So you wanna become a Make-up Artist?

This is a special reader request for my beautiful friend Etta who sent this along with a couple of other requests. Etta is not alone in this quest as it is something that I get asked all the time. I still consider myself pretty new in the game having only really embarked on this just over a year ago. Truth be told I am probably an OG as so many people are becoming make-up artists every day.

I will be honest. This field is full to the bronzing powdered brim and overflowing. The industry is saturated and shows no signs of slowing down. My story is different to others and I will give you the short version. For the full, no holds barred version, click here. I used make-up as a mask and it helped me find confidence. I wanted to help others find confidence through inner beauty first and so got into beauty and make-up.

It does not come naturally to me. I am not artistic- I draw the line at stick men- see what I did there! I did not wear make-up before a year and a half ago and still don’t on a daily basis. My passion for this has come later on in life and continues to grow each day with the people I meet and helping them see their beauty truly is internal.

So you wanna become a Make-up Artist? Here are my tips and some general advice. This is from my own experience and has not been influenced by anyone or anything. As always they are my own thoughts and feelings.

  1. You do not have to go to Make-up School. There is no law here in the UK or overseas (that I am aware of ) that says you do. Some of the most talented MUAs are self-taught. What a school will help with is specific skills and possibly confidence from a certificate. It is a personal decision as they are not cheap and there are alot of additional extra’s that come with it. Some supply basic kits and other’s don’t. If you think it is for you then…
  2. Do your research. Find out what the school offers. What your fee includes? Do you have to buy products as the course goes on or will they provide them? In the UK, PAM London and Illamasqua have great free courses/ workshops/ drop in sessions available. Click on their names for links to their sites. You can also do a longer college course and combine make-up and beauty. For young people in the UK there are a lot of free ways into this arena.
  3. Insurance. If you are looking at this as a professional career then you should have insurance to cover you when making up other people. You don’t realise how important this is until you need it- which I pray never happens. The same way you insure your phone, contents etc, you should get insurance. You should still consider it even if not doing this professionally as regardless of family or friend, it is important to be covered.
  4. Assistant required! Starting out as an assistant to a MUA is a great way to test the field and see if this is really for you. I started out assisting a friend and it was an eye opener. She allowed me to set up, prep skin and eventually do make-up under her watchful eye. I will do another post on how to be the best assistant you can be. Thank you Mary-Jane.
  5. Practice! Practice! Practice! I will save the practice and perfect adage only because I do not believe in perfection as it gives you nothing more to strive for. Struggle with winged liner, then practice. A smokey eye going up in flames? Practice. Not sure how to do make-up for dark skin? Hooded eyes? Practice. You will get better with time and you will see your progress the more you do it. I seriously get so nervous when I do my friends. Strange but true.
  6. You Tube! This place taught me much. There are so many talented ‘beauty gurus’ as they are called providing step by step looks. Everything from daytime simple to hollywood glamour looks. This generation is serious about their craft and you can watch on your phone or in the comfort of your own home. Stop, start, forward and rewind at your own pace.
  7. Don’t let talent overshadow personality. It doesn’t go without saying and needs to be said. Be a kind person. Be polite, professional, courteous and punctual. I am so humbled by the referrals and booking I get from others and majority of that is by being good natured. I am not the best MUA there is but I am me and I give every client my all regardless of whether they are paying £50 or £500.
  8. Be presentable. I have opted for the casual approach when working on regular clients but I am always clean and presentable. I don’t also wear black all the time. I can only be me, so do I wear a full face of make-up? No. It has to be you and what you are comfortable with. You can wear heels but remember you may be on your feet for long hours.
  9. Believe in yourself. Saying I am not the best MUA is not negative but honest. I am striving every day to get better. I do believe in my ability and what I can do. I let that confidence speak through me when I am on a job and make sure every client has the best experience they can.
  10. Do you do hair? Clients will want to keep costs down where they can. If you can do hair, let them know. If you can’t then consider a basic course. If it is still not for you, then be honest and tell the client when they book you.
  11. Develop a thick(er) skin. This industry is not easy. You will question your ability when you are not booked for a job or when a client changes or adds ‘subtle changes’ to your look right in front of you. Some clients may not even call back after booking you or say they like your work but then behind your back say something different to the photographer. Try not to take it personally. Everyone has reasons for what they do. You are responsible for your actions and yours alone. You may feel a little setback but as Jay-Z would say… dust your shoulders off. As long as you gave it your all and had a good heart that was enough.
  12. Keep learning. Update your skills. Do follow- up courses if you can. I ask for feedback from my clients so I know what I need to improve upon and what worked well. That may be the old Customer Service Manager in me but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I adore working with people and I want to make sure they get the most paramount service I can offer.
  13. Team work. Photographers, Hairstylists, Models, Stylists and everyone else involved. Know what they do and be supportive. Someone once told me that MUAs are considered the bottom of the pecking order on shoots. None of the shoots I have worked on. I challenge that theory and then some. If I have to hold a reflector or help a model into their shoes I do it like there is nothing to it. I do not, however, accept rudeness. We all have bad days but you can turn that around if we smile and try.
  14. Be prepared. Know as far in advance as possible about the shoot. Ask for a mood board (a series of looks detailing what the shoot is going for) themes, what the model is wearing, what light the photographer is shooting with. If in doubt, ask. Don’t be embarrassed to ask. Being prepared will show you mean business!
  15. Promote yourself. Be your own PR agency. No-one will blow that trumpet like you can. Keep your CV and portfolio up to date. You do not have to be the big tweeter or face booker but get yourself out there. Local paper, flyers, business cards. The level will depend on you.
  16. Overnight Millionaire. Even if you’re doing Rhianna’s make-up you are not gonna be a millionaire overnight. You more than likely gonna have flights around the world and get closer to Trey Songz than I would (vex face). The money depends on so many factors such as what part of make-up or beauty you get into. Bridal can be big business as can glamour. You may have to do a lot of jobs for free to build your portfolio but have a limit or cut off. Know your work and as we said in point 8- believe in yourself and your talent. You may not be financially rich but emotionally you will if this is your passion.
  17. Money out vs. Money in. Your kit can get expensive. Very expensive. You think you need everything when you start out. You so do not! Think about each purchase carefully. Don’t go buy fake blood or SFX stuff if you only want to do bridal. You do not need a specialist make-up case if you have a perfectly good suitcase and clear bags for your products. Weigh up the cost properly. You do not have to outdo anyone. If you have seen my other posts then you will know you do not have to always go for the most expensive products. As you build up a clientele and have more money coming in then you can be a little less tight on the purse but not too much!
  18. Have a career plan or goal. Do you want your own make-up line or want to be a celebrity make-up artist? Just wanna do make-up for friends and family. No matter what the goal is, let it be your dream and your vision. Not someone else’s vision for you. Big or small it is your dream, right?
  19. There are specialist agencies out there (yep! like Modelling agencies) that represent Make-up Artists and other creatives. There is a process to go through and they represent a lot of the elite. Another strand to consider should you want to get into this field. You can also go the counter route. Working for Lancome, Clarins or MAC. They generally require sales experience and examples of your work. It is easier through recruitment agencies as opposed to directly with the brand but there will be a recruitment process or you may be lucky enough to know someone on the inside.
  20. Look after you. This job can take a toll on your back, feet, body and skin. There will be long hours and not so glamorous locations. You may have to work in cramped spaces or in the rain. All for the love of it.

I haven’t asked whether you want to do it as a hobby or career and that really is your own question to ask. This really covers Make-up Artistry. Beauty therapy and skin care does require education and qualification. It is like anything, hard work and you get out what you put in. Make-up on your friends is different from Film, Television and Music. There will be terminology thrown around such as dewey or flat, sepia to cut crease and you will need to decipher the code or ask questions. I am behind you all the way.

Good Luck! I hope this helps in some way. If you have any questions or any further advice to offer please comment and let me know. If you find these blogs useful then why not subscribe? If you are on WordPress all you have to do is hit the follow button. Everyone else, just put your email in the box on the right and receive email notifications every time I blog!

Here are a couple behind the scenes pics of me when I first started out…

Working with Ny on film Krish and Lee With Allegra Hart on Breathe Music Video


TBH! xoxo


4 responses to “So you wanna become a Make-up Artist?”

  1. Thanks so much for this!! All of this is really helpful. I am still trying to decide if I should do it or if I should wait a bit longer :/ choice choices choices!!

    1. You are most welcome. I have your other ones coming for the weekend. There is a lot to consider but if there is anything I can help with you just holla. xoxo

  2. Loved this post, DM! I’ve never really considered make-up atristry as a career, but I loved how your tips apply to those looking to even just do makeup for frends and family. Thank you for sharing your insight. As always, it is on-point and inspiring.

    1. Hey Kate! Always love hearing from you! Thank you so much for your comments! Glad that you found the post useful. I felt like there was more I could say but didn’t wanna drone on and hopefully the most important points came across! I’m no expert but I am so glad you enjoyed! I hope that you’re doing well! Can’t wait to see what goodies you’ve got coming up in your blog soon! xoxoxo

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