Shoes for Makeup Artists: How to Avoid Soul-Crushing Foot Pain While Standing for Long Hours

If you have feet and you use them to stand all day while you do makeup on set or on a wedding, you need to read this! Today, let’s talk about all the shoes you can wear that will help you not be in soul-crushing pain after a long day of painting faces and standing.

Humans are bipedal, meaning we are meant to stand upright. So, in theory, standing up all day shouldn’t be such torture, right? The issue is that in our jobs, our down time, the way we commute, etc., we don’t do a lot of standing. We’re also a lot less active now than we were when we had to hide from giant predatory kangaroos!

This is the stuff of nightmares …. You’re welcome. 🙂

 As makeup artists, the majority of us stand when we apply makeup. I can’t actually even get my head around the logistics of sitting down in front of a client. All I can see is an awkward knee battle and practically having to climb on my client’s lap to do precision work, thus making the already awkward intimacy of being 6-inches from a stranger’s face even more awkward. So, a lot of us stand. In so doing, your body isn’t always appreciative of that after 6, 8, 10, 12, 14+ hours on your feet. You know how it unfolds: they already hurt when you get to your car and as you’re driving (or riding public transit if your hometown is into that kind of thing) you start to feel the random stabbing pains in your toes, the arch, maybe even the heel. You get home and pull off your sock and your feet look like baby seals and you could swear that they are …. pulsing … maybe. Sometimes, your knees, hips, back, and shoulders can also be pretty grumpy.

There are lots of ways to help yourself feel better when you stand all day for work, but today, we’re going to focus on shoes. Your shoes and the support they do or do not offer you can be a MAJOR help in preventing the post-wedding limp or the dreaded that “feet hurt so bad I actually cannot stop moving them while I lay in bed” thing that happens (does this happen to other people? Just me? Hmm.)

Here’s the problem:

Cute shoes are not typically comfortable and comfortable shoes are typically not cute.

In a field where you are expected to look stylish, supportive and comfortable shoes are a little more:



runway model


Some of us (you’re looking at me. It’s ok — I accept it) do not care what our shoes look like because we don’t want bunions or back problems or knee problems or to eat Aleve for breakfast before a job (well, ok, we’re too late for that one). Others DO care and will pad around in kitten heels or crazy platforms on a job. Some seem unfazed by the torture that is a cute shoe. I suspect these people are from another planet where shoes like these do not hurt your feet after 8+ hours (or, in my case, 10 minutes). Others try to hide their personal torture, but I see you. I see you padding gingerly around near the end of the day, trying to put as little weight on the balls of your sad, tortured feet with each step. I even see you walking to the parking lot barefoot, risking stepping in any amount of parking lot funk rather than keep those fabulous shoes on for one more second. This was me just a couple years ago. I see you, but I do not envy you.

carrying wife
Are you sure this tradition isn’t because her feet were killing her?

Shoes for Makeup Artists:

In talking to many makeup artists over the years, there seem to be some contenders:

VionicVionic Loafer
These shoes have built-in orthotics to help support your foot.  

Dansko MaryJaneDansko Clog

Dansko Wedge

Popular with nurses.  Some styles are cute!
Fluevog Shoes _ Shop _ Faith (Black) _ Rose buckled shoe
Pricey but a lot of artists have great things to say about them and their style range is pretty great.
Doc Martens
Doc Martens
I don’t personally find Docs comfortable, but that could be because I have shins like really short tree trunks but I hear a lot of artists love them.  
Chuck Taylors (Converse)
Lots of artists love these as a comfy option.  I think these are most comfortable for people with wee pixie feet that are narrow.


What to Look For In a Shoe:

When you’re standing all day, you need a supportive shoe.  If you can twist or bend the shoe easily, it isn’t supportive enough for long hours.  Consider the shape of the shoe and how it’ll align your body.  Is it a flip flop?  Set it on fire!  Shoes like flip flops and most ballet flats offer no support whatsoever and there isn’t much between your foot and the ground.  Is the toe pointy like a slice of pizza?  That’s probably not going to make your piggies happy after several hours on your feet, so consider something wider or with a rounded toe (I know, I know, they aren’t flattering and can make your feet look stubby but do want this when you’re 75?)

Other Tips:

Some other foot-related tips to help your piggies survive long jobs:

compression sock

Compression Socks

Compression socks not only prevent varicose veins, they prevent cankles!!  In general, they keep your calves, ankles, and feet from swelling up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  You can get fancy and have them custom fitted or you can wing it and buy ’em from your local drug store.  If you have short legs, beware that these may cut off your circulation at the back of your knee and make your toes go numb.  Best for us short people to get them custom-fitted.




Insoles can take a not so comfy shoe and make them super comfy by adding arch support, a slight heel lift, or a pad for the ball of your foot.  

insole vs orthodic


Insoles are great, but if you want to take your customized foot support game to the next level, you can take yourself to a podiatrist and have them make you custom orthotics. You can buy pre-made ones or semi-customized orthotics, as well.

Rotate Shoes

When you wear the same shoes daily, the same points experience the same pressure.  If you rotate your shoes every other day or every two days, it’ll help reduce some foot stress.  You can even bring an alternate pair for when your feet are tired and need a change of pace between weddings or on long shoots. 

Exercise Your Feet While Standing

Another thing you can do while you are standing all day is shift the pressure around a bit and stretch.  Here are some suggestions from

– periodically raising yourself up on tiptoe

– periodically raising the forefoot to balance on the heels

– periodically alternating standing on one foot at a time – like a flamingo – for short periods

Try Not To Work Barefoot for Long Periods

When you work weddings or private clients, you’re often coming into people’s homes or hotel rooms.  In some cases, you’ll be asked to take off your shoes. Working in your socks, especially on a hardwood or tile surface, is hard on not only your feet but your back, hips, and knees. 

Depending on the culture of your client, your socks may not be an acceptable foot covering.  Some East Asian homes will have a set of guest slippers for you to wear.  If you’re doing more than one person or planning to work more than an hour, I’d suggest bringing your own set of slippers that do not get worn outside.  Here are some suggestions that are supportive, but still a slipper:

Orthaheel Relax Slipper
Orthaheel Slipper
Sorel Nakiska Slide Slipper
Sorel SLipper


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