What Will I Learn in Makeup Artist School?

So you're considering a career as a makeup artist. That's wonderful! Makeup is a fast-paced and exciting field, and if you've got a passion for makeup, you'll be a huge star.

So if you're considering a makeup education, you're probably wondering: Should I even go to school? Is it worth it? And if I do go, what will I learn in makeup artist school?

It is our goal to make all of your career dreams come true, so we pulled together the information below to get you started. First, we'll talk about how makeup artist schools are a little different than cosmetology and esthetician schools, then we'll talk about the curriculum at makeup artist schools, and then we help you figure out which is the right choice for you.

(A quick note: the post below is about fashion makeup, not special effects makeup. For what you'll learn in a special effects makeup course, click here.)

What Will I Learn in Makeup Artist School

Every School Offers Very Different Courses

In the United States, makeup artistry is not a licensed profession. What do we mean by that? Well, for many professions, the state you work in requires you to go to a state-recognized training program with a curriculum that the state has agreed upon, then take a skills exam administered by the state, and then get a license to work in that state. That's the way it is for beauticians, estheticians, nail techs, and barbers. If you don't have a license to work in that state, you can't get a job.

Makeup artistry, however, is NOT a licensed profession. At the time we published this post, you do NOT need a makeup artist license to become a makeup artist. And that’s good thing, because it means you can start building your career right away. But it also means that states don't require schools to set a particular curriculum in their courses, so every makeup school teaches a different curriculum.

So makeup artist schools offer a wide array of classes. Some offer full-time classes, where you'll learn absolutely everything, from avant-garde to fashion makeup for photo shoots to special effects makeup for movies and theatre. Those tend to be very pricey. Then there are other schools that allow you to focus on a particular subject and take only the courses that interest you, such as a bridal makeup or airbrush makeup.

Makeup Artist School Curriculum

Because most of our website's visitors (we love you!!) are interested in fashion makeup, we'll go over that first.

If you go to a school that offers a full-time makeup training program, it will teach you most or all of the following things:

  • How to build a makeup kit (ie, the types of makeup and brands you'll need for different types of makeup gigs);
  • How to waterproof your makeup;
  • The ins-and-outs of using color theory;
  • Facial shapes and characteristics;
  • Shades and undertones;
  • How to apply eyeliner, mascara, and blush;
  • Facial contouring using highlights and shadows;
  • Different looks for the eyes, eyelashes, and eyebrows;
  • Best practices for shaping eyebrows and false eyelash application;
  • How to accentuate the lips and use the natural curves of the face to create a look;
  • How to mix and apply foundation for all skin types, colors, and tones;
  • Airbrush techniques;
  • How to work with circles underneath the eyes;
  • To manage skin imperfections, including blotchy skin, patchy skin, broken capillaries, and so on;
  • The difference between natural makeup vs. avant-garde and how to use each;
  • How to do various types of makeup, such as bridal makeup, makeup for fashion shoots, etc;
  • Skin care routines and how to maintain healthy skin once the makeup comes off;
    Methods for sanitizing your brushes and makeup kit;
  • and many, many other things!

If your MUA school is top-notch, they may also teach business skills in their makeup artist school curriculum, including how to:

  • Conduct a consultation with prospective clients and agencies;
  • Advertise your services online and in local markets;
  • Find the right "price point" to charge your clients;
  • Network and use your contacts to create new business;
  • Create a website and post your portfolio online;
  • Reach out to/build relationships with photographers, modelling agencies, and production companies; and
  • Collaborate with photographers and creative directors to find the right "look" for a shoot or event

...If we may brag for a moment, we offer great advice on each of those aspects of business on this site! : )

Do I Need to Actually Go to a Makeup Artist School to Become a Professional Makeup Artist?

Nope! You don't. You don't need to go to makeup artist school in order to become a makeup artist. Some of the best and most sought-after makeup artists in the world never went to school.

So why would anyone go to school? Well, it's a great place to practice! And, if you're like a lot of people, it's easier to be taught new techniques and methods, rather than having to do discover them yourself. Some people are great at learning on their own; others need a little guidance. And because you'll need all the experience you can get, school can be a big advantage.

Also, the key to success as a makeup artist is to make professional connections, and school is a great place to do that. ​

Are the Makeup Schools Near Me?

Ten to fifteen years ago, there were very few makeup artist schools, but over the last decade or so, we've seen schools pop up in most of the major metropolitan centers. Most of the makeup artist schools are located in New York City and Los Angeles, but there are some great schools Chicago, Miami, Houston, Atlanta, and many others. We've written a long post on how to choose the best school for you, which you should definitely check out.

If you have access to those cities or the main cities in your state, you may be able to enroll. If not...

Is There a Good Alternative to Makeup Artist School?

For many people, a cosmetology school is an excellent alternative to makeup artist school (in fact, we'd go as far to say that it's a great option for MOST people). There are a couple of reasons:

  • Availability. There simply aren't makeup artist schools all over the place, but there ARE cosmetology schools all over the place. If you can't move and go to a school in a far off place, beauty school can provide training closer to home.
  • The job market. The need for cosmetologists and beauticians far exceeds the need for makeup artists. Once you get a cosmetology license, you can always be certain that you can quickly get a job in the beauty industry, whereas becoming a makeup artist can take a while.
  • You'll become versatile. If you go to beauty school and decide to become a makeup artist, it's often helpful to have experience doing hair and nails, which are taught in most cosmetology programs. Being well-versed is never a bad thing!
  • Cost. Some MUA schools can get quite pricey, and a cosmetology program can cost a LOT less than a makeup artist program.
  • It's easier! If we're being honest, a lot of people find out that being a beautician is a lot easier than being a makeup artist! There are a ton of hassles when it comes to running a freelance business, and for people who simply love to make others look their best---and who don't want the hassle or headache of running their own company---cosmetology is the better choice.

You will not focus on makeup in a cosmetology program (although it will likely be part of the curriculum). Instead, you'll learn all aspects of beauty as it pertains to skin, hair, and nails.

If you'd like to learn about schools in your area, we have a "Find a School" helper at the top of the page.

Do I Need a Makeup Kit for School?

You'll need a makeup kit, but most fashion makeup schools have a complete kit you can buy, or a list of items you'll need to round out the kit you've already begun building. Many places will require you to buy a kit from the school, and the cost is part of the tuition.

One More Thing

If you do decide to go to makeup artist school, remember, MUA schools don't have a set curriculum, so you have to be certain that the schools teaches the courses you want to learn. If you want to become a bridal makeup artist, you're probably not interested in special effects makeup and making people look like aliens. So do your research, and make sure you're choosing the school that's right for you.

Finally, if you do decide to become a makeup artist, we're rooting for you! Check out our other pages to learn more about the career.

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