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How to Become a Makeup Artist

Anyone who has ever been in a makeup chair knows the power of makeup. It can transform your appearance and boost your confidence. If you have a passion for making people look and feel their best, then a career as a makeup artist might be right for you. As a makeup artist, you will use your creativity and technical skills to enhance the natural beauty of your clients.

Whether you’re working in a salon or on a film set, you will need to be able to identify the unique needs of each client and create a look that is both flattering and wearable. If you’re ready to start your journey to becoming a makeup artist, then keep reading to learn more about how to earn a makeup artist certification and what it takes to succeed in this competitive field.

What does a makeup artist do?

Many people get makeup artists confused with similar professions like estheticians or cosmetologists. Although all three professions work in cosmetics and skin care, there are some important distinctions between them. Makeup artists typically have less formal training than either estheticians or cosmetologists. Their primary focus is on applying makeup, and they may work in a variety of settings, including film and television, fashion, and theater.

In contrast, estheticians and cosmetologists must complete an accredited training program and obtain a license in order to practice. Estheticians specialize in skin care, and their services may include facials, waxing, and tinting. Cosmetologists, on the other hand, provide a wider range of beauty services, such as hair styling, manicures, and pedicures.

Although all three professions require a high level of skill and artistry, each one has a different focus. If your passion is very focused on makeup, you can typically earn a makeup artist (MUA) certification more quickly than you can an esthetician or cosmetology license.

How to become a makeup artist

One of the tricky things about makeup artistry is that the requirements vary greatly from state to state. Most states don’t have requirements for someone who applies makeup at a retail counter such as a mall makeup counter. Others may require that a makeup artist working at, let’s say, a salon must have an esthetician license. Some states have no requirements at all for makeup artists, so long as they don’t provide any services beyond applying makeup.

Did you catch all that?

If you’re in a state that requires an esthetician license, you’ll need to find a state-accredited program that usually lasts about six months and requires 600 or so hours of classroom instruction.

Whether a state requires a license or not, there are steps anyone can take to develop their skills. This can be done by taking classes, practicing on friends and family, and doing your own research. You can also build a portfolio of your work. This will help you to get hired for jobs and also attract potential clients.

If you’re in a state that doesn’t require licensing, you may want to look at earning an esthetician’s degree or becoming a certified MUA at a local makeup artist school. This will show employers that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform your job well. Finally, it is important to network with other makeup artists and industry professionals. This can help you to get your foot in the door and land great opportunities.

How long is makeup artist school?

Some makeup certification courses (again, in states that do not require a license) can last as little as 30 days. Earning an esthetics license will usually take six months or more, depending on your program and whether you attend full-time or part-time.

How to choose a makeup artist school?

Becoming a certified makeup artist means you’ve finished an educational program. But how do you pick the right one? First, you need to have an endgame in mind. Where do you want to be working and what do you want to be doing? Once you know that answer, you can explore schools to see if they have the right curriculum to help you gain the skills, certifications, and meet the licensing requirements you’ll need to get where you want to go professionally.

You’ll also need to consider cost, convenience, and time. Look at programs you can afford, fit your schedule, and are located in an area that you can easily get to and from.

If you take all of these factors into account, you should be in a good position to select a school that is right for you.

Learn more about earning your makeup artist certification.

What makes someone a good makeup artist?

One of the most important attributes of a successful makeup artist is a strong technical skillset. Makeup artists must be able to master a variety of techniques, from applying foundation to contouring and highlighting. They must also be familiar with a range of products, from drugstore brands to high-end cosmetics. In addition to technical skills, makeup artists must also have a good eye for detail.

MUAs need to be able to create looks that are both creative and flattering, and they should be able to work with a variety of different face shapes and skin types. Finally, successful makeup artists must be good communicators. A successful makeup artist needs to be able to take direction from clients and understand their needs and vision.

By possessing these attributes, makeup artists can set themselves up for success in this competitive industry.

How much do makeup artists make?

According to data from from October 2022, the median salary for makeup artists is just over $22,000, or about $11 per hour. Total salary does vary a bit based on your experience, location, and several other factors. The top 25% of makeup artists earn a salary of $25,789 and above while the bottom 25% make $19,768 or less.

Learn more about makeup artists’ salaries.

More questions?

If you have more questions about becoming a makeup artist, check out our FAQ page where we go in-depth on a variety of questions people have about this profession.