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How to become a makeup artist

If you’ve got a passion for makeup and always dreamt of becoming a makeup artist, our step-by-step guide to becoming a makeup artist will help you take the steps to fulfil your dream. Becomin...

How to become a makeup artist

If you’ve got a passion for makeup and always dreamt of becoming a makeup artist, our step-by-step guide to becoming a makeup artist will help you take the steps to fulfil your dream.

Becoming a makeup artist means experimenting with the latest makeup products & trends and meeting people from different industries and backgrounds from across the country and the rest of the world; a day in the life of a makeup artist is never dull.

What does a makeup artist do?

A makeup artist is responsible for using cosmetics to apply makeup to models, performers and presenters for shoots, and theatre productions. 

Makeup artists, particularly self-employed freelancers, are also employed to do makeup for weddings, birthdays and other special events. 

The exact responsibilities of a makeup artist will vary, however you could find yourself:

  • communicating with clients to identify their needs
  • reading scripts to understand looks and materials required
  • sketching and drawing makeup designs
  • ensuring consistency in looks across all models and performers.
  • demonstrating an understanding of of lighting, photographic process, special effects and makeup touch up processes
  • maintaining healthy and safety standards
  • staying up to date with the latest makeup trends and products
  • sourcing, budgeting and ordering materials and equipment
  • managing time effectively to ensure clients makeup are completed on time
  • taking notes and photographs of work to keep an up-to-date portfolio of work

How to become a makeup artist?

There are a number of routes to becoming a makeup artist, it is down to the individual what route they take suited to their learning requirements and career aspirations.

University degree

Whilst a University degree might not seem the most obvious route to becoming a makeup artist, you can complete a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a specialist area of makeup such as:

  • theatrical, media and special effects make-up
  • hair and make-up for media and performance 

You may also consider doing an alternative University degree that demonstrates you have a creative flair, transferable skills and ability to communicate. Other relevant University degrees include:

  • art and design
  • performing arts
  • drama or theatre studies

There are plenty of universities in the UK which offer a relevant course in hair and beauty including:

  • University College Birmingham
  • Solent University (Southampton)
  • Arts University Bournemouth
  • University of the Arts London
  • University of Salford
  • University of South Wales
  • University Centre Leeds
  • Buckinghamshire New University
  • University of Bolton
  • York College
  • Bradford College
  • Greater Brighton Metropolitan College
  • Coleg y Cymoedd
  • University Centre Rotherham
  • University Centre Somerset

For entry requirements, you will need to visit the University course itself, however, generally speaking you will need:

  • 1 or 1 A-Levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 or 3 Alevels, or equivalent, for an undergraduate degree

Makeup artist courses

If University isn’t the route for you, then don’t panic as you don’t need a degree to become a makeup artist. 

A recognised makeup qualification will help you take the first steps to entering the industry. With many makeup artists courses available to choose from, it’s important you do your research to select the right course suited to your career aspirations. 

Popular makeup artistry courses include:

  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma
  • VTCT Level 3 Diploma
  • ITEC Level 3 Diploma
  • City and Guilds Diploma
  • Makeup Standards Authority (MASA) Diploma

You also have the option to do more specific makeup artist courses which focus on mastering a specific area or technique of makeup for example, bridal makeup. 

For entry requirements, you will need to visit the Makeup Artist course itself, however, generally speaking you will need:

  • To do a Diploma, you may be required to have certain GCSEs and/or a portfolio of work

Makeup apprenticeships

Makeup apprenticeships are another alternative route to becoming a makeup artist. An apprenticeship enables you to obtain a professional qualification, gain first-hand experience in the profession and earn money.

Makeup apprenticeships are typically aimed at school leavers so you will not be expected to have any previous experience or relevant qualifications.

An apprenticeship is a really good way to learn practical skills and build up a portfolio that can help you secure a future position.

How much does a makeup artist earn?

How much a makeup artist earns will vary from artist to artist depending on the industry they work in, the services they provide and their experience.

Generally speaking, many makeup artists starting out in the profession will initially work for free or charge a small fee for their work in order to build up their portfolio, network and gain experience. 

For makeup artists who are self-employed or work on a freelance basis, they will be responsible for setting their own rates. Those that are self-employed and freelance makeup artists and are very well regarded in the industry are typically in high demand and can charge above the typical rates. 

The following figures may give you an idea of what you can expect to earn as a makeup artist:

  • Trainee makeup artists should be paid no less than the national minimum wage or the London living wage. 
  • Editorial work: A head makeup artist can earn between £170 to £320 for a ten-hour day whereas a junior makeup artist can earn anywhere in between £45 to £150 for a ten-hour day.
  • Fashion show: A lead makeup artist can earn approximately £450 a day for large fashion shows, for smaller shows, lead makeup artists can expect to earn approximately £275 a day. 

Insurance for Makeup Artists

Once you have developed the skills and built up your portfolio, you may be in a position where you want to become a self-employed makeup artist or set up your own makeup studio/salon.

Self-employed individuals are required to register with the HMRC or set up a limited company. 

Whether you’re self-employed or a salon owner, you should also look to obtain the relevant self-employed makeup artist insurance or salon insurance which will protect you in many eventualities from injuries occurring in your care, products sold by yourself having an adverse effect or if a client falls ill as a result of your treatment.

As a self-employed makeup artist, our insurance will cover you if you travel to third-party venues, business premises or a client’s home.

If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 0345 605 8670 or email us at info@professionalbeautydirect.co.uk for more information.