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State License Requirements for Makeup Artists

Updated on December 4, 2011

Do I need a license to be a makeup artist?

This is one of the biggest questions asked out there. It's also a very important one. No one wants to be fined, shut down or banned because they didn't check the regulations.

So, do you need a license to be a makeup artist? I've put together this lens to answer just that. Do remember though that nothing on here is a substitute for sound legal advice. I am not responsible for your career. Be sure to check the regulations yourself and if in doubt, be in contact with your local authorities.

This lens is a work in progress. Every state board link has been added and as I find out more information, it will be updated. I am also in the process of emailing the states that don't specifically list anything about makeup on their websites. Please inform me of any broken links in my guest book! I want to make this a hub of information on this topic!


Alaska Board of Cosmetology

You must have an Esthetician license to apply make up in the State of Alaska. Esthetician cannot style hair.

Colleen Wilson

Licensing Examiner

Alaska State Board of Barbers and Hairdressers

Phone: 907-465-2547

Fax: 907-465-2974

web site:


Arkansas Board of Cosmetology

17-26-103. Scope of chapter.

(a) The following persons are exempt from this chapter:

(1) All persons authorized by the laws of this state to practice medicine, surgery, dentistry, pharmacy, osteopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, or podiatry;

(2) Barbers insofar as their usual and ordinary vocation and profession is concerned;

(3) Employees employed to render cosmetological services in the course of and incidental to the business of employers engaged in the theatrical, radio, television, or motion picture pro-duction industry;

(4) Individuals and employees rendering cosmetological services in the course of, in con-nection with, and incidental to the preparation of bodies for burial, or the business of embalmers and undertakers;

(5) Direct care staff as defined in § 20-10-1401 who provide routine personal hygiene and related daily care services to residents of nursing facilities as defined in § 20-10-1401 and for which the fee is included in the monthly facility charges; and

(6) Relatives of residents of nursing facilities as defined in § 20-10-1401 who provide cos-metological services to a related resident of a nursing facility.

(b) This chapter does not prohibit any practice within its scope in cases of emergency, nor the administration of any practice outside of a licensed school of cosmetology or cosmetological es-tablishment when necessary because of the illness or other physical incapacitation of the recipi-

ent of the service and when performed by a licensee obtained for the purpose from a licensed cosmetological establishment.

(c) This chapter does not prohibit the recommendation, demonstration, administration, or sale of cosmetics by any person not claiming to be a cosmetologist.


California Board of Cosmetology

Allowed without a license when either not accepting a fee outside of a licensed establishment, for theater or film or when recommending/selling products.

7319. The following persons are exempt from this chapter:

(a) All persons authorized by the laws of this state to practice medicine, surgery, dentistry, pharmacy, osteopathic medicine,

chiropractic, naturopathy, podiatry, or nursing and acting within the scope of practice for which they are licensed.

(b) Commissioned officers of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, members of the United States Public Health

Service, and attendants attached to those services when engaged in the actual performance of their official duties.

(c) Persons employed to render barbering, cosmetology, or electrolysis services in the course of and incidental to the business

of employers engaged in the theatrical, radio, television or motion picture production industry.

(d) Persons engaged in any practice within its scope when done outside of a licensed establishment, without compensation.

(e) Persons engaged in the administration of hair, skin, or nail products for the exclusive purpose of recommending, demonstrating, or

selling those products.

(f) Persons who render barbering or cosmetology services in an institutional program during the course of and incidental to the

incarceration or confinement of inmates, prisoners, or persons charged with a crime. However, all of the following conditions shall


(1) Those persons shall complete a barbering training course, developed by the Department of Corrections and approved by the

Department of Consumer Affairs, in the proper care of instruments and the prevention of infectious diseases.

(2) Those persons shall successfully pass an examination, developed and administered by the Department of Corrections, on the

proper care of instruments and the prevention of infectious diseases.

(3) All barbering facilities located in correctional institutions shall be subject to all appropriate health and safety sanitation

standards, as determined by the Department of Corrections.

Please sign my guestbook and let me know if any of this was helpful to you!

Let me know if I can get more information for you!

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    • profile image

      Michelle K 

      22 months ago

      The Nebraska state link isn’t valid anymore. The page was moved or something,

      Can you please update that? Thanks!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi, do you NEED a license to apply makeup in the state of KY? Can you legally freelance or..? Thanks!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hello! Thank you for having this wonderful page. I was wondering if you had any detail about whether or not it is legal to apply makeup in Massachusetts without a Cosmo license? Specifically in a Salon, or freelancing. I am licensed in California, and have a certificate of completion from a makeup school, but I now live in Mass. Thanks again for running this hub of information!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I'm confused about the Texas laws. It doesn't seem to state anything about makeup artistry specifically. Does that mean there is no license needed?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I was wondering if you need a license to apply make up in CT?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have many years working as a make-up artist. I have recently moved to Wisconsin and cannot seem to find a law requiring me to be licensed to teach make-up application. Are you aware of any for this state? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @anonymous: Makeup artists are expected to work 'on location'. I was simply told yes, but I asked for an expanded, more detailed answer. I don't like that they don't have their scope of practice on their website.

      There is a sort of catch and it's all summed up by 'politics'. While it may not be truly legal, it's a culture of everyone looking the other way. A small budget film may not attract a lot of attention, but a large budget one will. This is where things get tricky. A film brings a lot of money into an area and a lot of money to the local government as well as publicity and tourism. There are permits to be bought, local sales taxes made, businesses receive a boost.

      Imagine what would happen if the local cosmetology agency was known for shutting down movie shoots over something as silly as the makeup artist. Directors and producers wouldn't want to shoot on location there. It's a lot of money to lose, even on a smaller budget film.

      Some movies are also shot using local talent, avoiding the costs of traveling with people.

      In general, it amounts up to this - Will you attract the cosmetology board's attention? Customer complaints, popularity, amount of money you make, the more of any of these you accumulate, the more likely you will to be shut down and fined.

      Cosmetology school is frequently seen as the biggest waste of time for the students. You really only learn how to pass the board exam to get your license. When you really learn the good stuff is either though an apprenticeship or as an assistant to someone with the skills you want to learn. But having the license can make you more versatile. It's a trade-off.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @DaniEsthetician: DaniEsthetician,

      Thank you for this information. I wonder if you might know whether or not if a licensee is providing services for a client in a place (personal home, on-site at a venue, hotel, etc) is this legal under the guidelines/restrictions of their license?

      Also, how is it that there are so many schools that train on makeup but do not license a student through the state board? How are celebrity makeup artists working if they are not licensed? Is their a catch to this? I've met dozens of makeup artists over the years that never went to beauty school. I welcome any insight you may have.

      Thank you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @anonymous: I have spoken with the Nevada board. You need either an esthetician license or a cosmetology license to apply makeup in Nevada. Here's the official response -

      Amber GeBauer

      Dec 6 (1 days ago)

      To legally work in an establishment as a makeup artist the State of Nevada requires that you hold an Aesthetician, or Cosmetology license.

      The Aesthetician program has a 900 hour requirement, and Cosmetology is 1800.


      Amber GeBauer

      NV State Board of Cosmetology

    • profile image


      8 years ago


      I am seeking very specific information for makeup application in the state of Nevada. First: Is it required to have a license through the state board of cosmo to apply makeup in NV? Second: If traveling to different locations to apply makeup for a client are their restrictions to this? Can a licensee travel to "unestablished" locations to perform services without being in violation... ex. Weddings?

    • BusinessSarah profile image


      8 years ago

      Great resource -- thanks for the lens!


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