Makeup Careers

Makeup artists are one of the beauty professionals in demand today. They provide a wide variety of makeup applications in different industries. Films, photoshoots, and even day-to-day looks for celebrities require the help of makeup artists to achieve the desired look. This means opening more career opportunities for aspirants, making this industry more appealing to people who want to pursue this career. So, if you’re interested to know what this profession brings, let’s talk about the services it provides and its potential career opportunities. 

What Is a Makeup Artist?

A makeup artist is a creative expert who is skilled at using cosmetic processes and techniques to beautify or transform a person into the desired look. They improve people’s appearances to emphasize their features with colors and conceal imperfections through cosmetic products. A more skilled makeup artist works on creating special effects for characters in television, films, theater, and photography.

Makeup artists are also primarily categorized into two: fashion and stage. Fashion makeup artists are those who work for special events like weddings, fashion shoots, and professional headshot photography. They achieve to provide their clients the best look, especially under different types of lighting and outdoor factors. They work closely with photographers, models, and customers at weddings and other special occasions.  

Stage makeup artists work closely with actors and actresses as they focus on the film and theater industries. They know how to create an ideal look for each character in a movie or play for any production concept. At some point, these artists teach actors to apply their own makeup, especially if the looks are simple, so they can work on beautifying more challenging characters. 

More advanced makeup artists are those who deal with special effects in movies. They create the illusion of blood, imaginative creatures, and other types of special effects. It’s considered to be the most creative aspect of makeup application but also the most challenging skill to master. 

What Services Do Makeup Artists Provide?

The services that makeup artists provide entirely depend on the occasion or production demands. But to give you an idea of what to expect from a makeup artist, here are standard services:


This type of service is the most common and basic makeup. It involves providing services to regular consumers who want to look good on a special day or are attending events. Beauty makeup artists aim to make their customers feel good and play a crucial role in how clients feel about themselves. They usually work in a salon, have their own business, or provide home service. The types of looks they provide are natural-looking, professional, and for everyday appearances.   

Fashion Makeup

Artists who work in the fashion industry provide makeup services to models most of the time. They ensure to create makeup looks based on production concepts that appear stunningly under different lights and environmental factors. They are mostly seen backstage applying makeup to and retouching runway and photoshoot models.   

Face and Body Painting

Applying makeup is not only for the face but also for the body. Some advanced makeup courses teach more creative skills, such as face and body painting. This skill is commonly taught in special effects (SFX) makeup, and you’ll use a mixture of body paint and makeup products. Your design should comply with the special occasion’s concept. It can be in a festival or seasonal events like Halloween.   

Theater Makeup

If you’re interested in working with Broadway stars or stage actors, you can definitely become a makeup artist for them. You must match each actor’s looks with the character they portray. Makeup significantly affects a character’s impact on the stage and how it convinces the audience of the type of look an actor should have. Here, your skills for styling hair will also be put to practice.

Television or Movie Makeup

The makeup requirement for TV or on a digital screen is entirely different from the other types. The artist should consider how a TV personality must look on screen. More makeup products might be required to achieve a certain look. Advanced makeup services might also be necessary if you’re dealing with SFX. Your concern is not only for the looks of the actors but also the prosthetics and customs.       

How Do I Become a Makeup Artist?

Your passion for makeup and the eagerness to learn about the industry are your drivers in starting your career. In terms of professional requirements, these vary by country or region. You should check with your local government if you need to become a licensed cosmetologist or esthetician. 

After determining which field you should take, you must enroll in a licensed makeup course to train and practise the skills. Finding professional makeup programs is easy because there are many on-campus and online courses available. It’s only a matter of getting the best fit for you, considering that these programs differ as well. 

Ideally, on-campus training is recommended because completing the course requires hands-on activities. However, you can always choose any accredited online makeup course. Just remember that many of these online programs require campus or facility visits for hands-on activities, so you might want to enroll in a provider accessible to you.

Some students prefer learning without enrolling in a course. They opt for working in a makeup counter shop to get familiar with the skills and be trained with the basics. Others join as a staff member in a theatrical setup and get on-the-job training there. These are excellent ways to learn makeup applications, especially if you’re unsure whether to enroll in a course or not. It helps you decide on how to go about your makeup artist career. 

Given you decide to enroll in a makeup course, finishing it allows you to obtain a certificate. This serves as your “professional” proof that you’ve been trained by makeup specialists. Once you’re certified, you can already look for a job opportunity as a makeup artist, since many places are not regulated. However, for countries requiring a license for work, you should take and pass the examination for cosmetology or esthetics.   

For places with lenient requirements, a certification may not be necessary but a portfolio is crucial. You can start working as a makeup artist assistant to gain experience and work your way up. Your experience will provide you with multiple opportunities once you decide to work in a more established beauty salon.   

What Training Is Available to Become a Makeup Artist?

The skills and areas of study you’ll learn from doing a makeup course vary by provider and course. An introductory course may teach the basics about makeup, and this may cover:

  • Makeup products and ingredients
  • Tools and equipment
  • Familiarizing some skincare products
  • Skin tone identification
  • Color theory
  • Blending and contouring
  • Tool and equipment maintenance
  • Safety and sanitation

For advanced courses, each covers a specialized field. They include training for specific looks for different production settings. Skills taught may include:

  • Eyebrow shaping
  • False lash application
  • Face and body painting
  • Prosthetics makeup
  • Airbrushing
  • Advanced hairstyling

The difference in the skills covered varies on the specialized makeup application.

What Job Opportunities Are There?

Becoming a professional makeup artist gives you plenty of career opportunities. Let’s discuss the most common ones:

Freelance Makeup Artist

This is probably the most convenient career opportunity for a makeup artist. You’re the boss in everything you do. You can start small and provide home service to your friends to gain experience. You can also provide mobile makeup application services and travel to places to meet clients.

If you have the money to start your own beauty salon business, you can do so. Make sure to comply with your local government’s requirements for putting up a business. Being a freelance makeup artist gives you the benefit of getting all opportunities that arise. 

Television and Movie Makeup Artist

If working with film and TV personalities is your goal, a television makeup artist is best for you. The looks vary significantly in this industry depending on the concept of each production. Makeup looks can run from natural-looking to those that require more color and creativity.

For movies that need special effects, you won’t only focus on enhancing or transforming people’s looks but also costumes and prosthetics. Aside from makeup products, you might use paint to help achieve the desired look of a specific character. 

Runway Makeup Artist

This field requires a fun yet fast environment because you’ll be working with runway models doing live modeling. You’ll be matching a makeup look per designer’s collection and the current trend. Bold and exciting looks are usually what runway models wear.

Salon Makeup Artist

This is where most makeup artists start to gain experience. Salons and spas usually have a makeup artist because many customers visiting these establishments want to have their nails, hair, and makeup done by professionals at the same time. Clients who also attend special occasions visit salons to achieve a specific look depending on the event. 

Bridal Makeup Artist

Bridal makeup is very common in most countries. A single wedding celebration requires the help of two to three makeup artists depending on the number of entourage members. Some weddings hire a makeup artist just to beautify the bride. 

Mortuary Makeup Artist

Yes, you can work as a makeup artist for people who passed away. Some professional makeup artists working in this field consider this a rewarding career as they beautify people who don’t have a life anymore. The makeup look typically doesn’t require a complex one. A natural look, like the person is only sleeping, is ideal for this.

Theatrical Makeup Artist

Stage plays also need the help of makeup artists. They have the same concept as TV and film productions requiring makeup, but the difference lies in how the entertainment piece is presented. Actors perform live in front of a live audience, and makeup looks differ from the on-screen setup. Again, the makeup artist still needs to achieve a look that also helps portray the character of an actor.       

Print Makeup Artist

Working with models doesn’t stop at runway productions. If you’re a makeup artist for print media, you’ll be working with photographers and photoshoot models. You should consider lighting and other factors when doing the makeup to achieve the desired result in a photoshoot. This is especially true for outdoor photoshoots.

Product Developer

If you’re planning on working in a company that produces a makeup line, becoming a product developer is a great career. You’ll be part of a team that brainstorms new products to be released. Your knowledge about ingredients and makeup products is extremely beneficial as a product developer


Do you have a passion for teaching? Become a makeup artist instructor! Here, you’ll teach aspiring students about the industry and share professional tips in applying makeup. Check with your local government’s regulations about teaching a specialized skill because you might need to study education to formally become a mentor.


If you’re skilled at sales talk, becoming a brand salesperson might be great for you. You can both explain and promote makeup products or services to prospects and existing customers. Your advantage over a regular salesperson is you are more knowledgeable about makeup and can explain in detail the benefits of the beauty application.

Makeup Tutorial Artist

Using social media to earn and share what you know as a makeup artist is an excellent career opportunity. You create makeup tutorial videos for your viewers and earn from the social media platform. Not only that, posting tutorial videos opens up the opportunity for building a customer base.     

How Can I Find a Position in the Makeup Industry?

The means of finding a position in the makeup industry are a lot. It only depends on which method is more convenient for you. You can do it the traditional way by visiting salons, spas, and other beauty companies and giving your resume and application letter. You can also reach out to businesses to inquire about available positions as a makeup artist and send your resume via the means they accept.

Online applications are extremely popular today. You simply search for available jobs online and choose from the search matches for career opportunities. You can also visit job listing websites that provide multiple work offers from different businesses. 

Referrals are also beneficial. You might have friends who work in the beauty industry and endorse you to their employers or companies they have connections with. This is why it’s essential to build your network of professionals because it’s a helpful method of finding the perfect opportunity for you.   

Okay, So Where Do I Start?

The first thing you must know is the local regulations about becoming a makeup artist in your area. This helps you determine which path to choose since many places may need a license for cosmetology or esthetics. You can also start as an on-the-job trainee in salons to gain experience and be familiar with the ins and outs of makeup applications. 

Once you’ve decided to pursue a professional career, you should enroll in a makeup course and get certified. After the certification, you can decide on taking the licensure examination for better career opportunities.