I’ve Heard It’s Really Difficult to Start a Career as a Makeup Artist

Hello, readers! We've been getting a lot of questions about the challenges of starting a career as a makeup artist. How difficult is it to become a makeup artist?

Is It Hard to Begin a Makeup Career

Chances are, you're interested in a career as a MUA, but you heard from your friend that it's impossible and you'll never do it and your dreams are stupid.

Is your friend right? Is becoming a makeup artist impossible? Let's explore the issue, and in the meantime, your friend is the worst; shake her out and get a new one.

Short Answer: Yes, It's a Challenge

Is it hard to become a makeup artist? Yeah, kind of! Of all the beauty careers out there, "makeup artist" is one of the most challenging. It takes time to develop your skills, to make professional connections, and to find the jobs that really excite you.

But do people actually become makeup artists? Yes! All the time. Every day. Every single day.

And if people are going to become MUAs, why can't one of those people be you?

We've got more pep talk below, so keep reading!

Why Is It So Difficult? Why Does It Take So Long?

Most jobs in the beauty industry have a much more "routine" work schedule. Beauticians have people come into the salon every day; people who work for cosmetics companies go to the office or store every day; estheticians go to the spa and meet their clients there. But for makeup artists, it's a lot different. You have to "book" you own clients, set up consultations, negotiate contracts, advertise your services, build a portfolio... the list goes on. In other words, you have to make your own makeup business, and then you have to run it. That's not as easy as simply showing up to work every day and doing your job.

So Why Would I Become a Makeup Artist?

Because you're passionate about makeup! And you love fashion. And it's absolutely THRILLING to work with brides and models and actors. And you feel great when you perform makeup services and someone looks absolutely radiant. And because it is a blissfully wonderful thing to do what you love every day, and be creative, and make people feel great about themselves. And working for yourself is one of the best professional experiences you can have.

And it's makeup. As a career. What could be better than that?

Is It Easier to Become a Cosmetologist? Yes.

Oh my goodness, yes. It's way easier. And if you want to become a beautician, that is wonderful! There are many, many happy and well-paid beauticians who considered a career as a makeup and then decide that cosmetology was the right choice for them. The hours are better, it is MUCH easier to find work, and you can count on always being able to find a job. And---for many people, the most satisfying part of the job is the same: you're making people feel beautiful. Ever see someone with a new look walk out of the salon? They look like they're walking on air, they're so happy! If you decide to become a cosmetologist, that's wonderful.

As always, if you're interested in a career as a cosmetologist, we've got a "Find a School" option above that'll help you find schools in your area. It's helpful! Check it out.

How About Esthetics?

Yep, that's an option too. Makeup isn't the main part of an esthetician's job, but they work with the skin, teach their clients how to find their best looks, and many of them "moonlight" as bridal makeup artists on the weekends. If you're interested in becoming an esthetician, the "Find a School" option will also help you find esthetician schools in your area.

What Can I Do To Become Successful?

We've written a lot of posts about starting your career and becoming a successful MUA. Check them out. We've got guidance on whether you should be formally trained, how to build connections with photographers and designers, how to put your portfolio online... it's all here!

If we had to boil it down to three steps, we would say:

1. PRACTICE. Become an absolute expert. Get as much experience as you can. Work on your family, your friends, and do everything you can to develop your skills. You need to be at the top of your game, at all times.

2. Learn the business side of makeup. That means building professional relationships, finding new work, and taking on bigger and better projects. That's one of the most intimidating parts of becoming a makeup artist, but it is waaaaay easier than it seems. Most new MUAs pick up the business side of things in a couple of months, and they learn how to be outgoing and professional. In fact, it always seems like the ones who are the most shy become the most outgoing!

3. Never stop learning. There are new products, new techniques, and new trends happening CONSTANTLY. Keep your eyes open, and prepare to be a life-long student. There will never be a time in your career where you can stop learning.

Long Answer: Yes, It's a Challenge, But YOU CAN DO IT

Yes, it can be hard to become a makeup artist. You have to stick to it. And the first year is that hardest. But so what? YOU CAN DO IT. Make it happen! And if you need some inspiration, look around. This person  and this one and this other person, and oh yeah, these people make their livings doing/talking about makeup. So believe in yourself, because you, too, can become a makeup artist!

Image Credit: “Fashion Show” by Brendan via Flickr

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