Over the past year, many brides, grooms, and members of the wedding party have acted as their own glamor squads, while other couples continued to hire personal makeup artists for their wedding events – albeit with pandemic safety plans.
Since coronavirus precautions hit the wedding industry, the business for makeup artists performing their services face-to-face has undoubtedly changed. Here three makeup artists share how the pandemic has changed their business.
Fewer weddings, smaller wedding celebrations
When Real Housewives of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey married in Acworth, Georgia on October 10, Alexandra Butler was hired as a makeup artist on site to provide beauty treatments to Ms. Bailey and members of her bridal party.
Ms. Butler, 37, owner of Alexandra Butler Makeup Artistry in Atlanta, has been in the industry for 13 years. While she typically performs five to ten weddings a year, Ms. Butler’s only wedding customer has been Ms. Bailey as of March 2020. “Everyone had to reschedule or cancel their wedding,” said Ms. Butler.
In Dallas, 33-year-old Stephanie Nelson and her 30-person team at Stephanie Nelson Hair & Makeup typically provide services for 120 weddings per year. In the past 12 months, that number has dropped to 40. Along with the decline, the majority of bridal parties shrank from around 10 bridesmaids to zero. “Girls either didn’t have a bridal shower or just had a few friends,” said Ms. Nelson.
Although there are fewer weddings and smaller wedding parties, the pandemic has created more paperwork to keep things safe. Before Ms. Butler comes to work on site, she provides brides with Covid-19 risk assessment forms.
“It states that I would not be liable if she or anyone in the bridal party contracted coronavirus,” Ms. Butler said. “I’ve got every member of the bridal party – whoever will be there – to sign that.”
Additionally, Ms. Butler requires anyone who applies makeup to do a Covid-19 self-assessment five (or less) days before the event. Screening questions are similar to questions found on doctor admission forms, she said, even if a person recently had a fever.
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March 19, 2021, 8:12 p.m. ET
Security for everyone
While booking a variety of makeup jobs, Ms. Butler has been tested for Covid-19 seven times since July. “The biggest problem that changed during Covid is trying to protect myself and the customer,” she said. “I definitely limit myself to being with a lot of people or going into rooms where I know people won’t wear a mask.”
At venues and on the set, Ms. Butler will ask for a place to work near a window separate from where people gather. “I ask that people within two meters of me wear a mask, as the client I’m working on is not wearing a mask.”
Similarly, Ms. Nelson asks her clients to keep their masks until they receive services.
Protective equipment for makeup artists is non-negotiable. Monica Nguyen, 31, a nine-year-old makeup artist living in New Jersey, wears two masks and a face shield or goggles when her face shield fog up from extensive use. .
To prevent the spread of germs, Ms. Nguyen uses nine different clean makeup brushes per person. It also bypasses tool contamination by using disposable palettes and spatulas, wands for mascara and brow products, disposable sponges for concealer, cotton swabs for lip balm, and disposable lip brushes for paint applications.
Between customers, Ms. Nguyen washes her hands, disinfects chairs and tables, and disinfects every product used and every package she touches. “I sanitize my hands every five seconds, much more than normal,” she said. “How much sanitation we run … that’s the harder part.” She thoroughly cleans tools with barbicide, a disinfectant solution used by hairdressers and beauticians, after home events.
Advice for the wedding reception
In preparation for wedding events, Ms. Butler recommends her clients drink plenty of water to promote healthy skin, rest, and arrive with their faces bare (including removing any remaining eyeliner and eyelash glue) to limit their time in a confined space.
As simple as it sounds, patience is key for couples, wedding party members, and makeup artists alike. “Prepare for a little more time,” said Mrs. Butler.
Ms. Butler allows 45 minutes to an hour per person and an additional 15 to 20 minutes for the bride in case there are distractions. “Sometimes they’re emotional, or sometimes they’re pulled in different directions,” she said. “You don’t want to run over and immerse yourself in the actual ceremony.”
As safety continues to be a top priority, makeup artists have expanded their offering to include virtual appointments to maintain income while at the same time creating social distance.
In the past year, 15 brides booked two-hour virtual sessions with Stephanie Nelson Hair & Makeup. Held a few weeks before the wedding, these digital meetings include step-by-step digital tutorials, written instructions, make-up longevity products, and tips so that brides and guests can apply their own wedding make-up.
For parties who prefer personal service but have to postpone, changes are often met with empathy. “We were able to work with our clients, roll over services to a future date, and spin to make sure clients feel like they can still get the wedding of their dreams in a different capacity,” said Ms. Nelson.
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