Makeup Artist Work Schedules
We have a couple of posts that detail exactly what it's like to BE a makeup artist, and today we'll look at makeup artist work schedules and makeup artist working conditions. If you decide to become a makeup artist, what will your work week be like? What hours do makeup artists work?
Just as we posted in our "Where Do MUAs Work" post... it depends on what kind of makeup artist you become! Here's an overview.
What Hours Do Makeup Artists Work?
Rather than give a vague answer, here are some sample schedules for each type of makeup artist.
Brides and Weddings.
Saturday mornings! The great majority of weddings in the United States take place on Saturdays, with the reception in the evening, the wedding ceremony in the afternoon, and the application of makeup in early to mid-morning. As with all makeup job, it's VERY important that the MUA show up on time, because brides usually have a tight schedule from the moment they wake up to moment they're getting down on the dance floor.
Three things to keep in mind:
- There are also a ton of weddings on Fridays and Sundays, so if you become a bridal MUA, you can expect a lot of work on those days, as well.
- Because reception halls tend to cost less on holiday weekends, there are a lot of weddings on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day.
- Weddings are seasonal. Most of the weddings in the U.S. take place between early May and late September, so business might slow down a bit on the off season.
Of all the careers in makeup, wedding MUAs enjoy a pretty reliable work schedule, and some bridal makeup artists make a VERY good living.
Fashion and Photo Shoots.
These tend to be a little more random, with tougher hours. If a photographer or director needs a night scene, you may finding yourself working long hours!
The work hours vary widely, and they depend on a ton of different factors. If the shoot is outdoors and the director / photographer wants natural light, you'll probably work from 8am to 4 or 5pm; if it's a night-time shot it's not uncommon to start with at 5pm or 6pm and work through the night. If the shoot is indoors and the photographer / director can control the lighting, you'll work whenever the shooting schedule permits.
As for fashion events, they tend to take place at night, so if it's a live fashion show or a runway event, you'll probably work from the afternoon well into the evening for as many days as the event takes place.
It's worth noting that advertising shoots for commercials *can* have more typical work hours, where you'll work from 8am to 5pm or so.
TV and Film.
The makeup artist work schedules for TV and film varies a LOT. The business people who make movies and TV shows want to finish filming as quickly as possible, because filming is EXPENSIVE. Any given movie or TV show requires dozens if not hundreds of cast members and crew, and they're all getting paid. So producers want to finish shoots ASAP, and that means long hours. It's not uncommon for shoots to take place from sun-up to sun-down. There are plenty of breaks in between, but shoots can last a while.
On the plus side, makeup artist work environment on TV and film sets can be pretty exciting, and pretty glamorous!
This is a little different from TV and film, because most theatrical performances take place in the evening, with the exception of Saturdays and Sundays, where actors are usually required to put on two shows for audiences (one in the afternoon and one at night). You can count on less busy weekdays, and longer hours on the weekends, from early morning to late night.
Makeup Counters at Local Beauty Shops.
Finally, a makeup artist job with regular hours! These MUAs tend to work store hours, with most counter MUAs working six- or seven-hour shifts starting around 11am or noon. These are great jobs if you're just starting out and gaining experience, and if you don't have the option of traveling around or keeping random hours.
Early Mornings and Long Hours.
As a general rule, all the jobs in the arts and beauty industry have long hours. Nine-to-five jobs happen for makeup artists---MUAs who work in the corporate world for makeup companies tend to have those kind of hours---but they're not common for MUAs outside of the "business world." TV and film shoots tend to have VERY early mornings. TV in particular. It's not uncommon for actors and MUAs to get up at 4am or 5am to get ready for a scene. That can be rough.
But you know what? That's part of the fun, and part of the adventure, of being a makeup artist. The 9-to-5 life gets boring. For most makeup artists, having unconventional hours keeps things fresh and exciting!
Do Makeup Artists Make Their Own Work Schedules?
You've probably heard it said that most MUAs---particularly freelance MUAs---make their own schedules. That's kind of true. Most makeup artists go where the work is, and are not able to dictate the hours that they want to work. HOWEVER, there are a few makeup artists that can do that, and usually, they're the ones who offer private lessons. Those MUAs have a little more freedom to schedule their work schedule, whereas other MUAs---particularly those who work for agencies or in fashion/film/bridal---have to be where the clients are, and at the time the clients dictate.
That's not the worst thing in the world. Most working people aren't able to create our own schedules! : )
This is Lunacy and I'm Not Sure It's for Me
If you're a little disheartened at the thought of working crazy hours, that's totally fine! It's not for everyone, and there are plenty of areas of the beauty industry that keep better hours. Many people who are interested in careers in makeup are very satisfied becoming cosmetologists, where the work is much more steady, and the hours are more reasonable. If that sounds like a good fit for you, visit our "Schools" page and check out cosmetology schools in your area.
I Love Makeup and I'm Going to Do Whatever It Takes to Make My Dreams Come True
That's the spirit! Sometimes makeup artists work rough hours, and sometimes they have daytime gigs during regular hours. But if you truly love makeup and truly love making people look amazing, it is TOTALLY worth it!
Image Credit: "Jessica Mae Model Makeup" by Samual Koza via Wikimedia Commons