Sara-May, make-up, wedding MUA

I have a special treat for you all today.  I have an interview with a wedding make-up artist based in Sydney, Australia – Sara-May from Make-Up By Sara-May.  I got to know her via her beauty blog and through Twitter.  You may remember that I did a couple of FOTD Challenges of Cleopatra and Candy – and that originated from her blog.  Although I haven’t met Sara-May in person (yet), I know that she is a lovely lady as she has given me great make-up advice.  I will get to see her next month in Sydney because I am off to ABBW (Australian Beauty Bloggers Weekend) – I am so excited!!!!!  YAYYAYAYAYAYAY!

Anyway, onto the interview…


What inspired you to become a wedding make-up artist?

I have loved makeup for as long as I can remember, but it was actually special effect make-up that drew me to the industry.  Michael Westmore was my first hero in the make-up world, closely followed by Ve Neill.  Living in the ‘burbs with a family means that the only meaningful way for me to work as a Make-Up Artist is to do weddings and formals.  I love that I have the opportunity to make this my living.

What are the pros and cons of your profession?

Let’s talk positives first.

1.  I get to play with make-up all day!  (Editor : Woop woop!)  Which of course is great fun when you have a passion for the art of make-up application.

2.  It is also an honour to be involved in so many people’s wedding days.  For many brides, their wedding day is the most important day in their life so far and to be involved in that is such a privilege.

There are, however, some pretty heavy cons to Make-Up Artistry.

1.  It is an expensive process to become a working Make-Up Artist.  Training as a Specialist Make-Up Artist is not subsidised through TAFE or other colleges.  The average cost is around $13,000 a year excluding supplies.  Then you need a make-up kit.  Don’t be fooled by the premade kits offered through make-up colleges – they’re great for a student but not so great for a working artist.  Realistically, you need to budget an absolute minimum of $5000 or more for your working kit.  Then there is assisting.  Depending on your aspirations in this industry, you will need to spend a significant period of time assisting artists higher up the chain than you.  This can be paid work, but is more commonly done for the experience (i.e. unpaid).

2.  It is a competitive industry.  There are many artists out there all competing for the same work that you want.  In order to succeed, you need to be hungry for the work, and absolutely committed to succeed int he face of adversity.  A word of advice though, if you are freelancing, please don’t undercut your competitor’s rates.  It de-values both your work and the industry as a whole.

3.  If you love the creative side of Make-Up Artistry, you may find working in the industry a challenge.  As a paid Make-Up Artist, you very rarely, if ever, get to indulge your creative side.  Whether it is weddings, counter work, editorial, film or fashion, you will be working to create someone else’s vision.

What are 5 beauty products you cannot live without in your wedding make-up kit?

Only 5?  Wow, this will be hard!

1.  A natural-looking long-wearing foundation
I specialise in Airbrushing, so I use Temptu silicone-based foundation.  Because it is silicone-based, I wouldn’t recommend using it as a day-to-day foundation, but it is perfect for weddings.  It is self-setting (although I set it with a dusting of loose powder), water-resistant, mimics the texture of skin and provides a flawless finish.  It also contains no SPF – again, not good for a day-to-day foundation but perfect for weddings, as you won’t get the dreaded “ghost face”!  (Editor : Sara-May dedicated a blog post to Temptu which you can read here so it MUST be good!)

2.  A beautiful blush
The term “blushing bride” came about for a reason.  There is something timelessly beautiful about a softly flushed cheek.  I like to layer cheek products to ensure they last all day.  I used either Temptu silicone-based blush or NARS The Multiple as a base and set it with a lovely matte powder blush.  For my skin, Illamasqua’s Nymph is perfection.

3.  A brow powder
Eyebrows really do frame your face and this is never more apparent than in photographs.  I personally think powders give a softer more natural finish than pencils, but I don’t see the need for a specialised brow powder.  I use a pressed eyeshadow on a stiff angled brush.  My shade of choice is Urban Decay’s Secret Service, which can work for almost anyone.  If you have the Naked Palette, Buck is a decent substitute, although it is a little paler and a little redder.

4.  A great mascara
Mascara doesn’t have to be expensive to be fantastic, and for the blonde-lashed ladies like myself, it is essential.   I favour either waterproof or tubular formulas and there a few making the rounds of my kit at the moment.  At the higher end of the scale, I love Lancome Hypnose and Benefit Bad Gal Lash and working down the price scale, I enjoy Mirenesse Sexy Secret Weapon as well as the ever popular CoverGirl Lash Blast.

5.  A fantastic concealer
Foundation should really only be used to even out your skin tone with concealer used to, well, conceal (funny that).  For blemishes, I like to use MAC Studio Finish, and for the undereyes, I have been loving Collection 2000 Lasting Finish or Bourjois Healthy Mix.

An example of what Sara-May can do! Don't they look fabulous?!

From experience, it was not easy finding a suitable Make-Up Artist for my wedding.  What should a bride-to-be look out for when they are searching for a Make-Up Artist for their wedding?

I think finding someone you are comfortable with is important.  Give the artist a call and have a chat about what you want to achieve with your wedding make-up.  You will quickly get a feel for their personality and whether they are someone you want around you on your wedding day.

Ask to see pictures of their work.  This should give you a feel for the style of make-up they are comfortable doing.  Make sure their work is similar to the style you were hoping to achieve for your big day.

The MOST important thing, however, is that they do your make-up the way you want it.  I recommend you always have a trial.  Be as specific as you can about how you want your make-up done (pictures are helpful) and a good Make-Up Artist should be able to create a look inspired by what you want that also flatters your features and personality.  If you are unhappy with it, speak up.  Give the artist a chance to fix what you are unhappy with and if you’re still not loving it, find a new artist.

I did my own wedding make-up and looking back at the photos, there would be some things I wish I could have changed.  What advice can you give for the brides-to-be who are doing their own wedding make-up?

Practice!  Practice, practice, practice!  And when you think you have practiced enough, practice a bit more.  Take photos of your made up face and see how your make-up translates onto film.  Make sure you test in a variety of lighting situations (daylight, shade and indoors) as well as with and without flash.  Ask friends and family members for their opinions and feedback and then practice a little bit more.

Don’t try to go too far out of your comfort zone.  You want to look like yourself, only better.  So if you are a lipgloss and mascara kind of girl, you probably don’t want to rock a Kim Kardashian style dramatic makeover on your wedding.

Last and maybe most importantly, if you are not very comfortable and confident doing contouring, please, for the love of God, don’t try it for the first time on your wedding day.  It will, more than likely, be a disaster!

I had a Bridezilla tantrum on my big day because my fake eyelashes kept un-glueing.  Have you witnessed any Bridezilla meltdowns and what happened?

The worst wedding meltdown I have ever seen was completely justified, so I can’t really call it a Bridezilla moment.  The poor bride was having a backyard wedding in the open air (read : no marquee) and it was pouring down with rain.  They were self-catering the wedding and their fridge blew up the day before the wedding.  She dropped the wedding cake, her hairdresser cancelled on her and her children were acting a bit feral from OD-ing on sugar.  The poor bride was having a miserable day and I was so pleased to be able to take her out of that stressful moment and give her a bit of pampering before her big moment.

Royal Wedding

Lastly, what did you really think of Kate Middleton’s make-up on her wedding day?

I think she did a great job, although it is probably not a look I would have designed for her.  Her blending could have been improved on and her eyeliner was a little heavy, but ultimately, I would give my right arm to look like she did on her wedding day!


Wow, what amazing insight into life as a wedding make-up artist!!!  Thank you Sara-May for this amazing interview.  Go check out Sara-May’s blog and give her some love.

12 comments on “Interview With Sara-May, A Wedding Make-Up Artist”

  1. Great interview, Ling and Sara-May. It’s a good insight into what makeup artistry is, and how difficult it can be (competition, high expenses, training,etc). I remember my wedding makeup. It was heavy, I had brows which were several shades too dark (making me look fierce, and not the good way), Asian-style tape on my lids to give me double eyelids (even though I already HAVE double eyelids), etc. It’s best to just keep it understated and natural.

    Can’t wait to meet Sara-May at ABBW!

    • @Tine, Thanks Tine. I think I live in la-la land because I had no idea how difficult make-up artistry is!!

      And oh dear, doesn’t sound like your wedding make-up artist catered to your needs 🙁

      But yay!! ABBW!! 😀

  2. Thanks for sharing this great interview. It shows that being a makeup artist is tough and you really have to be very passionate about your work. There are tons of competition out there as well.

  3. A great interview Ling and Sara May! I think practice is important on a day as big as your wedding- I know that even small events in my life push me to trial beforehand, to make sure I feel nice on the day=)

  4. Great interview, very interesting and informative. You and Sara-May are two of my fave bloggers so loved to see the interview you came up with.

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