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wedding makeup with mel kinsman

Wedding Day Make Up

Spring is almost upon us and the weather is teasing me with the odd sunny day! As the weather grows warmer and the evenings grow lighter I know there will be baby 2017 brides to be out there with butterflies of excitement about the fact that THE big day is almost here! For my lovely brides to be it is all about the makeup trial right now. I thought it would be a good time to do a piece on wedding day makeup and to give a special introduction to an extremely talented makeup artist and all around amazing lady, Mel Kinsman.

For once, I'm handing my blog over. Don't worry ; you are in very good hands. mel has the experience of a true professional, an amazing talent for what she does and she tops it off by being one of the loveliest ladies you could hope to meet. Over to you Mel...


I started working as a makeup artist over 25 years ago. I actually met my husband whilst working in his production company (on the production side of things). He was a director of glamorous commercials ad suggested it would be better for me to find another job (as it wasn't advisable to live and work together 24/7!) I didn't want to go on working in production; I wasn't cut out for it. This was pre mobile phones and pre computers so organising a 30 man crew to shoot out in Africa or other exotic locations was a nightmare.

We'd be at the office until 2am sorting equipment, getting through the airport legislation and printing off call sheets (one at a time) at the local all night printers! When he asked what I'd prefer to do, I jumped at the chance of helping his regular makeup artist as her assistant. I worked with her (a very well know artist at the time) on all her projects and met some really fantastic creatives doing commercials, films and music videos.

Wedding Day Make Up


After about 12 years, the mood changed with the advent of digital multi channels. Advertising lost a lot of budget with people cutting back or wanting crew for much less money. Work conditions became a target of slashed budgets too. Commercials were being shot in a day instead of the 3 days to do them justice and without hiring proper facilities on location. I had to find a way to still use my passion for makeup and make a more financially secure living. At this time, people were obtaining more information regarding finding suppliers for weddings, they were starting to look online. Another artist, who was ahead of her time was getting out there on the web, approached me and she started a network for artists. After a while of being in her network, I went it alone and got my first website in 2005. After 5 years of already working within the wedding industry, I finally felt I could go it alone and not be represented by anyone else. I worked alongside handpicked hairstylists that I met along the way and never felt the need to acquire that particular skill to gain more work. I like keeping my skill to just makeup and love working alongside someone else to create the perfect look for my brides.

Wedding Make Up


Firstly, I am able to indulge in my passion for beauty makeup and to make it achievable for every woman; not just the models that I have worked with over the years. I want every bride to look the very best that they can. I want them to have the confidence that, on their day in the spotlight, they will look and feel amazing. There is nothing more wonderful than seeing someone getting excited about how it will all come together after seeing their makeup and hair done at their trial. It's even better seeing this again on the wedding day!


Its classic, polished beauty, without a doubt. I am also up for anyones preferred choice as that is what I am here for. I want people to feel comfortable. If they are nervous, makeup wearers and prefer to be almost bare faced day-to-day, who am I to impose lots of makeup on them? Likewise if a client loves to rock the vintage look, I love to recreate their style. But classic elegance is my thing. Enough makeup, beautifully applied to enhance and to notice in a good way. A fabulous pop of lip colour in the summer coupled with understated eyes. Perhaps sporting warm golden shimmer on the lids or, in winter, a gorgeous flawless foundation with strong berry lips or smokey eyes. The one thing I'm not into (although admittedly it fascinates me) is the Instagram trend of very constructed makeup. It is to harsh looking for 'real' people and in the flesh, it looks hideous. As an art form in photos however, its pretty cool.

Do you have a favourite type of bride or wedding?

My favourite is, without a doubt, the bride who has coordinated her look into the whole theme of her wedding. If she’s got a stunning beaded vintage gown and she wants to pull it off with the hair and makeup fitting in with that 30s style… I just love that. I love a lady who isn’t afraid to push her limits! And, then, of course, I love weddings at my favourite venues. These places are such a joy to be in, where the staff are so accommodating. Oh, let’s not forget a good destination wedding! They can be pretty exciting.

How would you advise a bride-to-be on finding the right make up artist for them?

Firstly, I would absolutely love to be able to say I am the right artist for everyone, but I’m not and neither are all the others out there. Nobody is right for EVERYBODY. I would start with recommendations from friends or some of your other wedding suppliers followed by an internet search. In fact here are my top 10 tips!

How would you advise a bride-to-be on finding the right make up artist for them?

Firstly, I would absolutely love to be able to say I am the right artist for everyone, but I’m not and neither are all the others out there. Nobody is right for EVERYBODY. I would start with recommendations from friends or some of your other wedding suppliers followed by an internet search. In fact here are my top 10 tips!

1 Don’t just search for artists in your area. Check surrounding areas, too, as most will travel. This gives you more options if your favourite choice isn’t available.

2 If you are getting married a long way from where you live, try artists near you first as this will make trial times and dates easier to arrange. Obviously ask initially if they will consider travelling to your venue location! Your venue may already have suggested someone local or a preferred supplier. If they suit you, then go for it but be careful; I have had clients who felt obliged to take the venue’s supplier, and wasted time and money travelling to trials miles away that they were not happy with.

3 If you absolutely fall in love with an artist’s website and work and they are not available, ask them for other suggestions of colleagues that they know. We all have a vast network of like-minded people that we work with and know personally. If it’s a question of finding an artist in a remote location and your favourite artist isn’t available or can’t travel, then ask if you can send some links to people that you have found online for he/she to look over. I often give people my opinion on someone’s work and am happy to help do this.

4 I would suggest that if makeup isn’t your thing then don’t plump for someone with a mega glossy website. Go for someone more low-key.

5 Don’t go by Instagram accounts!!!! Please, just don’t do it, or, if you do, check that the work displayed is the artist’s own. Look at the credits and read carefully! A lot will just say ‘INSPO’. It is easy to make an Instagram page look good. People even have social media experts employed to do it for them. It doesn’t mean that their work is good enough for a paying bridal client. If you love their Instagram page, and want more info, check links to their own website. Comparing the two often give you an insight into how good or serious they are in doing this for a living.

6 Once you have found someone that you like, and they have responded that they are available and given a quote (a prompt response is a good sign as there is absolutely no excuse in this day and age to not respond quickly even if it just to say, ‘I have received your message but cannot reply until tonight or tomorrow – unless of course the artist is halfway up a mountain in Patagonia with no signal!!) then, scour their website. You want to look for any more information such as Terms and Conditions, methods of payment, when payment is due, what the trial entails, any hidden or unknown charges such as travel etc. If anything needs clarifying, check with them and, once happy, send any deposit payments. Your preferred artist will be popular and bookings are generally done on a first come first served basis.

7 Let your artist guide you through the on the day make up timings to ensure everyone gets done in time! I often find that clients don’t always want to start earlier to fit in the preparation time for a large bridal party. In this case, you will probably have to pay extra for your artist to get help in.

10 In terms of timings, here’s my guide! Most artists can handle anything from 1 person to 7 or 8 if doing just one skill. If you are hiring someone who does both skills, be wary of anyone who says that they can do hair and makeup for a bridal party over 4 or 5 people. Some can – don’t get me wrong, but most cannot, or, if they do, then the makeup will be looking sloppy after the first couple of hours as will the hair. People are often surprised when I say that I allow 45 minutes to an hour per person plus contingency time. Good prep for makeup and hair is the key to durability.

8 If budget is a consideration, ask your bridesmaids if they would be happy to pay for their own hair and/or makeup. It is better to pay for your own with the best artists you can afford in your budget than take on a cheaper artist that you are not entirely happy with to get everyone else’s done. I am in no way, poo-pooing a cheaper artist’s capabilities, but in my view, you get the expertise that you pay for. There are a lot of artists these days are starting up ‘teams’ where they will have taken on freelance staff that are priced at a lower rate. If you are going down this route to save money, make sure that you have a good rapport with the artist you are given. Often I speak to artists who work on teams and they say that no correspondence is made between them and the client – it is all done by admin and they just turn up on the day. Is this a service that you are prepared for? Is the artist of the same calibre as the main artist? If it’s not for you, go for a more personal service with a solitary artist.

9 Most artists will be flexible with regards to booking trials. However, don’t be too put off if they refuse to do weekend trials. This is when most will already be doing weddings and doing a trial after a wedding is exhausting and you’ll not get the best out of them. If they offer to do it after a very small wedding booking, that’s great. This could mean a weekend trial booked for you, and a day spent productively for the artist getting two clients sorted in one go! However, be aware, that if they insist on no weekend trials, there is good reason and they are not being difficult. Try to plan ahead and book out a day from work and get several things ticked off of your list in one go. If you simply cannot take time off of work, see what compromises both of you can come to, or move on to another artist that is less busy and happy to fit you in.

How do you approach an enquiry?

Firstly, if it’s a date that I’m available for, I answer as soon as humanly possible (even if I’m out on a job). I will let them know that I am free and will be in touch as soon as I can get to my computer. That way, I know that even if they are contacting other artists, they will remember that I was one of their choices, and that I want to work with them. If I am not available for their date, I offer to post their call out on one of my networks of other lovely artists. This saves them a whole load of time as I will then only pass on links of available artists and they can then choose and contact that artist directly. If I am able to help, I will give a quote (even though my prices are displayed on my website) and also give a little bit of information such as whether I know the venue or suggest timings based on their numbers and ceremony time. I like to keep my emails personable and lightly chatty if I can. I also like to suggest a phone call if they wish. There is nothing nicer than talking to a prospective client personally if possible.

How do you ask clients to prepare for a consultation/trial?

I ask my clients to come with their usual makeup applied. It’s easier for me to see what they mean by ‘I hardly wear any makeup ‘ or ‘ooh, I love wearing makeup and wear it quite heavy’, which can sometimes be the opposite when they arrive. Any allergies are addressed as are any stipulations such as refusal to wear certain products because of their ethics. I’ve had vegan clients and even gluten free makeup requests and been able to accommodate both. I also ask for images of their dress, if possible, and Pinterest is a wonderful tool for hair and makeup ideas and colour schemes. Everything is relevant - even the venue that they are having their ceremony/reception at plays a part in the overall look. If someone has a specific look in mind it is all the better and easier for me. If a client has picture references I try and tease out what it is about the make up that they want to recreate or like. As an example, I know that if an olive skinned, brown eyed, Mediterranean client shows me a picture of a blue-eyed blonde sun kissed model, no amount of copying the makeup will make her look the same. I start by asking if it’s the eye shadow colour or something else specific that she likes. Invariably it isn’t. I then ask if it’s the ‘feel’ of the makeup look that she likes and typically she says yes! I then suggest how we can get the same ‘feel’ with her tones. It might be best to warm it up a bit and use rose golds and burgundies on the eyes with a bit of dark brown or chocolate shades. To get the skin looking glossy we can use carefully placed highlighters (olive skin isn’t always as ‘luminous’ as a recently tanned beach babe). Gorgeous, coral toned pinks can also ‘lift’ a sallow complexion. It is rare that I have to guide a client away from a look just because they like the idea of it and have never tried it before.

Is a trial important?

I am sometimes asked if a trial is important. In my opinion, it is vital. The trial, itself takes up the largest amount of time. I talk to my bride for around half an hour before even starting. I look at the ideas that she has presented me with, discussing skin type, what she likes and doesn’t like and assessing what would suit. On top of this, a certain amount of convincing a client what what they have suggested may not look the same on them may take place! I adapt a reference picture to that client. This can take time. Some think they will look the same as in the picture. This will not be so, and gentle persuasion may be needed to get them to accept something much more flattering. Choosing a lip colour can take as long as 20 minutes after trying things out. So, all in all a trial can take around 2 hours or more – that’s just for makeup! As this takes the larger amount of time, most artists are giving the client a good deal (trial is often the least costly part of the booking). When you are assessing what to pay for an experienced make up artist, it’s really important to take all of this into account. Of course you also have to factor in the cost of the products – I have around 8 or 9 different brands of foundation. Some are great for full coverage; others lightweight; some suitable for sensitive skins; some vegan/cruelty free and then I have the cream foundations and powder foundations. My products are high end, pure luxury (I like to treat my clients). Then, in each brand, I hold anything from 3 colours to around 10 for every skin type and colour. After that, there are primers, of which I hold 5 different types that work with certain foundations better than others, and at least 5 different moisturisers. Oh and these all have a shelf life so have to be replaced often!

My foundations and primers range from £30 - £50 each. On top of that are all my blushers and eye colours, lipsticks (around 150) and boxes of lashes, wipes, carry cases and, most expensive of all, are brushes. When you are assessing the price, it’s not simply the cost of on the day wedding makeup – it is the cost of hiring a professional make up artist. The time contributed towards a bridal client, including her trial and wedding day, can be anything from 5 – 12 hours and, of course, on top of this are the costs of running a business and keeping up to date with my professional training to ensure that I’m the best I possibly can be for my clients.

What are the current make up trends?

Well, we’ve been in the grips of Instagram ’architecturally’ designed makeup for about 3 years now. I, like a lot of my contemporaries, will be so happy to see it go. It works for makeup brands wishing to show off how good their shimmer pigments are or how precise eyeliner can be and how the new ‘matte’ lips can look. These look great in pictures but in the flesh (unless sported on an 18 year old, pouty lipped Goddess!). Then there is the ‘C’ word!! CONTOURING! Please don’t mention that word to me. Good makeup artists have been using natural contouring to correct faces from the beginning of time. It isn’t necessary to paint stripes in different shades and blend together. It is so obvious to me when I see it – it looks terrible and is almost always detectable. I still get asked for it and I have to gently guide the person sitting in my chair into another way of doing it that enhances and takes half the amount of time!! As for new trends, I don’t think this one will be going away too soon, and the same goes for the ‘cut crease’ eye. On the catwalk at the moment the trends veer towards a lot of glossy nude skin with a strong lip. This also has its dangers with clients wanting that super, glossy skin for their wedding that will just end up looking sweaty!

Thank you Mel! I told you, your were in good hands for this piece! x


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