“As an artist, being inclusive is crucial and should be standard to be considered a true pro,” says Summer Barker at Wildflower Bride. “The last thing you want is for a client to sit in your chair and not know how to address their needs or have the correct products to achieve their look.” A thorough and comfortable consultation with clients of all gender identities and skin tones will reveal their true desires, concerns, and expectations.
Hair and makeup artists (HMUAs) should always be able to work with a variety of style preferences, hair textures, allergies, sensitive skin, and skin tones. If you’ve seen the Glow Up series on Netflix, then you may be familiar with the types of constraints imposed on HMUAs when they’re under pressure to perform. So today we’re sharing some tips from HMUAs who work with diverse wedding parties!
Some couples request recommendations for HMUAs who have experience with a specific ethnic group or race. When you can refer a vendor in your market who can service these requests, you demonstrate to couples that they can trust your recommendations. “There is a sense of comradery there when you help support other artists in your field,” said Mandy Holdeman of Makeup by Mandy. Meet other HMUAs, gain new skills, and brush up on the ones you have at industry events specific to continuing education.
“The number one step to keeping an inclusive hair and makeup kit is education.” -Summer Barker “Take those extra classes to step your game up in areas of weakness. After you build your confidence it's all about stocking your kit with skincare for dry, oily, and sensitive skin.” As Keita Moore told Allure, the first few things to consider for Black and darker skin is to determine the skin type, the best formula, and the undertone (the colors that come through beneath the surface). "I’ve seen and heard of all kinds of tricks, but the best way to determine your undertone color is to wear a white shirt and stand against a white wall,” Moore tells Allure. “Using natural sunlight, take a picture of yourself. You’ll clearly be able to see if you have a red, yellow, neutral, or olive undertone. Usually darker skin tones are more on the warm side, especially during summer months."
Wildflower Bride takes a custom approach to each individual client. Barker recommends having a range of foundations with not only different tones but also different finishes. It’s not necessary to have every foundation color in your kit as long as you have a corrector to custom mix your colors. That way, you can develop a match for your client’s undertone. “To achieve a natural and dimensional look you will always use a few shades,” Barker says.
“To achieve a natural and dimensional look you will always use a few shades.” -Summer Barker
For darker skin tones, Mandy says to avoid over-exfoliation. “Keep your skin properly moisturized, and never skip your primer before applying foundation.” In these cases, she recommends staying away from concealers that are pink and blue based. Instead, opt for ones that are more orange and red for color correction. Yellow or orange correctors can also help correctly match darker skin tones. At the end of the day, natural light is the best truth-teller when it comes to exacting the color match.
“More and more brides are rocking their natural curls, and we are all about it,” Barker exclaims. “Make sure your kit has wet products to fit different curl patterns and that you are educated to handle those requests—it's an absolute must.” Far too often, hairstylists don’t have adequate experience working with hair textures that are different from their own.
“Make sure your kit has wet products to fit different curl patterns and that you are educated to handle those requests.”-Summer Barker
Tiny curling irons or diffusers can help define the curls in Afro styles. However, it’s important for HMUAs to know how to work with heat-free tools, too. The level of heat that one client can handle could potentially damage another client’s hair. Some heat-free tools include curling gels, flexirods, oils, and twisting butters. The devil is in the details and in the case of Afro styles, edgework is critical because it can make or break a look.
"Any professional HMUA should be able to style any texture of hair they may encounter." -Summer Barker
Any professional HMUA should be able to style any texture of hair they may encounter. When a wedding party is relatively large, there are scenarios that call for a whole team of HMUAs. In those cases, the entire team should be educated on how to work with all sorts of hair textures. While it may take time to Diversify Your Brand & Team, one small actionable step in the right direction is to regularly collaborate with HMUAs who understand how to work with hair textures you’re less familiar with.
“Get to know your competition in your area,” said Mandy. While you may have a team, it’s always a good idea to have the option to outsource for client requests that are outside of your own specialization. In the meantime, build a working relationship with the HMUAs to whom you make referrals. Strive to develop your skills working with a variety of hair textures to the point where you can teach others how to do the same.
Hero photo courtesy of Branson Maxwell