Tough Customers: Pleasing Your Pickiest Clients - QC Makeup Academy

Every professional makeup artist will end up with at least one tough client in their makeup career. You know, the one who won’t tell you exactly what she wants (just that what you’re doing isn’t it), or the one who isn’t satisfied with anything you try. From totally unreasonable demands to endless re-dos, picky clients are frustrating.

But they’re a reality of your profession, so there’s no avoiding them (unless you’re really, really lucky). So how to you deal with a client who isn’t pleased by anything you do—without wanting to give up and quit?

The client who’s too vague

You’ve probably met her before—the client who just asks you to make her “look good.” It might seem like an awesome job at first: your client is giving you complete creative control! She trusts your professional opinion! But once you start working on her, the stress begins to build. Everything you do is “fine” (not “good”) and you have no idea whether she actually likes your work because she won’t give you any feedback. Help!

Dissatisfied tough makeup client biting her lip

Maybe your client expects mind-reading to be a tool of your trade, or maybe she’s just way too concerned about offending you. You’ll never know (she’s certainly not going to tell you!) but you can work on getting her to open up.

Let her know early in the process that she doesn’t have to worry about offending you, so she’s totally free to tell you what she thinks along the way. Sometimes a client just needs reminding that although this is your work, it’s her face, and you want her to go away looking and feeling her best!

You can also try nudging some opinions out of her along the way. Asking “do you like this?” probably won’t get her to open up, so you’ll need to be more specific. Instead, try going through a few colors or products in your kit and asking “which one do you like best?” Once she’s settled on something she does like, you’ll have an easier time building a look around it.

The client who’s too specific

This client is the total opposite—she knows exactly what she wants, and she’s sure to tell you every step of the way that you’re not getting it!

If the client hasn’t already shown you pictures of what she wants, that’s where you should start. It could just be that what she’s asking for isn’t actually what she wants; unlike you, makeup isn’t her business, so she may not be as familiar as you are with its fancy names and terms.

Still not satisfied? Despite how specific her own vision is, this client might be unhelpfully vague in her criticisms. Oh, she’ll complain all right, but what are you supposed to do when she just tells you you’re not “doing it right”? Figure out exactly what she wants by asking her to get more detailed. Are the wings on her eyeliner just a little too long? Is the lipstick a smidge too light? Break down her look until you can figure out what exactly isn’t working for her.

The client who doesn’t trust you

She grabs the mirror every fifteen seconds to check on your work. She reminds you to put on primer before the shadow (well, duh, you want to tell her). Maybe she even goes for your products and tries to put them on herself. Even though you’re a professional makeup artist, this girl just doesn’t trust you to do your own job.

Hesitant and tough makeup client holding eyelash curlers

Trying to build that trust in the forty minutes you’ve got with her is a tall order, and reminding her that yes, you do actually know how to do your job won’t get you very far. It might be time to institute a no-peeks policy—stash the mirror out of sight until she can check out a complete feature, since an unfinished eye always looks, well, unfinished.

Like the last client, you’ll also want to try and help her get a little more detailed about her concerns. Asking her “what specifically is bothering you about this?” or “what are your concerns about my work right now?” gives you an opportunity to explain what you’re doing, reassuring her that you are actually a professional.

The client with unrealistic expectations

The middle-aged client who wants to look twenty years younger. The fair-skinned client who brings in pictures of dark-skinned models and asks for their look. You know the type—she knows what she wants, and since makeup is magical, you should be able to give her anything she asks for, right?

Nope. And unfortunately, you’re the one stuck breaking that news to her. This client is especially tricky: you can’t give her what she wants, and if you try she’s just going to come away disappointed.

The best thing to do is sit her down and explain why what she wants won’t work. Sometimes she’s not used to wearing makeup, so she just doesn’t realize that what she’s asking for is unrealistic. And instead of just focusing on what you can’t do, help her figure out a way to adapt the look so it works for her.

The nightmare client

Showing up late for appointments, demanding special treatment, making you redo your work over and over, insisting on a look or product against your advice and then blaming you when it turns out weird…

Angry, unreasonable tough makeup client

It doesn’t matter what this client’s issues are—the bottom line is that she’s just totally unreasonable. Even the best professional makeup artist won’t be able to please everyone, so if a client throws a tantrum for something that isn’t your fault, don’t take it personally. When a client is going way over their appointment or treating you poorly, sometimes you’ll have to draw the line and walk away. Just think of the good clients to remind yourself why you love doing this, and move on!

Have you ever worked with a tough client? Share your story in the comments and let us know how you handled them!

Author Alicia Haniford

More posts by Alicia Haniford

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Amanda says:

    Great post 🙂

  • Mel says:

    I once did makeup on a “model” for an amateur/student photo shoot. Right off the bat I could tell she had a terrible aura and was not used to wearing makeup. Before I could even start she informed me I couldn’t use Mac products on her because they break her out…I asked her specifically which products had been used on her so I could not use those, instead of saying an entire line of products ‘break her out’. She wasn’t sure which ones had been used on her which was my first red flag. Mac products break you out but you don’t know which ones??

    Throughout the makeup session she continued to back handledly throw insults at my application by asking if I was using super glue to put on her lashes (she had never seen the paint on lash glue before) and that I would poke her eye out while applying mascara… needless to say she wasn’t happy with her makeup in the end and told me her highlight and contour weren’t ‘blended’ enough. It was blended just fine, but I obliged her. Of course she still wasn’t happy even after I added a darker powder on top of the highlight so it wasn’t as pronounced. She basically wanted a flat face of makeup, with no depth, no contour, nothing. Just a blank sheet of foundation. All leading me to believe she had never had a full face of makeup before. This client was a nightmare, not because she wasn’t happy but because she was extremely rude and aggressive. I didn’t argue with her, and tried my best to get to a point where she felt better about the makeup.

  • Cindy says:

    Hi, I want to share my experience as a makeup artist as well since I understand how does that feel when we meet these kind of clients. haha. So previously I was working for one of this International Beauty Pageants and it was going on for 2 weeks but we only did for the big events. Photoshoot for their profile in the magazine, The Final and the Photoshoot for the WINNERS only. I was doing really well for the first 2 days and I got few models that insisted me to do their makeup, so I did. Everything was good until the last day which is the Photoshoot for the winners. The winner of the Beauty Pageant came to me and asked me to do her makeup, she was doing her own makeup previously and decided me to do for this one last photoshoot. But honestly she doesnt look like she did anything to her face for the last events. Maybe she liked it that way. So she have a round protruding eyes without crease. And she requested for a really thick eyeliner so I did it. When she looked at it she said, its not right and she was really not happy with it. She immediately cleared everything on her face and did it herself.

    I let her did herself and then after that, she was still not happy WITH HER OWN MAKEUP. Then she asked me to Correct everything that she did for her and I helped her. and then she cleared it again. I think she cleared the makeup that I did for her twice but at the same time she was not satisfied with what she did as well. And when I asked her what she wants, she said she wanted to look natural. -.- Then she asked the photographer if her makeup was okay or not. I was a bit frust at that time because she was asking for an opinion from the photographer instead from me. So then, I just let her do what she wants because it seems like she doesn’t know what exactly she need. At last, she just pat on her bb cream and put on lashes herself. -.-! I just dont understand. But it was great that I experienced that before. 😀

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