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Becoming A Makeup Artist

Hello! My name is Karson, and I am a fifteen year old sophomore in high school. At this age all anybody ever asks me is "What do you want to be when you get out out of high school?" My answer is always that I would love to be a makeup artist. Whenever I tell people this, they laugh and say that I can't live off of being a makeup artist. But if makeup is my passion, I think I can prove them wrong. If people such as Wayne Goss, Jaclyn Hill, and Michelle Phan can do it…why can't I? 


I have a few issues with proceeding to this career though. My family is very tight on money, even if I ask for drugstore makeup for my birthday my mother yells at me. Nobody is supportive about my decision. And there are no makeup classes for people my age in the area of where I live. 


So, I come here for advice. How could I convince to my parents that makeup artistry is a career that I can gradually get into, and what should I do if they continue to be unsupportive? 


I am also looking into colleges or schools to go to when I get out of high school but I don't know where to start. Should I be looking up cosmetology schools, or just plain makeup artistry schools? 

Re: Becoming A Makeup Artist

Everyone's already given such great advice, and I don't want to be repetitive! I was wondering, have you ever considered being a rep for Avon or Mary Kay? I think you're probably too young to sign up yourself anyway, but I just mention this b/c I remember my mom used to sell Avon when I was in high school, and that's when I first got into makeup! Anyway, it was a small source for profit -- I think it depends on how wide your social circle is and if you think you'd be able to have enough customers to sustain the business. The other nice thing was that all of the makeup my mom ordered herself was discounted, so that was always fun for us daughters. 😛 That might be a good way to kind of get your foot in the door in the makeup industry -- sell it, have makeup parties, sell some more -- it's what a lot of Avon and MK reps do. Anyway, just thought I'd mention this as another possible jumping off point!


Good luck to you!!


Re: Becoming A Makeup Artist

also wanted to throw out there - if you're serious about becoming a makeup artist and think you want to go to school for it, i'd look into school specifically for makeup artistry!  Many of them are accredited so gov't back student loans can be used there.   You'd fill out a FAFSA and apply jut like most other colleges if you wanted to go that route!  

Re: Becoming A Makeup Artist

I know another forum that can be very helpful with becoming a makeup artist. It's called INMYKIT on facebook. It was created by Kevin James Bennett, a real world renowned makeup artist, unlike Jaclyn or Michelle. The group consists of professional makeup artists as well as makeup enthusiasts. You can ask/post a question and they will be happy to help you. I'll send you private message with the link to the group. 🙂


From what I learned so far, it takes A LOT of work to be a successful makeup artist. You can be self taught, like most pros, or go to school and learn even more techniques. 


You said that you want to be a makeup artist, but there's different "fields". You can do bridal, TV/film, special effects, pageant makeup, high fashion/editorial/magazine makeup, or celebrity makeup. 


Building your kit takes A LOT of money as well. It will never stop growing. So, save up every dollar you make. 



Re: Becoming A Makeup Artist

I also want to add that most people are influenced by the "makeup artists" on YouTube, thinking that being in the beauty industry means you get to do whatever you want, buy all the expensive clothes and makeup, travel around the world, etc. It's not like that. I put "makeup artist" in quotes because most of them ONLY APPLY MAKEUP ON THEMSELVES, like Jaclyn or Michelle. Jaclyn says she's a pro MUA, but she has no portfolio where others can see her work. Michelle, she's endorsed by a bunch of companies, including Dr. Pepper, L'Oreal, and Lancome. BOTH, however, have over 1M subscribers on YouTube and that's their main source of income. Unless you get sponsored by a bunch of companies, the life style isn't going to be extremely glamorous. 


When you start out freelancing, there's a lot of things to keep in mind. There's going to a period where you have little to no customers and there's going to be a period where you have too many customers. You also have to be financially stable before you quit everything and start your own business. 


READ MAKEUP BOOKS!! I'm reading Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual and I love it so far. It's really helpful. 


You're still young, so you have plenty of time to prepare. 🙂

Re: Becoming A Makeup Artist

Aww, it's tough when your family doesn't support you in your dreams. It's ok  if they don't support you financially, but it's much worse when they don't BELIEVE in your dreams and don't offer any emotional/psychological support. I've been there many times...


I'm not a makeup artist myself but here are my two cents on your situation: 


For learning techniques: take advantage of all the beauty "gurus" out there and scope out their blogs, videos, etc. More importantly take notes on the things that you agree with or would like to try out so you stay organized. That way as you compile more info, you can make yourself a "how-to-guide" for all the looks you want to be able to create. 


Also, how about contacting a few local makeup artists in your area and asking them if you can intern for them? Offer them your sense of hard work and your enthusiasm to learn. Don't expect to get paid, but even if they allow you to tag along to a client session you might be able to learn extremely valuable things. Plus this adds to your credibility as a young makeup artist. 


For building your makeup collection: don't ask for money from your parents. It's tough, but you might be able to find a part-time job in an unrelated industry - any service related job, like in retail or food services would be great. (I worked for Subway making sandwiches when I was your age; wasn't particularly fun, but any work experience is better then none). You can earn some extra cash from your job and more importantly also take that opportunity to meet people outside of school.  Maybe this will be the start of your makeup clientele...ya never know.


You also can start out with a blockbuster style type of palette that has many lip, eye and face products all in one, so you can try out many different colors and finishes before you commit to more high-end items. For instance, if you can save just $50 (which I'm sure you can!), you can get this palette from Sephora with 72 eyeshadows, 28 lip products, 7 blushes, 18 cream eyeliners, 3 concealers, lip and shadow primers. This is a good way to get your hands wet, experiment, and practice basic techniques without having to spend a lot of money.


Making a career out of makeup: Trust me, a lot of us gals here probably wish we could work with makeup and cosmetics for a living too. In reality, it is a tough market out there, as it is for more and more professions. People like Michelle Phan and Wayne Goss are successful not only because they are talented at makeup, but also because they are good business people and marketers of themselves as well as their products. The truth is there are even more talented people than Michelle, Wayne, Lisa and all those gurus, but yet they might be essentially "starving artists" with little income. Why? Because being a successful makeup artist is not just about art. It's art + business. So I highly encourage you to not only focus on your makeup training but also to teach yourself how to be a successful business woman. 


Finally, have you considered perhaps starting out your makeup career in stage makeup or costume makeup? There is a show called Face Off (google it for more details), where makeup artists (amateur and professional) compete to win $100k from Make Up Forever. Many professional makeup artists get their start in costume, film or theater makeup - including Laura Geller for instance. (She sells her own line of cosmetics on QVC and department stores) Heck, if you said "Hey mom I'm going to be working creating the makeup looks for The Walking Dead" or "I did the makeup for Cirque Du Soleil" or "I'm doing the makeup for this broadway play", your family might be able to more accepting of your choices to go into makeup?  Not that you should do something just to please your family, but it can make a whole world of difference when they can accept, respect and even admire your pursuits and dreams. Plus, if you do start out in makeup this way, you'll meet sooo many valuable contacts in the industry and I'm sure you'll learn tons of skills as well. 


Anyway, good luck to you Karson!!

Re: Becoming A Makeup Artist

FaceOff starts tomorrow night for season seven on Syfy... it is one of my favorites. ❤️ They do amazing work on that show to transform people!

Re: Becoming A Makeup Artist

Thank you sooooo much! I do realize that makeup is so expensive, I forgot to mention that I have a job as a dance teacher and that pays ten dollars an hour and I'll be working two hours a week, and I also sub for other teachers who are unable to teach at any time. I am planning on saving up for kits, it's just hard when my parents would rather have me save up for a college that I don't even want to go to. But your response helped alot and gave me many ideas! I will definitely continue to do my research! Once again, thank you and I hope you have an amazing day!

Re: Becoming A Makeup Artist

To add to your last bit, great point in mentioning plays and theater work!


Karson, consider joining the drama or theater arts department in your high school as well, you can touch into make up there and then even branch out to local theater troupes and companies to see if they have any positions available to help with productions and shows!

Re: Becoming A Makeup Artist

Hi, Karson!


Pursuing make-up artistry can really put you in quite an open field. At fifteen, try to see if your high school offers any cosmetology elective courses to take and begin searching beauty schools and make up artistry courses in your area.


Different cities and states have different requirements in terms of "working" in the make up field from being a freelancer or working in a salon/business establishment. In general, salons or businesses will require a license of some sort in aesthetics or cosmotology, but definitely do more digging in terms of what these degrees cover. Cosmotology/beauty schools tend to lean more on the skin care, hair styling, or nail tech aspects rather than make up alone so in terms of going to these schools specifically for make up, they might not live up to your expectations, of course that's not to discredit them in any means either, the degree earned can certainly put you in a position to obtain jobs that those without a license cannot obtain and from there you can further enrich your experience by then seeking out artistry programs and courses.


Another option is to opt into the world of beauty retail, this covers being a representative or freelancer for a specific skin care or beauty company, working in a department store beauty counter, or beauty retailer such as Sephora or Ulta. Though these jobs are heavily involved in selling and customer service, it can allow for great opportunities to network with those in the same field to further progress with a company and get plenty of hands on training and practice along the way as you work on a case by case basis pertaining to a customer's needs. Degrees or licenses in the beauty field are not required generally for these jobs, but can be a bonus and often time companies will work to train or certify you to their standards and measures.


If your family isn't comfortable with just buying cosmetics for you outright (regardless of price points), consider asking for generic gift cards (like Visa ones) for your birthday or holidays to spend as you please. Though it can certainly be tough to not have the support of loved ones, if you feel make up is a true passion of yours, don't give up and continue to find means to show you are in fact serious and this isn't some passing fancy. By being able to take the matter seriously it'll reflect and be apparent to others that this isn't just some "current fad" you're into and maybe then they'll be more on your side.


There are so many contributing factors in terms of what can affect obtaining work, everything from the current job market situation in your particular area, your location, experience, and even networking. Since most business won't hire until the age at least 16 or 18, it doesn't hurt to research different job openings just to get your foot in the door. Check into places like Sephora, Ulta, Origins, department stores, and any local spots to see their requirements so once you turn of age you can hit the ground running.


Also, don't be afraid to practice, whether it's on you, friends, or family members. If a family member or friend has a special occasion they want to get dolled up for, volunteer your services. It's important to be able to do make up not just on yourself but on others as well.

Re: Becoming A Makeup Artist

Thank you soo much for this reply! I have a lot of idea to help my further my knowledge and to help me pursue what I truly want to do. I will continue to practice of course, once again thank you and I hope you have a wonderful day!

Re: Becoming A Makeup Artist

You're welcome, Karson!


Feel free to reach out to the Beauty Talk community any time if you need assistance, best of luck and no matter what, don't give up on you and what you enjoy! 😄

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