By Mikala Ewald
So you want to become a professional makeup artist, but have no idea how to begin? I have compiled a comprehensive list of the steps necessary to become a professional makeup artist.
Step One: Learn Your Craft
Today, education is a key requirement for careers in any and every type of professional environment, and makeup artistry is no exception. Most people probably do not realize the number of skills and the amount of information that is necessary to become a skilled makeup artist—this art form requires much more than just a bag of makeup and some brushes.
In order to succeed as a makeup artist, you must be passionate about your artistry. The makeup artistry industry is very competitive and usually requires ample amounts of your time, energy, and volunteer services while you are just starting out. Before deciding to take your makeup artistry career to the next level, it is important to do your research and decide if you are willing to give your all to succeed in this competitive industry.
Once you have decided to commit to becoming a professional makeup artist, it is time to choose a school. Makeup artist education comes in a variety of forms; you may attend a strictly makeup artistry school, you may choose to get your esthetics license (makeup artistry, skin care and treatments, hair removal), or you might decide to get your cosmetology license which can include training in all of the aforementioned skills as well as hair styling, cutting, and coloring. Before making your final decision, you must research the laws regulating makeup artistry for the state in which you are planning to practice (you may be required to have a license in order to apply products) as well as research different schools extensively in order to choose the one that is the best fit for you. Different types of makeup artistry schools may only target specific areas of the craft, and you need to ensure you will be obtaining all the skills necessary to reach the goals you have set for yourself.
Below, I have provided a list of some vital educational building blocks that all potential makeup artists should look for and consider when choosing a school.
- Color Theory
- Face Shapes and Structures
- Tools of the Trade (brushes and disposables)
- Product Ingredients
- Customer Service Skills
- Entrepreneurship and Business Operations
Step Two: Build Your Kit
All makeup artists must have a kit that includes all of the tools needed to properly perform the services they offer. Here is a quick list of items that all makeup artists must have in their kit.
- Positive attitude
- Brow shadows or liners
- Lip liners
- Lip balms
- Train case
- False lashes
- Lash adhesive
- Facial cleanser or makeup remover
- Moisturizers and/or primers
- Professional makeup brush set
- Professional brush cleaner
- Eyelash curler
- Disposable makeup applicators
- Makeup sponges/wedges
- Cotton swabs
- Tissues/paper towels
- Headbands or hair clips
- Cape to protect clothing
- Makeup palette
- Palette knife and/or spatulas
- Cuticle scissors
- Gum or mints
- Business cards
- Theatrical/Special FX makeup items (bruise wheels, fake blood, liquid latex, wigs, etc.)
- Airbrush makeup and gun
- Folding director’s chair
- Props (feathers, sequins, glitter, jewels)
Step Three: Perfect Your Skills
Becoming a talented makeup artist requires many hours of practice, practice, practice! Experiment on yourself and others in order to determine what works together and what does not. You will want to practice multiple makeup looks on a variety of face shapes and skin tones so that you will be prepared for anything.
Offer to do free makeup applications for those who volunteer to let you practice different makeup looks on them. Make yourself available to other makeup artists, and ask if you can apprentice for them; offer to clean their brushes, prepare their work area, bring them coffee, hand them their brushes as they are needed, assist with the makeup application, etc. Working with other artists in the form of an apprenticeship will allow you to pick up tips, tricks, and techniques, as well as know what is expected from you as a professional makeup artist. Continue researching the field of makeup artistry by consulting books written by makeup artists, looking for tutorials online (YouTube is a great resource), and continue studying and improving the basic building blocks you learned while in school. During this time you may have to do a lot of work for free, but in addition to the invaluable experience you will gain, you may also receive photos that you may use to begin putting together a portfolio of your work.
Step Four: Choose Your Niche
The field of makeup artistry offers a variety of career choices. During steps one and three it will be important for you to try to get experience in all areas of makeup artistry to aid in your search of what area you will specialize. You will want to find your strengths and weaknesses in order to pinpoint the career that is best for you. I have compiled a list of career options for makeup artists to help you make the choice that is best for you.
- Freelance makeup artist (may specialize in any of the following)
- Print (advertisements, magazine shoots, etc.)
- Special FX
- Makeovers and makeup lessons
- Cosmetics counter (retail makeup artist)
- Theatre makeup artist
- Camouflage and corrective makeup artist for a dermatologist or plastics surgeon
- Salon or spa makeup artist (with appropriate license)
- Fashion (runway) makeup artist
- Proms and special events
- Makeup artist for cosmetics brands/product educator
Step Five: Market Yourself
Once you have fully developed your skills and completed steps one through four, the most important thing you can do for your makeup artistry career is market your skills and services. You should be prepared to promote your makeup artistry at all times by always keeping your resume, business cards, and portfolio nearby.
Have some business cards printed with your name and/or logo in addition to some photos of your makeup work. Hand out your business cards to everyone you meet, particularly those who suggest they are interested in what you do. Distribute your business cards to local businesses who may come in contact with potential clients (e.g. if you do wedding makeup, leave your cards at a wedding dress boutique). Ensure that your business cards always have your most current contact information whether it be your phone number or email address…you want to be sure anyone interested is able to contact you easily.
Always keep a well developed resume with you as you never know when a career opportunity may arise. On your resume you will want to include a list of any and all makeup artistry education you have received along with a list of your experience and events for which you have done makeup. Update your resume regularly so that you are always handing out your most current and inclusive list of achievements.
From the day you start your makeup artistry education and career, you should begin keeping a portfolio of your makeup artistry. Work in conjunction with photographers and brides in order to obtain professional photos of your work for free or at reduced costs. Having photos of your work will help promote your skills and show potential customers your capabilities as a makeup artist. Including both before and after pictures demonstrates to your potential clients your exceptional talent. Before and after photos demonstrate a complete makeover/transformation, and prove that you have the necessary skills required of a makeup artist.
Now that you have obtained all the information necessary to become a professional makeup artist, it’s time to go out, choose your school, and get started! Good luck!