Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Protocol for Getting Makeup Done at Department Stores

As I've mentioned many times on this site, I have only the most rudimentary skills when it comes to makeup application. I don't even attempt lining my lips or eyes, let alone fancy eyeshadow combinations or using shading to bring out or hide certain features. If I can make it look like my skin is basically clear and even, make my eyelashes and eyebrows show up and add a little color to my normally ghostly pale face, I'm a happy camper.

I think you readers have picked up on that, which is why I never get questions about makeup application. Last week, however, I did receive a question about having someone else do your makeup, which is an area where I consider myself an expert. If I have a special event to go to that I really want to look good for, I'll go to my local Nordstrom and get my makeup done by one of my favorite sales associates at Bobbi Brown or NARS. A lot of people, though, are freaked out by the idea of having this done, as there's no set protocol on how one goes about doing this, and what's the appropriate way to reimburse the person for their time. Here are a few tips for getting the best service when you're getting your makeup done at a counter:

First, you want to make sure you're getting your makeup done by a person you can trust. A good way to ensure this is to see the person's work beforehand, so ask your friends and family if they've had a good experience with a particular makeup artist or counter. If you don't have a recommendation to work with, go to a counter that you've had good experiences with and find the sales associate with the best makeup (or if they're working, the one doing the best job on a customer).

Still, your best bet is to build a relationship with an artist at a counter you frequent. If you're shopping and get great advice or just hit it off with a makeup artist, ask for her card and stop by her counter whenever you need products from that brand. Not only will this guarantee that you'll get a beautiful makeup job when you have a special occasion, usually she'll let you know about special offers and put you on the waiting list for popular products.

When you've got a person you like, it's important to make an appointment in advance. I usually call a week or two beforehand, and make the appointment at least a few hours before the event I'm going to. Try to get to the appointment a little early, and give yourself extra time in case it runs late.

I think it's best to take a shower and do your hair in advance, and come to the counter with a clean face, so the makeup artist doesn't have to waste time removing your makeup.

In case the makeup artist doesn't ask, be sure to explain what your outfit looks like, what kind of event you're going to and the look you're interested in, so there's no confusion about what you want.

Now for the difficult part... when the artist is done giving you a beautiful face, you want to make sure that you're reimbursing them for their time and effort. You have to remember that during the time she was doing your makeup, she could have sold multiple products to other customers, and most of the people working in department store counters work on commission. I think you should always buy at least one product that the makeup artist used (lipsticks or glosses are always good for touch ups later on). But don't waste both of your time by buying a product you won't use later on (or that you plan on returning). If she did a really great job, I think it's appropriate to tip ($10 or $15 is reasonable) and be sure to ask for her card, promising to come back next time you're shopping for makeup or need to get your makeup done again.

One final tip- check to see when guest makeup artists are visiting your local mall (you can usually get on a brand's e-mail list or just ask the counter what the schedule is), because many brands will send their national makeup artists (the people who do fashion shows, magazine shoots and red carpet makeup) to local stores all over the country to promote their products. Having your makeup done by one of these experts is an opportunity you don't want to miss- I've never felt so beautiful as the day I lucked out by getting my makeup done by a top NARS makeup artist for the Sadies dance my Junior year of high school. I could've married the guy who made me look that good. Seriously, these people are magicians.

Any tips I've forgotten? Let me know in the comments!


maggie said...

Make-up application is such an etiquette nightmare. When I was very young (ok, 19) I got a makeover at Clinique, thanked the lady and walked off. I had no idea I'd done anything wrong, but the artist looked like I'd just kicked her puppy. In retrospect, SO embarrassing.

Now I pretty much follow the "unspoken" MAC rule. If they're just quickly showing you a product or doing a simple, one-item application, then I consider it part of their sales pitch and feel free to buy or not buy. However, if they're sitting me down and doing a full-face application, then I consider it equivalent to a professional application I would get in a salon, and so shell out the equivalent amount of money I would spend on that service - usually 40$ worth.

Kathryn said...

I have found that most department store make-up counters, like MAC and Stila for example, charge you around $40.00 for a booked session, but then that charge is applied towards product, so I guess they are just covering themselves

win win really

Anna said...

I concur with Kathryn, in NZ you have to pay around $90NZD to get your make up done at a make up counter... but you get $90 worth of product.

But if I am lucky enough to stumble across a counter that does it seemingly for 'free' I'll know what to do! :)

EthidiumBromide said...

I've never heard of a charge for a counter before -- at least the ones around here do not. The place where I am getting married has a Nordstrom across the street, so I am going to copy this email and forward it to my bridesmaids and suggest that they get their makeup done at the counter, as shelling out $30 or $40 for products which they can then use again and again is much cheaper than the place where I will be getting mine done (and no product to use!).

But Meg- you have to try wearing eyeliner. It's my favorite product, and so easy to use if you have the right kind. Skip the drugstore brands and splurge on the Urban Decay 24/7 pencils - they are well worth the cost and last a lifetime, plus they are very easy to apply and the color doesn't set for a minute or so, so it is very forgiving to mistakes (it is a gel based liner that dries to powder). I used to have an eyeliner phobia but it's really simple and fun! Give it a try next time you have someplace to go. :)

Pauline Joy said...

A quick tip:

When shopping through a certain brand, it is ALWAYS (okay, usually) best to go to the direct counter vs. going to a mixed representative (i.e. Sephora).

And is the best best best to get the actual line's featured artist(s) to do your makeup.

I'm actually searching for UrbanDecay rep dates...

Anna said...

I just had my make up done for free at a store and remembered this article and made sure I bought something!!!

Yay for not being rude!