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If you love everything about makeup and discover that you have a real knack for applying it, becoming a makeup artist might be one of the most obvious career paths for you.

But before you can turn your passion for makeup into a career, there are a few steps you need to complete to ensure that you're living out your dream job lawfully.

And, you'll want to make sure you are as good at what you do as you think you are, of course. The last thing you want is to go through all the hard work just to struggle with retaining clients.

Whether you plan on becoming a freelance or professional makeup artist, this guide will help you get on the right track to your dream job. Here's everything you need to know on how to become a makeup artist.

Where Can You Get Training As A Makeup Artist?

Every makeup artist starts somewhere. And for most of us, our love for makeup was born out of YouTube tutorials. But the law doesn't consider YouTube as a legitimate source of training. To become a certified makeup artist, you need to enroll yourself in makeup artist programs in either a makeup artist or cosmetology school.

Makeup Artist School

If you want your focus to be solely on makeup artistry, enroll yourself in a makeup school. Programs usually take less than six months to complete. Just make sure that you're enrolling yourself in a legitimate and accredited makeup artist school, especially if you're taking an online course.

Ensure that the school you're applying for has the right program to meet your educational needs and develop your skills. They also should do a good job prepping you to pass state licensing exams.

Cosmetology School

If you want to become a master in all things beauty, cosmetology school may be more up your alley. Cosmetology school is usually more expensive and has longer training hours. But, that is because they teach you skincare, nail care, and hair styling on top of makeup.

If your sole focus is on makeup artistry, we highly suggest enrolling in a makeup school instead. You might end up wasting time and money in cosmetology school if you don't plan on doing much skincare, nail care, or hair styling in your career.

But, this recommendation also depends on where you plan on being a makeup artist. Some states do require makeup artists to be licensed as cosmetologists, so you may not have a choice. Make sure to research your state's makeup artists licensing requirements before enrolling.

How Do Makeup Artists Build Work Experience?

Aside from having a formal education, you need to build work experience as a makeup artist. The beauty industry is super competitive. You might get left behind if you don't have enough work experience. So how do you start? Here are a few work ideas you can look into:


An apprenticeship is a great way for makeup artists to get first-hand experience of the day-to-day life in the career of makeup artistry. It's also an opportunity to gain wisdom from more experienced makeup artists who are already doing what you want to do one day.

To find apprenticeship opportunities, you can ask your school for some recommendations. You could also self-promote on Craigslist or social media. If there are well-known makeup artists in your area, you can also try to contact them directly and see if they're looking for some help and are willing to share their experience.

Most apprenticeships last for a year, so make the most out of it and try to build as many connections as you can. By the end of your apprenticeship, you should be confident enough to launch your own career in makeup artistry.

Work at a Cosmetics Counter or Beauty Salon

Applying for a position at department stores, pharmacies, and beauty salons is a great way for pairing makeup artists to practice their skills. All kinds of people with different skin types, complexions, and expectations come into these places.

The best part about working at a cosmetics counter or beauty salon is getting paid for your work. If you apply at a department store or pharmacy, check if they offer training in applying makeup and not just sales.


If you're confident enough in your skills, why not give freelancing a try? Freelancing is a great way to try out different makeup styles. You are most likely going to end up doing makeup for all kinds of events through freelancing. this is actually how many makeup artists get started. 

Not sure where to get clients? You can always start with your family and friends before moving on to clients outside your personal circle. For example, if your friend is getting married, you can try out wedding makeup on them. You can also offer your makeup skills to local theater groups and practice how to do theatrical makeup.

In closing out this section, we want to stress that finding work when you first start is the hardest part as a makeup artist. Trust us when we say it gets easier over time!

What Are The Licensure Requirements?

If you plan on becoming a freelance makeup artist, you might not need a license. But the licensure requirements for makeup artists differ from state to state, country to country. So, it's best to do your own research on makeup artist licensure requirements in your state.

Louisiana is the only state that has a license for makeup artists. Most states require makeup artists to have an esthetician or cosmetologist's license. Other states require a professional license only if you're working in a beauty salon, but not in weddings, theaters, and other situations outside of salons.

There are a few states that don't need a license at all but require you to complete a certain number of training hours and then register with the Department of Business and Regulation.

Tips On Building A Great Makeup Portfolio

Want to build a portfolio that is sure to impress any client? Here are some tips you should follow:

  • Invest in a high-quality camera or hire a photographer to take pictures of your makeup. If you're using a phone camera, make sure that your photos are well lit and crisp. Do not use touch-ups or filters on your photos.
  • Use social media platforms as your portfolio. Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, and Pinterest are the easiest ways to get discovered these days. You can also create your own website or blog. Digital marketing will help you reach a bigger audience.
  • Showcase your best work and include a range of makeup styles including wedding makeup, high fashion, television, and even special effects makeup. The more makeup styles you have, the larger the client pool. Be versatile!
  • Don't limit yourself to just photographs. You can even produce videos to show people your process, especially if you're building a digital portfolio.

Everything You Need To Build A Makeup Studio

After training, gaining enough work experience, and becoming a certified makeup artist, all that's left for you to do is build your own makeup studio. We've listed down below all the essential equipment that makeup artists need in their home or traveling makeup studio:

Good Lighting

It's hard to blend makeup properly if the area is too dim or casts too many shadows. Ideally, your makeup studio should have lots of natural light.

If you travel a lot or do home services, you usually want to set up your equipment next to a window. But if you ever find yourself in a space that doesn't have a window—which is common if you're working backstage in fashion shows—it's best to rely on artificial lighting.

But you can't always rely on the available artificial lighting in the area. Having your own portable ring light will ensure that you have good lighting every time, no matter where you go and the situation. Need tips on how to use ring lights for portfolio photography? Read our Complete Guide To Ring Light Photography.

Mirrors & Vanities

A makeup studio is not complete without a vanity mirror. Some vanities even come with their own lighting, which is perfect if your studio doesn't have much natural light or if you work at night.

Mirrors also help you get a 2D perspective of your makeup look. This is necessary when you're doing makeup looks for photoshoots since photos are in 2D. It also makes your client feel more comfortable and secure while you're applying their makeup because they get to see the process.

For more advice, here's our guide on How to Choose a Vanity Mirror That's Right For You

Chairs & Stools

It's a rookie mistake not to invest in a high-quality makeup chair. Remember, your clients will be sitting in your chair for at least an hour, and you want them to feel as comfortable as possible.

For your home studio, you want to choose a high chair that allows you to reach your client's face without hunching over. Since all your clients won't be the same height, it's best to get an adjustable chair.

If you're traveling, you might not have a choice but to use the chairs available in the area, or you can buy a portable stool.


No one likes a messy background. It looks amateurish. For high-quality and professional-looking portfolio photos, it isn't enough to have good lighting, but you need a good backdrop as well. The color of your background actually affects the lighting in your studio.

If you have a big studio with lots of natural light, using a black backdrop can help lower the exposure. If you have a smaller studio with very dim lighting having a white or beige backdrop can help brighten your studio and photos. And if you want to edit the background of your photos, a green backdrop can also act as a green screen.

Storage & Organization

Lipsticks, makeup brushes—these are all so easy to misplace. A makeup artist needs to be organized, especially with the number of tools and equipment you'll be working with. To avoid losing any of your precious equipment, invest in makeup storage.

Acrylic makeup organizers are very popular these days. Because they're see-through, you can easily spot and grab the makeup you need instead of scrambling through every drawer and pouch. This helps you work more efficiently.

Travel Bags 

You can't be a makeup artist without a travel makeup case or makeup trolley, especially if you're planning to be a freelance makeup artist. The best makeup travel bags are durable, spacious, multi-functional, and versatile. They should have enough space and compartments to carry all of your makeup and tools. It should essentially be a portable makeup studio.

Find All Your Makeup Studio Must-Haves at Luvo

Want to build the makeup studio of your dreams? You can find all the essential equipment you need to turn your dream studio into a reality, right here at Luvo.

We offer premium quality studio equipment, from lighting to storage to travel bags. We're the best you'll find online. And our products aren't just functional, they're totally glamorous and stylish too. They come in all shapes, sizes, and designs that are sure to wow your clients.

Our equipment is loved by thousands of makeup artists and makeup enthusiasts. Just check out our 5000+ 5-star reviews. We've gained the reputation of being one of the best beauty accessory stores online. Once you shop with us you're sure to fall in love with our equipment too.

All of our products have a safe-delivery guarantee. Any item that gets damaged during delivery will be replaced free of charge. We also have a 60-day return period and free extended warranties. So you can shop for your equipment completely stress, worry, and risk-free.

A little short on your budget? No worries. You can shop for your favorite equipment now and pay later with Afterpay. Your purchase will be split into 4 payments, payable every 2 weeks—isn't that neat? Your dream makeup studio doesn't have to wait. Shop now!


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