Makeup Artist vs. Mak Andam – The Rant of a Potential Bride

I have actually been thinking about this for a long while now but not quite sure how to say it out. But like what Oscar Wilde once wrote, “I think that whenever one has anything unpleasant to say, one should always be quite candid.”

So candid I shall be. But before that, let’s take a look at the difference between a Makeup Artist and a Mak Andam?

Make-up Artist (ˈmeɪkʌp ˈɑːtɪst)


  1. a person who applies cosmetics to a person, such as to a model or actor

Source: Collins English Dictionary

It’s as simple as that. But whether you’re a certified/professional/experienced/good/bad makeup artist is a different matter altogether. Application of cosmetics has evolved over the years and has been revolutionized many times over by those in the industry. It has also expanded into categories like Special Effects Makeup Artist and Body Painter, and with that, beautifying someone is no longer the sole purpose of a makeup artist. A really good one can make you look old or grotesque or even look like someone else with the proper prosthetics. And of course, nowadays, a makeup artist’s clientele doesn’t stop at just models or actors. Even regular people are getting makeup artists to get their makeup professionally done during special occasions like prom, public events and weddings.

Now, let us take a look at what the internet has to say about the definition of a Mak Andam.

According to Wikipedia, Mak Andam is simply a ‘Beautician’. Typically, a Mak Andam is someone of age who is in charge of beautifying the bride. So, yes, in a way it is equivalent to a makeup artist. But she is so much more than that. Back in the olden days (aka Kampung Days), a Mak Andam is more often than not, associated to Black/White magic. The skills/trades of a Mak Andam are passed down from generation to generation and depending on the original teachings, the prayers recited during the Andaman rituals differ. Getting a bride ready is a long process that consists of many rituals and many different steps. Prayers are recited so that everyone would be ‘bewitched’ by the bride’s beauty. There is a prayer for every step from combing the brides hair to putting on the kebaya. There were even stories of brides fainting because of the pressure she had to carry with all these prayers that were mostly deprived from evil beauty such as the Potianaks (Succubus). But then again, I had also heard stories about brides fainting every time she leaves the bridal room to proceed to the wedding dias. That is typically because of black magic sent from enemies/rivals, and the Mak Andam needs to be knowledgable in order to counter such ‘attacks’.

But times has changed and no one believes in such hocus-pocus anymore. Even the time-consuming rituals are considered unnecessary and many couples have decided to opt them out. So if that’s the case, the duties of a modern Mak Andam solely lies in putting on makeup for the bride. So why still call them Mak Andam?

IMO, even though the traditional/spiritual rituals has been long forgotten, a Mak Andam responsibilities does not stop at simply applying makeup on the bride. A Mak Andam is a Makeup Artist cum Maid-of-Honor cum Event Coordinator cum Therapist. Now why does a Mak Andam has to take up so many roles? Well, let’s take a look at each of them.

Mak Andam as a Makeup Artist
I think it is self-explanatory. We all know that’s the sole responsibility of a Mak Andam, so I won’t get into that.

Mak Andam as  MOH
The Mak Andam is the one person who is going to be with the bride the whole day; from hours or even days before the event starts all the way until it ends. The Mak Andam does not leave the bride’s side and is always handy with packets of tissues, bobbin pins, safety pins, facial blotters, and compact powder and lipsticks for touching up. The Mak Andam is there to calm the bride down when she gets nervous during the Akad Nikah, the Mak Andam is there when the bride needs help with her diamond encrusted strappy heels and the Mak Andam is there when the bride needs to pee. So, she is pretty much the bride’s shadow.

Mak Andam as Event Coordinator
Despite having taken out many traditional rituals, there are still a few things that goes on during a Malay Wedding, like the Bertandang procession where the groom and his wedding party would travel from his place to her place and bring her back to his place….and then ends up at her place. Finally. This usually happens the day after the Akad Nikah. There are usually several outfit changes during the bertandang procession and the Mak Andam has to make sure that the couple are ready to leave on time. Photo taking sessions can also sometimes gets out of hand and it’s up to the Mak Andam to put her foot down to ensure that it doesn’t over-run. Normally, there would already be a family member/friend who was assigned as a Time Checker who would work hand-in-hand with the Mak Andam in keeping with the day’s itinerary.

The other day, I attended a friend’s wedding and this was what I noticed. Now, the groom needs to undertake ablution before Akad Nikah and is supposed to ‘break’ his ablution with his bride. ONLY. That is the reason why after Akad Nikah, the groom goes to the bride and as a form of respect, she will take his hand and kiss it while he will plant a chaste kiss upon her forehead. It’s the equivalent to “you-may-kiss-the-bride”. But at this one wedding I was at, right after the Akad Nikah, the groom was told to kiss the hand (as a form of respect) of the Bride’s mother. *gasps*  So basically there was a slight misunderstanding on what was supposed to happen and what was the Mak Andam doing? Nothing, she was just sitting there. Sure it’s not the end of the world, but…it’s not how its suppose to be. And as a potential bride myself, I would want to be the one to ‘break’ my husband’s ablution. I mean, would you want your husband to kiss your mum when the solemnizer say “You may kiss the bride.”? A Mak Andam needs to know the adat istiadat (rites and rituals) of a wedding.  

Mak Andam as Therapist
Now, I think this is the most important part of being a Mak Andam and unfortunately, most lacking in many modern Mak Andam that I have seen. Everyone knows how stressful a wedding can be, even on the day itself because whatever that could go wrong, usually does. And there is often that one family member who insists on being such a wet blanket and puts a damper on everything. It’s emotionally stressful and imagine having to smile through it all. Even if none of that happens, the thought of no longer belonging to your parents but to someone else is equally emotional. Tears are definitely going to shed and the Mak Andam needs to be there to calm the bride down.

For example, I attended  the wedding of an old classmate a couple of years ago. We were really close back in school, we sat next to each other. I was so happy to see her sitting on the wedding dias, waiting for the Akad Nikah but I could see her slowly turning pale and her eyes turning red. The tears were getting ready to flow and I can see that she was trying to hard to hold it in so as not to ruin her makeup. Where was the Mak Andam with the tissues? Chit-chatting at the corner. My heart was breaking for my friend, and guest or no guest, I went up to the dias myself and handed my friend the tissue. I talked to her and calmed her down. When all is done, then the Mak Andam arrived and…this is the best part…gave a a stink-eye. *Urgh!*

According to a friend of mine, modern-day Mak Andam no longer call themselves that but prefer to go by the title Makeup Artist instead. The way I see it, if you are shedding the title, then you are also shedding the responsibilities. Which I think is not right, and I am saying this as a potential bride. Because I wouldn’t want my Mak Andam to disregard her responsibilities, and I actually know that she would have a lot on her plate, so that’s the reason why I have my bridal party to make things easier for her.

Disclaimer: Although most of the information stated were found on the WWW, some were also shared by my mum, who was a Mak Andam back in the days. Even so, I owe none of the information and are based on what is known generally by the public. Opinions given are mine and mine alone and are shared to create awareness and not malice or disagreements.


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