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How to Become a Makeup Artist | An In-Depth Guide To Start

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In Planet of the Apes, The Exorcist, American Hustle, and The Batman, makeup played a crucial role in the success of the movies. Makeup is an art that artists use to enhance features or change them completely

So, are you wondering how to become a makeup artist?

If you have an eye for it, you’re lucky because we’ll walk you through the process, telling you exactly what it takes to become a successful makeup artist. 

An Overview of Makeup Artists: A Primer

Makeup artists use various products to create everyday and unique looks for multiple events. For example, in the cinema industry, they can work with the special effects department to transform the look of an actor or actress. 

MUAs use cosmetic products applied to the face and body to enhance or change features. In most states, you don’t need a license to work in film, TV, theatre, fashion shows, mortuaries, photography, or retail stores. Some makeup artists work full-time, while this can be a side hustle for others. 

These artists are different from estheticians and cosmetologists. An esthetician takes care of the skin and provides various treatments. To become one, you’ll have to enroll in a course, get a license, get certified, and learn how to write a resume for estheticians

A cosmetologist focuses on the overall appearance. You should be at least 16 years old, enroll in a licensed school, complete your training hours for a cosmetology license, and pass an exam. 

As a MUA, you have several options to pursue this career. First, you can become a fashion makeup artist specializing in fashion show-related makeup. You will highlight the designer’s point of view through your makeup. 

You can also specialize in bridal and special events makeup, cinematic makeup, beauty brands makeup, theatrical makeup, and special effects makeup. 

How Much Do Makeup Artists Make?

The average salary differs according to your location, experience, and specialty. The average salary of MUAs is $31.37 per hour. They also take tips that add to their overall income. 

A female makeup artist working in a beauty salon

MUAs in Rhode Island make more money than the national average, with an hourly rate of $84.97. In Arkansas, the hourly rate is $10.34. 

If you choose to work in the movie industry, you can make more money as you gain experience. The average annual pay for a film makeup artist is $60,846, with an hourly rate of $29.25. Some top-rated makeup artists make $184,000 annually, with an hourly rate of $88.45. 

What You’ll Need to Become a Makeup Artist [& Associated Costs]

You don’t have to hold a license to become a makeup artist and get clients, except in Nevada and Louisiana. It falls under the umbrella of esthetician or cosmetology licenses. Here is what you need to do to become a makeup artist. 

Get Educated

While you don’t have to take classes, getting educated will help you hone your skills as a makeup artist. You’ll also be eligible for more job opportunities as an educated artist. 

In some states, makeup artistry is considered part of cosmetology education. You can enroll for a course in one of the accredited schools to receive your training. This education prepares you for the State Board exam to become a licensed makeup artist. Some training programs can take up to six months. 

Receive Your Certificate

Depending on your studies, you might have to take a test to receive your license as a certified makeup artist. You’ll receive a certificate of completion that recognize you as a master in makeup application. 

Build Your Portfolio

Invest in one of the best cameras for makeup to showcase your talent and build your portfolio. Ensure you don’t use special effects or filters to show your true potential. Add these videos and pictures to your social media account or LinkedIn profile. 

Expand Your Network

Working with other makeup artists, hairstylists, and fashion designers can help you build and expand your network.

Connect with your potential clients on social media by offering tutorials and consultations. Engage with beauty bloggers and YouTubers, and don’t hesitate to offer your services. 

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Makeup Artist?

The estimated costs for becoming a makeup artist can be anything between $7,000 and $17,000. The most significant cost is what you pay for education

A young makeup artist teaching students in makeup school

Several public and private schools and institutions offer this type of education. It includes in-class training with live models, complicated makeup application tools, and portfolio development. There might be advanced training for those who want to work in TV, movies, or theatre. 

In some states like New York, you’ll need to pay $40 for a license and renew it every four years. Some makeup artists prefer to be self-taught, so they can learn from YouTube videos and online tutorials. 

Consider buying liability insurance to protect you while working. Several insurance companies offer this insurance to aspiring makeup artists, with a monthly fee of as low as $10. 

The startup costs for your business include makeup tools and products. The costs include a business logo, business cards, website, camera, ring light, chair, and other equipment. 

Is it Hard to Become a Makeup Artist?

This depends on how you plan on approaching this profession. If you choose to go to school, you’ll have to study hard, attend classes, and work with your instructors to master your makeup application skills. 

Yet, some MUAs can be as successful while they’re self-taught. You can watch online tutorials and practice makeup applications on yourself and your friends. 

Becoming a successful makeup artist is challenging as you take time to develop your skills and find your signature technique. You also need to expand your network until you find the job that appeals to you. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Makeup Artist?

It can take any time between two months and four years to become a makeup artist. If you’re going to learn by watching vloggers and other makeup artists, you can take a few months before you can start applying makeup on your own. 

To get certified, most schools and institutions offer two to four-year programs. Those who like to specialize in a particular type of makeup and study the theoretical part of beauty might take even more time. 

How to Become a Makeup Artist in Five Simple Steps

Becoming a freelance makeup artist is easy as long as you have a talent for makeup application. You should also learn to use different products to enhance or change features and be passionate about perfecting your skills. You can become a successful MUA by following these steps. 

A close-up of a makeup artist applying makeup on a bride

1. Develop Your Skills

You can become a self-taught makeup artist by watching online tutorials or go to a makeup school to receive professional training. Studying at a school can be part of a cosmetology course that teaches you various ways to care for the body, hair, and face. 

Studying at a school also allows you to work with multiple models and practice with various complexions, so you’ll be more prepared to meet your clients’ needs once you start working. You can also specialize in special makeup techniques. 

2. Practice Your Skills

Find an apprenticeship or training opportunity with a well-acclaimed makeup artist or work at the counter of one of the beauty product brands. This way, you can interact with more people, work with them, and learn about various makeup products. 

You can work at a department store and help clients choose products by applying them while building a network of potential clients. You can also join a local theatre or movie production company to practice makeup application for low-budget productions. 

3. Build Your Portfolio

Ask your friends and family to work as models while you showcase your talent. Take before and after pictures using your camera, and show your makeup transformation. 

You can also hire models to show you can work with multiple skin tones and complexions. The more you add to your portfolio, the more clients will be eager to give you a shot during their special events. 

Ask if you can apply makeup to fashion photo shoots or shows. You might have to volunteer your efforts initially, but it will eventually pay off. 

4. Choose Your Career

Focus on one aspect of makeup application to make it your specialty. If you enjoy working under pressure and don’t mind creating eccentric looks, you might want to work with fashion designers. 

If you like special effects makeup, you can look for movie or theatre gigs. You can also apply makeup to anchorwomen and men, where you must experiment with different products until you find the ones that work well under the spotlight. 

Becoming a freelance makeup artist will mainly depend on feedback from your previous clients. This is a good choice if you want something more flexible or if the makeup application is your part-time job. 

5. Market Your Work

Marketing your services by building a website or creating a social media page is essential. People can see your work, review clients’ feedback, and book your services. 

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Makeup Artist

Becoming an MUA allows you to explore your creativity’s potential, making it more than a career. Here are some reasons why you might want to become one. 

  • You can choose between different paths. 
  • Makeup application is always in high demand. 
  • There’s excellent income potential. 
  • You have the flexibility to work wherever and wherever you like. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Course is Best for Makeup Artists?

You can study for a Bachelor of Arts in Body Art or a Diploma in Beauty Therapy. Choosing a certificate focusing on cosmetology and not just makeup application will open doors for more job opportunities. 

What are the Risks of Becoming a Makeup Artist?

Makeup artists spend long hours standing or leaning forward. They might suffer from back pain, leg pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, or varicose veins. Also, your makeup kit might be too heavy, so you should be careful while carrying it around. 

Similar Gigs to Check Out

Similar gigs might suit you if you’re not interested in makeup application. 

How to Become an Esthetician

An esthetician can be a skincare expert or massage technician who knows how to take care of the body and face.

To learn how to become an esthetician, you should enroll in a particular program, receive your state license, and gain experience in this field. 

How to Become a Massage Therapist

Learning how to become a massage therapist might be your true calling if you like to help people relax and feel better.

You should complete coursework with hands-on training, pass an exam, and receive your license to work as a certified masseuse. 

How to Become a Nail Tech

Becoming a nail technician isn’t just about applying nail polish, as you can treat various painful symptoms like ingrown nails.

After high school, you can learn how to become a nail tech by enrolling in a cosmetology course and obtaining your license. 

Wrapping Up

You can become a freelance makeup artist or pursue more education to specialize in body makeup, special effects, or theatrical and movie makeup application. This career involves a lot of creativity and will work for you if you enjoy working with people. 

If you’ve liked this article, don’t forget to share it with a friend. Tell us what you think in the comments section. 

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