How to Become a Makeup Artist – Part 1

Marlena’s 3 P’s to Getting Started as a Makeup Artist

  • This is your most important preparation as makeup artistry is a skill to be improved on.  Going to school will not bring you a better job- your skills and determination will.
  • You need to practice on tons of different people- various face shapes, eye shapes, skin colors, eye colors, and ages.
  • Make sure to photograph all of your looks as this will show you later on where you need to improve AND how your makeup translates to pictures.  Makeup in real life looks very different from makeup in pictures- it tends to get washed out and not be as vibrant.
  • You do not need an expensive pile of makeup, but you do need to invest in a variety of brushes and use makeup primers.  Using different brushes especially for the eyes will give you different looks based on how you use them.  (See my brush video if you need more information)
  • Ask other makeup artists, friends, and family members what they think of your work- tell them to be honest, as genuine criticism is how we improve!  (It hurts, I know, but it makes us better ;) )
  • Sign up to be a makeup assistant- this will be some of your best education as it is practical.  You can sign up on
  • You can have 2 types of portfolios- a print one and an online one.  An online one is better (in my opinion), as it reaches more people and can be viewed at any time.
  • If you do a printed portfolio, standard sizes of your pictures should be 9×12 or 11×14.  Put these pictures in a professional looking leather binder with plastic sleeves in them.  This will be a somewhat pricey project, but worth it if you plan on taking it with you to meet with potential clients.
  • For online portfolios, you can purchase your own domain name and use wordpress to post your pictures.  You could hire a local web designer or even a college student taking web design to help you put your site together.  There is nothing wrong with using a blog template either as long as it looks professional.  DO NOT use myspace or facebook to host your portfolio- it looks unprofessional!
  • Hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your work- no, do not have your neighbor Billy Bob do it.  You do not want to spend so much time, money, and effort putting together a great look just to get an average looking picture.  Find 2 or 3 local models of various types to work with you for a day and do various styles of makeup on them. Then have your photographer take various shots of each model- make sure to get some headshots also.
  • Your portfolio needs to consist of various styles:  clean makeup (simple but flawless), editorial makeup, avant garde (experimental makeup), and beauty makeup.  Do not put bridal makeup in your portfolio- have a separate portfolio of your bridal work if you plan on going this route for your career.
  • Your first step in getting your name out there is to get professional business cards.  I get mine from Vista Print- they are inexpensive and you can customize them how you like.  Make your cards clean and professional and be sure to include your name, email address, link to your online portfolio, and possibly phone number.  Remember the KISS rule:   Keep It Simple Stupid  :)
  • Make yourself known to all wedding planners, party planners, local makeup counters, and any event coordinators.  Whenever you meet them, be dressed professionally and have a great makeup look on- your face is your hugest advertisement!
  • Hand out your business cards to all local planners, colleges and high schools (for prom season), retailers at makeup counters, and anyone else who will take your card.  It takes time to build a reputation, so don’t give up too soon.

A few more tips:

  • Makeup artists are not rolling in the dough, so if you want to become one for any fame or fortune, pick another career.
  • Since it takes time to build a reputation and clientèle, start as a side job doing makeup for events or brides on the weekends.  Then slowly build it into a full time job.
  • Find your niche. Whether that be you becoming the best bridal makeup artist on the west coast, or the best theatrical makeup artist in Florida, or the artist who can sell any product to anyone in Sephora.   Once you find your niche in the field, focus on that as it will make you stand out more.   (Mine is teaching/presenting makeup skills- I may not be the most creative person, but I explain things well, so I focus on that)

If you are passionate about what you do and work hard at it, most likely you will be very successful!   Good luck in your career!  PLEASE post any questions you have about becoming a makeup artist- I plan on doing a video answering your questions! :)

Rating: 4.4. From 111 votes.
Please wait...

Posted in Becoming A Makeup Artist on (last modified: May 15, 2017)