Step by step guide to becoming a makeup artist

A make-up artist is a professional artist that uses mediums applied to the skin to transform or enhance the appearance of a person. Make-up artists are often referred to ascosmetologists or beauticians, but are different in that they specialize only in make-up and typically do not offer other services such as hair or nails.

The art of applying make-up goes back at least 6000 years. Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs would employ specially trained servants to apply cosmetics in order to make them appear more like the gods. Recent decades have seen an increase in the demand for skilled make-up artists to work with actors/actresses, politicians, theatre productions, and for television and movies. A make-up artist is usually a member of a team including the hairdresser and wardrobe specialist. As part of this team, the make-up artist works to transform the actor into the character.

The entertainment and fashion industry currently employs the largest margin of make-up artists today. Make-up artists may be employed by a company, an individual, or work as freelance artists paid per job. In large entertainment areas, make-up artists have unions and associations that they belong to.

What does a makeup artist do?

A make-up artist must skillfully transform the human canvas into the desired character or appearance within an allotted timeframe. They will often work with their clients to enhance their physical features and create a flawless appearance. Professional and well established make-up artists can also serve as columnists and editors for beauty and style magazines. They may serve as experts on panels and write books and have their own blogs on the subject of make-up application.

A make-up artist needs to have a broad range of common skills, but can specialize in many different types of make-up and application techniques including:

  • Special Effects
  • Prosthetics
  • Theatrical
  • High Fashion
  • Airbrushing
  • Light Bending
  • High Definition

Special effects make-up artists spend hours developing a person into the desired finished product. They often work with prosthetics and can spend several hours tediously creating the perfect illusion. Theatrical make-up artists often work with directors to bring their vision for the actor to reality. All make-up artists clean and maintain their tools and carefully select their mediums. They may work with cosmetic companies to develop products and often times may create their own line of cosmetics.

What kind of skills are required?

To become a make-up artist, you will need:

  • creativity and imagination
  • good communication and people skills
  • a tactful manner
  • stamina, patience and concentration
  • the ability to work well under pressure
  • excellent attention to detail
  • good punctuality and reliability
  • a willingness to work long hours when necessary
  • good teamwork skills
  • an interest in current and historical fashions

The steps to becoming a makeup artist

  1. Develop skills as a makeup artist
  2. Familiarize yourself with different looks
  3. Get education and experience
  4. Find a job at a cosmetic counter
  5. Decide on an industry
  6. Build a portfolio
  7. Market yourself