How to Become a Makeup Artist

Makeup artists can highlight clients’ best features and create lasting memories and impressions through the medium of cosmetics and skilled application techniques. If you have an interest in makeup artistry or informal experience with this creative field, you may want to consider a career as a makeup artist. With education, experience, and creativity, you can make a bride’s wedding day perfect or a stage actor’s debut unforgettable. Additionally, this career field offers flexibility in employment. You can work for an organisation or go into business for yourself as a freelance artist

What are the qualifications to be a makeup artist?

Makeup artistry is a highly competitive field, and to stand out to potential employers or clients, you need the best education and experience possible. Passion for the makeup industry is important, but qualifications such as diplomas and further professional development will show your dedication to the field. 

For further education and experience, enrol in the ICI Beauty Therapy & Makeup program. These courses, taught by highly-qualified and successful instructors, will teach you the science behind skin care and makeup artistry. Your diploma also shows potential clients your formal experience in this field. 

Makeup artists can continue to build their skill set by enrolling in additional makeup artistry courses, especially as those classes often address new makeup trends that clients may soon want to wear. 

Choose your focus and speciality

Makeup artists often have a specific focus they enjoy creating in their work. Choosing a makeup speciality also helps you market your skills or business. Some types of makeup specialties to consider are:

  • Bridal and event industry
  • Salon and spa industry
  • Fashion industry
  • Theatre industry
  • Television and film industry
  • Special effects makeup 
  • Prosthetics makeup 
  • Cosmetic companies
  • 3D makeup

Depending on what area you focus on, you may need further training and certifications. Working with a mentor is also an excellent way to learn and develop your skills in that area.

Build your portfolio and personal brand

Building a print and online portfolio is a critical first step that aspiring makeup artists need to create. Your portfolio should be diverse and display a variety of makeup styles, such as avant-garde, haute couture, magazine, and bridal makeup. Employers and clients will want to see both examples of your work and how well you transition from one makeup style to another.

If you are too new to the field to have clients, ask family members or friends to serve as models in exchange for a makeup makeover. Take and keep photos of every style you create, and use “before” and “after” pictures to highlight your skills and talent.

Once you have your portfolio established, you want to create a personal brand. Discover and define your brand by choosing your style. Next, develop long and short-term goals for your freelance career in your chosen focus. Then you will need to manage your brand. Build a website (or have a professional company do it for you) and create social media accounts on popular platforms to give your creative works and styles exposure. Use video platforms like YouTube, to create high-quality videos of makeup tutorials, product reviews, or beauty advice. 

Networking is a critical step toward sharing your personal brand with other people. Always add to your network of contacts by volunteering your talents, attending industry events, staying active and responsive on social media, and being willing to meet new people and try new trends and techniques. Have attention-getting, stylish business cards on hand to distribute to people you meet.

Where can makeup artists find jobs?

There are various ways that makeup artists can find jobs. Online job websites, especially those sites that cater to makeup artistry careers, often host want-ads for companies or organisations looking to hire in this field. These companies may include spas and salons, wedding boutiques, or theatres. Explore cosmetology websites that allow artists to create free profiles. Upload sample photos and add your updated social media contacts. For freelance makeup artists, this approach can connect you with potential employers or clients.

Other ways that makeup artists can find jobs is through beauty associations and attend cosmetology conventions. These events allow you to network for new clients as well as professional referrals. Often, conventions offer booths for rent where you can market your services during the event. For freelance makeup artists, these opportunities are vital to earning business and establishing your brand.

Let your creative passions flow toward a fulfilling career

Indulge your artistic talents and make people look and feel their very best. Kick start your career as a makeup artist by enrolling in the ICI Beauty Therapy & Makeup courses. With your learned skills and creative instincts, you can make a positive difference in how people feel about themselves.

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Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.