makeup artistry

A make-up artist uses brushes to prepare a model’s face and eyelids for a photoshoot

A make-up artist (or ‘makeup artist’) is an artist whose medium is the human body, applying makeup and prosthetics for theatrical, television, film, fashion, magazines and other similar productions including all aspects of the modeling industry. Fashion makeup is also commonly used in television and film ranging for the natural prime look to more sophisticated applications such as color balance.Theatrical makeupStage makeup is used as a method in conjunction with stage lighting to highlight the actors’ faces in order make expressions visible to the audience from moderate distances. This was developed due to the further development of high definition[10] mediums and the cost implications of airbrush makeup.Platform for make-up artists[edit]

In October 2014 MUA Connected launched a global platform where all types of technical makeup artists can gather and discuss the makeup artistry field, as well as finding and meeting clients online.

Because the career opportunities for makeup artists vary widely, training to become a makeup artist can offer a diverse set of options for graduates. specializes in helping students find the right programs for aspiring beauty professionals. Large cosmetic companies and salons may also offer their own private makeup training programs of varying lengths, and online courses are also available.

Show me all the Makeup Artist Schools in:Makeup Artist Licensing Information

Once you have completed a program through a makeup artist school and received a cosmetology degree or certificate you can become licensed by your state by taking the licensing exams administered either by the State Board of Cosmetology or the Department of Health. Many employers, especially in spa and salon settings where a wide variety of services is offered, prefer to hire licensed artists.

Although makeup artistry is a field that overlaps with other cosmetology careers, professional makeup organizations do exist. Larger cosmetology organizations such as the American Beauty Association and the National Cosmetology Association also include makeup artists, offering professional support and education.

Necessary Makeup Artist Skills

After completion of a makeup artist school, you will have an understanding of color and design, as well as knowledge of human anatomy and the skin. As a professional in  the cosmetics industry, you may do demonstrations and makeovers to help sell products, or custom makeup work in salons or spas. In addition to applying makeup, you may be looked to assume a larger role, advising on wardrobe and hairstyles as well, or coordinating the work of all these different departments.

If you enjoy fashion, the fashion photography world may be the place for you. In these fields, you will also be given the chance to work with a wide range of creative professionals, including photographers, designers and producers.

You may also be interested in pursing makeup artistry in theatrical industry, working closely with film or theater directors and producers to create specialized looks that illustrate a script. As a theatrical makeup artist, you may also work in the music industry, preparing performers for the stage.

If you become highly specialized, you may decide to work in a private practice that specializes in doing makeup for brides, speakers, presenters and other individuals in the public eye.

Makeup Artist Salary Information

Salaries for makeup artists vary widely, depending on the location and type of work. To put the other components into perspective, the Other Professional, Scientific and Technical Services counts for .01% of industry employment and is still higher than the unlisted ones.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics divides each of these categories down even more by creating a section for both the hourly wage and the annual salary of employees in these fields. An individual could make a significant amount less or a significant amount more, and one of the factors that affects the wage is the location where the professional works.

Salaries for Make Up Artists Depends on Location

In addition to providing statistical information for the field broken down by specific industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistics goes on to demonstrate how the geographic location of the employee could significantly affect his or her income. The website also goes on to break down some of the areas of the states into the New York and Los Angeles metropolitan areas, for example, to provide a more accurate idea of where the jobs are located in these states that report the highest paying figures for people in these diverse industries.

If you the sound of having “Makeup Artist” on your business card, simply enter your zip code in the box to the right and choose Make-up Artist Training as your program to find schools near you.

Jump to Your Question:How should I find, compare and contact makeup schools?

The first step to becoming a professional makeup artist is to get the education and get licensed, if applicable in your state. We find that the average student considers 3 to 5 schools before making a final choice, but because makeup is a highly specialized program and not every state offers licensure in this field, the number of options may be smaller. Thanks to digital cameras, makeup artists are increasingly in demand for weddings, fashion shoots, fashion shows, corporate headshot photography, and other special events that will be photographed or recorded.

The other main type is theatrical and film makeup artist. Like a fashion makeup artist, the theatrical and film makeup artist learns to work with different lighting conditions, the distance between the stage and the audience, and the requirements determined by digital and high definition cameras. This field is often regarded as one of the most creative and lucrative areas of makeup, but it can also be one of the most challenging to break into.

The qualities of a good artist include, but are not limited to: great customer service, creativity, self-motivation, good time management, understanding of art and design, great listener, comfortable making recommendations and offering feedback to clients, arm-hand steadiness and manual dexterity and near vision (ability to see detail up close). Click the button below to find schools near you and start exploring your options.

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How do I become a makeup artist?

Makeup Artist Pull Quote 1A deep love of cosmetics and passion all the things makeup is capable of is one of the first tell-tale signs of a budding makeup artist. Take high-quality pictures of your work as you go from project to project throughout school and beyond, keep in touch with people you’ve work with and shamelessly ask for testimonials and referrals, and be open to working with new experts, products and techniques as opportunities arise.

What salary do makeup artists earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2012 data, a makeup artist salary can range from $22,850 to $117,720 depending on location, level of experience and quality of portfolios. This is because many makeup artists offer their services part-time or work locally in salons and retail stores, but on the other end of the scale, there are world-famous celebrity artists who work in film and television that command higher salaries. The top paying states for makeup occupations are New York, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Michigan, commanding $52,490 to $91,640 per year mean wages (that’s $25 to $44 hourly).

BLS Makeup Artist Salary Data

What kind of careers can makeup artists have? Many makeup professionals are freelance because the work is so portable, and choose to market themselves as specialists in weddings and special events, mortuary makeup, photo shoots, runway models, film and television, live theater, and special effects, among others. The most common industries makeup artists work in, according to BLS, are motion picture and video industries, personal care services, performing arts companies, television broadcasting, and amusement parks and arcades (seriously!).

The top five states with the highest levels of employment for makeup occupations are New York, California, Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Click the “Find Schools” button below to get started and look for makeup artist training programs near you.

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What is a day in the life of a cosmetics professional like?

A day in the life of the makeup artist is tough to pin down, because every day can be totally different for this dynamic and constantly changing profession! A day in the life of the makeup professional can vary wildly based on what specialty you work in and what’s on your itinerary that day, but there are a few standards that apply across the board.

Prepare Your Tools –You likely invested in high-quality makeup brushes and tools, as well as quality makeup palettes. Be sure you have everything you need to get through the day seamlessly, that your brush belt is fully stocked, and that you have your sanitation canister at the ready for used brushes.

Consult with the Client – Every client’s skin has different needs, and every makeup job is totally custom, the artist should always consult with the client about their challenges, preferences and skin allergies. This time can also be used to get to know your client on a more personal level, because building a personal relationship with your clients leads to customer retention and referrals!

Bridal Makeup ArtistDo the Makeup – This part could include cleansing the clients’ skin with products selected specifically for their skin types, so you can apply makeup to a freshly cleaned palette (their faces!). You may apply primers, foundations, concealers , powders, blushes, eyeshadows, eyeliners, lip liners, lipsticks and a number of other cosmetic products specific to the client’s requests, the event the makeup is for, and their skin types. Each appointment is completely custom to the client.

Ask for Referrals – Because makeup services aren’t quite as regular and consistent as haircuts for most people, it’s tough to get them to book the next appointment before they pay and leave, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get their gears turning on good times to come see you again! For example, “Just a heads up that I’m offering 20% off of each makeover when you book a girls’ night out party for 3 or more!” Certified makeup experts should remind their happy, loyal customers that they love referral business so you can continue to grow your clientele!

What are some continuing sources of inspiration for cosmetics artists?

Makeup Artist Pull Quote 2The number one source of constant inspiration for many makeup artists today is YouTube.

This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.Fine Arts — Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

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SkillsSpeaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

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AbilitiesArm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.

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Work ActivitiesGetting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

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Work ContextFace-to-Face Discussions — 82% responded “Every day.”Physical Proximity — 82% responded “Very close (near touching).”Contact With Others — 73% responded “Constant contact with others.”Electronic Mail — 68% responded “Every day.”Telephone — 64% responded “Every day.”Work With Work Group or Team — 73% responded “Extremely important.”Duration of Typical Work Week — 81% responded “More than 40 hours.”Level of Competition — 55% responded “Extremely competitive.”Time Pressure — 68% responded “Every day.”Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 70% responded “Continually or almost continually.”

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Job ZoneTitleJob Zone Three: Medium Preparation NeededEducationMost occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate’s degree.Related ExperiencePrevious work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations.

Also known as: Commercial Make-Up Artist, Commercial Makeup Artist, Makeup Designer, Make-Up Designer, Makeup Artist

A make-up artist is a professional artist that uses mediums applied to the skin to transform or enhance the appearance of a person. Make-up artists are often referred to as cosmetologists or beauticians, but are different in that they specialize only in make-up and typically do not offer other services such as hair or nails.

The art of applying make-up goes back at least 6000 years. As part of this team, the make-up artist works to transform the actor into the character.

The entertainment and fashion industry currently employs the largest margin of make-up artists today. Sokanu’s free assessment reveals your exact compatibility with this career, your strengths, and any unique areas of interest.

A make-up artist must skillfully transform the human canvas into the desired character or appearance within an allotted timeframe. They may serve as experts on panels and write books and have their own blogs on the subject of make-up application.

A make-up artist needs to have a broad range of common skills, but can specialize in many different types of make-up and application techniques including:

Special EffectsProstheticsTheatricalHigh FashionAirbrushingLight Bending High Definition

Special effects make-up artists spend hours developing a person into the desired finished product. A make-up artist may be hired by just one person and travel with them exclusively to meet their needs.

Special effects make-up artists usually work behind the scenes on movie sets and photo shoots.

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Make-up artist



Starting salary


As a make-up artist you would apply make-up and style hair for anyone appearing in front of a camera or a live audience. You may work in film, television, theatre, concerts, photographic sessions or fashion shows.

If you enjoy fashion, hairdressing and cosmetics, and love being creative, this could be a perfect career for you.

You would normally start by taking a specialist course in media make-up, theatrical make-up or a related subject. You may also be required to apply special effects or prosthetics such as false noses or bald caps.

You could work alone, as an assistant to a senior colleague, or as part of a larger hair and make-up design team.

Depending on the job, your tasks might include:

researching and designing make-up and hairstyles to suit the jobworking to production designers’ notes and instructionstidying and styling haircompletely changing a person’s look with special effects make-uptaking notes and photos for reference so you can keep the look throughout filmingstanding by on set to redo make-up and hairkeeping work areas and equipment clean and tidyremoving make-up and keeping wigs and hairpieces in good condition.

You would work closely with production designers, costume designers, camera and lighting crew, and performers.

See the Creative Choices website to read a theatre make-up artist’s story.


Working hours and conditions

You would often work long and irregular hours, depending on the needs of the job. Location work could be anywhere in the UK or overseas, so you may need to travel and stay away from home regularly, sometimes for long periods.

You would be expected to build up your own make-up kit and take it to each job.



Make-up artists usually work on a freelance basis and are paid a fee for each contract. It will also allow you to start getting to know people in the industry and build a network of contacts.

You could get useful experience in various ways, such as:

amateur theatrestudent film, theatre and photography projectscharity or student fashion showsworking with established make-up artists and photographers.

Your first paid work in film or TV may be as a trainee or assistant to the make-up team. Short courses in specialist and prosthetic make-up are available at private make-up academies, film schools and some universities.

For information on relevant make-up courses and possible funding, see the following websites:

You could also join the National Association of Screen Make-up Artists and Hairdressers (NASMAH) for networking and training opportunities.


Skills, interests and qualities

To become a make-up artist, you will need:

creativity and imaginationgood communication and people skillsa tactful mannerstamina, patience and concentrationthe ability to work well under pressureexcellent attention to detailgood punctuality and reliabilitya willingness to work long hours when necessarygood teamwork skillsan interest in current and historical fashions.




You could work on freelance contracts for a range of employers including TV broadcasters, TV and film production companies, theatre companies, magazines and fashion show producers. You could also advertise in crew directories or with diary services which are similar to booking agents.

You can find more information about marketing yourself as a freelancer on the Creative Skillset website.

With experience or specialist skills, you could progress to chief make-up artist or make-up designer.

You may wish to use your make-up skills by volunteering to help others.