As a makeup artist, you face a double guarantee when it comes to mistakes. First, you are human, so you will make them. Second, you are an artist and not everything ends up perfect the first time! My point here is that mistakes can and will happen. As soon as you accept that, you are already halfway to the solution. After all, it’s not the mistake that matters—it’s what you do to recover from it!
Here are a few mistakes that makeup artists (and people in general) might commonly make and a few tips on how to turn them back around.
1. Creating work that the client is not pleased with.
This is most likely every makeup artist’s worst nightmare. To get through a look, to be thrilled with the outcome and then have the client say they are unhappy, or worse, dissolve into tears. This is mortifying!
But it happens. It can happen for a variety of reasons and many of them have nothing to do with the quality of application. I had a client once who wanted me to teach her to apply makeup for her son’s wedding. I did a lovely look on her, all her friends were ooh-ing and aah-ing, but when she took the mirror into her hands, she turned to tears and then rage. When she finally told me what was wrong, she said she was afraid my color choices would not go with the colors she was thinking of wearing.
Please note, I had asked her before I began what color she was wearing and she said she had not decided. I talked to her calmly and after a while, she told me her fears about the wedding and her worry for her son. We wiped away the eyes and I asked her what she would like me to do differently. She said she just wanted to look beautiful. I gave her a hug and redid the eyes.
I did almost nothing different with the makeup because the look was appropriate for her and she had offered me no suggestions for changes. What I had done differently was taking the time to hear all the things that had been in her heart, the things she had not told me at the start of our session. And once they were out, she loved the “new” makeup I did for her. In this case, my client was not happy and I had to find a way to turn that around. What she really needed was a sympathetic ear.
If you make a mistake in application, if you just have someone who wants to find a mistake for another reason, or if you simply have a client who is not happy, the best thing to do is ask them what they would like fixed. You are a professional. You can do anything with makeup, but you cannot read minds! Taking the time to listen to your client is the first step to resolving the situation. Applying their feedback is the second step. If you do those two things, with kindness, you will undoubtedly end up with a happy client.
2. Offending a client.
People can be sensitive, especially when they are sitting in front of you bare-faced! If you have a strong understanding of client etiquette, the chances of offending your client are very slim. But if it does happen, the best thing you can do is quickly apologize! No matter what you said, even if you think you are completely correct, offer an apology and switch to a lighthearted subject.
Some things to never discuss with your clients are religion, politics, money, and sex. These are topics that people often have strong opinions about and they are best reserved for private conversations.
3. The bad review.
If you get a bad review, the best thing you can do is reach out to the client, apologize, ask for feedback, and then offer the opportunity for her/him to work with you again. I do not think you will end up with a bad review if you learn to read your client and listen to what they tell you.
When you complete a client’s look, you should always ask if they would like any changes or modifications. They usually will. If you address these concerns, you will most likely leave them very satisfied.
If you don’t offer them this opportunity, or if you take their suggestions with attitude or argue with them, you will undoubtedly end up with an unhappy client, even if you do superb makeup. This is one thing I believe you can avoid completely before you leave your client’s side. It can all be prevented by listening to your client and doing your best to meet their needs.
4. Over or undercharging your client.
We provide a service and it is one that we are required to bill for. As I said before, mistakes can happen. If you find you have overcharged your client, you need to resolve the situation immediately.
Let’s say the client calls you to tell you that they just reviewed the receipt for their bridal party and they see that it was miscalculated and they overpaid $200. The first thing you would do is review your receipt and check the math. If they are correct, you apologize and immediately send them the difference through PayPal, a cash hand-off, or a check in the mail.
If you are reviewing your receipts on your own and you notice you accidentally overcharged a client, call or email them immediately and fess up! The worst thing you could do is keep your mouth shut and wait to see if they notice. This is bad for two reasons. First, karma! Even though it was a mistake, it is technically stealing and you have stronger moral fiber than that! Second, if they find the mistake and have to call you, it will make you seem very unprofessional…especially since you will be lying when you say you hadn’t noticed! Do the right thing!
Now, if you undercharge your client, there are two options for you. If it is a personal client, say a bride or someone for a special occasion, you can chalk it up to a mistake and take the loss, or you can reach out and make the correction. If this happened to me, I would take the loss. To reach out later because you made an error in calculations could be viewed by your client as unprofessional. We work in a business that is fueled by word of mouth. Sometimes it is better to eat our mistakes than lose the positive feedback we might have otherwise received.
Now, if it is a corporate client and you have undercharged, I would recommend you reach out to the person who hired you, explain the mistake and ask if you can submit an invoice for the difference. We are human—mistakes happen, and a corporate client would not see this as unprofessional, since they had already accounted for your rate in the overall budget.
Mistakes can happen, both in application and interaction. If, and when, they do, forgive yourself and do the best you can to recover from them. As a human, you’re going to screw up. If you make good on it, your client (who is also human) will most likely move past it very quickly!