How To Become A Makeup Artist

So you have searched Google (other search engines are available) for information on how to become a makeup artist and have come across my super awesome site. I realise that becoming a makeup artist is a shit ton of work and sometimes, well almost always, this work will go un-rewarded.

What I am trying to do here, is explain how to become a professional makeup artist and piss all over the competition.  I am not talking about creating a crappy little Tumblr blog (who uses them now anyways), a super grainy and low quality series of YouTube videos or a super fake Instagram, account – I am talking about becoming a real makeup artist, a proper makeup artist, a makeup artist for movies, TV, magazines, etc and make a hell of a good living by doing it.


I want to help you become a super-duper professional makeup artist. I want to make other people tremble in the wake of your blusher dust, I want to become your Yoda (hopefully with less wrinkles) and help to create the best makeup artists that the world has ever seen – after all, you do want to achieve all of that, don’t you?  Surely you don’t want to become a cog in a machine and blend in with all the YouTube wannabe makeup artists or Instagram like whores do you? If so, you might as well load up YouTube and watch a bunch of makeup tutorials!

I have spent many hours cashing in favours from close friends (both “normal” people and professional makeup artist) within the makeup industry and have interviewed them with the hope of creating the best website in the world that explains how to become a makeup artist in the simplest way possible.

I will outline some of the most basic things you need to consider if you are thinking of becoming one of the best makeup artists in the world. I will list them all below and try to give as much information as possible in order to help you in your quest to becoming a professional makeup artist.

There are a few basic rules that you must adhere to if you are serious about becoming a makeup artist and these are:

How To Become A Makeup Artist – Step 1. Move

Although this is the first step, it is also one of the biggest and scariest steps to take. In fact, it may even be the biggest step you will make in your entire life and not just your makeup artist career.

  • Does your city have a thriving Runway scene?
  • Does your city have a thriving Movie scene?
  • Does your city have a thriving Theatre scene?

If it does, then congratulations, you have already accomplished step 1 in your quest to become a professional makeup artist.

If it doesn’t, then get looking at cities that meet all of the above, research the average cost of living and what job vacancies they have, because chances are you will need a “normal” job to pay your day-to-day bills whilst we work together and show you how to become a makeup artist superstar!

Once you are in this magical city, get networking. Get your name out there and never stop pestering people. There is a fine line between networking and stalking – we want to make sure we are just (and only just) on the right side of that line – after all, if you are not getting your name out there, how do you expect to become a professional makeup artist?


How To Become A Makeup Artist – Step 2. Learn Some Basic Human Skills

Now that you have one answer to your question of how to become a makeup artist, one of the next big decisions would be to decide what type of makeup artist you would like to be. As I have explained in step 1 above, your location will be a massive deciding factor in this. Why limit yourself to becoming just a Theatre makeup artist because you live in a city that only has Theatres?

If you wanted to become a wedding makeup artist or one of the best bridal makeup artists, then you better live pretty close to some kick ass wedding venues.

Want to become a movie makeup artist, then you better live in a city where there is a massive movie scene.

Want to become a magazine makeup artist, then you better live in a city with headquarters of infamous, high-end magazines.

I am pretty sure you understand where I am coming from….. right?

So, besides removing the limitations of your geographical area, here is a list of human skills that you need to become awesome at, especially if you want to become a professional makeup artist:

  • Learn some basic communication skills such as reading, writing and spelling.
  • Learn how to keep the peace and become a makeup brush wielding peace keeper that the UN would be jealous of.
  • Learn to be a therapist because your clients will be sat in that makeup chair for hours on end with only you to speak to.
  • Learn how to manage people because an empty makeup artists chair isn’t’ making you any money.
  • Learn be humble as people will kiss your ass to get ahead – don’t believe everything people tell you. I have had hundreds of people stop me and ask me how to become a makeup artist. Not all of them like my answer.
  • Learn how to return a phone call or email otherwise your bookings will be non-existent and some cheap ass YouTube or Instagram “makeup artist” will get the job.
  • Learn your makeup skill boundaries – if you can’t do the damn job, don’t say you can.
  • Learn to sell yourself. No, not in that way….. You know what I mean.
  • Learn to be kind because people like nice people – period.
  • Be a good listener because your clients are going to talk your ear off, let them.
  • Learn how to manage time because a late makeup artist is a fired makeup artist.
  • Learn how to take direction without getting your feelings hurt because you aren’t going to be good at everything first time.
  •  Learn to become a businessman… or woman…. or person…….. or makeup artist.
  •  Learn business marketing, face to face marketing, telephone marketing, email marketing, network marketing – essentially, become a marketing master – all whilst looking fabulous.

So, as you can see from that list above, there is a hell of a lot of skills needed before you even pick up a makeup brush!

how to become a makeup artist

How To Become A Makeup Artist – Step 3. Study, Study, Study

Become a stalker…… not the creepy illegal type, just the no touching whilst stalking from a distance type.

Essentially what I am trying to say is that you are only as good as the people you surround yourself by and if you surround yourself with the best professional makeup artists, then you will become a professional makeup artist.

You need to study professional makeup artists and the experts in the makeup artist field and read as many “how to become a makeup artist” blogs and websites as possible. As tempting as it is, do not study these “how to become a professional makeup artist” guides on YouTube or Instagram. Whilst the majority of people on those sites know a fair bit about becoming a makeup artist, the people you want to study are the makeup artists behind the magazine shoots, editorials and even some high-end marketing material.

Why?? Whilst everyone else is watching the same how to become a makeup artist videos on YouTube and liking the same posts on Instagram, you are the only one looking at something different and learning a completely different aspect of makeup artistry.

Sometimes with makeup less is more! Not every person you work on will want their face to contain every colour imaginable to man. Restraint and listening to the client are key if you want to become one of the best makeup artists in the world and fly from country to country with your clients.

Watch the makeup industry experts, see what they are doing and try to figure out why they are doing it.

How To Become A Makeup Artist – Step 4. Befriend.

If you know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone who does makeup for movie stars or celebrities, then work your magic and do whatever it takes to get that person’s number. Once you have their number, the real work begins. You need to try to convince them to let you become an apprentice makeup artist or an understudy. This might mean you will be making cups of tea or coffee for their client’s, it may mean you are spending hours washing makeup brushes or ordering makeup palettes etc. Whilst you are doing all of these menial and crappy tasks, be sure to keep one eye on the professional makeup artist and watch, listen and learn everything they are doing with their client, for this is how to become a makeup artist!

Whatever you do, work your ass off and keep going back for more. One day the professional makeup artist will ask you to assist them with a client. Make sure you do a good job – one akin to what you think professional makeup artists would do – and they will ask you to assist them more and more each day.

Whilst just being in the same room as the professional makeup artist you will learn so much, just watch and listen to everything. Remember, you have two eyes, two ears and one mouth for a reason!

If you are lucky, the makeup artist may ask you to prep the client’s face or something similar. If this opportunity arises you must grab it with both hands!

This is extremely valuable as you will gain some hands on experience with different types of client’s, different types of skin and different makeup styles. You must ensure you do the best job possible, because if the client is happy with you, they will start to recommend you to family, friends and fellow celebrities. If you are really, really lucky, they may actually as for you if their “normal” makeup artist is ill or double booked. If you are even luckier than that, you may even be writing a website explaining how to become a makeup artist :-)

Befriending an established and professional makeup artist is one of the quickest ways to get that first celebrity client – trust me, that’s how I did it!

How To Become A Makeup Artist – Step 5. Keep Your “Tools” High Quality, Low Maintenance & Clutter Free.

I am sure you are just like me when I first started on my journey to become a professional makeup artist and are super excited about having the world’s biggest collection of the world’s best makeup…….. well stop…… seriously.

I am going to let you into a “secret of the professionals” right now. The smaller the tool kit, the bigger the skill. Just tell any of the professional makeup artists that you are thinking of becoming a makeup artist and they will give you the same advice……. or at least the ones that are willing to share will.

One of the biggest skills you can master when you want to become a makeup artist is the skill of color mixing.

As a professional makeup artist, I very rarely use pigments directly from the pan. I am always mixing and matching colours. After all, when was the last time you saw two people with exactly the same skin colour, skin texture and oil content?

Another thing to keep in mind when learning how to become a makeup artist is simplicity. I like to keep my foundations simple with a base of 1 or 2 different light and dark shades. This way I can make any shade I could ever imaging in this little brain of mine. In case you are wondering, this rule applies to lipsticks too.

Try to look at yourself as more than a makeup artist, look at yourself as an actual artist, a creator of beauty, a fine painter whose canvas is the client’s face.

How To Become A Makeup Artist – Step 6. Every Product & Face Have Unique Textures.

When it comes to becoming a professional makeup artist, two of the biggest and ever-changing hurdles we need to understand are textures of products and textures of skin. No two are truly the same.

Once you have taken the time out to understand what texture of product should go with what texture of skin, then you are instantly better than 99% of the so-called “professional makeup artists” out there and you should be giving them advice on how to become a makeup artist.

How To Become A Makeup Artist – Step 7. Practice Makes Perfect.

The number one thing I tell people when they come to me and ask me how to become a makeup artist is to practice, practice and practice.

Reading about makeup, writing about makeup and even watching videos about makeup are all well and good, however the only way to truly become a makeup artist is to practice on as many different people as possible. Different face shapes, skin colours, skin tones, eye shapes, eye colours and even ages.

If you have noticed that you are weak in a certain area, then no matter how hard it is, you need to work on this weak area. You need to practice on friends and family that exhibit this certain flaw which makes you weak at the knees with fear, then you will know how to become a makeup artist.

How To Become A Makeup Artist – Step 8. Take Photographs Of Everything.

With the advent of the internet, the ability to share your work has never been easier. However, the opportunities to screw it all up are even greater.

I always tell up and coming makeup artists to create two portfolios. One for themselves and one for marketing. Your personal portfolio will never be seen by any potential client nor anybody without your explicit permission. In your personal portfolio, you will take a photo of every single practice you do. Every piece of makeup you ever create is to be photographed and saved in your personal portfolio, for this is how to become a makeup artist. The reason I say this is because you will be the only person trying to become a makeup artist that pushes themself this hard, resulting in a super high quality of work.

The reason I tell every aspiring makeup artist to do this, is so then can look back at their progression over the weeks, months and even years. This is a massive tool which will help when the inevitable rejection comes again and again and again. In the dark days of rejection, when you begin to question your abilities as a professional makeup artist and re-evaluate how to become a makeup artist – all you need to do is pop open your personal portfolio, see how far you have progressed, pick your chin up and pat yourself on the back. Not everyone will see your brilliance, however if you keep on busting your butt it is only a matter of time until you make it big and become one of the best professional makeup artists the world has ever seen.

Once your personal portfolio is looking super awesome, pick the best and professional ones, then create an online marketing portfolio which you will use to send out to potential clients etc.

Some people who are trying to become a makeup artist like to offer freebie makeovers on Craigslist and other classified sites in order to build up their online portfolio to include a range of face shapes, eye shapes, skin types, skin colours and even some with birthmarks and cover ups. Whilst I am not against this, I just think you should do it under a “pen name”, so no future clients can see that you offered freebie makeup work and get pissed that you charged them.

How To Become A Makeup Artist – Step 9. Consider Cosmetology School / Esthetician School.

Whatever you call it, there is a high chance that if you want to become a makeup artist outside of movies/tv/magazines, there is a chance you will need to go to Cosmetology School / Esthetician School / Makeup Artist School / Beauty School or whatever the hell they call it near you.

You may need to go to one of the above in order to get your beauty license so you can practise bridal makeup or another type of makeup that is outside of TV/magazine makeup.

Why is this needed? To be honest the reason behind it is a pretty big and valid reason HYGIENE! If you are learning how to become a makeup artist, then hygiene must be of your highest concern.

You would be surprised by the amount of professional makeup artists I see that use their own, personal makeup on their clients! I cannot even begin to describe why that is so terribly wrong, dirty and unhygienic to say the least.

There are so many skin diseases that can be passed by dirty makeup brushes. If caught, most of these problems can be treated fairly easily. There is one, however, that once you have caught it, it will be in your body for the rest of your life. That one is the Herpes virus. Once transmitted, the Herpes virus will continue to show itself as the common cold sore. If you are serious about learning how to become a makeup artist, then this information alone should help you when it comes to selling to clients and showing your skills.

Cosmetology School / Esthetician School / Makeup Artist School / Beauty School is also helpful because you can learn some “cross over skills”. These include things like hair and nails. I have lost many of jobs because (at the time) I couldn’t do hair or nails. I only had to lose two or three jobs until I decided to learn hair and nails! Becoming a professional makeup artist isn’t just about applying makeup, it is also about providing a solid, high quality all round service.

How To Become A Makeup Artist – Step 10. Why Not Learn From The Veteran Professional Makeup Artists?

Firstly, the girls and boys on YouTube and Instagram are NOT professional makeup artists. Whilst sitting there in your PJs and sipping your latte whilst watching makeup artist videos sounds amazing, in reality you’re wasting your time. Do you really think that becoming a makeup artist is as simple as that?

You need to invest in yourself, see yourself as a business asset and get your butt into meetings, groups and networking events. Find the most revered makeup artist in the room, ask to see their work and if you like it, ask them for some lessons.

Finding out how to become a makeup artist, really can be as simple as that!

I hope my (not so little) write-up on how to become a makeup artist, has helped you in making some of the biggest decisions you will ever make. I hope that this will prevent you from making the same mistakes I made.

Please do continue reading my websites as I have hundreds of pages of content about how to become a makeup artist, for you to feast your eyes on. For more information on how to become a makeup artist, feel free to contact me via the contact page.

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