Is Makeup Artist a Good Career in 2023? An Honest Opinion by MUA

In a world where creativity meets glamour, the role of a makeup artist emerges, sparking intrigue and curiosity for those captivated by the allure of the beauty industry. When considering career options, many individuals drawn to the arts, fashion, and individual expression often ask, “Is a makeup artist a good career?”

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the nitty-gritty of being a makeup artist. We will uncover what the job entails, the perks, the challenges, and the financial aspects of the profession. We will also touch upon the required skills, the job market outlook, and some inspiring success stories of renowned makeup artists. By the end, we hope to provide a clearer perspective to help you decide if becoming a makeup artist is the right career path for you.

Whether you’re a beauty enthusiast, considering a career switch, or merely curious, join us on this enlightening journey to discover if a makeup artist is a good career choice.

Table of Contents hide

What Does a Makeup Artist Do?

A makeup artist is more than just someone applying cosmetics; they are seasoned professionals, skilled in the art of enhancing a person’s appearance using various tools and techniques. Let’s explore the scope of their work:

Role and Responsibilities

  • Understanding Client Needs: A makeup artist begins by discussing and understanding the client’s needs, which could range from creating a look for a special event, a photoshoot, or a film production.
  • Designing the Look: Based on these needs, they design a suitable makeup look that complements the client’s features and meets the specific requirements of the event or occasion.
  • Applying Makeup: They meticulously apply makeup to transform the client’s look, making sure every detail is perfect.
  • Providing Recommendations: Makeup artists often provide skincare advice or makeup recommendations to clients, educating them on how to maintain the look.

Fields of Work

  • Film and Television: Here, makeup artists create looks for actors that align with their characters and the production’s requirements. This could involve special effects makeup or period-specific looks.
  • Theatre: In theatre, makeup must be more dramatic to be visible under stage lights and from a distance. Makeup artists here work with actors to bring their characters to life.
  • Fashion Shows: Makeup artists collaborate with fashion designers to create runway looks that complement the fashion pieces being showcased.
  • Salons and Spas: In these settings, makeup artists often provide services for weddings, proms, or other special events.
  • Freelance: Many makeup artists work independently, offering their services for various events, personal appointments, or even giving makeup lessons.

In essence, a makeup artist’s job involves creating the look, whether it’s for a bride on her wedding day, an actor on a movie set, or a model at a fashion show, ensuring that their clients shine in every context.

The Journey of Becoming a Makeup Artist

The journey to becoming a successful makeup artist is an exciting blend of education, training, and experience. While there isn’t a fixed path, certain steps can enhance your skillset and improve your marketability in the industry.

Education and Qualifications Needed

  • High School Education: This is the basic educational requirement. Courses in arts, fashion, and business can be beneficial.
  • Cosmetology School: A formal education in cosmetology or a related field is often preferred by employers. These programs provide foundational knowledge in makeup techniques, skin care, and color theory.
  • Specialized Makeup Courses: These courses provide deeper knowledge in specific areas of makeup such as bridal makeup, special effects makeup, or high fashion makeup.

Courses and Training Available

  • Hands-on Training: Practical experience is invaluable in this field. Many programs offer hands-on training where you can practice skills on mannequins and live models.
  • Internships: An internship with a makeup artist or a beauty salon can provide real-world experience and a chance to network within the industry.
  • Workshops and Seminars: Regularly attending workshops and seminars keeps you updated with the latest trends and techniques.

Importance of Experience and Portfolio Building

  • Experience: Starting with smaller gigs and gradually moving onto larger projects is a great way to gain experience. You might start with local theatre groups, small fashion shows, or photoshoots.
  • Portfolio: A professional portfolio showcasing your best work is crucial. It should be diverse, featuring different makeup looks, styles, and techniques you’ve mastered.

Overview of Getting a Professional License

In certain regions, a license is necessary to work as a makeup artist. This usually requires completion of a state-approved cosmetology program and passing a state licensure exam. Check the specific requirements for your area as they can vary.

The Perks of Being a Makeup Artist

There’s no denying that being a makeup artist comes with a host of perks, from expressing artistic talent to forming meaningful connections. Here are the major advantages of this career path:

Creative Expression

  • Artistic Freedom: Makeup artists have the liberty to use their creativity and artistic talent to create various looks, transforming people’s appearances.
  • Variety of Work: No two days are the same as a makeup artist. Each client, event, and assignment presents a new canvas to work on, keeping the job interesting and engaging.

Interaction and Networking

  • Meeting New People: As a makeup artist, you’ll interact with a wide array of people, offering rich and diverse experiences.
  • Networking Opportunities: Working in different settings like fashion shows, film sets, or weddings provides opportunities to network with professionals in various fields.

Flexibility and Independence

  • Flexible Work Hours: Unlike typical 9-5 jobs, makeup artists often have the flexibility to set their schedules, which can be particularly beneficial for those balancing multiple commitments.
  • Independence: For freelance makeup artists, there’s a greater degree of independence. They can choose their clients, set their rates, and work in preferred locations.

Opportunities in the Digital Age

  • Online Exposure: Social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok provide a platform to showcase talent, attract clients, and even monetize content through brand collaborations and sponsorships.
  • Continuous Learning: Online tutorials, webinars, and workshops provide easy access to continuous learning, helping makeup artists stay abreast of industry trends and techniques.

Satisfaction and Reward

  • Client Satisfaction: There’s a unique satisfaction in making clients feel confident and beautiful, which can be incredibly rewarding.
  • Working in Glamorous Settings: Makeup artists often get to work behind the scenes of glamorous events, TV shows, or photoshoots, adding an exciting dimension to the job.

The Challenges of Being a Makeup Artist

While the profession of a makeup artist can be rewarding, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Let’s delve into the difficulties one may encounter in this field:

Unpredictable Work Hours

  • Irregular Schedules: Unlike most professions, makeup artists may not have a fixed work schedule. They might need to work early mornings, late nights, or over weekends, depending on their clients’ needs.
  • Seasonal Work: There may be periods of high demand, such as wedding seasons or festive occasions, followed by slower periods, which can make income and work hours unpredictable.

Staying Current

  • Keeping Up with Trends: The beauty industry is continually evolving, and makeup artists must stay updated on the latest trends, techniques, and products.
  • Continuous Skill Enhancement: Makeup artists need to regularly hone their skills and techniques to stay competitive. This often means investing time and money in professional development.

Health Concerns

  • Physical Strain: The job often requires long hours of standing and can lead to backaches or other physical discomforts.
  • Allergies: Makeup artists may develop allergies or skin reactions to certain cosmetic products.

Client-Related Challenges

  • Handling Difficult Clients: Sometimes, makeup artists may have to deal with challenging clients who have unrealistic expectations or who are hard to please.
  • Maintaining Professionalism: Despite personal preferences or disagreements, maintaining a high level of professionalism and delivering the desired results is crucial.

Business Management

  • Managing Finances: For freelance makeup artists, managing finances, tracking income and expenses, and planning for slow periods are essential yet challenging aspects of their work.
  • Marketing and Self-Promotion: Attracting new clients requires effective marketing and self-promotion, which can be challenging and time-consuming, especially in the beginning.

Despite these challenges, many makeup artists find the profession fulfilling and rewarding. Knowing these potential hurdles can prepare you better for a career as a makeup artist and help you navigate them more effectively.

Skills Required for a Successful Career as a Makeup Artist

A successful career as a makeup artist requires more than a love for cosmetics; it involves a mix of technical skills, interpersonal abilities, and business acumen. Let’s break down these skills further:

Technical Skills

  • Proficiency in Makeup Application: This includes knowledge and expertise in applying makeup that enhances features and camouflages flaws.
  • Knowledge of Color Theory: Understanding how colors interact with each other and different skin tones is vital in creating harmonious makeup looks.
  • Understanding of Different Makeup Styles: Makeup artists should be comfortable creating a range of looks, from natural to dramatic, to suit different occasions and client preferences.

Interpersonal Skills

  • Excellent Communication Skills: Makeup artists must be able to listen to client’s needs, explain their process, and suggest suitable looks effectively.
  • Customer Service Skills: A successful makeup artist should provide excellent customer service, making clients feel comfortable and valued.
  • Patience and Tact: Dealing with a variety of clients may require patience and diplomacy, especially when managing expectations and handling feedback.

Business Skills

  • Marketing and Networking: Particularly for freelance makeup artists, being able to promote your services, network within the industry, and attract new clients is crucial.
  • Time Management: With often unpredictable and hectic schedules, effective time management is essential.
  • Financial Planning: Understanding how to manage your finances, set your rates, and plan for slower periods can contribute to your business’s sustainability.

Adaptability and Continuous Learning

  • Keeping Up with Industry Trends: Makeup artists must stay abreast of the latest trends and techniques to stay relevant.
  • Adapting to Different Client Needs: Each client will have different needs and preferences. Being adaptable and flexible is vital to meet these varying requirements.

While this list may seem extensive, remember that these skills can be honed over time. Many of these abilities are nurtured during training, education, and most importantly, real-world experience.

Financial Aspect: How Much Do Makeup Artists Make?

The earning potential of a makeup artist can vary widely based on factors like location, specialization, experience, and the type of clients they serve. Let’s break down these financial aspects further:

Average Earnings

  • Entry-Level Makeup Artists: Individuals just starting their careers can expect to earn on the lower end of the scale, with potential for growth as they gain experience and establish a reputation.
  • Experienced Makeup Artists: With several years of experience and a solid clientele, makeup artists can command higher fees, significantly increasing their income.

Earnings by Industry

  • Salons and Spas: Makeup artists working in salons and spas often earn a regular wage, which may be supplemented by tips.
  • Film and Television: These industries typically pay higher rates due to the specialized skills required. However, such jobs might be harder to come by and can involve irregular work hours.
  • Freelance Work: Freelance makeup artists set their own rates, providing potential for higher earnings, especially for high-demand events like weddings or fashion shoots.

Earnings by Location

  • Urban vs. Rural: Generally, makeup artists in urban areas, where demand for these services is higher, can command higher fees.
  • Geographical Location: In certain regions, such as in cities known for film and television production, makeup artists may have higher earning potential due to the concentration of high-paying jobs.

Additional Earnings

  • Tips: Tips can significantly supplement a makeup artist’s income, especially for those working in salons or doing freelance work for private clients.
  • Teaching or Consulting: Many experienced makeup artists increase their earnings by offering makeup lessons, workshops, or consulting services.
  • Brand Collaborations and Sponsorships: With a strong social media presence, makeup artists can earn through brand collaborations, sponsored content, and product endorsements.

Job Market Outlook for Makeup Artists

The job market outlook for makeup artists is influenced by a variety of factors, including industry trends, geographical location, and shifts in consumer behavior. Here’s a detailed analysis:

Industry Trends

  • Growth in Beauty Industry: The global beauty industry continues to grow, contributing positively to job prospects for makeup artists. With increasing interest in personal grooming and aesthetics, the demand for skilled makeup artists is likely to rise.
  • Emergence of New Areas: Fields like special effects makeup, prosthetic makeup, and cosmetic marketing have opened up new avenues for makeup artists.

Impact of Location

  • Urban Areas: Cities with a thriving film, television, fashion, or theater scene offer better prospects for makeup artists.
  • Global Opportunities: Countries with a booming beauty and fashion industry, like the U.S., France, Italy, and South Korea, provide extensive opportunities.

Role of Digital Media

  • Online Exposure: Social media platforms and digital portfolios have made it easier for makeup artists to showcase their skills, attract clientele, and even work remotely.
  • Influence of Beauty Vloggers: The rise of beauty vloggers has not only increased the demand for makeup artists but also expanded their roles to include content creation and online consultations.

Future Projections

  • Job Growth: While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S.) anticipates job growth for skincare specialists (including makeup artists) to be faster than average, competition in larger cities can be intense.
  • Remote and Freelance Opportunities: With advancements in technology, more makeup artists are offering online consultations, tutorials, and personalized advice. The gig economy has also facilitated freelance opportunities.

Effect of COVID-19

  • Hygiene Standards: The pandemic has underscored the importance of hygiene standards in the beauty industry, impacting how makeup artists operate.
  • Virtual Services: There’s been a rise in virtual beauty consultations and tutorials due to social distancing norms, likely to continue in some form post-pandemic.

Case Studies: Success Stories of Renowned Makeup Artists

Every successful makeup artist has a unique story, reflecting their journey, struggles, and achievements. Here are two such inspiring case studies:

Pat McGrath

  • Career Journey: Pat McGrath started her career in the 1990s, assisting fashion photographers. Her unique style and bold colors caught the attention of the fashion world, earning her a reputation as a “makeup magician”.
  • Notable Achievements: Today, she is one of the most influential makeup artists in the world, having worked with top fashion houses like Prada, Miu Miu, and Dolce & Gabbana.
  • Entrepreneurial Ventures: Pat launched her cosmetics line, Pat McGrath Labs, in 2015, which has since become a favorite of both industry professionals and makeup enthusiasts worldwide.

James Charles

  • Career Journey: James Charles’ rise to fame started on social media platforms where he showcased his makeup skills. His artistic and daring makeup looks soon went viral, leading to him being signed as the first male ambassador for CoverGirl.
  • Notable Achievements: James has amassed a significant following on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, influencing beauty trends and launching online phenomena, such as the ‘Flashback Mary’ and the ‘Unleash Your Inner Artist’ movements.
  • Entrepreneurial Ventures: He has collaborated with various brands and launched his own eyeshadow palette with Morphe, which was a huge success.

These case studies show how different the path to success can be for each makeup artist. Pat McGrath ascended through the traditional route of the fashion industry, while James Charles capitalized on the power of social media to build his career.

Is Being a Makeup Artist Right for You?

Deciding to become a makeup artist is a personal decision, depending on your interests, values, and life goals. Let’s examine these aspects further:

Personality Traits Suited for This Career

  • Creativity and Artistic Flair: A passion for beauty, a good eye for color, and the ability to visualize different looks are crucial.
  • Patience and Precision: Makeup application requires careful attention to detail and patience.
  • Good Communication and Interpersonal Skills: Makeup artists should be able to listen to clients, understand their needs, and make them feel comfortable.
  • Adaptability and Willingness to Learn: The ability to adapt to new trends, techniques, and client needs, and the willingness to continually learn and grow are essential.

Questions for Self-Reflection

Before jumping into this career, consider asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I enjoy working with people and making them feel good about themselves?
  • Am I willing to work irregular hours and possibly on weekends?
  • Can I handle the physical demands of the job, such as standing for long periods?
  • Am I comfortable with the uncertainty of freelance work or the pressure of the beauty industry?
  • Am I willing to continuously learn and update my skills to stay current in the industry?

Assessing Personal Goals and Whether They Align with the Profession

If your personal goals include:

  • Having a creative outlet: This profession offers ample opportunities for creativity and innovation.
  • Having flexible work hours and the ability to freelance: As a makeup artist, you can choose to work as a freelancer, allowing for greater flexibility.
  • Working closely with people: This job provides the chance to work closely with clients, helping them feel their best.
  • Having a career in the beauty or fashion industry: This profession is a stepping stone into these industries.

The role of a makeup artist can be rewarding and fulfilling if it aligns with your personal interests, skills, and life goals. Understanding what the role entails and reflecting on your own aspirations and temperament can help you make an informed decision.

Creating a Decision Matrix for Choosing a Career as a Makeup Artist

A decision matrix is a useful tool for comparing different options based on specific criteria. Here’s how you can create a decision matrix to evaluate whether becoming a makeup artist is right for you:

  1. Identify Your Options: These could be different career paths you are considering. For example, you might be considering a career as a makeup artist, a fashion designer, or a hair stylist.
  2. Choose Your Criteria: Decide on the factors that are most important to you in a career. These might include things like earning potential, creativity, flexibility, job stability, interaction with people, and opportunities for advancement.
  3. Rate Each Option: For each career option and criterion, give a score from 1-5 (with 5 being the highest). The rating should reflect how well each career meets each criterion.
  4. Calculate Totals: Add up the scores for each career to find out which one has the highest total. The career with the highest total is the one that best meets your chosen criteria.

For example, here is a simplified decision matrix:

Earning Potential (1-5)Creativity (1-5)Flexibility (1-5)Job Stability (1-5)Interaction with People (1-5)Opportunities for Advancement (1-5)Total
Makeup Artist45435324
Fashion Designer55334424
Hair Stylist34445323

In this example, becoming a makeup artist and a fashion designer tie for the highest total score. This means that, based on your chosen criteria, these two careers might be the best fit for you. Of course, a decision matrix is just one tool to aid your decision-making process, and other factors such as personal interest and passion for the job should also play a significant role.


The career of a makeup artist is as diverse and colorful as the palettes they use. It can be an avenue for creative expression, personal satisfaction, and even financial prosperity. Like any profession, it comes with its unique set of rewards and challenges.

The decision to pursue a career as a makeup artist is a personal one, and it’s essential to reflect on your individual goals, interests, and values. Use tools like a decision matrix to weigh your options and make an informed decision.

In the end, if creativity, human connection, and dynamic work environments resonate with your career vision, becoming a makeup artist could be a path worth exploring. Here’s to adding color and sparkle in your professional journey, one brush stroke at a time!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an average income of a makeup artist in India?

In a Major cities like Delhi, Bangalore or Pune, one can expect an average income of Rs. 8,00,000 Annually after 2-3 years of experience

Does a Makeup Artist Career require a lot of investment?

To scale any career, of course, the investment will play a vital role, and the same goes with a Makeup Artist as well.

What are the career opportunities for makeup artists in India?

Career opportunities for makeup artists in India are diverse and plentiful. They can work in beauty salons, spa centers, fashion and film industry, wedding events, and even as independent freelancers.

Founder of Cosmup Academy Kelly has 10+ years in the beauty industry working with the biggest brands in the world.

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Celyn Shinglai

Makeup Artist, Givenchy

I’ve always been a clumsy person when it comes to makeup. It seemed like every time I so much as touched an eyeshadow, it was going all over my face – let alone trying to use brushes! But with the help of Cosmup Academy’s Makeup Course, I’m finally getting the hang of it. With step-by-step guidance and qualified teachers to help me along the way, I’m now confidently applying makeup on my own. 

Sonam k.

Makeup Artist, Flipkart

Before Cosmup Academy, I thought makeup was too hard to learn. But once I started the course, it was such an easy and fun journey! The teachers are supportive and knowledgeable. Not to mention how effective the course is – I now feel confident whenever I do my makeup! The best part? It’s affordable too, which makes it even more worth it. Do yourself a favour and give this course a try!

Pooja Rajput

Freelance Makeup Artist

I was really skeptical when I first heard about Cosmup Academy’s makeup course. It seemed like a pricey commitment that I wasn’t sure would be worth it. But having now taken the course, I can confidently say that it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made! The instructors were incredibly knowledgeable and experienced, and the skills I learned in the class ended up being far more valuable than I expected. Now that I’m finished with the course, I know I can do more than just recreate looks from a tutorial online — I have the skills to truly create my own unique looks!

Gaurav Manchanda

Studio manager, Mama Earth

An incredible journey of self-expression! – When I decided to take the Makeup Course of Cosmup Academy, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Little did I know that it would be an incredible journey of self-expression, experimentation and friendship. The faculty are incredibly knowledgeable and inspiring – they taught me the tricks and techniques of makeup application, but also encouraged my own creativity and style. Before completing the course, I was hesitant to try something daring or new; but now, I’m brimming with confidence and ideas!

Chon R.C.

Makeup Artist @ Makeup Forever Inc.

I’m a huge makeup lover and always wanted to make my own cosmetics. This course at Cosmup Academy was a perfect way to start! Even as a total beginner, the teachers helped me understand every step of the process, from mixing colours and finding the right texture to creating interesting shapes. I was amazed at how quickly I learned and now I can create custom products that look amazing! What I love most about this course is that it made me feel confident in my skills, which means I can tackle even the most complicated makeup looks with ease.

Rekha Verma

Owner, Damini Beauty Parlor

I can’t express enough how grateful I am to Cosmup Academy. The comprehensive curriculum and the hands-on approach were incredibly helpful in developing my Marketing and Makeup skills, due to which I was able to start my own beauty salon, ‘Damini Beauty Parlor‘ which has been thriving. Kelly Gomez, my instructor, was always available to answer any questions I had and provided helpful feedback. 

Diana Tondon

Senior Makeup Artist, Health&glow

I signed up for the Makeup Course at Cosmup Academy last year. I never thought I had what it took to be a makeup artist, but their course helped me find my inner power. The instructors are knowledgeable and patient, teaching me tricks and techniques I never even heard of before. After only one month I felt so comfortable with makeup that people were asking me to do their special occasions! The best part is that although I can now confidently call myself a makeup artist, the journey doesn’t end there. With the help of the resources provided by the academy, I am constantly learning new things and further perfecting my art.

Rekha Verma

Owner, Damini Beauty Parlour

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