Certified Professional Hair & Makeup Artist (HMUA) in Singapore
Rates & Packages for Hairstyling & MakeupPersonal hairstyling & makeup: $150 /look Photoshoot / Fashion: $200 /look Pre-wedding hairstyling & makeup: $250 /look Bridal hairstyling & makeup: $300 /look Mummy/Bridesmaid hairstyling & makeup: $140 /look Follow through photoshoot: $60 /hr Face painting: $70 /hr
There will be an surcharge of $50 for any session that starts before 6am.
Different hair and makeup artists may have different rates; therefore, do contact me with your requirements for more accurate quotation.
Note: I don't collect any commission from the hair and makeup artists so that they can provide their best services at the best rates to clients referred by me.
Professional Hair & Makeup Artists in Singapore
Below are the HMUAs together with some of the portrait project(s) they've done together with me. The list of trustable HMUA is in order by the date of our first project. Over time, I may remove some of the HMUAs who aren't in contact with me.
- Tricia Lee
- Mandy Yeo
- Yuko Imoto
- Koreen Hong
- Kelly Lim
- Jessica Chia
- Ivy Tan
- Joey Yu
- Neetha Neha
- Thao Lee
1. Tricia Lee
Tricia used to work as a commercial hair and makeup artist before she gave up her full-time job in order to take care of her three children. Her past adventure with all the established photographers had trained her to spot the tiniest details. Due to her pro-activeness and eagerness to learn, she had also picked up many skillsets from the photographers, less how to operate the camera and lighting.
She has the perfect eyes for fashion and styling, and she can easily visualize the final outcome of her work. She is a magician who can turn a little girl into a gorgeous lady and a plain lady into a stunning lady. She loves the process of transformation of looks. She can direct models well and also pose them elegantly and naturally.
Tricia is more than a HMUA to me. She is a great friend who always goes all the way out to help others without seeking any reward. She guides me in my photography journey well, such that my shooting style is being influenced. She has also been going through my work with me to select the best photos out of the albums.
Unfortunately, Tricia is very much occupied and thus has very limited time in taking up requests.
2. Mandy Yeo
Mandy is an extremely easy-going, generous and self-less lady. Apart from being emotional and sincere, she also injects fun to the shoots, especially when her sister is present. She is eager to improve herself by taking up more makeup courses on top of her vast knowledge and experience. She has a wide collection of accessories and wardrobes that often come handy for any kind of shoot.
Mandy may not have the athletic build, however, her stamina can easily put many guys in shame. She is one of the fittest HMUAs I have worked with. Despite holding onto her own heavy and bulky makeup tools, she has volunteered to carry mine during outdoor shoots - and she does it when I get too carried away with the model(s).
Her working style is quite similar to mine.
3. Yuko Imoto
Yuko Imoto working on hair and makeup for Nathalie Blue
Currently stationing in Japan.
Yuko is a hair and makeup artist from Japan who speaks quite good English. She is a mature, independent, gentle and hardworking person who does not mind spending extra effort to make everyone look pretty. She would go to the extra miles by hiding the model's scars on the legs.
Apart from being just a hair and makeup artist, Yuko is very strong in her styling and she could come out with great concept for photoshoot, which is impactful. She is also good in guiding models.
4. Koreen Hong
Koreen Hong working on hair and makeup for Monica Weng
Koreen is an easygoing and accommodating hair and makeup artist. She has the never-give-up attitude that keeps the shoot going even when the shoot has overrun, continuing to put in her full effort. She is someone who will not complain about waking up early even though she had a full day the day before. Koreen is pretty easy to be pleased just like me; she will "dance like a kid" when people appreciate her work.
5. Kelly Lim
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Kelly is responsible. There were a few incidents that she had to drop her project, she actually forked out money out of her pocket to get a replacement. The second thing that comes to my mind is helpfulness. She is willing to share knowledge with me even when she is not involved in the project. We hit off very well since the first time we met.
6. Jessica Chia
Jessica Chia working on hair and makeup for Boon Hui
I'm embarrassed whenever I recall about the first time Jessica and I worked together. I reminded her a few times to text me once she was waiting for the bus but I was too busy setting up the equipment that I neglected my phone. She was, however, able to find her own way to the shooting location. Therefore, she is known to me as a patient, forgiving and independent lady. Even though the makeup was done indoor, I did not give her the most conducive environment as the air-conditioner in the hall was broken down and she had to move to the room as the model started perspiring. Next, I witnessed her running in and out of the room to fetch her tools that were already laid out at the first location. It was probably a more tiring shoot compared to her usual outdoor ones.
7. Ivy Tan
Ivy Tan working on makeup for Eva Loa
I initially thought Ivy was an ice queen, probably because she was too focused on her work. I didn't interact much with her during the shoot. Since the couple we were working together with were my old friends, Ivy was rather stunned with the words I used. Eventually, she proved me wrong in judging people when we started discussing for further collaboration. From then on, I have to think thrice whenever she tells me a problem because she can be just trying to bully me back.
Ivy is a very potential hair and makeup artist. I may not be a good critic of makeover work but she is pretty and hot, and thus simply showcasing herself has won half of the battle to gain the trust of clients.
8. Joey Yu
Joey is a very soft-spoken and easy-going lady and thus talking to her is an enjoyment. With her looks, she could have become a model as well. She can also share very detailed analysis of photographs with me.
9. Neetha Neha
Neetha also conducts makeup courses for makeup artists. She helped to organise a shoot between a client and I. During the shoot, she also asked me for opinions on the makeup.
10. Thao Lee
Thao working on makeup for Ye Qi
Thao Lee is a very flexible hair and makeup artist who's able to do her work at any kind of environment. She doesn't complain. She's also very quick-witted and creative. Working with her is very easy.
Professional Hairstyling & Makeup
There're different purposes for doing hairstyling and makeup. Therefore, male models are highly recommended to hire a professional hair and makeup artist for any photoshoot as well.
I. Purpose of Makeup:
Some common things that clients request to conceal are bad complexion, eyebags, acne, scars, stretch marks and puffy eyes. Of course, one man's meat may be another man's poison, and some people may regard these as what make them unique. Therefore, they may have to discuss with the HMUA before the makeover session.
Concealing imperfections may seem easy but it's actually not. Covering face with thick layer of foundation is likely to make the model's face look fake and it may also make the face "crack" faster. Wrong use of colour tones can make puffy eyes look worse. While differences in colour of face and neck make the model look weird too.
Highlight and shape features
Makeup can be used to highlight good features and also shape the features, such as nose bridge, eyes and lips. Contouring can be applied. Eventually, these would make the model look better.
In this era where everyone's busy and sleep has become a luxury, some people do look pale. Makeup can help to make the face look livelier. Moreover, models tend to look paler on photographs and thus makeup does help to improve the look on photographs.
Create the look to fit the theme
Makeup isn't simply to make the model look good but also help to create the look to fit into the theme.
II. Purpose of Hairstyling:
Keep hair nice or at least neat
At the minimum, the model's hair shouldn't be messy. Strands of hair, unless intended, should be covering the face.
Hairstyling makes a big difference not only to present the feel that you want to display, it also helps to shape your face. For example, if you have a high forehead, the hairstylist can try to make it less obvious.
Create the look to fit the theme
Hair is an important part of the model to create the look to fit into the theme.
Majority of the photographers aren't makeup artists and although they can conceal some imperfections on Photoshop, they likely don't have the expertise of makeup artists to do the rest.
III. Makeup VS Photo Editing
Makeup and photo editing are both essential to create great art work. None of them can replace each other.
Photographers aren't makeup artists
Some people have this wrong assumption that photographers can "Photoshop" everything, including makeup. Although photographers may have knowledge of photo editing, they aren't trained in makeup and thus don't know what exactly to be edited even if they may know the tools for the specific job.
Makeup can greatly reduce photo editing work
Professional photo editing work is usually very tedious. Good photographers try to get things right during the photoshoot. If the flaws can be fixed or reduced during the hairstyling and makeup session, it would greatly reduce the amount of post-production work.
This is the reason why some professional photographers would charge extra fee for photo editing if no professional hair and makeup artist is involved, and some photographers would even reject the job.
Makeup helps to maintain consistency
Given that there're 10 photographs, the photographer has to edit the same flaw 10 times. The effort would be even greater if there're more things to be fixed during post-production. Eventually, the photo editing for every photograph may likely not be consistent, especially with larger quantity of photographs. Inconsistency may be spotted easily by professionals who pay attention to details.
Not all photographs can be edited
Some photographs with flaws in certain angles cannot be edited. Photographers also can't do certain work like editing eyes extremely or adding false eyelashes.
IV. Different levels of Makeup Artists
I personally categorise makeup artists into a few levels, with no mean of insulting anyone.
An amateur refers to a girl who doesn't know how to apply makeup properly. She may know what's foundation and blusher but she's just randomly applying them. When I began portrait photography as an amateur photographer, I did work with some female friends under this category.
With the ease of free makeup tutorials online, such as YouTube, many young girls nowadays have started learning doing makeup by themselves. Some girls are able to pick up the skill that's enough to make themselves look good. However, most of these girls are by birth, already quite good looking. A girl who is good enough with her own makeup may not be good in doing makeup for others because everyone has different flaws on her face.
Trained or certified
A makeup artist who has undergone training and gotten a certificate from either an experienced private teacher or makeup school knows the basics to doing good makeup. She may know the concepts and theories but may need more hands-on experience in order to learn how to deal with different kinds of faces.
There are tens or hundreds of new hair and makeup artists graduating from the makeup schools (including makeup studios) in Singapore yearly. Most of them are only taught the basics and it takes lots of practices to be proficient. An experienced makeup artist not only knows how to do good makeup for everyone but also knows what kind of makeup suits a girl. They usually command higher rates.
A master not only knows what kind of makeup suits a girl but also how to style the girl to a specific theme or concept to bring out the feel.
For examples, a client may need a special styling in order to participle in her company DND or a young girl needs to be transformed into a mature looking girl.
V. The Importance of Good Makeup and Hairstyling
"After and before" female makeover by hair & makeup artist Ivy Tan. Photo by Ivy Tan.
"Before and after" men's makeover by hair & makeup artist Ivy Tan. Photo by Ivy Tan.
When you organise an event or portrait shoot that you have spent lots of time and money on, you probably want to get a good photographer to capture the moments. Similarly, you should be thinking how to look your best during the probably once-in-a-lifetime event or when you want to do a photoshoot. This is the reason you need a good hair and makeup artist.
People do undermine professional hairstyling and makeup due to lack of appreciation. For instance, some freelance models have told me that they preferred doing makeup by themselves because they knew their own faces better. One client even told me that she could get free makeup done at cosmetic stores, claiming the work was similar to professional hair and makeup artist's standard.
Similar to photography, not everyone knows how to tell the quality of the work. If you are given a single photograph, you probably won't realise it can be done much better. If you put two photographs side by side, you can roughly tell which is a better photograph even though you may not be able to point out the differences.
It takes time to improve judgement. Even for an experienced photographer like me, despite I can judge bad makeup, I'm not an expert in differentiating good and excellent makeup jobs. If a person does not see the value of good hair and makeup, the professional has no extra value and the person won't be willing to set a good budget for it.
On an occasion, a client of mine got into the limelight and people started searching online for her.
We did a photoshoot many years back when she was much younger. She didn't have the budget to hire a professional hair and makeup artist and she could only apply basic makeup for herself. Therefore, the end result wasn't fantastic. To be fair, her look was better than most average girls.
Nevertheless, people who hide behind the Internet are usually bold since they think it's not easy to identify them. Unfortunately, they include people who assume themselves to be celebrity-looking and would undermine other people's looks. They would give very nasty comments on social media and forums.
If she had hired a professional hair and makeup artist for the photoshoot, there wouldn't be as much personal attacks on her based on her looks.
VI. The Cost Breakdown of Every Makeup Job
The basic tools of HMUAs may not cost as much as photography equipment (camera and lenses) but the bits and pieces of small items do cost a bomb altogether. Items such as lipsticks and eyeshadow have various colours. Many tools do wear and tear, reduce in quantity or can't be reused.
Good quality products may come at much higher prices but can also produce much flattering results. For example, a good eyelashes curler can cost four times the price of a normal one but it can even out the eyelashes better. Better quality makeup products can be blended better onto skin and won't fade off as easy as the cheaper ones.
Therefore, most professional HMUAs insist in using good quality makeup products that won't tarnish their reputation, which will in term require higher cost. If you happen to get a cheap deal, the HMUA may be using less expensive (quality) products on your face.
After every hairstyling and makeup session, the makeup artist has to clean up some of the reusable tools, such as brushes, curler etc. This is for hygiene purpose. It requires time and effort to do it.
Transport fee and time
HMUAs often have to carry bulky and heavy bag full of tools and thus it's difficult for them to take public transport. Therefore, some HMUAs will charge extra fee for transportation, especially if it's an early morning makeover session that cab fare is usually higher. This is also the reason why some freelance HMUAs will charge a lower cost if you're willing to travel over to their houses or studios for the makeover session.
I'm separating experience and creativity from skill because a certified hair and makeup artist may not be equipped with them. Skill is the ability to do the basic hair and makeup job to a certain standard. It's similar to taking art lesson during school days where some students simply can draw very well, while somehow, most students can get at least a borderline pass. A hair and makeup artist is being paid for the skill, which is usually superb to the average people.
Experience doesn't come easy. Similar to other trades, no hair and makeup artist can produce good work simply by signing up to a makeup course. Everyone makes mistakes and faces new challenges, and it takes lots of practices and real-life experiences to learn how to solve different situations. For example, it may be difficult to apply false eyelashes for some girls due to unique feature and an experienced makeup artist may be able to solve the problem.
Creativity is the most undervalued aspect of a hair and makeup artist. Many hair and makeup artists are well trained and certified to do the standard job in making every model look good. However, it takes boldness and creativity for a hair and makeup artist to create something eye-catchy, which differs from the usual style.
Some hair and makeup artists do allocate time to do personal (non-mainstream) photoshoot projects, in order to showcase their creativity.
VII. Problems of Working with HMUAs
Being able to work with a professional hair and makeup artist is a luxury. It can bring the quality of the final work to a greater height, or at least, reduce problems in styling. A good hair and makeup artist is crucial to the success of heavily scrutinized photoshoots, such as commercial, pre-wedding and modelling portfolio.
However, apart from the extra fee, it does come with some problems that we've to overcome eventually.
Tighter schedules for arrangement of photoshoot
Most people are very busy with various commitments. It can be challenging to arrange the date and timing of the photoshoot to fit just two parties' (photographer and model) schedules. With the additional of any person, such as a hair and makeup artist, in the team, the challenge increases.
I had experienced once that a HMUA delayed giving me her schedule after I'd promised her the job, and I eventually lost the project due to the drag.
Earlier meet-up session, including in the wee hours
If the professional makeover session isn't scheduled at the model's house, she would have to set off much earlier. That means if the team is going for the morning golden hour for the best result possible, the model may need to leave house even before the public transport begins. That incurs extra cost on transportation.
Even if the morning makeover session is to be done at the model's house, professional makeover usually takes up more time than the model's own makeup, and thus the model has to wake up much earlier.
Makeup session overruns/ delays
Poop does happen sometimes. The makeup session may begin late due to lateness by either the HMUA or model, or the makeup takes longer time than estimated. As a result, the photoshoot would be delayed.
Very experienced hair and makeup artists may be able to work at a faster pace and also give a better estimation of the duration, depending on the model's complexion and the complexity of the concept.
My worst experience was having to meet up with the team at 5am so that we could start shooting at the golden hour. However, the makeover session took excessive time and we only started the photoshoot near 11am. There was once when the late afternoon photoshoot became a night photoshoot in near total darkness.
HMUAs: Working with Skai
I enjoy meeting and working with new people but I prefer sticking to just a few HMUAs. The reasons are obvious that (1) they've good working attitude, (2) passionate in the art, (3) good standard of hair and makeup skill and (4) I've already built up good rapport with them. Eventually, having good communication between the entire team would help to produce better work, especially for portrait photoshoots.
However, I'd need to alias with more HMUAs as it's difficult to find a HMUA whose schedule can always fit into my clients' and mine. Some HMUAs do have another full-time 8-5 job and thus they're only available at nights and during weekends, and their weekends would usually be packed with many makeup jobs.
I. Benefits of Working with Skai
Promotion / Marketing
I'd do my best to promote their makeup services occasionally on my websites and social media profiles, without spamming my followers. It includes listing them on this page, which I would recommend to potential clients who need professional makeover services.
Special discount for clients
To further promote the HMUAs I've confident in, I've included discounts in some of my photography packages for clients who would hire any of my HMUAs.
On the other hand, I don't take any commission from the HMUAs. I expect that, in return, they would do their best for the clients I've recommended to them. After all, every artist requires proper income to continue with their passion.
II. Requirements to Become Skai's HMUAs
Appreciates my art work and character
The main reason someone wants to work with me should be that she appreciates my art work and character. For a stranger to understand me, she should have spent a lot of time and effort to go through my website to study my work and writing. If the reasons for a HMUA to work with me, for examples, are to get a kick start due to my large social media follower base or that she's simply desperate to get a photographer, the relationship likely won't last long. Without knowing and appreciating me, there won't be enough trust for any long term collaboration.
The HMUA should also be sensitive to things, like for example, if the model seems awkward with the presence of a third person apart from the photographer, the HMUA may want to excuse herself for a while to allow the model to get into the mood. I also need positive vibe. If someone in my team is showing "black" face from time to time, it will affect the entire team. Imagine in the midst of a photoshoot, the HMUA looks restless or grumpy, I'd be wondering, "Is she expecting us to end the shoot now?" I have experienced it and it's very awkward, especially when I'm someone who's constantly taking care of the welfare of the entire team.
During a sensual photoshoot with a very open-minded model, we wanted to suggest the model to do some sexy poses that she hadn't tried before. I allowed time for the model digest to see if she's comfortable, making clear that she would make the final decision. It was near midnight (the model turned up late for the night studio photoshoot) and the HMUA was frustrated (she later admitted she was sleepy). Instead of guiding the model, the HMUA lectured me like a student, telling me to speak up (when I had already given clear instruction to the model and waiting for her response). I was totally stunned by how the HMUA put me in an awkward situation.
The genre of some of my photoshoots may be more sensual. Therefore, the HMUA has to be open-minded and comfortable with working with models who may be showing quite an amount of skin. The HMUA has to understand that professional photographers should be treated with trust and respect.
There are many ways a HMUA can make things awkward. For example, she tries to cover up the model and make it seem like she's protecting the model from a pervert. She may be making the model more tensed.
Our work involves working with many people, including aspiring models. We should be doing things that can keep the models safe and we shouldn't get involved with people who are obviously black sheep in the industry. By working with black sheep, innocent girls may mistake that we have verified the person's character by associating with him and let their guard down.
I did have an encounter that a HMUA friend was approached by one such black sheep to offer her "business opportunities". She told me she found out that he was previously being charged for outrage of modesty of model(s) under him. She tried to persuade me to join them for discussion but I turned her down. She then threw insult at me, sarcastically saying that I didn't want to make money.
I do all kinds of photoshoots, including a lot of on-location shoots. During my outdoor photoshoots, if the HMUA were to follow through, she should at least have the stamina to walk and stay alive. Clients do pay a lot for a professional HMUA to follow through the photoshoots so that the HMUA can touch up on their makeup and hair when necessary.
Able to keep confidential details
We'll be discussing a lot about the models, including their merits and flaws, in terms of their looks, attitudes, characters and requests/ demands. There's no perfect person in this world and thus it's inevitable to highlight about negative aspects. If the HMUA happens to leak our discussion, it may sow discord between the models and I, because the words may be brought across wrongly or in a negative tone, or perhaps, not all facts can be acceptable.
Once, I told a HMUA not to expect too many good photographs from the photoshoots due to many constraints during the photoshoot that I couldn't produce a larger variety of good photographs, unlike our previous projects. It was out of good will so that she wouldn't set a far too high expectation of the final work. I totally didn't know the HMUA was bearing lots of grudges with me over time (she still worked with me) and she misled the model into thinking that I was bashing her. Luckily, the model confronted me directly.
Shares all problems regarding the shoot with me
We're working as a team and a photographer is supposed to oversee everything for the photoshoot. Eventually, the photographer has to communicate with the model to make her feel comfortable during the photoshoot. Although I'm a guy, it doesn't mean that I should be kept away from knowing "sensitive" stuff that would affect the photoshoot.
There was once when a model forgot to bring/ buy nipple stickers for the photoshoot, she asked for some normal tapes from the HMUA. I could sense something was wrong and the HMUA refused to tell me about the (common) issue. Her reaction and tone made it seem like I was an outsider and that kind of drew a border between the model and I.
Able to communicate well in English via texting
I'm bilingual in both English and Chinese but it's difficult for me to communicate via Chinese in texting. I'm not an A-grader in English and if someone has a much weaker command in the language than me, it doesn't spell good. If the HMUA is weak in the English language, she won't be able to communicate well with me.
My experience communicating with a HMUA with a bad command of English via texting cast lots of miscommunication. In the long run, it caused lots of miscommunication and frustration.
Good rapport with me
We often have to do discussion with other project member. The HMUA has to be in the same frequency in order to deliver the ideas. We're also working with a lot of female models and there're things that are better to be communicated via a female - the HMUA.
There was once a HMUA and I had a group chat with a model to discuss over a sensual concept, which was easier to be brought across through a female - the female HMUA. The HMUA blamed me in private for not being more direct in the discussion, instead of doing her part to explain more details in the group chat. She claimed the model didn't understand the straightforward concept, as I explained that I was certain that the model wasn't interested. Eventually, the model turned down the idea directly.
Able to work within timeframe
If we want to do a morning outdoor photoshoot, we would be trying to grab the "first light" at around the golden hour (near 7am). If the HMUA arranges to start the makeup at 5am and yet we could only reach the venue only around 9am or even later, it would make no sense for the entire team to meet up so early (at 5am), having to battle with bad sunlight eventually. Similar for early evening shoots, if the makeup takes up extra time, the day shoot would end up becoming a night shoot instead.
I did experience such problem many times, which had affected the quality of my work greatly and some of the concepts had to be changed on the spot after reaching the location late.
Does the actual work
If the HMUA is staying through the photoshoot, the primary duty is to take care of the model's image. She has to touch up the model's makeup when necessary and always keeps a lookout for strands of hair covering the face. Having to do photo editing for the strands of hair will prolong the post-production process and also affect the quality of work greatly.
Does the physical contact work with model
Since I'm a male photographer and most models are female, I'll avoid having any body contact with any model during the photoshoots myself. The HMUA has to help to adjust the model's outfit and posture if necessary. We work as a team.
Keeps proper hygiene of tools
We've to have clear conscience and not let anyone be affected by infection or whatever. Some models may be more sensitive to dirt and germs. For example, the brushes should be properly washed after every job.
Whenever I've a project on hand, I need a quick confirmation (not just quick reply) with no obligation. It's okay for a HMUA to turn down any project if she's unable or uninterested. However, if the HMUA drags the confirmation until the date is nearer, it's extremely difficult for me to find another HMUA within a short notice.
III. How to Become a Makeup Artist for Skai
As I would only recommend HMUAs who have already worked with me on any project, we would try to arrange for some test shoots first. Do approach me and let me know if you're interested.
You may like to read:
- Special photoshoots you can hire a professional photographer to do
- Freelance Models in Singapore
- Freelance Photographer in Singapore
- Talents you should avoid working with