How to Become a Freelance Makeup Artist

Posted On December 9, 2019

From the ancient Egyptian soot-rimmed eyes to the Elizabethan lead paint makeup, both men and women have experimented with various cosmetics throughout history. Makeup plays different roles in an individual’s life. It makes them feel creative, playful, and confident that helps them face any situation. However, doing makeup is not as effortless as it may seem as mistakes can happen easily. Choosing the wrong makeup product would not only affect the overall look but can also react to the skin. 

Therefore, it can be easily concluded that makeup is nothing less of an art that you need to keep on practicing regularly with patience to become a pro at it. Especially if you are someone who has decided to pursue your career as a makeup artist, then there are high chances that you have considered being a freelancer. Being a freelance makeup artist has its own advantages, you have the freedom to set your own pay rate, hours, choose the clients, as well as create a remarkable and phenomenal brand that you would be able to call your own and be proud of. 

However, everyone who has earned a makeup certification shares the same boat like you. The competition in this industry is tough as most people like you aim to become self employed makeup artist. But there is no need for you to worry as we have formed a straightforward yet effective step-by-step guide that would help you to build a successful career in makeup industry. This guide will teach you about how to be a freelance makeup artist along with all the essential skills that you need to possess. You will also learn how to stay in touch with new makeup practices and trends. 

Being a Freelance Makeup Artist myself, I have studied and worked hard to achieve a successful career while following my passion for makeup and beauty at the same time. Working with multiple companies on a wide range of shoots had helped me explore different makeup styles and provided me with the opportunity to express myself. Every job has taught me something new while preparing, and inspiring me for the next one. 

So if you love applying makeup on yourself or on other’s face, then becoming a freelance makeup artist would be the best career choice. Unlike many makeup artists who choose to work in local spas and salons as an employee, being a freelance artist would provide you with more flexibility and freedom. But, you should always keep in mind that developing a reliable clientele is necessary to be a successful freelancer as your clients would be the one who would book your services regularly as well as recommend the same to others. 

What does Freelance Makeup Artist Mean –

The definition of freelance makeup artist indicates a professional makeup artist who either travels to their clients’ locations or vice versa. Freelance makeup artists are not permanent employees who work in a salon, agency, and likewise. They work independently where they provide their services directly to the clients rather than via an employer. Hence, being a Freelance makeup artist means having a more comfortable and flexible job where artists can develop their own clientele that can connect to them directly via email or a phone call, and charge according to their own wish. 

A freelance makeup can either work on the location provided by their client or set-up their own studio where they can offer their services. They can charge their clients on the type of services that they provide, the type of products used, as well as the duration of their services. The meaning of freelance makeup artist is not much different from a permanently employed one. Hence, if you see in yourself the potential in becoming an eminent freelance makeup artist, the following information can help you greatly.

What are the Responsibilities of a Makeup Artist

Apart from doing makeup on the clients, there are various responsibilities and Duties of a makeup artist that they need to adhere to, to make sure that their clients are satisfied with their work. Some of these responsibilities are mentioned below. 

  • Makeup artists are responsible for applying makeup and sometimes prosthetics in order to aesthetically enhance entertainers, individuals, performers, and celebrities for various special events. They can either work with a team or individually.
  • Create their clients’ desired look by applying makeup using a suitable computer palette along with different tools like brushes, lip liners, eyebrow shapers, sponges, mascaras, and likewise. 
  • Apply makeup for different big events that include outings, holidays, funerals, weddings, and work on television shows, backstage at concerts, photography shoots, movie sets, and theatrical productions. 
  • Sometimes the Responsibilities of a freelance makeup artist also includes hair styling and choosing of costume. 
  • The makeup artist has to wipe off the makeup and reapply it if the client is not satisfied with the final look.
  • One of the most essential makeup artist skills is to work accurately and quickly under pressure and a tight schedule. 
  • Makeup artists are also responsible for teaching easy makeup applications to their clients and even suggest them some skincare routines. 
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest and best practices, trends, styles, technology, and tools in the field. 
  • Ensure that the makeup looks well-applied and natural under various lighting. 
  • The last responsibility of a makeup artist is to remove all the makeup as well as the prosthetics applied on the client. 

    Skills Required to be a Makeup Artist

Everyday in the career of a makeup artist is different and exciting. The sole satisfaction of a successful makeup artist is achieved when they use makeup to help their clients look their best and become a different character altogether unlike their original self. Freelance makeup artists can work in multiple sectors like retail stores, film, television, theater, entertainment, or in their own studio. They learn the required skills through educational courses at local schools, community colleges, universities, or on the job. 

Before the Makeup

Before even thinking of starting off with a brush or sponge, there are many important skills that a makeup artist must learn. They must learn how to assess the skin type of their client, including sensitivity, condition, and coloring. These factors help in determining the colors and type of makeup that should be used. An intricate skill learned by every makeup artist is the color principles. This skill takes into account undertones of color, actual skin color, ethnicity, and race. Makeup artists should also study the bone structure of a client to decide how and where to apply colors and types of makeup for achieving the best desired results. 

Applying Makeup

Properly preparing the skin before the application of makeup using different cleansing, toning, and moisturizing methods for specific skin types is another important skill that makeup artists need to learn. They also need to practice applying foundation, eye and brow liner, eyeshadow, blush, and lip color. They must learn how to change their makeup application for evening, work, and other looks. Makeup artists can also explore beyond basics to study makeup applications for outdoor and indoor events, low and bright light, theatrical productions, and high fashion runway or photoshoot looks. They can learn how to do the makeup as well as the touch-up makeup for different on-camera talents, for outdoor and indoor stage performers, and even for photoshoots under diverse lighting conditions. 

Tools of the Trade

A professional makeup artist uses an endless number of tools such as high-tech airbrushes, brushes, and sponges for catering to multiple makeup styles and looks. Aspiring makeup artists learn the applications for various brush types along with cons and pros of different makeup types. They can use different tools like airbrushes to cover tattoos with makeup or cover bodily imperfections. Apart from using makeup, artists who mostly work in the television, theater, and likewise field might even use prosthetic body parts, false eyelashes, beards, wigs, and various other things to achieve the character’s look. 

Attributes and Traits

As the field of freelance makeup artists is filled with competition, in order to become a successful one, you have to be artistic and creative, enjoy experimenting with materials and ideas, and have a keen eye for color. You need to be fit and full of stamina as some jobs can take long hours where you would be working mostly on your feet. Freelancing can also get quite stressful at times as makeup artists have to travel early mornings for photoshoots, and late evenings for shows and theater work. You should also have good communication skills so that you can talk effectively and easily with your clients such as actors, writers, producers, and more, so that everyone is on the same page with you. 


Applying makeup is nothing less of an art and the person who applies it, is nothing less of an artist. Makeup artists should be able to design, frame, and create a wide range of looks, starting from Avant Grade to natural, using design, color, and application together for making something beautiful. 

Whichever profession that has the word ‘title’ in its title requires a powerful visual sense and a lot of creative imagination. A creative makeup artist should be able to understand the different features and shapes of a face while recognizing how to correctly highlight them. Visualization and perception is important, since cosmetic application always relies on the artist’s ability to rearrange the characteristics of an image mentally for creating a fascinating look without making any mistakes whatsoever.

Color Knowledge

When it comes to makeup, color is the most important factor that determines how the final look would be like. To effectively apply makeup, the artist needs to understand the skin tone of their client and how it relates to the makeup and the color palette that they are applying. Concealing dark blue shadows or red spots under tired eyes will require using opposite shades on the color wheel. Hence, an artist needs to know the color wheel thoroughly. This information about the color wheel is taught at every beauty school’s cosmetology program. 

Business Know-How

The first thing that you should know clearly is that you will have to run your own business if you decide to become a freelancer in the makeup industry. You will have to be confident about setting your charges, keeping track of your work, invoicing, as well as paying your taxes regularly.

It is important for a freelance artist to be confident with monetary figures as when you are working for the entertainment industry like film, theater, and television, you would have to stick to the budget provided by your client. Hence, you need to plan your work accordingly so that you can keep the costs under control, provide the best results, and earn a profit out of it. 

Sales Skills

In case you are working as a sales executive, then your sole objective is to turn a demonstration into a purchase deal. You will have to be personable, friendly, and should know how to talk to the potential buyers about different makeup products enthusiastically. You should have in-depth knowledge about the products and provide well-suited advice to the buyers. 

Things Needed To Be a Makeup Artist

Get a Formal Education 

Most people are familiar with the concept of beauty schools but only a few know about the skills and knowledge that are imparted to the students. 

Even though makeup courses usually have a short duration of a few weeks or months, it has the potential to set your entire career, help you to build a portfolio through which you can market yourself as well as make vital connections after you have finished your course. 

Beauty schools hire industry professionals to teach their students in order to provide them with first-hand knowledge and experience. Hence, by studying in a beauty school, you will get the opportunity to work with, learn form, and showcase your skills and talent to the well-known artists of the industry. 

Enrolling into a beauty school is the first step of you becoming a professional and successful makeup artist. There are numerous and different kinds of makeup artists across a country who offer makeup classes. All you have to do is search for the one who you find the best and get yourself enrolled in their classes. For example, Aarti’s beauty academy has been an excellent makeup academy that covers every aspect that is related to the makeup industry. Students have the option to choose from Aarti’s 25-Days Professional Makeup Course or a 7-Day Self Makeup Course depending on their requirements.

Research the Makeup Masters Who’ve Come Before You

It is best if you take some time out to understand the kind of makeup looks and styles that catch your eye. This way, it would help you to find out your role models. You have to research the kind of work that every professional makeup artist do to see why and what attracts you t

Take the time to figure out what kihe most about their work. You can simply start your research by looking at beauty vlogs, websites, magazines, books, or from the makeup artist’s Instagram or Facebook account.

Practice. Practice. And then Practice Some More.

When it comes to makeup artistry, practice is the only thing that can make you perfect. Whether you are trying out different styles and looks on your friends or yourself, the more you practice, the better you will be at it. To become a truly great makeup artist, you have to learn from the professionals as well as practice your skills everyday to make yourself better. Practice would help you to understand your strong and weak points. Play with different products on different skin types, ages, facial features, facial features, and more to develop your craft and techniques. Being a professional makeup artist means you have become an expert in seamlessly applying makeup on the skin of others through smooth coordination and motor skills. 

Always try to explore as much as you can with different eye colors, face shapes, skin colors, and more. This would help you to develop a wide range of skills that you can use to work with any type of client and fulfill their requirements.

Familiarize Yourself With Current Makeup Trends.

‘Creativity’ is the term that you should add to your dictionary if you want to become a successful makeup artist. You have to stay updated on the current beauty trends, styles, and outlook. It would help you to come up with some original styles of your own and it would also help you to advise your clients better. Go to plays, watch films, scour fashion blogs, and read magazines to stay updated on the different styles and trends of face makeup.

Another key aspect that you should learn about is the various terminologies that encompasses makeup artistry. Sometimes a client might request you to recreate a look of a certain celebrity in a magazine or at any award show. Knowing makeup terminology would help you to effectively bring the descriptions of your client to life.

Get Online and Market Yourself

The beauty world over the past years has drastically changed due to the internet. Successful makeup artists have a wide web presence that helps them to attract clients. To become successful and well-known in this industry, having a strong social presence on multiple social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube is a must. Different artists from every corner of the world can experience new ideas on these social media platforms. 

It helps the artists to stay relevant by making them expose to others’ work while exposing their own. Hence, aspiring artists can grow and explore new ideas with every passing day. 

Hence, if you already do not have a powerful presence on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, then create an account right away. You can also create a professional website that would be the central hub of your marketing. Your professional website is the first place where your clients will come across your story, know about your work first-hand, and book appointments.

Makeup Artist Portfolio

The stepping stone of a reputable makeup artist is a standalone and eye-catching makeup portfolio, and wait, that is not on Instagram. The portfolio of yours should be able to reflect the brand that you have created. You should have your most creative and the best works showcased on the homepage of your website so that prospective clients can get an immediate perception of your unique and state-of-the-art talent. Include varied makeup styles from special effects to fashion and television to film so that you can attract any client type.

In addition to that, your portfolio should also exist both in print and online. Having an online portfolio would benefit you by advertising your work to a larger audience. Moreover, with an online portfolio, you also have the option to promote them via multiple platforms of social media both locally and internationally. 

Market Yourself, Particularly on Social Media.

Marketing is the key factor that would help you to reach out to clients for makeup artistry assignment irrespective of whether you are working as a freelancer or want to have a full-time job in an agency or company. You can use social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to advertise your work. Along with, you can also start with your own personal blogs or a Pinterest page to have a more effective reach.

Get a Mentor

Having a mentor who will help you to learn anything and everything about makeup. Try to get in touch with a professional makeup artist who is looking for an intern or an assistant. Tagging along with them when they do their job would help you to learn everything easily. They would show you all the invaluable ropes that you would later need in your career. So one day when you become successful, you pay it back by hiring an aspiring artist who is looking for a mentor.  


Becoming an artist takes time and patience, but it is not impossible. If you have the patience and the time to invest behind your dream of becoming a freelance makeup artist there are a few things that you need to do. You would first have to get yourself a degree and learn about every aspect of makeup from a beauty school, college, university, or institution. After you have learned the basics, it is time for you to gain some practical knowledge by working for the existing professional artists. They would assist you to understand how the industry works as well as how you can make yourself better. It is from them, you can learn about different makeup trends, tips, and tricks. In addition to that, you should also practice your makeup skills regularly and keep yourself updated to different, new, as well as old makeup trends, styles, and outlooks so that you can keep your creative brain active. Practice with different products, looks, styles, skin type, facial features and shapes, prosthetics, as well as makeup accessories to improve yourself and build your own makeup techniques. 

Once you know you are ready, you can launch yourself on different social media platforms and make yourself an official website where you can showcase your work and have clients directly connect to you. The best thing about being a freelance makeup artist is that you can work in any corner of the world and charge according to your wishes. And if you ever feel stuck, you always have this guide to help you overcome any difficulty that you might come across in your career. 

Written by Aarti Makker

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