Creating a wedding budget is stressful; plain and simple! Determining what's important, what costs the most, what's negotiable, what's not... the list goes on. Often, bridal makeup and hair are one of the last things booked for the big day. Sometimes, seeing bridal makeup and hair rates can be startling. Let me break down some factors that come into play when we determine our pricing:
1- Education/ Marketing: Depending on state regulations, hair and makeup artists have to become licensed. The average cost of cosmetology school in the United States is $17,000 (average taken per capital). If a license isn't required, like in Vermont for makeup, reputable artists will still seek out some type of education. Marketing is also important for businesses! Facebook ads, Google ads, website domains, WeddingWire, etc all add up! So, on average, each artist is spending thousands of dollars towards classes, schooling and marketing. Let's call it an average of $15,000 for the first year, and $6,000 on years after the license/school is paid for.
2- Inventory/ Kit: Probably the most obvious cost for H/MUA's would be the cost of their kit! A professional kit takes a long time to build up and perfect. I am always adding and changing things out, too! I could create an itemized list of all the products and tools I carry, but this blog would turn into a few pages long! For quick cost examples: $80 eye shadow palette, $45 foundation bottle, $65 moisturizer, $21 eyeliner, $50 brush. Now, multiple those by a few shade ranges and styles! And remember, makeup expires! We have to replace items every single year, or multiple times a year to keep items fresh. Let's call the kit cost an average of $6,500 to build, and $3,000 on re-stocks and upgrades for each year after.
3- Insurance/ Taxes: No, we don't just play with makeup and hair for fun! We, like any other business, pay taxes and carry insurance. The government cuts us no breaks on being small businesses. On average, I pay thousands per year into taxes and insurance. Gotta keep the IRS happy! Depending on the size of the business, average cost can vary, but let's say it's $6,000 annually for these.
4- Travel: The majority of makeup and hair folks travel onsite for events/ weddings. That's part of what makes our jobs a luxury experience for our clients! Sometimes the commute can be ten minutes, other times, it's five hours. Travel fees apply because you're paying for our time in the car, the gas to go into the car, and the maintenance on our vehicles. After all, we need reliable transportation! According to the Huffpost, the average american spends $2,000 on gas alone each year. Add on car maintenance, and we're talking around $3,200 annually.
5- "Office Time": For lack of better terms, I'm calling "office time" the time spent on our computers updating our websites, marketing on social media, answering emails, scheduling client phone calls, etc. This is the business side of things! Every quote we create, contract we send out, question we answer is our office time and calculated appropriately into our rates. I personally love the customer service/ office side of things just as much as applying makeup, but it's still work, no matter how much I enjoy it! I usually spend about 20-25 hours a week on office tasks. Apply Vermont minimum wage, and that's about $14,000 a year I should be getting paid.
6- Application Time: The part where we actually apply makeup or style hair!! Crazy, right? When all is said and done, this is actually a small portion of our job! This is typically a 3-6 hour time slot, depending on how many bridesmaids/ mothers we are glamming up. Remember, we also have loads of stuff we bring with us that we have to carry in, set up, break down, and carry out again. (Kit, chair, table, lighting system, etc!)
7- The Cleanup: After we leave the venue and get home, we don't just kick up our feet and relax with wine (well not right away!). The kit has to be cleaned out, re-sanitized, and TONS of brushes have to get deep cleaned. On average, I spend around 2 hours post-wedding doing this.
So, with all of those pieces broken down, let's add up some of the total costs/ payments: Education, kit, travel, office time, application, and cleanup: ALMOST $45,000 for year one, and around $28,000 for years after (take out the schooling license and kit startup cost).
If you see an artist charging $50 a face, please realize that they are likely not paying taxes, carrying insurance, or offering the best quality products on the market. You truly get what you pay for! As much fun as this job is, I still have a house to pay for, pets to feed, and bills each month, too. Now when you start getting bridal makeup/hair quotes that seem expensive, please note ALL of the factors that go into setting our rates.
(I based these rates on Vermont, and working as an individual freelance artist, not a bridal team or salon).
Hillary Fay, Vermont Makeup Artist.