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Atlanta, GA, United States
Hey there!, welcome to my blog and thanks for reading my random rambles. I'm a professional makeup artist in all areas of Beauty, Fashion, Film/Television and Bridal. I'm known for my professionalism, personality and something random in my hair. I grew up in the caribbean in Antigua such a beautiful place. Glitter queen, cake lover and shoe addict. My posts will give you some more insight into the creative quirky mind that I have.

Monday, January 9, 2012

How Much Should that Makeover Cost?

I decided to do this blog post as an outreach to the artists, both new and old, but mostly new on the topic of rates and undercutting the market.

I have to start with a disclaimer: This post is NOT telling you how much YOU should charge, you need to work that out yourself with your market in mind.

I sincerely hope that my point is understood and that everyone takes the time to read exactly what I'm saying.

To start off, today on my Facebook Fanpage, I asked fellow makeup artists to do some maths for me and total the cost of a list of BASIC products that would be standard for creating ONE makeup look.

Of course these things vary per artist, but these are the general items used in creating a look:

- 1 Foundation

-1 Concealer

-1 Powder

-1 Blush

-3 Eyeshadows
-1 Eyeliner

-Brow pencil

-1 Mascara

-1 Pair False Lashes

-1 Lipliner

-1 Lipcolour/lipstick/gloss (whichever)

The average total that I got was $218.37 with the Highest being $273 and the lowest $193.

This isn't about high end/professional brands vs department/drug store brands either.

Whats the point?

Basically to give you ( you as in a general you -_-) a different way to look at your expenses, cost and worth as an artist.

Logically if it cost you $195 just for materials for ONE face, not counting in your skill or additional tools such as brushes, disposables etc, exactly how can you logically charge for e.g $30  for a make up look which includes most if not all of the products listed above?

Yes of course you get more than one use out of each product, but what if your client's daughter knocks your powder/foundation over and it breaks? or someone steals an item? You have to pay cost + tax possibly shipping to replace it. 

So...exactly what did you make that day then?

I've had makeup artists undercut me so many times, for e.g. I quote $100 other says well I can do $45.

The $45 artist, drives for 45 minutes to location, uses gas and kit materials, drops a compact powder and breaks it, stops to restock on the disposables used up, stops for gas then drives back home for 45 minutes.

Add up the cost of gas, materials, replacing that compact etc and I guarantee you its more than $45, if it is less then should your profit of the day really only be $10? 
¯\\_(•͡ •͡)_//¯

Again this isn't exactly a template on HOW to CALCULATE your rates, I just want you to use it as a thought process on what our expenses as an artist are to know our worth.

Additionally I would like to add, again this is my humble opinion, but a Pro artist discount DOESN'T COUNT, that is OUR privilege as you all know we don't get them just like that, we have to apply and "prove our worth". It's not an excuse to charge "deeply discounted rates".

No one hires us to do what they can do, they hire us because we can do something they can't with products they don't have.

I completely understand having Promotional rates which are discounted for certain events like a Prom Discount where you expect volume,  but make it known that this is a limited special DISCOUNTED offer, and let yourself know that should never be the norm. Keep that for the Proms and Parties and OFF Commercial sets.

But what if that commercial shoot says they have no budget? here's one more logical explanation, feel free to call them out on it too:

We have no budget, shoot for free for my clothing line website.

Clothing which will be sold for money right? so you're working for free/cheap to help them market to get sales  in $$$$ and you get?....nada

Know your expenses, know your worth.

Finally, if you are doing this as a hobby or your charging these ridiculously low rates because you have a "REAL" job....then quite frankly...GTFOH!!!!!!!!!!!

WE took the plunge to make a career and living off of this and how dare you piss on our lively hood. GO.AWAY.

I hope I'm making sense, you know the accent comes out when I get all emotional, I also hope that it gets you to think differently about how to calculate your rates.


As mentioned this post was about getting you to pay attention to your expenses. I have received questions on what exactly to do. I guess some prefer lists to follow, unfortunately I cannot tell you what your expenses to operate as an artist are, however here are a few general things to give you an idea on how to begin your calculations:

-Website Fees (this includes cost of domain,hosting,maintenance)

-Membership Fees ( e.g membership to The Powder Group, Wedding Wire etc)

-Marketing/Promotional Costs ( comp cards, business cards etc)

-Supply Costs (kit supplies etc)

-License Fees (business registration fees etc)

-Cell Phone Fees 





These are just a tiny list of our expenses in order to do business and not even counting life expenses such as retirement fund etc. 

So in order for you to really find out what you need to live, it is advised that you follow the formula below and work out YOUR:

Daily Cost of Doing Business

 $$ Calculate your Overhead/Expenses for a YEAR ÷ The amount of days you plan to Work Per Year

The figure that you will get is NOT how much you should charge, but how much you need to make minimum in order to LIVE/pay bills/ know..survive.

Added on to that figure should be things like time, expertise etc.

So even as a "newbie" who doesn't have full experience/expertise years under the belt, you should be charging NO LESS than that figure calculated.

As you grow your expenses change, your expertise grows and so should your rates.

I thank you.
World Peace.
I need a drink.


Saj Mack is a Professional Makeup Artist in Atlanta Georgia providing over 6 years experience in Beauty, Commercial, Film, Television, Special FX and more. See her work at


  1. Thank you for posting this. I have an entire list of expenses to take into account if anyone needs it. It is not cheap to be a mua and your rates shouldn't be either.

  2. I personally spend two days going over my own! It was two spreadsheets long. So I hope everyone who reads it takes the time out to create theirs.

  3. Saj, how much should makeup for a year cost?
    I'm working as a time for prints basis as I'm still a student and I don't have much experience..
    And when do you usually start charging a kit fee?
    I LOVE YOUR BLOG BTW! Your makeup skills are so awesome :D

  4. Thank you amanda! kit fees only exist in the film and tv world and "time for prints i.e tfp" was invented on model mayhem. what you should be doing are TEST shoots with a great team of photographers and models, hair stylists etc in order to develop your portfolio the right way. I personally do not accept prints as i like to control the quality of my printed images. high res files are all you should need from a test shoot.

    in terms of "makeup for a year" what you need to do is list all of your expenses per year, i.e bills. any type of bill you pay is an expense, listed in the post are a few examples. when you've done that follow the formula and you would get your bare minimum cost, as a student that will be fine and you can increase this figure as you gain more experience,expenses etc

  5. Thanks so much for a reply!
    How would you actually define Test Shoot?
    And do you think that it's wise to approach more senior makeup artists to ask them how they charge their rates? I'm moving and I will be in an unfamiliar town - I don't want to step on anyone's toes or undercut anyone who's been working at it longer than me.

  6. amazing post! puts things into a whole new perspective!

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