Tips for aspiring makeup artists.

Every week I receive multiple messages from people wanting to become makeup artists. While I understand the need for guidance, the volume of emails and the length of questions make it impossible for me to answer each and every message individually. Hence this post, which I hope will answer your most frequent questions.

After “How do I become a makeup artist?” the question I get asked most often is “Should I go to makeup school?”. The short answer: maybe. A more detailed answer depends on who you are and what you want to do.

Makeup school is a big investment of time, energy and money and it will not entirely prepare you for the day-to-day of the job.

Considering the high cost of longer courses, all the supplies you’ll need to buy and the low wages you’re likely to earn in your first few years as a makeup artist, you could carry this schooling debt for quite some time.

If you want to do FX makeup than I’d say schooling is essential to master all the techniques involved. But if you’re thinking of a career in the fashion industry, my opinion is that a short, 150 hours max, makeup artistry fundamental course, is all you really need. And only if you have limited previous knowledge of makeup and are someone who learns best in an academic environment. In most other circumstances, I believe you would be better off skipping beauty school in favour of apprenticing with senior artists. As most craft, fashion makeup is best learned by direct transmission.

After your short course and/or several months of apprenticing, when you have a firm grasp of basic techniques, you might want to round out you learning experience by attending workshops on specific subjects of interest to you. Fashion is ever-changing and hopefully you will never stop learning.

Of course you will want to practice your new skills. A lot. Then will come time to build your portfolio, make contact with photographers and start building your clientele.

Keep in mind that on top of makeup skills, you will also require many often overlooked business competences essential to succeed such as : communication and negotiation skills, organisation, time management, basic administration & accounting, promotion, business strategy, business social networking etc… You can’t for a minute dream of dumping these responsibilities on future agents, accountants or other professionals! You would be severely disappointed by the outcome.

Bottom line, you don’t need do go to beauty school to become a fashion makeup artist, but you do need to learn how to work as a professional makeup artist and that you certainly won’t learn on YouTube!

Fashion makeup artistry is by far the best job in the world but regardless of what you may have seen on reality TV, success does not come overnight and it is not all glamour & drinking champagne in the back of limos with celebs. Makeup is a job. Be ready to work hard and long at it.

I wish you the best of luck in this wonderful new adventure.

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  • Kasia  On May 27, 2013 at 22:08

    Great tips! Thank you Julie x

    • Julie B  On August 1, 2013 at 15:12

      My pleasure Kasia.

  • Cynthia-Christina Cadieux  On November 7, 2013 at 13:33

    Very good article on the subject matter Julie! Starting this career requires a lot of patience and sometimes money, a lot of sacrifices are involved! it’s great to be reminded of / hearing it from those who have made it this far!

  • Fela Aniela Okrąg  On November 8, 2013 at 10:00

    I work in theatre as make up artist and I thought it’s dream come true. But now I lost my motivation to self-improvement because of routine. I don’t know how return the joy of creation.

  • Meghan Sanchez  On November 8, 2013 at 15:02

    Thank you so much Julie for taking the time to write this. It gives me hope that as a mostly self taught makeup artist I may have a chance. I have just moved to LA to pursue my dream and I know it’s going to be tough. I hope you are doing well, and as always am a huge fan of your work.
    Sincerely, Meghan Sanchez MUA

  • Julie Bégin  On November 13, 2013 at 16:41

    Thanks all for reading! Happy you found this useful.

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