“So, what are we doing today? What kind of makeup look are you hoping for?” 

This question strikes confusion in the heart of at least 50% if not more of the clients I meet. I wish there was a better way to start the conversation, it’s not as though I take pleasure in stumping my clients, there’s just simply no other way to get that necessary conversational ball rolling other than to just spit it out and see what comes next. 

If you’re used to wearing a fair bit of makeup and have a reasonably robust grasp of makeup language, this is a relatively easy question to answer. But, if you’re like most of the women I work with you are likely not sure how to respond, and fair enough I totally get it - I can relate in my own experiences; for example when going to get my hair done. 

When my eternally patient stylist asks me those same words “Okay, so what are we doing today?” Here’s what I know for sure… I know I want to walk out the door looking better than I walked in. I know I want my hair to look the very best it possibly can. I know I don’t want the process to be unnecessarily damaging to my hair (I like it to be as long as possible which is an ongoing battle against what nature has in mind for my curly, delicate strands). I know I do not want to be back in that chair in 4-6 weeks dealing with a futile battle against relentless root re-growth. But what does all of that actually ‘look like?’ I haven’t a clue! What happens next is an in-depth conversation helping to educate me on what my various options are. It forces me out of fantasy hair land firmly back to reality and the decisions that must be made. 

And so it is for every client I guide through the same “What are we doing for your makeup today” question. I have to gently pluck (yank!) you out of dreamy fantasy land of the various potential ‘yous’ we could co-create and actually narrow down our destination. What are we heading for? It’s the up-front time spent being as crystal clear as possible about what you want that leads to the beautiful and satisfying results at the end. I never work on auto-pilot when I’m doing makeup. Each person is unique, with unique hopes and wishes for what they want and it takes the right questions to make sure we land there in the end. 

The simplest answer from my perspective to the so what are we doing today question is when a client says “I love makeup and am comfortable wearing whatever, I’m heading out to a party and want to look amazing, do what ever you think will look incredible.” Done! No concerns, this is just one of many big transformations this individual has made with makeup, they’re good with whatever the final result is. 

A more challenging, but way more common answer is “I really have no idea… I don’t wear much makeup, I don’t want to look “too made up”, I just want to look great”. Yesss, I feel you on this one, I also want those very same things for you! We need more concrete decisions to move forward with. 

What I have come to believe is at the heart of the uncertainty around having makeup done and what the desired results are is a lack of clarity on how comfortable someone is with looking different than they typically look, which boils down thankfully to some concrete decisions that can (and have) to be made. These decisions are then like building blocks; the more cumulative decisions that are made that are different from how you look naturally or on a typical day with your usual daily makeup the more dramatic the overall change will feel to you. 

So what are the nuts and bolts questions that have to be agreed upon?

How much coverage do you like on your skin: Sheer and as translucent as possible or fuller coverage so you don’t see much of your skin beneath? Dewy and glowing or more matte, or the more typical somewhere in the middle? Brows: are they well defined and bold or more natural. Lips: do you like a more nude lip or a stronger pop of colour, do you have a favourite go to shade? Around the eyes do you like it darker and more dramatic or softer and more natural? Wings and lashes: do you like to see a wing on your liner and some added false lashes for extra oomph?

One of the huge gifts of makeup is that it’s temporary (unlike hair changes!). If you don’t like something it’s simple enough to change it. My two cents in all of these questions is to give you the gift of leaping into the unknown and trusting the artist doing the work. Assuming you’ve done the upfront work to trust you’re in good hands and you’ve had the preliminary discussion to make sure you’re both on the same page. Go for it, let go of your worries, be okay seeing yourself look a little different, I’m willing to bet after your eye adjusts to the ‘for now, new you’ you’ll love it and hopefully find the experience opens you up to a more confident answer next time someone asks you “so what makeup are we doing today?” 


photo credit Laurie MacBrown