makeup artist anxiety

Makeup artist anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic

While many makeup artists are super excited about getting back to work, I’m constantly reading comments about how anxious some artists are.  That anxiety ranges from “how can I keep myself and my clients safe?” to “what if I (or my client) has Covid-19 and is asymptomatic?” even to thoughts of “will I remember how to do makeup, especially with all these new precautions I need to take?”

Here in Australia, we have been relatively “lucky” with only 7000 cases and just over 100 deaths at the time of writing.  I know that many of you in other countries are experiencing a much tougher battle with Covid-19 and might be feeling even more anxious about returning to work.

My first message to you all is:  You are NOT ALONE. Remember that whenever there is an unknown situation, it is totally normal to feel anxiety; many of us feel the same way from time to time, we doubt our ability to cope, we are unsure of what to do, and sometimes we feel that we can’t carry on.  This is normal!

Around 10 years ago I experienced a very traumatic life event, that resulted in major anxiety and situational depression, which lasted for many months, so I do have some first hand experience with anxiety, and even though my life is relatively stress-free these days, I too went through ALL the emotions during the upheaval of the coronavirus and lockdown.

Now, I am no psychologist (I actually failed first year psych at Uni – but that’s a whole other story!), I am a sociologist, makeup artist and student of life with a deep interest in what creates human behaviour, why some people seem to succeed in everything they set out to achieve, and others don’t.  I have spent the last 9 years reading, listening to podcasts and lectures, attending seminars, and working with a personal therapist and a coach, and this is what I’ve learned and how I deal with my anxiety as a makeup artist.  I hope it can provide some hope to any of you dealing with these issues right now.

Firstly, what is Anxiety?  The dictionary defines anxiety as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome”.  Yep, sounds about right, particularly now.  Not only are we worried and anxious about how the virus might impact us and those we love, but also about how we can keep our clients, our selves and our kits safe while we are working.

trash the dress, wedding dress, wedding couple in the water, wedding hair and makeup by Sue McLaurin

Here’s some steps to help you reduce your anxiety:  

Step 1. Identify

The first step in dealing with your makeup artist anxiety is to identify it.  What is it?  What is the feeling or the worry?  Self-awareness is critical in understanding what’s going on and how to move beyond it.  For many of us, it is fear of the unknown. We are having to adjust our normal work procedures (eg. Scraping out eyeshadows and other pressed powders – see THIS VIDEO).  Is it that you are afraid that your client won’t like the makeup you do for her?  That you might forget the new sanitation procedures you know you need to be following?  That the worst might happen and you catch or unknowingly pass on the virus?

Know that our brains are hard-wired for survival.  This goes way back to the cave-man days when at any moment we could be attacked by a sabre-toothed tiger.  Our brain (and ego) was responsible for keeping us alive.  Of course we don’t need to worry about getting eaten by a tiger any more, but it’s the same thing… our brain (ego) wants to keep us safe.  That’s why we call it a “comfort zone”.  Our ego wants to keep us in our comfort zone where we are safe.  

What is more comfortable?  Staying home on the couch with Netflix, or facing the UNCERTAINTY of going out to do someone’s makeup, when they may not like it, and where there may be a risk of catching a life-threatening virus.  This uncertainty of the outcome is what can lead to anxiety.

Step 2:  Challenge

Once you have identified the feelings, it’s time to challenge them.  Ask yourself, “Is this a possibility?  Is it possible that my client won’t like the makeup that I do?”  “What is the real likelihood of me catching or passing on the coronavirus? Of course that’s a possibility, but is it a LIKELY and REALISTIC possibility? 

If you have had a client not be happy with the makeup you did, what happened? Was there a lesson to be learned?  Did you handle it?

Think about the WORST thing that could happen.  Then ask yourself: Will you survive?  Can you make a comeback?  

Then ask yourself: How likely is this to happen?  What evidence is there?  Look at your past performance.  How many happy clients have you had?  I’m sure you will find that you have a lot more happy clients than unhappy clients.  So, the evidence points to the likelihood of this client being happy too.  

If you’ve always maintained a sanitary kit, and practiced good hygiene, then the additional procedures you will need to put into place shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.  

I believe the key is to communicate with your clients, before the booking, to prepare them for the new way you will be working, and also during the application, so they understand why you are doing things that they may not have seen before.  I’m sure your clients will appreciate knowing that you have her best interests in mind, and even though it may take you a little longer to do her makeup than usual, safety is more important!

makeup artist, brisbane makeup artist, commercial makeup artist, sue mclaurin makeup artist, yoga, sunrise yoga, makeup artist education, makeup artist coach,

Step 3: Re-focus

It’s a fact of life (and it comes back to that survival mode ego again) that we tend to focus on what we don’t have, what we can’t control, and what could possibly go wrong  (Lack, Loss and Never).  But remember, “What you focus on Expands” so the more you think about those things, the more they will affect you every day, and the harder it will be for you to move forward.

Rather than focusing on what could go wrong – and how tricky it might be to introduce these new procedures, and will my clients be concerned about me wearing mask and gloves and other PPE, I’m trying to focus on what I CAN control.  I have prepared my kit – I’ve bagged up my brushes into separate sets for each client, I have plenty of disposables, gloves and capes for my client.  Yes it will take a little more time to do my job, but I’m sure my clients will appreciate the effort that goes into keeping them safe too.

Step 4:  Reflect and Celebrate

My coach (yes, I have a coach) has me do an End of Day Reflection exercise, where I have to look at everything that went RIGHT in my day, and all the things I did get done, and congratulate myself for those things.  (Hands up who else looks at their To-Do list at the end of the day and only sees the things they DIDN’T tick off?)  Don’t do it!!  Look at the things you DID do each day (even if its only 1 in 10) and say “Yay me!” for those.  

Consider that most conscientious makeup artists are dealing with the same fears and anxieties that you are.  Everyone is concerned about getting back to work in this new world. 

If you are having trouble coping, there is always help available.  Here in Australia, you can contact Lifeline on 131114 or visit

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