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How to Become a Freelance Makeup Artist

Updated on December 4, 2011

Interested in learning how to become a freelance makeup artist?

Makeup artistry is a very glamorous profession.

You have the potential to be your own boss, to express yourself artistically, to make women see their own inner beauty. But how do you do it? Do you need a license? How do you get your name out there? How do you learn the skills and techniques that are in demand today?

I've written this guide to help you get started on a new journey to a new career!

Do you need a license to become a freelance makeup artist?

Makeup artist license requirements

The answer to this largely depends on your state. I've created a guide to help answer this question. Please refer to it here.

It's very important that you check your state board for license requirements. Breaking the law could really cut your career short.

how to become a freelance makeup artist
how to become a freelance makeup artist

How do you get the skills to become a freelance makeup artist

Get the knowledge you need

With the ever changing landscapes of fashion, makeup is something you will always be learning. There are new techniques, new products, new looks. Your education will have to be on the forefront of your path to becoming and remaining a great makeup artist. This is especially important for your path to become a freelance makeup artist. However, before deciding to take a course at a school, do a lot of research. Listen to what other students of the school have said. Some are very well known and consistent while others can be rather fly by night. Most are prohibitively expensive for someone just starting out.

Don't despair though! There is a wealth of knowledge on the internet. Soak up all that is out there. Look at pictures from portfolios and try to emulate the looks on your friends and family. It's very important to practice on others to give you perspective.

Looking for lessons but want more direction? This is a very affordable, concise course on makeup artistry taught by a professional freelance makeup artist who is active in the industry. These courses cover everything from the basics to beginning your freelance makeup artist business.

how to become a freelance makeup artist
how to become a freelance makeup artist

Tools you will need to become a freelance makeup artist

Remember you won't need all of this at once

Makeup case or train case (don't use a tackle box, it looks unprofessional)

Full length drape

Hair band and clips (sanitize after each use, don't reuse bobby pins)

Alcohol for cleaning

Tweezers (be sure you are allowed to remove hair in your state)

Variety of cosmetic sponges and applicators (do not reuse these disposables)


Spatulas for removing product from containers

Manicure scissors for trimming false eyelashes and eyebrows (again, check your state regulations)

Cleanser for skin, toner and lotion (the skin must be clean and primed before application)

Assortment of foundation in a variety of colors

Variety of eyeshadows



Setting powder

Concealers for a variety of skin troubles including greens and other colors

Lip liners, lip colors and glosses

Eye brow pencils and powders

Eye liner pencils, creams and powders

Mascara in black, brown and clear

Artificial lashes (check state regulations for application)

Shading and highlighting powders for contouring

Cosmetic pencil sharpener

Variety of brushes (Buffer, powder, blush, contour, eyeshadow, eyebrow, liner, lip brush)

Brush cleaner

Disposable mascara brushes

how to become a freelance makeup artist
how to become a freelance makeup artist

Portfolio - The most important thing you need to become a freelance makeup artist

This is your resume to your clients

This is perhaps the most crucial tool you will have in your arsenal. You need to have a professional looking portfolio to get anywhere in the business. These days you need at least 2, one physical and one on line.

Physical Portfolio

Use only your best shots. Even if it's only 4. You will be judged on your worst picture.

Standard sizes are 9 x 12 or 11 x 14

Start with your best piece and finish with your second best

Never have any empty pages

Be sure that the pages facing one another are complimentary

Do not make anyone turn your book to view a page, face everything the same way for a flow while viewing

When you have enough shots, consider more than one portfolio. Keep them themed to the type of job you are trying to gain


Have a professional looking site - no ads, no banners, no glittery icons, clean and fresh looking is best

Do not use free hosting, get your own webpage and hosting

Keep the images themed

Watermark your images so that they cannot be stolen

how to become a freelance makeup artist
how to become a freelance makeup artist

Networking as a freelance makeup artist

This is how you will make your career yours

Networking is quite often how you will get a job. Photographers, stylists and hair stylists often have a makeup artist they refer their clients to or like working with for shoots. Be sure to get to know your fellow local industry professionals.

Starting with a profile on a website like Model Mayhem or One Model Place is a good start. Be cautious with TFP (time for print) shoots. If you do not know a photographer, play it safe and take a friend or meet them first in a public place. Look at their portfolio. Even if you are just starting out, don't waste time on shoots that you will never use. Discuss how you will get your prints, when you will get them, if they will be post processed (touched up with Photoshop) or raw.

Always be a consummate professional. These people could be referring you for your next gig. Be on time, early if possible. Show up prepared for the shoot and any eventuality. Dress in business casual, always keep your hair from your face and nails short and neatly manicured.

Comp cards (8 x 5 or 8.5 x 5.5) and business cards are essential. You will want your best pieces on your cards and full color printing. Use paper that is at least a 100lb cardstock, glossy. UV finish (like a thin laminate) will really add extra quality and set you out from the crowd. Overnight Prints or Vista Print are good places to start.

Guestbook Comments

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    • veronicatarantino profile image

      veronicatarantino 5 years ago

      Great lens

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is a good resource for people who wish to pursue makeup artistry as a profession.

    • luvsdragonflies1 profile image

      luvsdragonflies1 6 years ago

      Great Lens. I love tweezerman tweezers they are all i use.