Table of Contents
If you have a passion for makeup and beauty trends, not to mention the opportunity to work for clients on photoshoots or on location, a career as a makeup artist may be for you. Jumping into this career doesn't just take makeup artistry; you'll also need a solid online portfolio website to make your mark. Whether you're a seasoned freelance makeup artist or an emerging professional, a polished make up portfolio website that showcases your best makeup looks can help you land a dream gig or catch the attention of a great client.
The professional makeup industry can be intimidating and competitive, especially with the rise of makeup artists on social media. Make sure you stand out with a makeup artistry portfolio that highlights your unique skill set and approach to beauty, giving you the boost you need to grow your career successfully.
Whether you binge YouTube makeup tutorials or browse the makeup aisles in Sephora, you’re not the only individual who has fallen in love with the makeup industry and aspired to turn your love for makeup into a career.
Having said that, with the appeal of the beauty industry and makeup artistry as a career growing in popularity, this industry has become extremely competitive. If you want to build a career as a makeup artist, you need all the details and information to help get you there. Use this guide to help you determine if makeup artistry is for you, and we’ll help you start building your career ASAP.
Becoming a makeup artist might sound like fun and games when you first start pursuing the career, but actually becoming a skilled and proficient makeup artist that clients are excited to work with isn’t such an easy feat.
In order to better understand all that goes into becoming a makeup artist, we’ll review what it means to be a makeup artist by looking at the skills the career requires:
This may seem fairly obvious, but as we mentioned, makeup artistry is not about simply throwing makeup onto a face and calling it a day. Instead, makeup artistry requires you to understand how colors work together, how to utilize texture, and how to pair a variety of products to create a specific look for your client.
Although they are very different technically, having traditional visual arts skill will be an asset when trying to make it in makeup artistry.
If you’re not good with your hands, this also might cause you to struggle with pursuing a career as a makeup artist. Whether you’re creating the perfect cat eye or doing intricate Halloween makeup, makeup artists need to have steady hands and be able to create precise lines (i.e. lip liner, mascara, applying false eyelashes, etc).
Makeup artists generally have to pay special attention to detail if they want to achieve a certain look. For example, they can’t forget to apply certain products and you generally need to apply products in a specific order. For example, creating an eyeshadow look generally won’t be a simple swipe of eyeshadow across the lid, and will instead be a look that requires more attention to detail.
Whether this be practice and experience with formal training or not, makeup artistry is undeniably one of those skills that you’ll develop as you gain experience. You’ll learn what products are your favorite, what looks best on certain skin tones, how to work with different tools, what eyeshadow colors are best for certain eye colors, and so much more.
The more you practice with hands-on experience, the more skilled you will become.
Becoming a successful makeup artist means a lot of hustle and hard work. But it also requires several key skills, including:
Many makeup artists go to school to improve their craft, getting a certification in cosmology or makeup artistry to expand their skill set. There are online programs as well as in person classes you can take to expand your makeup knowledge, from different styles and trends to the latest techniques. However, some makeup artists are self-taught, learning techniques from makeup tutorials on social media.
Whether you get formal training or learn on your own, you will need to practice your makeup skills, and then practice some more. The more you practice, the more your confidence will grow, and your technique will improve.
As a makeup artist, you will be working closely with your clients to help them create a specific look or ideal vision for their makeup. Whether you're hired to do makeup for a wedding or create a unique look for a fashion shoot, you will need to be able to communicate with your clients and collaborate effectively with them. Active listening is an important element for artists, where you pay close attention to what a client wants or needs from you, and respond in kind.
Strong communication skills will also come in handy when it comes to staying on top of your client list and upcoming gigs, from emails to phone calls to invoices. Make sure you respond promptly to client requests and provide clear answers to questions. This demonstrates you are professional and collaborative, which will encourage clients to keep booking you.
Though this is not a requirement for success as a makeup artist, being able to also style hair can be a big leg up. Many clients are looking for a makeup artist who can also do hair, as this means they get two key skills in one, and don't have to book either separately. Being able to do skills successfully also means you can charge two separate fees for your services, which can help to expand your client list and increase your overall revenue as an artist.
If possible, consider taking classes in hairstyling or studying up on hair tutorials online to complement your makeup skills.
Stunning, professional makeup is often in the details. From the perfect winged eyeliner to a beautiful lip to the correct contouring technique, you will stand out from the pack as a makeup artist if you focus on getting the details just right.
This attention to detail should also extend to your ability to manage your time effectively. In the hustle of the makeup world, you may find yourself jumping from a fashion makeup shoot to a wedding gig. You will need to stay organized and have good time management to ensure you do a great job and impress all of your clients with your makeup skills and your professionalism.
Having a few key skills to become a makeup artist is important, but you will also need to follow a few best practices to grow your business, including:
As a makeup artist, you're only as impressive as your skills. Take some time to research the great makeup artists who have come before you and study up on their techniques. Look at what tools and tricks other makeup artists are using on social media and on blogs or websites.
Doing your research will ensure you have a strong foundation when it comes to makeup techniques and looks. It will also better prepare you for painting different skin types and tones, as well as take on different projects or jobs as they pop up.
Experience is another key quality for growing your business as a makeup artist. Go after different gigs, projects, and clients, from fashion photoshoots to events like weddings to film makeup on movie sets. This approach will help you push your makeup technique and expand your abilities as an artist. Many freelance makeup artists will say yes to a lot of gigs when they first start out, as it will help them network and could lead to other, bigger opportunities.
Taking on a variety of makeup gigs can also help you meet potential clients or potential mentors you can learn from as you grow your career. You never know where your next project will come from, especially as an emerging makeup artist, so treat each gig as an exciting opportunity.
The makeup world is ever-changing, especially when the latest social media trends and looks are always popping up. Make sure you are keeping tabs on the hottest looks, checking social media regularly, and practicing the latest trends. From celebrity looks to makeup blogger tips, stay in the loop so you can practice your skills and impress clients with your knowledge. Though you may not have the time to become an expert in every trend, being aware of the most prominent ones and integrating them into your makeup practice can elevate your skills and help you land potential clients.
Perhaps one of the most important tools you can have in your arsenal as a makeup artist is an impressive portfolio that you can share with clients and peers. Building a makeup portfolio requires a bit of work, depending on which website builder you use, but it often pays back tenfold. Having a makeup artist website that includes your best work and highlights your incredible skills will surely help you stand out and land potential clients.
The makeup world is all about turning out stunning looks after all; a makeup portfolio website will be the visual aid you need to sell clients on your work and grow your career.
If you want to become a makeup artist, there’s no time like the present. While you may feel like you don’t have the skills and experience necessary, this is a career that is all about learning as you go, getting hands-on experience, and building your knowledge with practice.
Following these steps should get you started off on the right foot:
Not every type of makeup artistry is going to require formal training. For example, if you want to work freelance and start building your own roster of clients from networking, word of mouth, and your own marketing efforts, that’s great! This path generally won’t require you to get certified.
Having said that, in some states, if you want to work professionally as a makeup artist, you will need a license in order to do so. Attending a reputable cosmetology school where you’ll learn all about proper makeup application, makeup techniques, and specialized makeup skills can be a big bonus.
In fact, even if your state doesn’t require you to be professionally licensed to start your career, if you have the time and resources, formal education in this field can be extremely helpful in giving you a leg up.
Even if you attend cosmetology school, you should still take the time to educate yourself in this field. With so many resources and tutorials on YouTube, there is no excuse to not educate yourself.
In addition, be sure that you’re trying different products, practicing your skills on friends and family, and on people with different skin tones and skin types. Don’t be afraid to experiment on yourself during your spare time too.
As we mentioned, makeup artistry relies heavily on practice and real-world experience. Don’t discount this.
Keep in mind, during these earlier stages in your career, this is a great time to start offering your services for free or at a discounted rate. For example, volunteering to do makeup at your local community theater, seeing if you can get a job selling makeup at a beauty counter, and even offering to do children’s makeup at a birthday party are all experiences that can help you both with practice, but also with building up a makeup kit for future opportunities.
One of the most vital steps for any type of artist, you need to start building your portfolio ASAP.
Your portfolio is essentially your visual resume, not only showing who you’ve worked with, but probably more importantly, the quality of your work.
Even if you haven’t started working with professional clients yet, don’t let that prevent you from building your portfolio. Everyone needs to start somewhere in order to start obtaining jobs, and if you delay because you don’t think your work is “good enough” then you’ll never get anywhere with your career.
Having said that, you should avoid including every and all projects in your portfolio. You should only include your best pieces of work that you think shows off your style. With time, this might mean you curate your portfolio by removing past projects that don’t represent your current skills to the same degree. In other words, quality over quantity is always a good rule of thumb when it comes to portfolio building.
If you would like more tips and tricks for building up a portfolio, this guide all about building a makeup artist portfolio is an excellent resource.
You’ve started building your portfolio, but if you think that means clients will just start coming to you, unfortunately, this is very rarely the case.
In order to get clients and secure your dream job, it is important to start networking, especially if you plan on going freelance and opening your own business.
In addition, connecting with others in the industry can help keep you up-to-date on trends, best practices, and new product releases.
Bottom line: Whether you make connections in person, through referrals, or online, the more connections you have, the more likely it is that you start receiving jobs.
Once you’ve started landing jobs, your work does not end. Makeup artistry is one of those industries where things are constantly evolving. Whether it be a new product release, a new way to apply makeup, or a new trend that seems to be all the rage, you need to take the time to note these things and continue refining your skills.
For some makeup artists, you may choose to work exclusively with one brand or at one store. In these cases, you’ll find you have a lot more job security, which is a big bonus for a lot of aspiring makeup artists.
On the other hand, there are probably many of you who want creative control over who they work with and how. If this is you, you’ll have a whole other extra step in your journey where you’ll need to start building your business.
Building a business can be a long and tedious process that could be its own post itself, but in general, if you want to start your own makeup artist business, you’ll have to consider the following:
And so much more!
If this overwhelms you, remember, start slow by learning as much as you can about makeup, practicing, and building your portfolio. Your dream job might not come in right away, but with consistent effort, you’ll get there.
If you’re interested in getting your career started off on the right foot, we highly recommend this resource all about how to create a makeup artist portfolio.
There is a variety of different ways to apply makeup, as well as a variety of different scenarios for makeup application. Because of this, there are different types of makeup artists that all are slightly varied in how they approach makeup.
We’ll briefly go over each to give you a feel for what might be best suited for the type of makeup you want to do. Just keep in mind, as you’ll see if you take a look at the makeup artist examples mentioned above, many of these different types of makeup artists overlap and you don’t necessarily have to specialize in one type.
Fashion: Specializes in makeup for photoshoots and runway shows
High fashion: Generally these artists work for haute couture fashion houses; they specialize in creating visual masterpieces that take it a step above standard fashion makeup
Wedding/bridal: Specializes in makeup for brides and wedding party glamor
Beauty brand: Work specifically with makeup and beauty brands to highlight the makeup in-store and in advertisements (i.e. working with Bobby Brown, Nars, It Cosmetics, etc.)
Cinematic: Working on set for movies or T.V.
Special effects: TV and makeup sometimes require special effects in order to bring a character to life (i.e. transforming a person to look like a werewolf, adding wrinkles and aging an actor, making a person look injured when they are not, etc.)
Theater: Stage makeup is generally more theatrical and bold than everyday makeup and requires a professional touch.
Personal services: You don’t necessarily need a major occasion like a wedding to get your makeup done. Personal service makeup artists specialize in creating makeup looks for a variety of occasions, whether it be makeup for prom or makeup for a big job interview.
Celebrities: Some makeup artists with a great deal of experience and exposure specialize their services to celebrities often times becoming a certain celebrity’s go-to artist for all their big events.
Influencer: Some makeup artists choose to opt-out of providing services to clients and instead share their knowledge with the general public on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube. In these instances, the makeup artist positions themselves as an “influencer” in this space and builds their own makeup artist brand.
While many creative careers like photography and writing generally recommend that you specialize in one style or niche, makeup artistry is a field where you can diversify and have some flexibility with the type of artistry that you wish to pursue.
Some of the makeup artist types that tend to pair well include:
Fashion, bridal, beauty brand
This is because these types of makeup artists generally require a similar style, which will help you both with strengthening your skills in that type of makeup, but it will also help you with compiling a portfolio that feels focused and relevant to the clients you want to attract.
Having said that, in other cases, if you specialize in something like special effects or haute couture fashion, you’ll generally want to stick with growing your skills here rather than pursuing multiple “types” since these fields tend to take a lot of specialized skill.
In addition, because makeup artistry like special effects or haute couture is so specialized, there is generally less competition and more opportunity for higher-paying jobs here; therefore, you want to continue with these jobs not only because they pay better, but because with each job you strengthen your skills for more high-end clients.
If you’re just starting out as a makeup artist, don’t stress too much about the different types of makeup artistry, and instead just focus on hands-on experience applying makeup, as well as experience with different products and tools. Experience will help you better identify what type of makeup artistry is best suited for your style and skills.
To help us get a better feel for the kind of work that makeup artists do, we’ll take a look at a couple of the best makeup artist examples. Take note of the kind of work these artists do and what their websites look like. Doing so we’ll help you on your journey to building your career as a professional makeup artist.
The first thing you’ll notice about Gino Beeckman’s website is that his work is prominently displayed right on his homepage. With limited distractions and buttons to click, you’re quickly able to take in his work and see what his aesthetic is all about.
Plus, we love that he separates out his portfolio so we can easily find what we’re looking for. If you’re interested in his work with makeup, you’ll quickly find it right on the homepage, but if you’re also interested in his wig work, you can easily click on the tab in the top right.
If you want to achieve a similar portfolio to Gino’s, you can use the Horizon template from Format.
Anjelica Waight’s portfolio is an amazing example of how a makeup artist can provide their services to a variety of different clients. Anjelica has separated her work to easily show us this with links to makeup done for weddings, celebrities, headshots, and even just general lifestyle photoshoots.
She also makes it easy to find her exact service offerings and book directly through her website, which is always a great option if you want to increase your bookings and make things easy for your clients.
If you want to achieve a similar portfolio to Anjelica, you can use the Dusk template from Format.
Editorial, commercial, and video/filmography makeup are all perfectly laid out for you on Andra’s professional website, making her content easy to navigate.
In addition, you’ll see a variety of different makeup styles in action, which is always helpful for those just starting out in their career.
If you want to achieve a similar portfolio to Andra’s, you can use the Amazon template from Format.
If you want to see more examples of work from professional makeup artists, we highly recommend this resource of makeup artist examples.
Networking with other makeup artists as well as industry professionals and other potential contacts can seem daunting, especially if you're just starting out in your career. There are a couple of ways you can network successfully as a makeup artist, including:
Most makeup artists these days have active social media accounts, especially Instagram. Create an online account for your makeup business and post your latest looks to share with your network. Follow other makeup artists to expand your circle, learn from others, and showcase your skills to your peers.
Most website builders make it easy for you to link your online accounts to your makeup portfolio so you can direct visitors to your site to them. Many makeup artists will create a makeup portfolio that is professional and polished and use their social media to post images of their latest projects or gigs.
Every event and photoshoot you book as a makeup artist can be a networking opportunity. From the photographer to the stylist or the talent, you meet a lot of great contacts at events and shoots and build relationships that can lead to potential clients or future bookings. Treat each event or shoot you do as a makeup artist as an opportunity to network and connect with others in your field. Make sure you share your social media and your makeup portfolio with everyone you work with so they know how to reach you, and where to see more of your work.
Now that you understand the role of a makeup artist a bit better, as well as what it takes to be successful, you may be eager to build a makeup portfolio that will really sell you as an artist and impress potential clients. There are a few key elements to a strong makeup artist website, including:
Your makeup portfolio should really wow visitors and show them exactly how talented you are. Don't clutter up your website with work that is just okay or good enough. Instead, be selective and only include examples of your best makeup.
Maybe there's a concept makeup series you created for a friend's art project or perhaps you have wedding makeup looks you're really proud of. Including your best makeup work will ensure your portfolio website is impressive and highlights your unique skills, as well as what you can bring to every shoot or event.
Blurry, poorly lit images of your makeup skills won't impress anyone, let alone potential clients! Only use high quality images of your work on your portfolio to keep it professional and clean. Not sure how to photograph makeup correctly? Check out some beginner photography tips and invest in some basic photography gear, or consider hiring a photographer who knows how to shoot makeup looks, and make them look good.
The images on your portfolio should also be web-quality, properly edited, and processed so they load quickly for visitors. You can edit the photos yourself or ask a photographer to edit the image they shoot of your work as well.
Visitors to your makeup portfolio site should be able to navigate to each page or section with ease. Keep the user experience in mind as you put your site together and ensure it is not confusing or cluttered. Check that the content is easy to click on and open, ideally within one to two clicks. Visitors can get turned off by a poorly organized site that is not intuitive or clear, and disinterested visitors could mean lost clients or gigs. Test your site before it goes live to confirm it is accessible for visitors so they're encouraged to stay and check out what you have to offer.
Keep the work on your website fresh and current, uploading images of your latest projects or looks regularly. Stale content can discourage visitors from clicking through your site, and it can send a message that you aren't working or hustling as much as you might need to as a makeup artist. Weekly or monthly updates of your website, especially if you have a blog, can really boost your site's content and keep your portfolio looking fresh.
Putting your portfolio together can be overwhelming when it comes to organizing all the content. Let's look at how you can put your website together so it feels cohesive and polished. There are several key pages your portfolio online should include, such as:
Your portfolio page is arguably the star of the show. It acts as your visual CV and shows visitors your skills in action. Include any makeup series, looks, or projects you're proud of on this page, as well as any creative design you may have done with makeup for a shoot or event.
Depending on the website platform you use for your website, you should be able to lay out your portfolio page using different templates or themes. Maybe you opt for a grid layout for your portfolio page, showcasing your makeup work as the main page that a site visitor will see. Or you may decide on a scrolling layout, where your best looks appear in a tidy row or stacked on top of one another.
Your website isn't just about sharing your amazing makeup looks. It's also a place where you can share your backstory with visitors, including who you are and why you are so passionate about this particular field. On your About Me page, you can note your educational background and work experience, such as degrees or certificates you've earned.
Some portfolio websites will also include an artist statement, which highlights how you approach your work and why you are passionate about what you do.
Your online portfolio is also a great way for you to reach out and offer to connect with potential clients or collaborators. Create a Contact Page with a contact form that is short and easy to fill out, inviting connection and collaboration with visitors to your online portfolio. You can also include your email address to make networking that much easier.
With our comprehensive guide, you should now be ready to create a portfolio for your best makeup looks, and take your career to the next level. When you build your website, go for a web-builder like Format, which offers a variety of website templates for creatives, as well as add-ons like a blog to share your artistic journey with others and an online store to sell prints of your designs.
Makeup artist prices can vary widely depending on a couple of different factors, which we’ll review to help ensure you’re pricing your services to be competitive but also affordable.
Location: If you live in a big city like New York or Los Angeles, you can generally charge higher prices because people expect it. On the other hand, your competition is also larger in big cities so you don’t want to overcharge and price yourself out of the market or undercharge and be unable to sustain your business. Doing research on what other similar artists are charging will give you a good idea of what is appropriate.
Your experience: It goes without saying that your experience should be a factor in your pricing. If you’re just starting out, have minimal professional experience, and don’t have any formal training, your prices will be much different than someone with 10 years of experience, professional clients, and formal training. Price accordingly.
Your services: Pricing will vary depending on what type of makeup services you’re offering. A more subtle, everyday look shouldn’t cost as much as full-face bridal makeup. Additionally, if you’re doing special effects makeup that requires you to completely change the look or shape of someone’s face with elaborate techniques, this will probably be the higher end of the pricing spectrum.
Service add-ons: Some artists will offer other beauty service add-ons in addition to makeup, which can open new ways to charge increased prices. For example, microblading and eyelash extensions are popular add-ons.
Travel expenses/rate: Don’t forget to consider these two things when pricing your services.
Tools, products, equipment: Most artists supply makeup for their clients, so be sure to factor this in to your prices. If you’re using the highest-quality makeup your prices should reflect this (we don’t recommend using low-quality makeup even if it does keep prices lower).
After considering some of these things, you might be wondering about the pricing structure that most makeup artists use. Let’s review.
In general, makeup artists use three pricing structures:
By the day
By the hour
Different scenarios will be more appropriate for different pricing structures. We’ll look at each.
By the day pricing is when you charge a flat rate for a full day of work (i.e. $500 for a full day).
This style of pricing tends to work best for makeup artists who will be doing very involved work that requires them to work on multiple people or do touch-ups throughout the day. For instance, if you’re working on makeup for a photoshoot, or you’re doing bridal makeup for an entire wedding party.
Keep in mind that artists can also have rates for both half days and full days, but just be sure that everyone is on the same page about what constitutes a full day or a half-day so there is no miscommunication.
This is when you pick an hourly rate and charge your client based on how many hours you work (i.e. if you work 3 hours and charge $50/hour you would receive $150 total).
While hourly pricing can be useful for specialized makeup artists like special effect artists, hourly pricing is not always super popular with makeup artists considering most clients don’t want their makeup rushed or prolonged in order to reach a certain hourly mark. In addition, most artists with experience generally know how long a certain style of makeup will take them and can charge based on an hourly rate without having to actually call it an “hourly” rate, which leads us to…
This is probably the most popular option for those who offer uniform makeup services (i.e. services that are standardized). For example, you can have a flat rate for bridal, a flat rate for everyday makeup, and a flat rate for special event makeup.
The most important thing to keep in mind with flat rate pricing is that you specify what is included with your rate flat rate. You can offer various packages that clients can pick based on their needs in order to make your pricing and your offerings clear.
It might seem like a lot to deal with now, but the sooner you get started with your makeup artist career, the more likely it is that you’ll succeed. Remember, this is a career that is very dependent on experience and practice, so put yourself out there ASAP and get as familiar with makeup as possible!
You don’t need professional experience to show off your work. You just need a professional portfolio, and Format can absolutely help with that.
Share your makeup skills with the world on your very own makeup artist website. Format makes it easy with professionally designed templates that will get your career started off on the right foot.
Create your own portfolio website with Format today.
Plus, get FREE access to our exclusive Photography Business Masterclass Course