How to become a makeup artist

How to Become a Makeup Artist: The Secrets to Success

Are you passionate about making people look and feel beautiful while also having a deep love for cosmetics and a keen artistic touch? If so, embarking on a career as a professional makeup artist might be your ideal path. With the right training and unwavering dedication, you can transform your artistic talent into a fulfilling and financially rewarding profession. This comprehensive guide will navigate you through the complete journey of becoming a makeup artist, encompassing crucial aspects such as selecting the right training, crafting your portfolio, and establishing your unique brand.

Makeup artistry is a creative and entrepreneurial career that requires training, skills, and hard work. It can be a rewarding profession with the potential to earn a high income. If you are interested in becoming a makeup artist, this article will provide you with the information you need to get started.

Table of Contents

The Key Skills You Need to Become a Makeup Artist

Becoming a professional makeup artist requires more than just being able to apply cosmetics. You need a diverse range of artistic and technical abilities to thrive in this career. Though you can learn many skills with practice, certain natural talents give aspiring makeup artists a valuable head start.

The Key Skills You Need to Become a Makeup Artist

When considering if you have what it takes, here are the most important skills needed to succeed as a makeup artist:

1. Artistic Abilities

Makeup artistry is first and foremost an artform. You need innate artistic sensibilities to enhance people’s natural features.

  • Understanding of color theory – Know how colors complement each other, as well as concepts like highlighting and contouring. This allows you to play with light and shadow.
  • Shading techniques – Use colors and shading to sculpt the face and emphasize or downplay certain features.
  • Highlighting – Strategic highlighting brings out the best in skin and draws focus to areas like the cheekbones.
  • Contouring – Sculpting with highlight and shadow. This slims the face shape and defines features.
  • Attention to detail – Precise and meticulous application results in flawless looks. You must have strong hand-eye coordination.

2. Technical Know-How

While artistry is crucial, you also need some technical beauty knowledge:

  • Understanding skin types – Know how to work with dry, oily, combination, mature, and sensitive skin.
  • Identifying undertones – Determine whether the skin is warm, cool, or neutral-toned. This affects product selection.
  • Face shape knowledge – Tailor application techniques to flatter oval, round, square, heart, and other face shapes.
  • Ability to work under pressure – Stay calm doing makeup for events or when working with difficult clients.

3. Interpersonal Skills

People skills are vital for interacting with clients and building your business:

  • Communication skills – Listen to clients and understand their wants and needs. clearly explain what you’re doing during application.
  • Business/marketing skills – Promote your services and handle the business side of running your own freelance makeup artistry.

With dedication and practice, many technical skills can be learned on the job or through cosmetology training. But natural artistic talent and creativity gives aspiring makeup artists an advantage in mastering this rewarding career.

Makeup Artist Education: Schools, Programs, and Training

To become a professional makeup artist, comprehensive education and training is a must. There are several pathways to gain the necessary skills ranging from formal schooling to apprenticeships. When researching makeup artistry programs, look for those that provide both theoretical knowledge and hands-on practice.

To become a professional makeup artist, comprehensive education and training is a must

Here are the top recommended educational routes to launch your career:

1. Cosmetology School

Many aspiring makeup artists get their initial training at cosmetology schools. These programs cover hair, skin, nails, and makeup applications. Look for schools accredited by organizations like the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS). A cosmetology education includes:

  • Makeup application techniques
  • Color theory
  • Sanitation/hygiene
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Skincare
  • Business practices

A cosmetology license allows you to provide more services as a makeup artist. Programs typically take 9 months to a year of full-time training to complete.

2. Fashion and Beauty Schools

Specialized fashion and beauty schools focus intensely on makeup artistry. They prepare students for working in areas like runway, editorial, bridal, and media makeup. Look for programs affiliated with expert brands like Make-Up Designory (MUD) Beauty Schools. Curriculum may include:

  • Photographic makeup
  • Editorial/glamor techniques
  • Runway and high fashion looks
  • Male grooming
  • Special effects
  • Business training

Programs can range from a few weeks for certificate courses to over a year for intensive training.

3. Theater Makeup Courses

Theater makeup programs concentrate on creating dramatic looks for stage and live performances. Training focuses on:

  • Character makeup
  • Prosthetics
  • Wigs and hair
  • Historical makeup styles
  • Applying makeup for stage lights

Look for well-regarded theater makeup programs at schools like Cinema Makeup School in Los Angeles.

4. Apprenticeships and On-the-Job Training

Many budding makeup artists skip formal schooling and go straight into assistant work. Paid or unpaid apprenticeships let you learn directly from experienced artists on real jobs. Over time, you’ll gain skills by observing and taking on more hands-on responsibilities. On-the-job training gives you work experience to put in your portfolio.

5. Continuing Education

Even after initial training, continuing education helps makeup artists expand their skills and stay on top of trends. Useful options include:

  • Workshops and seminars – Study specialty skills like airbrushing or bridal makeup.
  • Industry conventions – Attend national conferences to network and learn.
  • Hands-on experience – Assist on test shoots for photographers or student films to gain new looks for your portfolio.

With dedication and practice, many technical skills can be learned on the job or through cosmetology training. But natural artistic talent and creativity give aspiring makeup artists an advantage in mastering this rewarding career.

How to Build a Standout Makeup Artist Portfolio

A comprehensive portfolio showcasing your range and artistry is essential for any aspiring makeup artist. Your portfolio is one of the best marketing tools for impressing potential clients and landing jobs. Invest time and care into curating a diverse portfolio as you gain experience.

How to Build a Standout Makeup Artist Portfolio

Follow these tips to build a makeup portfolio that wows:

1. Shoot for Variety

Include a wide range of makeup looks to highlight your versatility:

  • Natural/everyday makeup – Subtle, polished looks for real life.
  • Glamorous/evening makeup – Sultry, sexy styles for nights out.
  • Avant-garde/editorial makeup – Innovative high fashion styles.
  • Special effects makeup – Injuries, aging, creature effects to show technical skills.
  • Period/historical makeup – Vintage glam looks from past eras.
  • Male grooming – Well-groomed men’s looks.
  • Bridal and formal event makeup – Timeless elegance for weddings and black tie affairs.

2. Practice Makes Perfect

Build your portfolio through practice over time.

  • Practice on friends and family – Hone techniques on willing volunteers.
  • Offer to do makeup for student films, community theater, or local photographers – Get experience and photos for your book.
  • Recreate looks from magazines and celebrity photos – Mimic-inspiring makeup styles seen in media.
  • Take photos from multiple angles – Show off the makeup under different lighting and from all sides.
  • Organize looks into sections – Group by type of makeup like bridal, glam, editorial, etc.

3. Presentation Matters

Carefully curate and present your portfolio:

  • Include 10-15 photos for each look – Enough to showcase the makeup from all angles.
  • The order looks from simplest to most dramatic – Start with natural makeup and build up to full fantasy styles.
  • Provide titles/descriptions for every look – Explain the vibe or theme you were going for.
  • Only display your strongest work – Be selective and edit out any low-quality photos.
  • Keep your book organized and easy to navigate – Use section dividers, labels, or captions to distinguish looks.
  • Print high-resolution photos and display them in a professional binder or online portfolio – Invest in presentation.

With a diverse and artful portfolio that displays your expertise, you will impress prospective clients and get your makeup artist career off the ground in no time.

How to Find Freelance Makeup Artist Jobs

Once you’ve built your skills and portfolio, it’s time to start looking for paid work. Freelance makeup artists have diverse options for finding gigs ranging from social media to bridal expos. With hustle and persistence, you can build up a roster of clients in no time.

Wedding Exhibition

Follow these tips to find jobs and start earning as a freelance makeup artist:

1. Promote Your Services

  • Create social media accounts – Instagram and Facebook are great for showcasing your work and attracting local clients.
  • List your services on freelance sites – Register with sites like Guru, Fiverr, and Freelancer to access job listings.
  • Offer special deals or free services on deal sites – Sign up for Groupon, LivingSocial, etc. to get initial customers.
  • Network online and in-person – Tell everyone you know that you are now a makeup artist and looking for work.

2. Search Listings

  • Apply to modeling agencies or fashion houses – Check company websites for open makeup artist positions.
  • Check industry job boards – and other sites post gigs.
  • Look for theater makeup jobs – Community theaters and school drama programs often need freelance makeup artists.
  • Search wedding vendor listings – Find contact info for local wedding planners and photographers.

3. Gain Exposure

  • Offer your services for free at local fashion shows – Gets experience plus connects you to models and designers.
  • Set up a booth at bridal expos – Brides attend to browse vendors for their wedding day.
  • Contact student films or photographers – Volunteer to do makeup for unpaid shoots to build relationships.
  • Assist established makeup artists – Work as an assistant on jobs to learn and make connections.

4. Create Opportunities

  • Reach out to potential clients – Send emails pitching your services to relevant local businesses and individuals.
  • Start a makeup business – Offer makeup applications and lessons and promote yourself.
  • Referrals – Deliver great service so clients recommend you to friends.

With hustle and persistence, freelance makeup artists can build a steady client base doing what they love!

Types of Makeup Artist Jobs and Career Paths

Makeup artists have diverse career options ranging from magazines to movies. The industry is rife with opportunities for creative pros to do rewarding work in different settings. Below are some of the top types of jobs available:

1. Salon or Spa

Many makeup artists start out working at hair and beauty salons or day spas. Tasks include:

  • Makeup application services for walk-in clients.
  • Bridal trial sessions and wedding day makeup.
  • Selling cosmetics and skin care products.
  • Advising clients on looks, techniques, and products for their needs.

2. Beauty and Cosmetics Counter

Department stores and makeup specialty shops like MAC, Bobbi Brown, and Sephora employ makeup artists to assist customers. Responsibilities include:

  • Making up customers and providing application tips.
  • Demonstrating products.
  • Advising clients and making product recommendations.
  • Selling cosmetics and supplies.

3. Film, TV, and Theater

Skilled makeup pros work behind-the-scenes doing makeup for various productions. Duties include:

  • Prepping actor’s faces for HD cameras.
  • Applying special effects and prosthetics.
  • Creating realistic injuries and gore.
  • Doing period-appropriate makeup for historical productions.

4. Bridal and Events

Freelance makeup artists often specialize in bridal makeup and special events. Services include:

  • Engagement photo sessions.
  • Bridal trial runs and wedding day makeup.
  • Makeup for bridesmaids and mothers of the bride/groom.
  • Makeup for other events like proms, galas, and photo shoots.
Bridal and Events

5. Editorial

Editorial makeup artists provide high-fashion looks for magazines, advertisements, and catalogs. Responsibilities may involve:

  • Working closely with photographers and art directors to achieve a desired style.
  • Extensive product knowledge to pick looks and recommend brands.
  • Ability to create avant-garde, innovative styles.

6. Runway Fashion Shows

Elite artists work backstage at Fashion Week and couture shows doing models’ makeup. This fast-paced work requires:

  • Quickly applying flawless makeup for dozens of models.
  • Recreating a designer’s vision for makeup looks.
  • Knowledge of seasonal color palettes and trends.

The possibilities are endless for creative makeup pros. With skill and experience, artists can build careers working with models, celebrities, brides, and everyday clients.

Key Makeup Artist Skills – Sanitation, Working Quickly, and More

In addition to artistry, makeup artists need various professional skills to excel at the job. Technical know-how and “soft skills” allow you to provide safe, high-quality service to clients.

These are some of the most important skills any makeup pro needs:

1. Sanitation and Hygiene

Preventing infection is critical when working in close proximity to clients.

  • Disinfect all tools and replace applicators between clients.
  • Carefully check expiration dates on cosmetic products.
  • Don’t double dip when applying products.
  • Ensure hands and work area are clean.
  • Follow all applicable sanitation regulations.

2. Work Efficiently and Quickly

You often need to prep clients quickly, like backstage at shows.

  • Streamline your workflow to save time.
  • Know how to apply different looks fast.
  • Prepare face products, brushes, and tools ahead of time.
  • Learn quick touch-up techniques.
Work Efficiently and Quickly

3. Follow Directions

Listen closely to what clients request and provide it.

  • Ask clarifying questions to understand desired looks.
  • If working with a creative team, understand makeup directives.
  • Accommodate clients’ preferences and concerns.

4. Active Listening

Give clients your full attention.

  • Make eye contact and focus entirely on the client.
  • Ask questions and reflect back expectations.
  • Provide reassurance and education during service.

5. Customer Service Skills

Provide an excellent client experience.

  • Warm, professional demeanor.
  • Make clients comfortable.
  • Explain what you’re doing each step of the way.
  • Give product and application tips.

6. Time Management

Always arrive promptly and begin services on time.

  • Allow sufficient travel time between appointments.
  • Set up work area quickly and efficiently.
  • Follow appointment schedule precisely.

Mastering these critical skills takes makeup artistry to the next level. Clients notice and appreciate when artists provide safe, attentive, and professional service.

Essential Makeup Tools and Products for Professionals

Having a fully-stocked makeup kit is crucial for any artist. Stock up on these essentials to be prepared for any client:

1. Makeup Brushes

High-quality brushes create flawless looks. Core brushes include:

  • Foundation brush – Buff liquid or cream foundation smoothly over skin.
  • Concealer brush – Dab concealer precisely on blemishes or discoloration.
  • Blush brush – Sweep blush gently onto the apples of cheeks.
  • Eyeshadow brushes – Pack on color, blend in crease, highlight brow bone.
  • Angled brush – Define eyebrows or create sharp eyeliner flicks.
Essential Makeup Tools and Products for Professionals

2. Makeup Products

Have a diverse selection of cosmetics on hand:

  • Foundation – Liquid, cream, and powder formulas for all skin types.
  • Concealer – Color correctors and concealers to mask imperfections.
  • Powder – Finishing powder to reduce shine and set makeup.
  • Blush – Matte, shimmer, cream blushes for cheeks.
  • Eyeshadow – Pallets, singles, creams, glitters, and pigments.
  • Eyeliner – Gel, liquid, and pencil liners for different effects.
  • Mascara – Volumizing, lengthening, waterproof options.
  • Lip products – Glosses, stains, mattes, shimmers, and liners.

3. Tools and Accessories

  • Beauty sponges – Blend out complexion products.
  • Tweezers – Shape brows.
  • Lash curler – Open up eyes.
  • Mixing palette – Custom mix colors.
  • Sharpeners – Keep pencils ready.
  • Lash applicators – Apply individual lashes.
  • Disposable applicators – Apply product hygienically.

4. Skin Prep and Setting

  • Primer – Blur pores and smooth texture before makeup.
  • Setting spray – Lock makeup in place all day.
  • Moisturizer/eye cream – Hydrate skin before makeup.
  • Makeup wipes/remover – Remove makeup between services.

5. Sanitation

  • Hand sanitizer – Disinfect hands between clients.
  • Brush/sponge cleaner – Deep clean tools.
  • Disinfectant spray – Sanitize work area.

Stock your makeup kit with this essential selection of products and tools to be ready for any makeup job!

Continuing Education for Makeup Artists – Staying Relevant

A makeup artist’s training is never complete. To stay on top of trends and build your skills, pursuing continuing education is essential. There are endless opportunities to keep growing as an artist.

Here are impactful ways to continue learning new techniques and honing your craft:

1. Take Specialty Workshops

Many makeup brands and schools offer 1-2 day workshops focused on specific skills like:

  • Airbrushing – Learn to expertly apply foundation with an airgun sprayer.
  • Special effects – Study advanced methods for gore, wounds, and prosthetics.
  • Runway and high fashion techniques – Master edgy, avant-garde styles.
  • Brow styling – Learn to sculpt flawless, Instagram-worthy brows.
  • Business and freelancing – Improve your marketing and client management skills.

2. Attend Industry Conferences

National makeup artist conventions like IMATS and The Makeup Show offer:

  • Demos by celebrity artists – Watch masters at work.
  • Networking – Connect with fellow artists and brands.
  • New product launches – Get the first look at upcoming cosmetics.
  • Business education – Workshops on finances, branding, and other skills.

3. Follow Trends on Social Media

Stay on the pulse of new styles by following:

  • Leading brands – See the latest products and techniques brands are showcasing.
  • Top makeup artists – Draw inspiration from artists with millions of followers.
  • Fashion weeks – See the runway makeup trends direct from the catwalk.

4. Practice and Experiment

Improve outside of work by:

  • Trying new techniques on yourself – Watch tutorials and test out looks.
  • Doing free jobs – Volunteer for student projects to gain portfolio pieces.
  • Taking related training – Like hair or special effects classes.

Successful makeup artistry requires a commitment to lifelong learning. Continue expanding your knowledge and you’ll always be in demand.

Getting Licensed as a Makeup Artist – Steps and Requirements

In many states and countries, makeup artists must hold a license to work professionally. Licensure ensures artists meet safety and hygiene standards. Requirements vary by location but often include training hours, exams, and fees.

Follow these key steps to get licensed:

1. Research Your Area’s Laws

Licensing requirements for makeup artists include:

  • Mandatory or voluntary – Is a license legally required to practice in your state/country?
  • Scope of services allowed – What types of services does the license let you provide?
  • Training hours – Number of training hours needed from an accredited program.
  • Exam – Must pass a written and/or practical exam.
  • Fees – Costs of applications, exams, licenses, and renewals.
  • Age minimums – Some places require licensees to be 18+ years old.

2. Choose a Makeup Artistry Program

  • Select an accredited cosmetology school or makeup artistry program that satisfies your area’s education requirements.
  • Complete the required hours of theoretical and hands-on training.

3. Pass Licensing Exams

  • Take and pass your location’s written and/or practical licensing exams.
  • Exams test sanitation knowledge, makeup techniques, color theory, tools, skincare, and more.

4. Submit License Application and Fees

  • Compile required info like proof of training, exam results, ID, etc.
  • Complete paperwork and pay all licensing fees.
  • Wait for license approval and issuance which can take 1-3 months.

5. Renew and Maintain

  • Most licenses require renewal every 1-2 years by resubmitting paperwork and fees.
  • Take any continuing education credits needed to maintain active status.

By meeting your local requirements, licensing allows you to provide makeup services legally and ethically.

How to Build Your Brand as a Makeup Artist

In the age of social media, developing a strong personal brand is key for any makeup artist’s success. Your brand is the sum total of how you present yourself and your work to the world. Follow these tips to establish a polished, professional brand that attracts clients:

1. Create a Logo and Graphics

  • Design visual branding like a logo to look polished and legitimize your business.
  • Add your logo to your website, business cards, packaging, invoices, etc.
  • Use cohesive fonts, color palettes, and themes across all branding.

2. Launch a Website

  • Get a domain name and create a website displaying your work, services, and brand personality.
  • Optimize site for SEO with relevant keywords so clients can find you online.
  • Include stunning photos of your best makeup looks.

3. Be Active on Social Media

  • Post eye-catching photos daily showcasing your style.
  • Use relevant hashtags and geo-tags so local clients can discover you.
  • Engage with followers by liking, commenting, and answering questions.
Be Active on Social Media

4. Network and Collaborate

  • Attend industry events to connect with potential clients and partners.
  • Partner creatively with photographers, fashion designers, event planners, etc.
  • Offer discounted or free services at first to build relationships.

5. Promote Yourself

  • Create professional marketing materials like business cards, flyers, and branded packaging.
  • Reach out to local vendors and businesses that could refer clients.
  • Highlight press mentions and testimonials from happy clients.

By actively fostering your personal makeup brand, you’ll look polished, established, and stand out from competitors.

Makeup Artist Rates and Payment – Setting Prices and Getting Paid

Establishing the right pricing and payment policies is crucial for running a profitable makeup artistry business. Rates vary based on factors like experience level, clientele, and location. Here are tips for setting competitive prices and smoothly handling payments:

1. Pricing Methods

Common pricing approaches include:

  • Hourly rate – Base cost per hour of services. Better for freelance jobs.
  • Per service pricing – Set rate for specific services like bridal makeup. Allows à la carte options.
  • Packages – Bundle several services at a discounted package price. Appealing for weddings.
  • Split rates – Charge a different rate for weekdays vs. weekends or bridal vs. editorial work.

2. Factors Affecting Rates

Consider several variables when pricing:

  • Experience level – Artists with more training and years in the industry can charge top rates.
  • Client type – Celebrity clients have larger budgets than the average consumer.
  • Event size – Volume discounts for doing makeup for large bridal parties or fashion shows.
  • Location – Adjust for cost of living and average rates in your city.
  • Travel fees – Charge extra if traveling significant distance for on-location jobs.

3. Accepting Payment

Common payment methods include:

  • Cash
  • Check
  • Credit card – take mobile payments or invoice clients.
  • Venmo, Paypal, Zelle or payment apps
  • Deposits or prepayment for large jobs

4. Handling Taxes

  • Obtain an EIN and business license.
  • Track all income and deductible business expenses.
  • Pay estimated quarterly taxes and file a Schedule C with yearly taxes.

Take time to research competitive rates in your market and price your services profitably. Streamlining payment and accounting will keep your business running smoothly.

Makeup Artist Work Environments and Schedules

Makeup artists work in diverse settings from glamorous photoshoots to hectic retail counters. Work schedules also vary greatly depending on the type of clients and jobs. Understanding the work conditions and time commitments involved can help you find the right career niche.

Here is an overview of common work environments and hours for makeup pros:

1. Work Settings

Makeup artists work in:

  • Salons and spas – Provide services in a salon suite or at spa stations.
  • Retail stores – Work at makeup counters assisting customers.
  • Clients’ homes – Travel to homes, hotels, or event venues for weddings and special events.
  • Photography studios – Freelance or staff MUA jobs doing photoshoot makeup.
  • Theaters and studios – Backstage doing makeup for performers and actors.
  • Medical settings – Assist with makeup for reconstructive surgeries or burn victims.

2. Typical Hours and Schedules

Hours vary depending on your focus:

  • Salons – Standard daytime hours like 9-5 as well as nights and weekends.
  • Bridal – Mainly weekends and some weeknights. Hours like 7am-9pm during wedding season.
  • Retail – Schedule depends on store but includes evenings and weekends.
  • Photoshoots/fashion shows – Daytime and late nights during Fashion Week and leading up to deadlines.
  • Film/theater – Nights, weekends, and holidays during productions.

3. Physical Work Conditions

The job also involves:

  • Prolonged standing – Hours on feet while making up clients.
  • Fine hand/wrist motions – Repetitive hand movements doing detailed work.
  • Chemical exposure – Fumes from glues, pigments, etc. Need proper ventilation.
  • Eye strain – Constant close-up, detailed work can cause fatigue.

Knowing the typical work settings and demands of the job allows you to select the right work environment aligned with your lifestyle and preferences.

Conclusion – Key Takeaways for Becoming a Makeup Artist

Pursuing a career as a professional makeup artist allows you to turn creative talent into a rewarding and lucrative profession. However, dedication and hard work is required to build skills and your personal brand in this competitive industry.

Here are the key takeaways:

Get comprehensive training – Invest time mastering both cosmetic artistry and technical knowledge through a quality makeup program. Hands-on practice is critical.

Build an impressive portfolio – A diverse book showing editorial, glam, bridal, and special effects looks proves your skills to prospective employers and clients.

Develop business savvy – Learn to promote your services, set competitive rates, handle accounting, and build relationships. Freelance artists must run the business side.

Continue educating yourself – Take workshops and classes throughout your career. Success requires staying on top of new techniques and trends constantly.

Make safety and hygiene top priorities – Follow best practices for sanitation, disinfection, and preventing contamination.

Deliver 5-star customer service – Pay attention to clients’ needs, explain what you’re doing, and provide education on products and techniques.

Collaborate creatively – Partner with photographers, designers, wedding planners, and brands to expand your skills and visibility.

Persevere through challenges – It takes significant hustle to find clients and build your brand when starting out.

With passion, persistence, and hard work, a rewarding career as a professional makeup artist is attainable for those dedicated to mastering this multifaceted craft.

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