How to become a makeup artist

If you're passionate about makeup and love to create different looks, becoming a makeup artist can be a great career choice. But, where do you start and what do you need to know to take the first step in your career? Look no further, we’ve explored the steps you need to take when it comes to how to become a makeup artist.

Step 1: Research the industry

Before embarking on your journey to become a makeup artist, doing your research pays off. Start out by researching the different types of makeup artists and the services they provide. Take a look at makeup courses in your area (and further afield if you’re willing to travel). You should also look at the makeup artists and beauty salons in your area. This will give you an idea of the market, competition and what services are in demand.

It might help you spot gaps in the market or upcoming trends too. This research is essential as it’ll help you understand what area you want to specialise in and the skills you’ll need to survive and thrive as a makeup artist in your area.

Step 2: Enrol in a makeup course

If you're serious about becoming a makeup artist, enrolling in a makeup course is a great way to start. A course will give you a comprehensive education in makeup artistry and teach you the techniques and skills you need to succeed in the industry. Some makeup artists are self-taught, but investing in training can help you to gain opportunities and clients - it also gives you a good foundation for working on different types of skin and achieving a variety of looks for your clients.

There are lots of different types of makeup courses that are available, ranging from short courses to diplomas and apprenticeships. These courses may be offered privately, by an accredited learning provider or by industry professionals and experts.

Make sure the course you choose is the right one for your level of skill, expertise and your future goals—ideally you want to have the opportunity to get hands-on experience, expert advice and certifications. Check if your kit is provided too, or if you need to bring your own. This can make a big difference to the cost, as well as the results you get for your clients.

If you’re looking to do a practical, recognised course that blends working on clients with theory, then you might want to think about an apprenticeship or a college course. Here are some of the qualifications that can lead to an industry career:

  • NVQ Level 2 in Beauty Therapy Makeup
  • ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Fashion, Theatre, and Media Makeup
  • City and Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Make-up Artistry

Step 3: Practice, practice, practice

The makeup industry is an extremely practical one where you’ll be expected to work on clients and achieve results day in and day out. That’s why actually getting to practise on real models and clients is important.

Whether it’s friends, family or for free, actually working on clients is one of the best ways to up your skills as a makeup artist. It’ll teach you about working on different types of skin, what types of products to use and achieving all sorts of looks.

It also helps you to build your portfolio. This is essential to show off your skills as a makeup artist, whether that’s to clients, employers or other industry pros. It’ll also help you to promote your services as you’ll have examples of your work (more on that later) to showcase your skills, creativity and style to potential clients.

Once you build up your skills and gain more experience, you can start to take on paid work to add to your portfolio. Remember, your portfolio essentially shows what you can do and people will be making decisions based on what’s in there. Make sure that your portfolio includes a range of makeup looks that showcase your versatility as a makeup artist. You can also include behind-the-scenes photos of your work and before-and-after photos of your clients.

Step 4: Network and build relationships

Networking and building relationships are crucial in any industry, and the makeup industry is no exception. Attend makeup events, trade shows, and seminars to meet other makeup artists, industry professionals and potential clients.

It can seem overwhelming at first, but sometimes all it takes is meeting the right people to secure your industry break. It’s always great to have contacts, connections and friends in the industry to find out about jobs, get support and sense check how you work.

Social media’s also a great way to build your network and showcase your work. Instagram and TikTok are both popular among makeup artists and having a well-curated feed can help you attract potential clients as well as find new opportunities. Don’t be afraid to connect and reach out to others in the industry either, they’ll have started out just like you.

Step 5: Gain work experience

Gaining work experience is essential when starting your career as a makeup artist. Start by looking for work experience opportunities with established makeup artists, salons or beauty brands.

Depending on the type of makeup course you do, you might have placements and work experience built into your training but you should still look for extra opportunities where you can.

The makeup and beauty industry can be pretty competitive, so giving yourself the edge and as much experience as possible will help you succeed in your career.

Another way to gain some extra experience is to volunteer your services for events like fashion shows or charity events to gain experience and exposure. This can also help you build your network and make connections in the industry too. You might also get work experience by assisting an established makeup artist as they work on shoots, sets and clients. This can also help you establish connections and find out about opportunities first. It’s important to think about making sure that you’re in the right place at the right time when these opportunities surface.

Step 6: Build up your makeup kit

A makeup artist needs the right kit to be able to work on clients. While it can be tempting to splash out straight away and buy absolutely everything you think you might need, sometimes it makes more sense to build up your kit a little more slowly. Products expire, and clients want different looks.

Here are some good basics to keep in your first kit:

  • Moisturiser: Sometimes clients might need a little extra hydration on their skin, so by being prepared you can make sure dry skin doesn’t affect their final result.
  • Primer: This is used to create a smooth base for makeup application and helps it last longer. Primers work in different ways so do your research to find the one that works best for you and your clients.
  • Foundation: A range of shades and formulas are essential to match different skin tones and types. Do some research to see what the most popular foundations for a makeup artist kit are. It also depends on the type of clients that you have and whether they want full glam or a more natural look.
  • Concealer: Used to cover up blemishes, dark circles, and other imperfections. You might also use concealer for contouring, so think about including some inclusive shade ranges just like you would with foundation.
  • Setting powder: Helps to set the makeup and prevent it from creasing or smudging. It’s the finishing touch to get a flawless end result.
  • Blush, highlighter and bronzer: Used to add colour and dimension to the face.
  • Eyeshadow: A variety of shades and finishes are necessary for creating different looks.
  • Eyeliner: Can be used to define the eyes or create a dramatic effect. The type you use is down to your own preference as a makeup artist. You can also sometimes use eyeshadow to get the same effect.
  • Lashes and lash glue: Not all clients will want lashes, but they’re currently on trend so it’s always good to keep some in your kit.
  • Mascara: Used to enhance the eyelashes and make them look longer and fuller.
  • Lipstick and lip gloss: A range of shades and finishes are necessary for different skin tones and occasions.
  • Makeup brushes and sponges: These tools are essential for applying makeup precisely and blending it seamlessly.
  • Makeup remover and face wipes: Important for removing makeup at the end of the day and for touch-ups during a shoot. They’re also essential for if a client turns up with makeup on their face ahead of their appointment. You want to start out on a blank canvas to get the Ebay results for your client.
  • Sanitiser and wipes: Keeping your tools and workspace clean and sanitised is crucial to maintaining good hygiene and preventing infections.

Step 7: Obtain insurance

Before you start out working on clients or advertising your services as a makeup artist, it’s important to get your makeup artist insurance  sorted. Insurance protects you and your clients in case of any accidents or injuries that may occur during a makeup application. It also protects your kit and any assets you have as part of your business.

You need to set this up before you start out so that you can make sure that your costs are covered by the prices of your services. It also means that you’re protected right from the get go. Take the time to read through your insurance and understand what you need to be doing when it comes to keeping records, carrying out tests and performing your makeup artistry on a day to day basis. It’s well worth being aware ahead of time.

Step 8: Set up your business

If you plan on working as a freelance makeup artist, registering your business is essential. Registering your business can give you legal protection and make it easier to obtain work. Being self employed is fairly normal in the hair and beauty industry—around 63% of those working in the industry are self employed.

Planning on being employed in a salon or by a brand? Then you don’t need to do this but make sure you’re clear on what option you go for as many makeup artists work in a salon but stay self employed. Being an employee can be a little less overwhelming at first, especially if you haven’t been self employed before.

You can register your business as a sole trader or a limited company. It's important to research the different options and seek professional advice. There are lots of resources available to help you get started and to provide you with the right information to get sorted out. Being self-employed is totally different to having a job, so understanding your role and requirements is essential.

As part of setting up your business, you’ll also need to think of your business name (and register it on any social media channels so you can promote your business). It’s also important to plan out your booking and planning processes too, so that you can be clear to clients and avoid any misunderstandings. Are you going to charge a deposit? How do you handle cancellations?

You also need to think about how and where you’re going to work.  Are you going to work from your home or go to a client's home to do their makeup? Do you plan on renting a chair at a salon? These decisions will have an impact on how you work and what you charge, so make sure you’re thinking about it at this stage.

Step 9: Set Your Rates

Setting your rates is an important aspect of running your makeup artistry business. Research the rates charged by other makeup artists in your area to ensure that your rates are competitive. Make sure that you take into account all of your costs—like insurance, kit, premises, materials, travel—and build them into the prices of your services.

When setting your rates, consider factors such as your experience, the services you provide, and the cost of your materials. It’s likely that the longer you’re a makeup artist and the more experience you have, the more you can charge and the more your reputation will help you find work.

You should also factor in your time and the amount of work required for each makeup application. You might consider offering discounts or promotions, especially when you first start out, to gain more clients but it’s important to make sure that you’re still making money as a makeup artist if you do this.

Step 10: Market Your Services

Marketing your services is essential when starting your career as a makeup artist. Start by creating a website or social media page to showcase your work and services. Think about who your clients are and where they’re likely to be.

Use social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to connect with potential clients and showcase your work. You can also consider paid advertising on social media platforms to reach a wider audience or doing some advertising in the local area to gain clients.

Networking is also a great way to market your services, especially with salon owners, wedding shops and other makeup artists. You never know where your next opportunity is coming from. Attend industry events and seminars to meet potential clients and build relationships.


Specialist makeup artist insurance

If you're considering embarking into a makeup artist career, then you may also want to consider specialist insurance. 

Through Ripe, you can get specialist makeup artist insurance to protect your new business against claims from clients. It also provides financial protection if anything happens to your equipment or business premises.

To find out more, you can get a quick online quote today.



Please note the information provided on this page should not be taken as advice and has been written as a matter of opinion. For more on insurance cover and policy wording, see our homepage.

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