I am continually asked how to find a MUA when you don't live in a metropolitan area or are just not having any luck with referrals from websites. I recommend the following:
Contact wedding photographers, reception venues, or hair stylists for referrals.
Go to a makeup counter and ask specifically for an artist that does bridal. Ask them questions about their rate, technique, past weddings. If an artist doesn't know their bridal rate then they ain't doing weddings!
Contact beauty salons and ask for a referral
I recently had a bride ask me "do I need to have several makeup/hair trials?". My response is absolutely not. I recommend that you do your due diligence and google them before the trial and see what is said about them. If you have a lot of time and disposable income, then see as many as you like, but most brides are on a time crunch and a budget. If you love how you look and feel comfortable with the artist then book her/him.(visit my blog on bridal trial dos) I encounter a lot of indecisive brides and my advice to them is to trust your gut and bring a friend to the trial. Don't expect to look like you would on your wedding day – this is a trial. You can't see the full picture and the hair and makeup will look even better on the wedding day as the artist is starting out knowing exactly what the end product is.
Lastly, I want to talk about gratuity. I am asked about this often and it is tricky for me to answer since I am a vendor and don't want any of my clients to feel pressured to tip. I have worked as a waitress, bartender, counter MUA, dogwalker, and nanny so I feel that I have a good grasp on the service industry and what is expected/appreciated! Waitstaff is paid a very low hourly wage b/c gratuity is expected, so please take care of them! When you deal with a MUA at a counter please consider the following. Their job is to sell the product and they must meet sales quotas. They are expected to help customers and show how to apply products, but they are not expected to give full makeovers, unless the customer is seriously interested in buying products. This does not mean that you should feel beholden to buy a product if you try them on. I am talking specifically about people who come in and have a full face of makeup done with no intention of purchasing. The difference is in the intent. If you are spending time with them for the sole purpose of a lesson or a trial, then you should buy products or tip them (or both!). This isn't a store/brand policy but it is considered proper etiquette among counter MUAs. I do want to stress that a gratuity means that you are grateful for their service – you shouldn't feel bullied into tipping or buying products. I have also been on the receiving end of poor service at makeup counters and that is not kosher!
When working with freelance MUA, you are hiring them for a service and leaving a tip is completely acceptable. In my experience, 80-90% of brides tip on the day of the wedding, but far less tip for the trial. Personally, I consider a tip to be extra frosting on the cake and am always very grateful that my service was appreciated. I don't expect expect a tip and I don't think less of my clients who don't tip.The best tip for me is a very happy client who refers me to her friends, family, or blogs. However, I can't speak for everyone and I know that many artists do feel slighted and expect a gratuity on the day of the wedding. I understand that a lot of people go by the rule of thumb, that if an artist is self-employed that there is no need to tip. My feel is that great service is great service, period. If you are not happy with their service don't tip. Besides, working for yourself is a lot more blood, sweat, and tears than an being employee.
Bottom line: Trust your gut and reward great service (not mediocre!)