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How to Become a Freelance Makeup Artist [Guide]

A guide on how to become a freelance makeup artist.

Do you want to make money while thinking about beauty trends and experimenting with different looks?

Maybe you should consider becoming a freelance makeup artist.

There is actually a reasonable demand for makeup artists. The entertainment and fashion industry is the biggest employer. This is your opportunity to make money perfecting the smoky eye for a fashion shoot or applying prosthetics for theatrical productions.

Many people hire professional makeup artists for their weddings and other events.

These jobs usually have a low barrier to entry and are suitable as a side hustle for students or 9-to-5 workers. Once you have built your reputation, it is also possible to work full time and earn a decent living.

With the help of this step-by-step guide, you will learn basic makeup skills, how to find clients, and grow your business.

The topics covered are:

Aspiring makeup artists, put down that brush and get ready to take some notes.

Before you start

Starting your makeup career as an independent may or may not be a good fit for you. Here is some basic information to help you make an informed decision:

Pros and cons of being a freelance makeup artist

The main advantages are:

  • Flexibility – you can work your appointments around your personal life and meet up with clients when they’re available.
  • It is a career with great growth potential.
  • It allows you to experiment with your creative ideas.
  • You get the opportunity to meet many different people.

There are also some disadvantages to consider:

  • Work isn’t always consistent; you have to hustle every day to find makeup jobs.
  • It is a career-oriented job – your earnings are quite low at the beginning. It takes time to build your brand.
  • An Esthetician or Cosmetology license may be required (more details below).
  • The competition is tough; it is quite difficult to get high-profile clients.

How much do freelance makeup artists make?

According to CareerExplorer, the average salary of makeup artists is about $30 per hour. There is a big discrepancy between starting level earnings ($10 per hour) and top-level earnings ($80 per hour).

So, even if you don’t make a lot of money in the beginning, there is a good growth potential.

Personal qualities of freelance makeup professionals

Here are some of the most important qualities needed to succeed:

  • Sociability – clients often want to talk to make time pass
  • Attention to details – makeup is visual, it is easy to spot details you missed
  • Openness to learning new ideas and techniques
  • The ability to focus on your work for a long
  • Creativity
  • Cleanliness

As a freelancer, you need self-discipline and responsibility.

Learn the basics

In this section, you will find a list of the basic skills you need to master. If you think you need to work on one of these skills, you can also check out some of the most popular makeup resources listed below.

Basic skills every makeup artist should master

Are you interested in learning what makes a good makeup artist? Good, asking yourself that question is the first step to becoming a professional.

Here is a list of skills you need to develop:

  • Knowledge of different skin types, brands, brushes, and makeup techniques.
  • Communication is another essential skill. It is important to book a client, answer phone calls, understand the expectations, ect.
  • And of course, makeup artistry! Choosing the right makeup foundation, colors and look that best suits each client.

You can work on these skills by looking at the following online resources.

Online resources for makeup artists

There are really good video tutorials out there. 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 an awesome 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 awesome makeup tutorials.
  • NikkieTutorials – some great tutorials for beginners.

There are also online courses and interesting blogs you should follow:

  • Makeup.com – 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.

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

The answer is typically ‘no’.

In most jurisdictions you are not required to 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”

When you hit the page of your local government, read if the Cosmetology or Esthetician license is required to apply makeup or eyelashes.

Get your 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.

If you are starting out, you don’t have to use only high-end products. Check out this kit by Renelyn Thomas:


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

Practice, practice, practice…

Practice makes perfect, and makeup artistry is no exception. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at bringing out colors and smoothing out flaws.

Build your business

First things first, you need to register your business. There are three types of business structures most freelancers register under: sole proprietor, LLC and S corp. Each situation allows you to deduct for business costs, such as makeup accessories, website, advertising material…

You should consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.

Once your business is registered, you can budget your expenses:

  • Your makeup kit
  • Marketing
  • Insurance

And finally, list all the services you can offer: bridal makeup, makeup lessons, prom makeup, makeover…

How much should I charge as a freelance makeup artist?

To determine how much you should charge, you need to know what your peers are charging. Look up other makeup professionals in your area and make a list of all their pricing plans.

Then, you can adjust your pricing based on the following factors:

  • Years in business
  • Location
  • Experience
  • Portfolio quality

Find your first clients

As a freelancer, it can be difficult to market yourself to new clients. Your first job is certainly the hardest to get, here are some proven ways to get the ball rolling:

  • Contact your friends and family to see if they have any makeup needs.
  • Set up a makeup counter at your local mall. The counter is the best place to learn customer service and get some hands-on experience.
  • Offer your services for a fundraiser, you’re sure to bring in a new client base!

In case you have already tried those methods, you can also:

Contact other professionals

Another good way to find clients 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 a makeup before the most important event of their life.
  • Photographers – makeup is indispensable to raising the production value of a photoshoot.
  • Model agencies – all models need to be beautiful.

Promote your services on social networks

Buying ads on social networks is a good 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, this 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.

Attract more clients

Now that you have some hands-on experience , it’s time to step up your game and attract more clients!

Showcase your makeup skills

There are a lot of bad makeup artists out there. So it’s important 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 own website.

Once you’ve shown that you are a skilled makeup artist, it is so much 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 hair stylists.

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

Final word

Here’s a short recap of how you can start your 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.


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

As a former college student, I know how hard it can be to find decent part-time jobs. This is why I want to share my knowledge and help whoever might need it.