Client Consultations: How to Listen to What THEY Want - QC Makeup Academy

Today we are going to discuss meeting with a client from top to bottom. I see many clients a week and have been doing so for years now. Since I started makeup artistry not only have my technical skills improved but so have my client relations. It’s a growing process. Along the way, you will learn from your mistakes, realize what works for you and what doesn’t and make the necessary changes. I am going to talk about my process today, now every artist is different but these are helpful tips that work well for me.

Client Consultation Brittany

After your basic intros with your client and friendly chit-chat, sit them down and ask them a series of questions. It’s important to really find out what the client is looking for. From experience, I have learned that what the client thinks they want is not always what they will like. It is up to you as their makeup artist to read between the lines. A lot of clients like to bring pictures in to show you what they are looking for. This can be helpful but do not base the look you will create solely on these pictures. They may be attracted to the way the makeup looks in the photo but they could also just like the overall look of the model, their hair color, hair style, face shape or outfit. If you are in communication with your client beforehand, ask them to choose makeup inspiration photos of models with similar skin tone, features and hair color.

Some additional questions I like to start with:

What event are you attending or what type of shoot are you having done?

Finding out the event or shoot type will help you determine the appropriateness of the look. A boudoir shoot would be a slightly different look than an engagement shoot or family session. As a nighttime gala would be different from a daytime wedding or shower.

What are you wearing?

I ask this question not to match the makeup to the outfit as that approach can end up looking quite dated. Find out what your client is wearing to better understand their style. You want to be inspired by the statement of the outfit and draw that out through the makeup.

If your client describes a plunging neckline or a high slit, you could gather that they like making a statement and would appreciate a sultry look. If your client describes a full skirt and capped sleeves, then you could draw that a girlie cutesy look may be more suited.

Draw your own conclusions from what your client shares with you and discuss those conclusions with your client. For example “Oh that sounds absolutely stunning, I can tell you like a bit of a statement look am I correct?” Continue on this path until you have a good understanding of their style.

What does your daily makeup routine consist of?

From this question you will gain the knowledge of how comfortable they are with makeup on a daily basis. If your client wears no makeup on a day to day basis you will want to go in with a lighter hand making her feel more comfortable with the end result. If your client wears full makeup every day, she will be more comfortable with seeing the actual makeup on her face, therefore allowing you to create a more dramatic look. This is where your judgment will come into play if your client wears only eye makeup and no face makeup you may want to avoid a super full coverage on the skin and vice versa.

What do you tend to wear for makeup on a night out or special occasion?

Again, very similar to the question above, here you are continuing to determine your clients’ comfort level with makeup. Learning what features your client tends to accentuate will help you create a look they will be pleased with. If they wear a bold lip quite frequently, you may want to incorporate that into your look. Again all of these questions are just helping you better create a look your client will be happy with.

In my studio I have mirrors placed strategically. I personally do not let my clients look into a mirror as I work. Now, this is something of preference, you may like to have them watch and that is totally fine. The reason I do not is that the makeup application process goes through many different stages. There are points in which someone who is not knowledgeable about the makeup process would find unsettling. Of course, clients understand it’s a process but you have to remember that if they are not a makeup artist you can’t expect them to understand the ins and outs. Some people truly believe you swipe your brush a few times and voila! Beautiful makeup appears.

Makeup artist client consultation—creating the perfect makeup look

I also find that not having a visible mirror helps calm my clients. It’s difficult for most people to relinquish control. I get it! When I’m getting my hair done and watching if there is a piece untouched that needs to be placed elsewhere I hold back just reaching up and touching it. This is a natural human reaction for most. For example, if there is an imperfection in the look that happens at the very beginning and I don’t plan on dealing with it until almost the end, I sense my client’s anxiety about it, just watching, waiting for me to deal with that imperfection. Not having a mirror visible takes away all of those opportunities for my clients to feel anxious. Once I am done and I have applied the finishing touches, I turn the mirror around for my clients. Most people love that I do this and prefer it as they get to see the grand reveal. This may be an idea to play within your own practices.

Throughout the application process I keep reminding my client “Okay so this will be different than what you are used to. Professional makeup always is. I promise you that the initial shock will wear off and you will get used to the look very quickly. You may feel you look different but that is because we know our faces so well. We stare at them closely in the mirror, we know every inch so well. No one else will be as shocked as you other than the fact that they think you look flawless and fabulous.” I warm my clients up to the idea that they will, in fact, look different.

You may think that would be a common understanding of someone wanting to get their makeup professionally done, but it is not. When you add a professional product, technique, false lashes, and contour and highlighting you are truly transforming your client. Preparing them for that is part of the process and will help them be more happy with the finished look.

While I’m working I briefly explain what I’m doing (not in too much detail but just to give them a general idea). I also say that they should feel very comfortable to tell me their honest thoughts when they see the finished look. Some clients can be worried about hurting your feelings but you need to explain to them that they won’t. You are not a mind reader, you are doing your best to create the look you think they want. Express that to your client and that will, in turn, make them feel more comfortable to make small tweaks once the look is done.

If you have thoroughly asked the right questions and drawn the right conclusions 9 times out of 10 your clients will be extremely pleased. Say things like, when we are done, if there is an area you wish to darken or lighten let me know.

Makeup artist client consultation to find what clients want

When you say it like that it doesn’t give them the idea that they can change the whole look. If they have answered your questions honestly, you have provided them with the look they want. It is not fair for someone to ask you to redo the application because they asked for the wrong look. You must stay strong and confident in the fact that you are the professional and you provided a mutually agreed upon a look that suits them, their event, and their style.

I hope this was a helpful read for all of you! This is definitely a tricky area of makeup artistry to master. Expressing confidence in yourself and your work is very important throughout this entire process. Confidence is infectious, loving your work and expressing your excitement about the finished look on your client will just spread to them and ease any uncertainties. I wish you all the best of luck in your future dealings with clients!

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out other articles by Brittany Hall for more tips and tricks from a professional makeup artist!

Author Brittany Hall

More posts by Brittany Hall

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • kira says:

    Very helpful the makeup part is easy its the communication I’ve felt i needed work on thank you

  • Michael Hunter says:

    The initial getting to know your client helps a lot, that was GREAT advice! Because not all clients are their for a service especially in a department store situation. Some come in to dump their issues off on you. I avoided this by talking with the client, found out she had issues with guys who were professional artists specifically the beauty industry. I was professional handed her a business card, welcomed her back when she was ready to have her makeup applied,and purchase some products. She didn’t like that, so she went to another counter,spotted another male makeup artist, and gave him the blues. It’s too bad cause he’s very talented. But I avoided that unhappy client by finding out what she REALLY wanted. Thank you for discussing this important topic.

  • Diana Mejia says:

    This was very helpful! I never thought to ask questions like that! Even though I have been practicing applying makeup on family and friends only, I never thought to ask the right questions in that way. When I first told people that I would be happy to do their makeup, I thought that it would be a lot harder to apply the makeup. Now (even though I still need much practice and even though I’m far from calling myself a pro) I’ve noticed that it’s actually harder trying to communicate and understand what each person wants. The only questions I’ve asked is for them to be brutally honest with me and tell me if they’ve liked the final look- that and “what are you wearing/what would you like?” And now after reading this, I can see how I can try to communicate better. 🙂

    • Mireille Pitre says:

      Glad you found this post useful Diana! It’s important for MUAs (especially newer ones) to realize that the majority of clients won’t tell you if they don’t like your work, for fear of hurting your feelings. While in reality of course, they would never hurt your feelings and you just want them to be happy!

      By asking the right questions and setting expectations before you even grab that first brush, you can help protect yourself and ensure your client walks away looking forward to your next appointment 🙂


  • Amanda says:

    This is a great article, im still studying and find it difficult to do someones makeup who wont give you any clients on what they want. But I just winged it and she liked what I came up with in the end. I just got offered to do a bridal party for next year so i would love a article on that for some tips, I’m a little nervous because i don’t want to disappoint them.

  • Amanda says:

    I meant information not client*

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