This month we interviewed the illustrious Jenna West, a hugely talented Brighton based make-up artist, who handles over a 100 weddings a year, in order to find out exactly what you need to know when booking a hair and makeup artist for your wedding. Watch the video below, or have a read of all the questions and answers below.
If you have a wedding coming up, we'd definitely recommend booking Jenna West as your makeup artist.
How Did You Get Into The Beauty Industry?
I started out as an actress and I always loved hair and makeup, that was my favourite thing when I was acting, getting my hair and makeup done. So I started out as an actress and then I trained as a makeup artist and gradually got more work as a makeup artist than an actress. I then studied in London, specifically for bridal makeup, at the Jemma Kidd Makeup School. I went on to do airbrushing and specific bridal hair and I worked on the Jemma Kidd Pro Team. Then I started my own business in Brighton three years ago.
How Many Weddings Have You Done?
I don't know how many weddings I've done, but I average a 100 per year, so that's quite a lot! So I'd say 600+, because you get midweek weddings now as well, so I get weddings Wednesday-Saturday, not always as there are busy seasons and busy periods, but generally I will attend 90-100 weddings per year.
Do You Work With Just Brides Or The Whole Bridal Party?
I do both, so you can book me just for the bride or the whole bridal party, mother of the bride, mother of the groom sometimes, bridesmaids, flower girls, everyone!
Who Or What Are Your Inspirations?
I really like Hollywood Glamour, I really like Elizabeth Taylor, I think that often in Hollywood Glamour they still look like themselves, it's still natural. You can get a red lip in there if that's something the bride would like, but generally it's that radiant, healthy looking glow which makes brides feel special and I really do take inspiration from the Hollywood Glamour.
Do You Offer Trial Runs Before Weddings?
I definitely would recommend doing a trial. There isn't many weddings I've done where I haven't done one, except emergencies, where someone has been let down, because it is really important that we get together and that the bride feels comfortable with me and that I know exactly what she wants and often just to try a few things. So I would definitely recommend a trial, just to see how the makeup wears. If the bride lets me know if we did her trial in the morning, 'oh at seven o'clock I felt like I was getting a little bit oily', then there are things I can do as a make-up artist to ensure that doesn't happen, so I might have to change a primer. There are so many different products available for different skin types, so it is really important we do the trial and then go from there.
How long before the wedding should I have a trial?
I recommend that a trial takes place six-eight weeks before the wedding. Some brides like to have their trial at the same time as their hen parties, so you could get your hair and make-up done before you go out for your hen party.
Are you willing to travel to a client’s house on their wedding day?
Definitely willing to travel! A lot of people get married in hotels, so they get ready there or in venues or in their own homes or their parent’s homes – that’s a luxury thing and what I do is a luxury service. I’ve never done a bride’s make-up in my own house on their wedding day, so definitely would travel.
Which brands do you use?
The brands that I use are all brands that I particularly love, so I really like Laura Mercier, that’s one of my favourite brands. I like using some products from MAC, some YSL, Bobbi Brown and the airbrushes air based make up, I love NARS – I like all the really good brands and each brand has their heroes, so I buy the best of each brand, because I think that there’s no one brand that does everything amazing, so I like for example MAC lipsticks, I really like NARS blushers, NARS colour is gorgeous, Laura Mercier foundation and primers and Bobbi Brown has some amazing colours bricks and shimmer blocks. So I will just get the best of each brand.
Do you recommend false eyelashes?
There’s different types of false eyelashes, you can get the permanent ones – I’d recommend a trial with those ones as they can irritate the eye and it’s also quite a big thing to have the eyelashes in permanently. I offer individual lashes, but they’re not permanent, so they will only last a day, but they can look really beautiful and subtle and not overdone. Sometimes the eyelashes you can get that are permanent can look really big and overdone, so definitely be specific with the ones that you choose if you want a really natural look.
Are the products that you use long lasting?
The products that I use are definitely long lasting, they’re all really high end, good quality brands that I trust and that I’ve used in the past, so yes, I would say that there very long lasting. Mostly, I use waterproof products for the eyes – eyeliner that will not come off, you could go swimming with it, so if we have some tears then it won’t smudge or go all over the eyes. The primer and the setting powder, I also airbrush, so all these things are really good at standing up to heat and if you sweat, so I would say that they’re very long lasting.
What can a bride do to keep their make-up fresh looking on their wedding day?
I always recommend having a top up of lipstick, I do provide a top up of lipstick for the bride. I would say maybe some blotting powder; they can always purchase some blusher or top up with some mascara if that’s what they want, or if they’ve got a look that has eyeliner, (in the waterline, not on top) but they waterline cold pencil, that can come off, I’ve got some on now. Naturally the eye is wet inside, so I would recommend maybe topping that up once or twice.
What do you do to create a natural look?
A natural look is where you look really enhanced and your best, often that requires a lot more products than people think because it’s just very subtle. So under eye concealer, maybe correcting if some people have some dark circles, you can use colour corrector. Also just making sure that the skin is really nice and fresh and glowing, using a good primer, maybe a radiance, strobe cream, something that will really highlight the cheeks. Also natural colours – earthy tones, primer for the eyes to make sure that make-up stays on and also you can get some with a pearl finish.
I love cheek blushers, cream blushers are really nice and fresh and if you blend them they can look like you have a natural flush rather than putting on a lot of powder. I’m not a fan of powdery make-up, I don’t think that looks very natural. So when I do your make up, I want your skin to look like skin, so I don’t want loads of heavy make-up on top of the skin. So that often requires using a nice tinted moisturiser and a little concealing and some powder in places where you need it rather than all over the face. Just being natural and looking good, but obviously not looking overdone.
Can you duplicate a look if a client were to bring a picture?
Yes, I get a lot of brides show me pictures on Pinterest, that’s really popular and lots of images in magazines, or just images of themselves maybe a few years ago on holiday where they said “Oh that was the best I ever looked, can you make me look like that again?”. It’s good for me to see what style they like and sometimes they could show me a picture that looks amazing on that person, but it’s not be perfect for them, so it’s good because we can talk about ways to make it work for them, making a few changes here and there, but yeah it’s really great to see photos!
How do you apply make-up to a client with acne or scarring?
When clients have acne or scarring, I think airbrushing is a good choice and I do offer airbrushing, because it’s applied using an airbrush gun, so you don’t have to touch the face and it gives a really good coverage for that. With acne and scarring you’ve got to be quite careful and the skin can get very irritated and also it can look worse sometimes if you put too much product on. It just depends on the particular case of acne, but I do recommend using the airbrush for problem skin.
What should I take into consideration when choosing a make-up artist for my wedding?
This is really important, don’t just go by price (I know everyone has a budget) but go by experience. How long have they been doing it? How many weddings have they done? What products do they use? Maybe have a phone consultation to get an idea of the type of person they are, because this person is going to be with you on your wedding morning. You need to be comfortable, it needs to be somebody that you feel you can bond with at the trial and that you’re in safe hands. Before you spend money on the trial, really make sure that you like the style of the make-up that make-up artist works in. Maybe even ask her a few questions about her, I really recommend that. I do get people that come to me and haven’t been happy previously, so just be sure and do as much research as you can.
Should the bride wash their hair in the morning before you arrive on the wedding day?
I recommend you wash your hair if you’re having your hair down, so if you’re going to have a bouncy blow dry and some curls. But don’t wash your hair on the morning of the wedding if you’re having a style that’s up. Generally, the hair will style better and stay up if it’s slightly greasy – I can always put dry shampoo in it to make it look like it’s still fresh.
But if the hair has been freshly washed and is going up, it’s drops quickly and also you need to put a lot of product in it to make it stay, so if you curl it or do something with it, it may not stay as well than hair that’s got a little more texture to it. If you wash your hair, you’re taking away the texture, it depends on the style but generally for up I say don’t wash it, wash it the night before.
What else can the bride do to prepare her hair or skin before the wedding day?
I think that always drinking a lot of water (and not drinking too much alcohol is a good thing). If you are dehydrated, your skin is the first thing to show. If you drink a lot of water, immediately you will see you skin pump up. Always try and look after yourself leading up to the wedding. Exfoliating is really good a few days before.
Don’t do waxing or do a facial the day before, as that can actually bring spots out, so I say if you’re going to have a facial, do it at least a week or two weeks before the wedding – just make sure that it’s nice and moisturised!
Can you style hair with extensions?
Yes, I can style hair with extensions, that’s no problem at all. Lots of brides want thicker, fuller hair and that’s something that I work with a lot.
Can you make hair look fuller and thicker and calm frizziness?
Yes, there’s lots of things to do to make hair look thicker and fuller, there’s lots of techniques; there’s backcombing and dust that you can put in the hair – it’s like a thickening dust which is really good and then you can backcomb the hair which makes it look thicker. Just things you can do with the hair as well, there’s ways to work with it to create more volume.
There’s a lot of products on the market; mousses and sea salt sprays – they’re amazing if you’re going for a messy bun. It makes your hair look really full. And also if you’ve got frizzy hair, there’s lots of serums and obviously we could straighten it or curl it – it depends what style you’re going for if you want that sleek look. I do find that a lot of brides like the soft romantic look, a bit fly-away, that’s really popular too!
If the bridal group is large, do you bring an assistant along on the day?
I will always bring an assistant if there’s more than four people. It also depends what time you’re getting married. So if it’s a very early wedding and everyone needs to be ready by 11/11:30 and I’ve got more than two people to do, I’ll bring in an assistant because I like to take my time and I don’t like to rush. And it’s just nice for everyone to get ready together, people not to be sitting around for really long periods of time having had their make-up done and they’re not going for another four hours. I do bring an assistant if it’s a large bridal party.
Do you require a deposit?
Yes, I require a deposit after a successful trial. I pencil you in a date in my diary and we’ll have a trial about eight weeks before the wedding – that’s when I think it’s comfortable for me and I think it’s quite a good time frame for the bride as well, so she’ll have her dress by then and she’ll know a lot more about the wedding. If there’s certain colours she’s got, that we can work with it, then we can incorporate it into the style that we do. I’ll take a deposit after the trial and that secures the day. Then I’ll take the deposit off the final balance during the day.
How much do you charge for hair and make-up packages?
I offer different packages for brides depending on the size of the bridal party, whether it is just make-up or just hair. I do have a minimum in the summer which is £250, so that you could have a couple of people or more for that and also off peak and peak prices – if it’s a winter wedding in the middle of the week, I’ll sometimes offer a discount depending on the circumstances. Generally, I’d say make-up and hair ranges from £150-£200 on the wedding day.
How soon beforehand should a client book?
I’d recommend booking asap! I have bookings a year in advance – my diary for next year is 70% full at the moment. I do get a lot of enquiries and I’m starting to train more and more people up so that weddings I’m not available for, they can do themselves in my style.