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How Much Do Makeup Artists Make?

Becoming a makeup artist can be an exciting and rewarding profession, with the potential to make good money. While many starting in the makeup field may be uncertain as to how much they can earn, the fact of the matter is that with dedication and hard work, a highly successful makeup artist can have tremendous earning potential.

From freelancing to working at salons full-time, there are many ways for a professional makeup artist to turn their craft into financial profits. With a clear understanding of business and creative skills, you too could become one of those expert artisans who walks away from each job well-compensated for their efforts.

Let’s take a deep dive into this career and find out exactly what you can expect from a makeup artist salary.

How to become a makeup artist

Maybe more so than any other career in the beauty industry, makeup artists have the most uneven requirements from state to state. A few states have specific makeup artist licenses that you must obtain through a combination of schooling and passing state exams. Most states will require you to have an esthetician or cosmetology license to work in a spa or salon – but not necessarily if you’ll be working in the entertainment industry or in a retail environment like a makeup counter. Beyond that, there are some states that don’t have any requirements at all!

So be sure to check out our state by state makeup artist school listings to determine the requirements to work as a makeup artist in your state.

Learn more about how to become a makeup artist.

How do makeup artists get paid?

Makeup artists are able to make money in a variety of ways, depending on where they work. In venues such as department stores, salons, and spas, makeup artists may be paid by the hour or offered a salary. Other makeup artists who freelance or work as independent contractors are paid by commission on product sales or fees for services rendered. Additionally, tips are always an appreciated bonus for exceptional service!

No matter how you choose to make it in the makeup business, there’s plenty of opportunity to make an income.

How much does a makeup artist make per hour?

In early 2023 the median hourly salary for makeup artists in the United States was 10.78 per hour according to

What is the average annual salary of a makeup artist?

According to, at the beginning of 2023, the average annual salary for a makeup artist in the United States was $22,429. Total compensation was substantially more than the salary, however, as the average makeup artist received a total compensation of over $36,000 when everything was totaled up.

Makeup Artist CompensationMedian
Base Salary$22,429
Value of BenefitsMedian
Social Security$1,716
Time Off$2,847
Total Compensation$36,055


How to increase your earning potential

If you’re looking to increase your earning potential as a makeup artist, the key is to continuously develop your skills and experience. The truth is, there are more opportunities and higher pay potential for people with more licenses and certifications. If you have the time and ability to get licensed as an esthetician or a cosmetologist it’s usually a good idea, even if your state doesn’t require it for makeup artists.

You can also attend workshops and classes which focus on a variety of makeup styles or techniques. This will ensure that you are kept up to date with the latest trends and products available, as well as give you an edge over other makeup artists who do not invest in their own education.

It is also beneficial to build relationships with other professionals in the industry – whether they’re hairdressers, nail technicians, or fashion photographers – by networking at events or online. This will expand your client base and point potential customers to your work. Ultimately, investing in yourself as an artist could bring you added confidence and greater earning potential.

More questions?

If you still have questions about working as a makeup artist check out our makeup artist FAQ page which might provide you with the answers you’re after.