April 24, 2023 11 min read

Do you want to become a makeup artist?

Or do you simply want your own make-up studio or makeup line?

Well, you're not alone. 

Every big-shot makeup artist or brand that you know and admire today started as a newbie or amateur in the game, just like you. 

And what set them aside was not just the passion to do makeup but the willingness to hone their craft and put in the necessary work to grow their makeup career.


Now, I know the beauty industry is a huge one, and starting can be quite scary, but the good part is, there will always be demand for good makeup artists and I'm here to walk you through the process of how you can become not just a good makeup artist but a professional one ready to work with clients and monetize your services.


Ready, follow these simple steps to get started!


10 Steps On How To Become A Makeup Artist Step By Step Guide


Step 1: Do Your Research

Loving makeup or having a passion for the beauty industry is not just enough to jump in blind.

What most people don't know is that becoming a makeup artist is much like every other profession, and if you truly want to make a living out of it, you need to do proper research.

Research which part of the industry you'd want to work in, the certifications, skills, and experience needed, the average makeup artist salary in different locations, the duties, work hours, and every other little thing that will be required from you to become a successful makeup artist.


When you've carried out proper research, you can now decide whether you have what it takes to make a career out of it or to just leave it as a hobby.

Here are some things you'll discover during your research: 

  • An advanced degree is not generally required, most of the time, people would go for skilled and experienced makeup artists whose works have been tested over one with a degree. While in other countries, they may require you to have completed a certain number of training hours.
  • As a makeup artist, you can work in various industries including the entertainment industry (film, TV, and theatre), you can work in a retail setting, or work independently with photographers and event coordinators.
  • Customer service and communication skills are a must-have in this profession, as you will be dealing with clients face to face and you'll need to be able to make them feel comfortable at all times. If you don't like spending time around people, then you might want to reconsider going down this career path.
  • You'll always find yourself continuously learning, going for upgrade makeup classes to keep up with industry trends.


Once you've done your research, and have devised to carry on in this line of work, the next step you should take is to niche down. 


Step 2: Pick A Niche 

There are different kinds of makeup and it is only wise that you pick a niche while you're starting.

This will help you stay focused, so you're channeling all of your efforts into becoming a master in that particular field which will in turn increase your pay range.

Here are some of the makeup niches you should consider: 

  • Special Events / Bridal Makeup: This type of makeup artist typically works with brides for their big day. They can also take in other special event looks like makeup for birthdays, photoshoots and parties, makeup for graduation ceremonies, awards, and gala nights and if you're popular enough you could even be working with celebrities for their red carpet makeup look.
  • Fashion Makeup:Fashion makeup artists mostly work with fashion designers for fashion and photographers for fashion shows. They help create makeup looks on runway models that are well suited for the outfit being modeled. As a makeup artist in this field, you'll need to be very creative with colors, while making sure that the makeup matches their overall outfit and hair but doesn't take away the focus from the outfit being modeled. It can be a fast-paced job, as you'll be handling more than two people at a stretch, so you need to think and work fast.
  • Face And Body Painting: This type of makeup has recently gained a lot of popularity and it requires you to be very creative. It's not your regular type of face makeup. It's more of an artistic drawing/painting plus makeup using the human body as a canvas.
  • Film/TV/Theatre Makeup: This type of makeup tends to pay more especially because you'll get to work on celebrities and your work will be showcased on big screens. If you decide to venture into this field, you could either be doing the regular face makeup or special effects makeup that requires you to have fake blood and prosthetics to recreate realistic wounds and bruises on people, this is especially needed if you're working on a zombie or horror movie film set.


Before we move on to the next step, you have to decide which of these niches you feel more comfortable working with. If natural makeup is your thing, then you'll love doing bridal makeup or special events makeup but if you're more on the artistic side, the. You could consider pursuing a career in special effects or body painting.



Step 3: Enroll In A Makeup School


Now that you have done your research and decided on which field of makeup you want to specialize in, you need to get a formal education by taking some makeup artist courses.

Now, this is not compulsory. Of course, there are many self-taught makeup artists out there who have created a career as make-up artists, for example, Jeffrey Star, Nikkietutorials, Mikayla, and a host of others.

But that depends on the kind of makeup you want to do. For special effects, attending a makeup school and getting certified is a must.


But generally, you should get a formal education. It gives you an edge over other makeup artists in your field.

For example, it could take a self-taught makeup artist  2 years to learn all the necessary skills while you could learn all that and more plus the business aspect of it in 6 months or less when you enroll in a makeup school where you're taught by seasoned professionals.

And when it comes down to actually securing big contracts, especially in the film industry, your certifications will come in handy. 

But before you enroll in a school, do your research on which school or the type of license you'll need.

There are two options, let's look at them: 

  1. American Cosmetology License: If you live in the United States and plan to work here, then you have to look at the laws and requirements of the various states concerning makeup artists. Each state has its own rules and some may require you to have a cosmetology license to operate your makeup business in the state. Others may require a lengthy training course and a minimum number of training hours which can take a few years to complete. 

  1. Professional Training Course: For some countries or states you don't need a cosmetology license to operate as a makeup artist. So you have a bit more freedom on the type of course you take. But while you do that, remember to put into consideration, the type of make you want to do. If you're interested in fashion makeup, look for courses specifically for that, you don't need to be taking horror classes unless you're going into film and television. Just make sure you pick only those relevant classes to save time and money and ensure that you have all the necessary skills you need to succeed in that field.



Step 4: Keep Practicing

Becoming an expert makeup artist takes time and continuous practice. You need to keep practicing.

Especially now that you're new, aside from your professional class practicals, make sure you're always practicing at home.

It could be on yourself or you can practice on your close friends and family members.

Practicing on others is very important because you'll get to work with different skin types and skin tones. 

You could also take up a job in a local retail store selling makeup products, there you'll get to familiarise yourself with makeup products and work on your customer service skills, plus some customers would be willing to let you try out your makeup skills on them.

Either way, you're gaining experience and honing your skills. 


Step 5: Network With The Right People 

Networking with the right people in your industry is so important to growing your business as a makeup artist.

You want to network with people you can learn from, and collaborate with and people who will refer you for jobs when the opportunity arises.

I'm talking about fellow makeup artists, hair stylists, fashion designers, photographers, and filmmakers.

The good part is, you don't have to wait till when you're fine with makeup school.

You can start networking while taking your professional courses. Go to makeup fairs, fashion shows, and other events where you can meet these types of people, and remember to always put on makeup, and be ready to sell yourself with your looks and with meaningful conversations.

Trust me, you'll one or two of your contacts may be of help to you in the future and you may end up working the biggest job of your life just from referrals from the contacts you made.


Step 6: Build Your Makeup Kit 

As a professional makeup artist, you'll be needing a professional makeup kit. Now, I understand that makeup products can be expensive but you can still buy quality products for lesser prices.

First, make a list of the basic or essential makeup products and tools you'll need, then secondly, do your research on affordable products with high quality.

Instead of going for a $100 foundation, why not get a more affordable option of £10 - £15 that'll serve the same purpose?

Keep in mind that the makeup kit you start with will evolve, because you'll need to keep buying new products as your earnings progress, so for now, start small. 

Here's a list of the basic things you'll need in your professional makeup kit as a beginner: 

  • Face, eye, and lip and mattifying primers
  • At least four shades of foundation ranging from light to darkest then you can mix between shades to get your client's perfect match
  • Color corrector and concealer palette
  • Cream highlight, blush, and contour palettes
  • Powder highlight, blush, and contour palettes
  • Translucent powders
  • Pressed powders
  • Bronzers
  • Eyeshadow palettes and pigments
  • Lipstick palettes, lip gloss, and lip balm
  • Moisturizer
  • Setting spray
  • Gel and pencil eyeliners and lip liners
  • Mascara, false lashes, and lash glue
  • Makeup brushes (you can buy single brushes or in a set)
  • Metal mixing plate and spatula
  • Tweezers, scissors, and lash curler
  • Micellar water and makeup remover
  • Brush cleaner
  • 70% alcohol and hand sanitizer
  • Disposable makeup sponges, Q-tips, cotton pads, paper towels, and makeup wipes


Also invest in a makeup box to neatly store your products, that way you look organized when you go for jobs. And remember, you can always expand your kit as you go, but you can use this list as a guideline to get started.



Step 7: Get A Job As A Studio Assistant/Intern 

Another way to gain field experience and put your skills to work is to get a job as a studio assistant or you could ask to intern at your makeup school.

Chances are they'll need your help and observing or working in a  professional makeup environment is also a great way to get your complete training hours, that is if your degree or school requires it.

Some other benefits of working as a makeup studio intern/assistant include: 

  • Opportunity to practice your customer service skills:We know that customers are the lifeline of any business but sometimes they can be difficult to deal with. But you can learn a lot about handling clients' grievances, and complaints from observing how professional makeup artists handle their clients during makeup sessions.
  • Helps to build your network: as we said earlier, you need to start building a solid network of like-minded people, and being a studio assistant is just one you can do that.
  • You get to learn new techniques: There are some tricks and new techniques you'll never be taught in makeup school and you'll only learn them while working under a seasoned professional.
  • You'll always stay on trend: makeup and being a studio assistant to a professional makeup artist means you always have to pay attention to what's trending, what makeup look is on demand right now, what makeup products are customers asking for, you'll have first-hand knowledge of all these.



Step 8: Start Your Own Freelance Makeup Business 

Now that you're done with makeup school, you have your fully equipped makeup kit and you've gathered experience from practicing with other people or working as a studio assistant. It is time to start your own freelance business.

Freelancing as a makeup artist means you're the boss of yourself. While this may sound like a dream to some, not everyone can excel as a freelance makeup artist.

You'll have to source clients yourself, get your makeup studio, and other expensive gear such as lights. But the good part is, once you've established your brand, there's no limit to how much you can earn. 

If you feel freelancing is a little bit risky, then you could apply for jobs as a makeup artist in a beauty parlor or other beauty-related companies that need one. There you'll have a steady paycheck.


Step 9: Build An Online Portfolio  

Your network should not be your only source of getting clients, you can attract people from far and near through your online presence.

Building an online portfolio containing your best makeup looks is one way you can do this.

If you have the money, you could get a website designed for you.

It will have your brand name, brand story, pictures, and videos of your work, testimonials from previous clients, and even a beauty blog. This method has a more professional look to it. 

Another cheaper option is to leverage social media. You can create an Instagram, tik tok or Pinterest account where you get to showcase your work to millions of people around the world.

What's more, if you're good at creating viral makeup content and have loyal followers, you may start attracting big brands who will pay you huge amounts of money just to work with you. 

Lastly, if you decide to start up your make-up studio, you should consider listing your business on "Google My Business". This will attract more local clients and make it easier for people to locate your business.


Step 10: Stay Up-to-date With Makeup Trends 

If you want to remain relevant in the makeup industry, you need to stay up to date with makeup trends.

Know what looks and makeup products are in hot demand and adjust your services to suit them.

For example, in 2016, the makeup trend was all about full-face makeup, with well-defined eyebrows, lots of highlights, and contour and bold lips.

But now in 2023, people are leaning towards the "natural skin-like" makeup look where u have fluffy brows, more blush in place of contour, and nude glossy lips. Check out the full history of makeup here

Also, full coverage foundations trended a while back but now more people are opting for BB creams as they offer a more natural finish.




Becoming a professional makeup artist is simple but not easy. It requires passion, skill, and effort.

First, you have to decide what kind of makeup artist you want to be, are you solely going to focus on bridals or special effects?

Next is getting the necessary training and certifications required and the willingness to keep learning and put yourself out there. 

Remember, that many makeup artists including celebrity makeup artists you see today started as newbies and amateurs, so focus on perfecting your skills and take it one step at a time.

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