many of my clients find me on google. Indeed you might have found this very blog by googling! My web hosting and my web domain keeps my site online. I also have an amazing designer, B by Nicki, who created my branding and designed my website. I would have had LITERALLY no idea how to make this page without her! This all together, costs several thousand pounds. Without it, you would probably never find me, let alone book me.

Marketing

I pay to be listed on Love My Dress or Rock My Wedding. Both of these blogs are top sites for brides planning their weddings and are therefore expensive to advertise on. I also attend wedding fairs, which are brilliant but very expensive. I have therefore had to make the decision to cut back on them.

Social Media

If you didn’t fine me in one of the ways above, I’ll bet you found me on social media! Between Instagram, Instagram Stories, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn, there are so many ways to be seen, but they are all hugely time consuming to run and maintain. As a result, I employ a social media consultant who helps me with managing it all (the brilliant Inge at B3 Social Design). I also pay for a social media scheduler, to help me ensure that my posts go out on time.

Did you know that Facebook in particular charges businesses for showing their posts to people? If I bung Facebook a few quid to ‘boost’ my post, it will be seen by three or four times as many people, sometimes more. All the social media platforms are moving towards this sort of model where you pay for your posts to be seen.

Why are wedding hair and makeup artists so expensive?

Training

I believe that it is hugely important to invest in ongoing training. Upgrading my hair and makeup technical knowledge, skills and expertise each year costs a significant sum. I also pay for training in relation to my business skills. This year, I have spent almost four figures on upgrading my knowledge and I believe that such investment helps keep me at the top of my game.

Admin

I spend at least an hour (usually two or three!) each day doing admin. Yes, even on weekends! This includes replying to enquiries, sending invoices, preparing contracts, writing blogs and drafting social media posts. Of course, I don’t get directly paid for doing any of this work. I also have an ad hoc PA who helps me with this from time to time who charges £25 per hour (the standard rate for this sort of work).

Alongside this, I have all the usual costs involved in running a business; postage, printing, stationary (incl branded cards, business cards etc), notebooks, paper and pens. I also have an online invoicing and accounting system, all of which I pay for.

Insurance

I pay to properly insure my kit, my studio, my work and my clients. Some venues won’t allow me to work on their premises without this. It means peace of mind for everyone involved.

My studio

My beautiful garden studio was hand built to my specifications in 2015 and cost five figures. I’ve just refurbished it at a cost of some £1500 and pay to light it, heat it and furnish it. My ‘hollywood’ mirror alone was several hundred pounds. On top of this are the candles, refreshments, magazines etc which make it an inviting and lovely place to welcome my brides for their trials. I am very proud of the space I have created.

My car

I need my car to travel to relatively remote venues tucked away in the countryside as public transport just doesn’t run there – let alone at 4/5am when I often leave my home! I need a reliable car to make sure I actually reach my clients and don’t break down. Obviously, this has a price tag attached – both to buy the car and maintain it (servicing, petrol, tyres, wear and tear). I also have priority roadside assistance in the event of a puncture etc to ensure any delays are kept to a minimum.

So, as you can see, we haven’t even reached the day of the wedding yet!

Assistants

I take great pride in the fact that I am very picky about the wedding hair and makeup artists whom I invite to join me on my bookings. I only invite HMUAs to assist me when they are of a sufficient standard that their work could stand alone as the principal artist. This means that I need to pay them an appropriate rate for their work, otherwise they would not confirm the booking with me. Working this way means that clients are pleased with the work on their party that I haven’t personally undertaken as their girls all look amazing. It also means that I usually have a choice of assistants with whom to work and can hand select the most appropriate for each party.

My kit

I spent several hundred pounds on eyelashes alone this year! Packs of hair pins disappear like they are going out of fashion! Consumables like hair products, disposables like mascara wands and cotton wool pads need to be repurchased constantly. I spend a lot of money investing in new products and only the very best ones make it into my kit, meaning that some are consigned to the ‘makeup box’ in my studio. My kit is worth several thousand pounds.

As you can see, it’s a lot more than, just a bit of makeup and hairspray!

Final thoughts

After all these expenses, I pay my tax and national insurance just like everyone else. What’s left is used towards my living costs. My business is my livelihood. I don’t do it on the side of another job. I’ve won awards for my work. I should be appropriately remunerated for the work that I do – and the responsibility that comes with it. My alarm is set for 3/4am most Saturdays to ensure I am with the bride on time. I leave my house at 4/5am. I often don’t return until 3/4pm.

Your hair and makeup will be in all your photos, why try and cut corners with it?  Take a look at my thoughts on why you should book a wedding hair and makeup artist here. You can also read my blog about how to choose the perfect wedding hair and makeup artist for you here.

I really hope that this helps to clarify why a wedding hair and makeup artist who is running a sustainable business will be charging much more than £20 for makeup. Every year, I’m contacted by brides who’ve been let down by ‘HMUAs’ charging a tiny amount for their work. They are inevitably disappointed when I tell them my rates.

As always, if you have any questions, do get in touch using the contact me page!

Maxine x