Makeup Artists Share Client Nightmares

by Danielle Guercio
Joern Pollex/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Having a difficult client — whether you're a nurse, mechanic, makeup artist ADD LINK, or bartender — is a surefire way to make not only your entire day difficult, but the very service you're trying to provide excruciating as getting a tattoo. As someone who formerly worked in the service industry, it’s almost comical to look back on, considering how hard I and my fellow service industry professionals generally try to make customers happy before giving up on them. It's sort of incredible the amount of crap we put up with.

Makeup artists in particular are fulfilling a task that is extremely personal. It’s tricky enough as a service professional to manage expectations, never mind when that expectation involves the client’s face. Whether for a performance, red carpet, or special event, people look to makeup artists to help them literally put their best face forward.

Most often, clients are easygoing and not picky about what they want, trusting in experience and communication. Some are, for any number of reasons, micromanagers down to every last detail. Both can be rewarding experiences for a makeup artist — as long as mutual respect is present. Just like anyone you meet in the street, politeness and manners will take you most of the way to a good time and a great service.

Because the internet at large loves to read about what happens behind the scenes, I've rounded up five makeup artists' stories of naughty clients. The people they work on and with range from celebs, everyday people, to production staff and photographers, which means there is more than enough personality to go around. Here's what they dished.

1. Laramie Glen

"I was working at the Bobbi Brown counter. [Bobbi Brown] is known for her natural approach to beauty for the everyday woman. A very natural and bare-faced 40-something woman came up to the counter with her 70s-ish mom and told me they were looking to shop for some makeup for her mom who doesn't normally wear makeup. I assured her I could help and asked her what type of look she wanted. The older woman looked around, and pointed to an image on the cover of a Bobbi Brown book and said, 'I want to look like this.' The image was of a 17-year-old, Photoshopped model. When I gently laughed and said, 'Don't we all, but what are you looking for realistically?' The older woman looked me dead in the eye and 'I'm not kidding.'"

2. Norah Salazar

"The scene: I was working in a super top of the line hotel at a destination wedding. I had a bride who came to get her big day makeup done hungover and on very little sleep. As a makeup artist who is very aware of how important skin is on any given occasion, this was a hard place to start. The worst part of the story is that her bridal party decided that to nix their group hangover, it would best to continue drinking champagne as the hairstylist and I tag teamed them. We did our best with this bridal crew, just trying to make sure they looked great regardless. I gave my bride a hydrating sheet mask, as she drank some Gatorade and started to look slightly more awake. The makeup turned out OK but the situation with the drunk bridal party was a rough day at the office."

3. Anonymous

"The bride's makeup artist and I were a team, and she did the bride. After the Maid-Of-Honor had her makeup completely done by me, she washed it off and cried and pointed to the other artist and said, 'I want the same makeup artist that the bride gets. I am the maid of honor after all.' My partner stuck up for me, and after much rebuttal, finally agreed to do her makeup, because the bride asked her to. It was the most atrocious behavior I had ever seen. I told the hair team the story, and they reported that the same thing had happened to them one hour earlier."

4. Anthony Erazo

"My worst experience would have to be a client that fell fully asleep repeatedly during a service. Many clients like to close their eyes, as it's very relaxing to have your makeup applied, so I thought nothing of it. But then his client's head kept sinking lower and lower, and it started to become difficult for the hairstylist to do their job properly. I kept gently reminding her that she needed to keep her head up in order for us to do a good job. Before we knew it, she was completely asleep and we physically had to hold her upright like a puppet to finish.

I had to apply makeup with one hand but at the same time hold the client's head up. The head of a sleeping person is basically dead weight. The hairstylist and I took turns holding her upright to finish the services. Toward the end, I applied her lashes and she woke up suddenly, and acting as if she was awake the entire time! She said, 'Oh, I'm just so tired, but everything looks great thank you!' I was so surprised that I literally threw everything in my bag, said 'You're welcome!,' and left immediately!"

5. Nicole Sievers

"We've all had a handful of 'crazy clients', and the stories all usually have the same moral: Want to know how not to be a nightmare client? It's simple. Let us do our job. Listen to and trust your artist. We don't go into our accountant's office and tell her how to do our taxes, right? We all love a good consultation, so show us the inspo you've been pinning for months, but leave the rest to us. Remember that you hired a professional to do what they're best at. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride."

There is some takeaway from this other than comedic value: treat people, especially people providing you with a service as respectfully as possible. Don't get in their face or have an attitude, get a little bit of communication going before blaming them for any crossed signals. If you are demanding (you know who you are!) get a plan together before any service, deciding what's important to convey and what you care most about. This simple communication method will help you start on the right foot and stay on the right track to a great makeup look.

Photos: Maria Penaloza