Everyone is asking, How do I become a real Makeup Artist?


That Burning Question, that everyone is asking, “ How do I become a real makeup artist”? I stress the ‘real’ because anyone in this industry knows that everyone is an artist these days and the industry is flooded with ‘ insta artists’ or those who make a living applying makeup to themselves that are not really Professional makeup artists at all. * Insert eye roll.

I get asked this question a lot. I think my first question for those who are thinking about getting into this industry is, “ what area of makeup do you wish to work in? “

I don’t think many give that a thought- the market is inundated with girls who watch youtube videos and who are not terrible at applying makeup to themselves or sometimes do it on friends and think “ hey I could charge for this”

This is where we, as working professionals who have busted our tails off for years studying and learning, who have worked hours alongside working professionals as assistants, cringe. The days of people wanting to put in the effort to really study makeup, intern, get hands on. Learn colour theory etc etc are gone. Anyone with a handful of brushes and makeup collection is an artist these days and that undercuts our industry. New artists or unseasoned artists come in and charge next to nothing for applications. They have not studied, they know little about skin type, tones, texture. Face shapes, colour theory, sanitation. They know little about how makeup photographs or may look on film. Instead tuned into Jaclyn hills latest youtube video and think its okay to charge $40.00 for a makeup application because they know a thing or two about a thing or two.

Then you have artists who have worked tirelessly and know the value of our work and we’re questioned as to why we are so expensive.

We are not expensive- we are working professionals, with training and hundreds of clients or weddings under our belt. Endless hours on set or in studios. We have knowledge to help us through unpredictable situations. We thrive on sanitation and our kits are packed with professional products targeted towards any and every skin type or texutre- we can mix or create on the spot if we happen to be put into a position where something is not an exact match. We know why products work for you- specificlally or why they wont. Far to often I see girls offering the same products, the same skincare and the same foundation to everyone they work on. How are you benefiting the client when you are not catering to her or his specific needs?

If you want to be a makeup artist, STUDY. Learn from other working professionals.

Some of the best artists are self taught makeup artists, there is nothing wrong with that. But along the way all of those artists studied their art. Be it in masterclasses or special effects classes. Many working artists offer lessons. Many professionals offer classes.

Work alongside other working professionals!

You can learn a lot from working or assisting other working artists.

You can learn about how they work with, interact and talk to their clients. How they determine what clients want and need. You can learn about problem solving and how to make the impossible happen. You may not think it now but there are always things to overcome when dealing with makeup.

Study real working artists

While youtube is flooded with insta-artists and that can be fun or inspiring , these artists will not teach you much about applying makeup to other people. You tune in for 20 minutes while they apply an unnatural amount of makeup to their own face, in no way describing alternative product options if lets say, what they are using wouldn’t work for your skin type or texture. You learn about what works on them. Makeup is not one size fits all. They pile on makeup and people fall victim and believe that is how makeup needs to be applied. You attempt to recreate that on someone in real life and realize they look like they have 7 inches of thick unflattering makeup piled onto their face. Layers and Layers of makeup always looks great behind expensive lenses and studio lighting. Photoshop and filters. It will not translate well in everyday life. So Study working professionals.

I implore you to follow the likes of Lisa Eldridge. Her work is flawless and beautiful. She has worked with some of the worlds biggest celebrities. She has a life time of experience and her tutorials are amazing.

Read books written by professional makeup artists. A few of my favourites;

FacePaint - The story of Makeup. By Lisa Eldridge

Color Theory for makeup artists. By Kate Middleton


Face Forward. By Kevin Aucoin


Study makeup and Photography

If you are going to be providing services that will be photographed. Have a good understanding of what photographs well and what doesn’t.

This takes time and often can still be trial and error but there are definitely products to avoid when it comes to Professional and flash photography. Products and techniques ( Baking, I’m pointing all my fingers at you) that don’t flatter. That cause flash back, cast white areas onto the skin, or cause your client and makeup to appear flat.

If possible try to build relationships with local photographers. Try to collaborate with them where possible. While learning this does not always mean paid work. We have all busted our tails off for little or no money, at one point or another. But almost always leave having gained a wealth of knowledge.

I think my advice is always don’t rush it. We are all in such a hurry to do what we want. At the end of the day in this industry you are always learning. There are always mistakes to be made and challenges to face. However if you are not ready or you don’t have knowledge of the fundamental basics of application, sanitation and all that goes with it you may want to hold off onto launching your self into the world of paid gigs.

Again knowing what is best for each individual client and what will work best for them based on their specific characteristics. If you have not had the chance to work on a vast variety of skin tones, textures or types you will be ill prepared when sitting down with a clients.

Work for a makeup counter

I think this is huge. If you have the chance to work at a makeup counter, I would always suggest doing so. I spent six years working for MAC. It was years before I really dove into the freelance business because I wanted to be ready. MACS hands on training was incredible and working at a counter allows you to work on a large variety of tones, textures and skin types. it gives you opportunity to learn hands on how to interact with clients, how to investigate their needs.

You wont be for everyone.

It comes with the territory. Have thick skin. Not everyone is going to like your work. But at the end of the day if you leave a client knowing you did your best, you were happy with your work and the service provided. If there was little you could have done differently it is likely that you and the client were just not meant to be. You wont always mesh or have chemistry with everyone. They will not always love your aesthetic or your style of work. Every artist’s makeup style is different and it should be. That is what sets us all apart. It just wont always happen that everyone loves what you do.

With that said;

Find your strengths and really push that. Figure out what you are really good at and run with it. Be the best at that specific something.

Jump in only when you are ready.

In this industry word of mouth is everything. You will again of course not please everyone- regardless of years of experience. Its just unlikely that you will make everyone happy in your career. Some people can’t be pleased. But news of un-aesthetically flattering makeup, unsanitary applications and poor client relations travel fast.

So I would urge you to really take the time to make sure you are ready and to cover all your bases. I’ve seen to many artists knowingly providing unsanitary techniques to clients and It makes me want to scream ( or vomit )!

The Makeup industry is amazing, and god knows I love my job! I have dedicated nearly 10 years to this and don’t plan on stopping any time soon. You will spend your career studying and training. Forever learning new techniques. You need to be willing to adapt and try new things.

If you have the desire to get into the industry I would urge you to. But take the necessary steps to ensure you are doing it correctly and can provide a knowledgeable and amazing, safe experience for your clients.