How to Become a Freelance Makeup Artist

How to Become a Freelance Makeup Artist

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Do you want to learn how to make money with makeup?

I have both good and bad news for you.

On the bright side, there is substantial demand for makeup artists! People often hire makeup artists for weddings, festivals, and other events. It’s also possible to work with photographers and theatrical productions.

So what’s the catch?

In a word: competition.

It’s tough to break into the makeup industry. There are a lot of talented makeup artists out there! Let me reassure you; it’s not impossible either. I recently interviewed Carly Clayton, who became a successful freelance makeup artist despite blood, sweat, and tears. She will share her journey and hard-earned knowledge.

How to learn basic makeup skills? How to find your first clients? How to grow your makeup business?

This guide answers all these questions (and much more)!

Let’s jump right in!

Introduction: Carly’s makeup journey

How Carly became a freelance makeup artist, and so can you!

First of all, let me tell you how Carly became a successful makeup artist.

She began her career by trying out different looks on herself and her friends.

When it comes to makeup, Carly doesn’t miss an opportunity to learn new techniques! She even follows Youtube channels and blogs to improve her makeup skills (more on that later). And guess what? It took her 6 months to master the essential makeup skills.

Once her skills were up to par, Carly created a Facebook page: Makeup for Weddings and Special Occasions.

Taking advantage of Facebook Ads and word-of-mouth, Carly built her reputation as one of Nottingham’s best makeup artists! She gets hired when someone needs a makeup artist for a wedding or a festival. She also works for photographers and theatrical productions.

Here’s the deal: Carly makes about $20 per hour doing what she loves for a living.

And you? Do you think you have what it takes to become a freelance makeup artist?

Be warned: makeup artistry is not for everyone.

To guide your decision, I asked Carly crucial information about her job: the pros, the cons, and how much money you can make.

Pros and cons of being a freelance makeup artist

There are some aspects of makeup artistry you need to know.

Let’s start with the bright side:

  • Flexibility – you can work your appointments around your personal life.
  • Sociability – you get the opportunity to meet many different people.
  • Creativity – bold liners, striking colors, there’s room for creativity (as long as you please your customers).
  • Opportunity – makeup artistry is a career with great growth potential!

And let’s face it, making people look attractive while chatting with them is pretty fun!

Nothing’s perfect; there are also some disadvantages to consider:

  • Work isn’t always consistent; you have to hustle every day to find makeup jobs.
  • The competition is tough; it is challenging to get high-profile clients.
  • It takes time to make a name for yourself.
  • An esthetician or cosmetology license may be required (more on that later).

Finally, let’s not forget about the exciting part: the salary.

How much do freelance makeup artists make?

According to CareerExplorer, the average salary of makeup artists is about $30 per hour.

Note that there is a significant discrepancy between starting-level earnings ($10 per hour) and top-level earnings ($80 per hour).

That’s why many freelance makeup artists experience modest income at the start of their careers! As you gain more and more experience, you might land some high-end jobs: celebrity makeup, special FX makeup, theatrical/performance makeup, etc.

These jobs can pay as high as $80 per hour!

The bottom line? Your income mostly depends on your makeup skills.

Personal qualities of makeup artists

By now, you’ll have realized if you are interested in working as a freelance makeup artist.

But do you have what it takes to succeed?

Some personality traits that are essential to becoming a successful makeup artist:

  • Attention to details and focus – makeup is visual, it is easy to spot small errors!
  • Cleanliness – it is your responsibility as professionals to keep it clean.
  • Creativity and openness – makeup artists need to learn new ideas and techniques.
  • Social skills – you need to schedule appointments and talk to clients to make time pass faster.

Let’s not forget about the most crucial trait: motivation.

The more you master makeup, the better your chances of success!

So let’s get down to business.

Step 1: Improve your makeup skills

Becoming a freelance makeup artist: step 1: improve your makeup skills.

Before you start your business, you need to make sure you have decent makeup skills. The better your skills, the higher your income!

I’ll teach you how to turn those skills into gold later, now let’s focus on what makes a good makeup artist. I gathered in this section: a list of essential makeup skills and the best courses/websites to master them.


Basic skills every makeup artist should master

Let me be honest with you; makeup artistry is not as easy as it seems. It took Carly 6 months to master the fundamentals.

Have a look at the list of all the skills you need to master:

  • Knowledge of common makeup looks.
  • Understanding of the different skin types, bone structures, eye sizes, and face shapes.
  • Choosing the right look for your clients’ bone structure and face shape.
  • Knowing basic makeup techniques: how to make smoky eyes, how to line lips, how to apply mascara, foundation, red sticks, etc.
  • How to handle makeup tools: foundation brushes, eyeliners, lash curlers, you name it!

Now that you know which skills you need to improve, it’s time to get down to work.

Most makeup artists think they were born with whatever talent they have, and they’re not going to get much better.

They’re wrong!

When it comes to makeup, practice makes perfect!

Best courses for aspiring makeup artists

It can be hard to learn makeup on your own. Following online classes is the best way to stay motivated!

Here are the best online courses for aspiring makeup artists:

  • Diploma in Makeup (John Academy): you will learn how to do base makeup, party makeup, bridal makeup basics, etc. At the end of the course, you will be required to sit for an online test. After passing the course successfully, you will be able to obtain an Accredited Certificate of Achievement.
  • Mastering makeup application techniques at home (Udemy): an excellent course for beginners.
  • Becoming a professional Hollywood makeup artist (Udemy): the best course to learn how to build your makeup business. Upon completing this course, you will understand how best to take your job as a makeup artist and transform it into a money-earning career.

Now, if you don’t want to spend money on online classes, I recommend the following resources.

Online resources for makeup artists

Watching makeup videos is another great way to learn makeup artistry.

Here are some of the best Youtube channels to learn the ins and outs of the job:

  • Makeup with Ja – Ja is a full-time freelance makeup artist, and her Youtube channel is a gold mine if you are looking for makeup tutorials.
  • Jaclyn Hill – she is a fantastic freelance makeup artist. Her videos cover anything from makeup reviews to celebrity makeup tutorials like the Kardashians and Jenners.
  • Makeup artist – this channel is a compilation of excellent makeup tutorials.
  • NikkieTutorials – some great tutorials for beginners.

If you don’t want to miss out on a new trend; here are some exciting blogs you should follow:

  • – they take you behind the scenes, introduce you to top experts, and watch the hottest new palettes before they even drop.
  • Liza Eldridge’s blog – she is one of the most experienced and respected makeup artists. Her signature look is best described as fresh and flawless.

Step 2: Build your makeup business

Becoming a freelance makeup artist: step 2: build your makeup business.

Now that you have some experience, it’s time to build your makeup business. Here’s the scary part: starting a makeup business is not that easy. It takes time to build your reputation and get clients.

But there is no need to worry! I have gathered all the information you need to get started.

What are the popular makeup services?

There are a lot of different makeup services!

For example, makeup artists can offer:

  • Wedding makeup
  • Tattoo and scare coverage
  • FX makeup
  • Photoshoot makeup
  • Makeup lessons
  • HD makeup

To decide which services you want to offer, have a look at the demand in your area (on Facebook groups and job boards).

Don’t forget to be honest with yourself: offer services only if you have the skills to do them properly!

How much should I charge?

Now is a good time to start thinking about your rate.

To determine how much you should charge, you need to know what your peers are charging. Look up other makeup artists and make a list of all their pricing plans. Usually, the following factors affect the price of makeup services:

  • Reputation: reputable makeup artists have higher rates than those just starting out or with less visibility.
  • Location: it’s easier to charge high prices in some cities.
  • Add-ons: lashes ($10–$25), highlight and contour ($20–$25), and airbrushing ($25-$30).
  • Hairstyling: makeup artists often offer packages that combine hairstyling and makeup services.

Reputation and location are the two most important factors. So make sure you adjust your rates accordingly!

Do I need a license to be a freelance makeup artist?

The answer is typically ‘no’.

In most jurisdictions, you must not have a license to work as an independent makeup artist. However, it is dependent on your location. Sometimes, it is required to own a Cosmetology or Esthetician license. We suggest calling your local government and speaking directly with someone about makeup regulations in your area.

You can also search the following terms to find the regulations in your area:

  • Cosmetology license + “state”
  • Esthetician license + “state”

Finally, find out if a cosmetology or esthetician license is required to apply makeup or eyelashes.

Get your professional makeup kit ready

You are nothing without your makeup artist’s kit. It’s your supply of makeup, brushes, and all the other beautifying tools you need.

Professional makeup artists don’t use subpar makeup that anyone can access and apply. Using exclusive products makes your work more desirable to clients.

If you are an aspiring makeup artist, you don’t need to use only high-end products.

This kit by Renelyn Thomas is an excellent example of what a professional makeup kit looks like:


Before accepting clients, you need to take certain precautions to keep every involved in the application healthy. I recommend the following articles:

Step 3: Get makeup clients

Becoming a freelance makeup artist: step 3: frind makeup clients.

As you probably know, it is challenging to market yourself to new clients.

Of course, there are conventional ways to attract new customers:

  • Setting up a makeup counter at your local mall. The counter is the best place to learn customer service and get some hands-on experience.
  • Asking for referrals from friends and satisfied customers. Offer customers a small discount or gift for providing you with the names and phone numbers of potential clients.
  • Offering your services for a fundraiser.

You can also be more creative, check out these unconventional ways of attracting new clients!

Contact other professionals

It is my favorite way to attract new clients.

The idea is to team up with businesses that might need your services. Here is a list of professionals you might want to partner with:

  • Wedding planners – brides often need makeup before the most important event of their life.
  • Photographers – makeup is indispensable to raise the production value of a photoshoot.
  • Model agencies – all models need to be beautiful.

Promote your makeup services on social networks

Buying ads on social networks is an excellent way to attract clients.

As makeup artistry is very visual, I recommend using either Instagram or Facebook.

The first step is to add your location and a brief overview of your service in your bio. Then, publish some beautiful pictures that showcase your skills.

Finally, it is time to promote your content. Connect your phone to your account; it will allow all your contacts to find your profile. If your contact list is spare, you can buy targeted ads to promote your makeup services.

Showcase your makeup skills

There are a lot of lousy makeup artists out there. So it’s crucial to stand out enough to make yourself noticed.

There are many different ways to showcase your skills:

  • Posting your best makeups on Instagram and Facebook.
  • Posting transformations and tutorials on Youtube.
  • Creating a portfolio of your best makeups on your website.

Once you’ve shown that you are a skilled makeup artist, it is easier to land high-end clients and increase your income.

Build strong relationships in the beauty industry

Networking is essential for success in the beauty industry.

  • Interact with other professionals at conventions.
  • Seek out other professionals who might want to partner with you, like wedding photographers, models, and hairstylists.

Teaming up with businesses that offer you the opportunity to take advantage of synergy.

Final thoughts

Here’s a short recap of how to start your makeup career:

  1. Learn the most basic skills: communication and makeup artistry.
  2. Land your first job.
  3. Build your reputation.
  4. Create a portfolio where you display your most beautiful makeups.
  5. Attract high-end clients and make more money.

Good luck, and let me know if this guide has been helpful.

Related articles

If you liked this article, you might also like:


  1. OnlineMakeupAcademy: How to Become a Makeup Artist – Top do’s and don’ts.
  2. How to Become a Makeup Artist.