If You Want To Become A Makeup Artist, Follow This Expert Advice

Is makeup your passion? Perhaps the thought of a perfectly primed canvas, snatched contour, and beautifully blended smokey eye thrills you. Or maybe you're that friend constantly being asked to help apply false lashes or do someone's makeup for an event. If all these things ring true, the glamorous world of makeup artistry may be the career path you should follow.

Whether you want to doll brides up on their wedding day or stand on movie sets painting the famous faces of celebrities, makeup artists are always in demand. As long as the beauty industry stands, so will makeup artists -– and that's definitely not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, it's expected to grow nearly 5% each year, according to Statistica, with the beauty and personal care market bringing in over $520 billion in 2022 alone.

And like starting any new career, knowing where to begin and what steps to take can make a world of difference. Luckily, there are so many expert MUAs out there who came before you, and we've collected a few of their best pieces of advice so you can confidently move forward as a professional makeup artist yourself.

Dedicate yourself to the artistry and learn from masters

Being a makeup artist doesn't just mean you apply makeup for a living. Sure, it's physically what you do –- but it's not the heart of it. Makeup artistry is a craft. It's art. It's knowing what parts of the face to contour, which to highlight, and which to bronze. It takes skill, practice, hard work, and dedication. Simply showing up and applying makeup isn't enough.

Celebrity makeup artist Victoria Duke said, "Real makeup artistry is about the absence of light and true dimension. It's about art. That's why I believe teaching others that the very first lesson as a makeup artist is to truly master core fundamentals. Everything else with regards to technique and skill builds from there. Who you are learning from matters, too. Find the best instructors and the best mentors."

When you fully immerse yourself in your craft and take every learning opportunity you can from the best of the best, you, too, will become the best. "Remember, if you do more than expected and you'll get more than expected," Duke said.

You don't need formal training, but it's highly encouraged

If you want to be a freelance makeup artist, there's no need for formal training. You can learn independently online and through other MUAs. However, to become a certified makeup artist, you must go to school (per Online Makeup Academy).

Professional makeup artist and YouTuber Demi-Lee Burns says in a video that she didn't have the funds to go to school but developed her skillset over several years practicing on herself, friends, and family. However, she said there are disadvantages. "I do kind of wish that I would have done a course in the beginning," she says in the video. "In some different areas to do with things like skin tones, and eye shape, and colors, and just a few of the little bits that I feel like probably gave me a disadvantage by not going on a course."

According to Salon Success Academy, obtaining formal training is the best way to learn all the nitty-gritty details of becoming a pro. Simply knowing how to apply makeup isn't enough. Plus, it will immerse you in the field amongst other makeup artists, from novices to experts, allowing you to cultivate relationships that may also be helpful professionally.

Practice makes perfect!

To reach your full potential as a makeup artist, you'll need to know how to apply makeup on various faces. Just because you apply it well on your own face doesn't mean you'll know what to do once someone with a completely different skin type and texture are sitting in front of you! Therefore, it's essential that you practice a lot ... and then practice again (and again).

"It's important that you get from in front of the mirror to practice on people outside of yourself. Especially those who are a challenge for you," Emmy-award nominated makeup artist Stephanie Cozart Burton told Essence. "Can you do a 60-year-old, someone with a different skin tone, or someone with a skin condition? Make sure to see how certain makeup looks under different lighting. Once, I used new makeup on the red carpet for a client, and it didn't work. I figured out my mistake, and apologized. Thankfully, I didn't lose that client."

With practice comes the understanding of what you may need to work on more, which will only better you as an artist in the long run. And practicing every now and then won't cut it -– you need to be practicing daily while working on different skills to master the art of makeup on an array of faces (via Makeup Beauty Academy).

In the beginning, say yes to every opportunity – but don't work for free

This one might be a bit controversial, as some people would recommend you work entirely for free at the start of your career as a makeup artist to grow your clientele and get your name out there. However, doing so may backfire. Plus, your time and effort are important! According to Brisbane-based makeup artist and business coach Sue Louise McLaurin on her online blog, "nothing is for nothing." 

If you aren't being financially compensated, you should, at the very least, be getting something "of value" in return, like photos for your portfolio, according to McLaurin. This doesn't mean you should demand things from family and friends who are helping you grow your business. But don't spend countless hours working on models for a photo shoot and not get those photos back for your portfolio.

Initially, you may feel like you must work for free to grow your network. "However, I don't encourage doing it too long because you don't want to cheapen what you have to offer," celebrity makeup artist Stephanie Cozart Burton told Essence. "The wedding business is also a good way to get in. I advise taking workshops, reading, and studying to find out which genre of makeup fits your lifestyle and skills. No matter what you decide to specialize in, learn it ALL."

Market yourself on social media

Today, marketing yourself on social media is crucial for growing your network. How else will you get your name out there? Sure, word of mouth might do the trick (slowly), but the times have changed! Technology is everywhere, and you must jump on that bandwagon to make a name for yourself in such a fast-paced world. Celebrity makeup artist Katey Denno told Teen Vogue that she didn't entirely fall for the idea that social media is vital in the industry, but once she did, everything changed.

"I didn't believe it until my then-agent gave me a stern talking to," she told Teen Vogue. "Soon after, I launched my blog and landed a piece on Vogue.com about my favorite products. It was at that point I realized how important it is to establish yourself as a brand in this industry, as well as establish a daily presence in the world of social media."

While you probably have a personal Instagram account where you share photos of your dog and besties, creating a separate business account to showcase your work is a good place to start. This can quickly be done through the app on your personal account. Go to your profile, click your name at the top left corner, and you'll see "add account." Get your name out there! It's only a matter of time before you work with gorgeous celebs, brides, and everyone in between and beyond. (Don't forget us when you're famous).