How to Become a Makeup Artist

Practice your craft

If you are considering becoming a makeup artist, it is almost certain that you love spending time applying makeup. Practising and trying out different techniques to bring different styles of makeup looks can be a great way to hone your craft as an upcoming makeup artist.

Trying out application techniques on your friends and family is a great way to transfer these skills to applying makeup on another person and develop your professional skills. There are a tonne of online resources that you can use to practise and teach yourself new techniques.

While studying makeup at Face Agency, our lecturers will help you further refine and develop the skills you have already learned. Face Agency makeup courses are designed to teach both beginners and intermediate makeup artists


Career Outcomes

There are a limitless number of pathways that a career in makeup can take you along which we cover in-depth in our career outcomes article. The two main career options we will cover in this article extend along many different pathways are freelance makeup or a special effects makeup


As a freelance makeup artist, you are able to work your own flexible hours and provide styles of makeup that you enjoy. Quite commonly, freelance makeup artists will offer a wide range of event makeup services, applying makeup on clients for events such as birthdays or formal events. Right up to high-end bridal makeup which is a much more high-stress environment but also more profitable to you as a makeup artist.


Special effects makeup training can take you all over the world working on different theatre shows, television and film sets as just a few examples. Even in Adelaide, there are a lot of small projects that are in need of SFX makeup artists to bring the director’s vision to life, from creating grazes and bruises all the way to turning your talent into a brain-eating zombie or an alien from outer space.



Register for Professional Training

The best way to give your future career as a makeup artist a kickstart is to enrol in a professional makeup course. At  Face Agency, we offer a range of courses that will equip you with all of the specialist skills and knowledge needed to enter the hair and makeup industry with confidence and expertise. All of our courses are held exclusively in-person, meaning that you will get to spend hours in class at our studio learning techniques and practising them under lecturers’ guidance.


Not only will you learn expert skills and techniques for applying different styles of makeup, but our lecturers and staff at Face Agency will also teach you the professional skills you need to start your own business or career in makeup.


Our Professional Makeup Artistry course is the perfect entry point into the makeup industry, you will study a range of topics at our makeup school including;

  • Colour Theory
  • Product Knowledge
  • Foundation Application
  • Eye Makeup Application
  • Lipstick Application
  • Contouring & Highlighting
  • Natural & Dramatic Makeup Looks
  • And Lots More Listed On Our course page


The Creative and SFX Makeup Course can open new doors into the film, magazine, theatre and TV industry. If you are already a makeup artist or would like to start a new career in the creative/special effects makeup industry, this course can offer you the techniques, confidence and understanding to allow you to participate in the field as a creative, theatre and SFX makeup artist, throughout your course, you will learn some of the following topics;


  • Makeup Through The Ages
  • Male Makeup
  • Creative & Character Makeup design and application
  • Bald cap making and application
  • Bruising, Cuts & Grazes Burns, Scars, Blisters
  • Diseases, Death
  • Makeup Foam Latex Character Applications
  • And More Listed On Our SFX Course Page


Build out your Makeup Kit


Buying affordable makeup is a great way to get started and develop basic techniques, as you gain confidence and start providing your services professionally you will want to invest in a collection of professional makeup products. Although it is cheaper to purchase makeup from drugstore brands that offer great value, we would recommend investing in makeup artist-grade products that will have more vibrant colours and last for hours longer on your client’s skin. When you enrol in a professional makeup course you will usually need to purchase a professional makeup toolkit which will include

Makeup Brushes

You would be surprised at the difference between quality and cheap makeup brushes, immediately you will notice that the makeup application looks better when you’re working with quality brushes. While it may seem more expensive at first spending $150 on brushes instead of buying a cheap brush set off eBay, you will end up saving money in the long run because your makeup brushes will last for years to come.

Quality Foundation

Purchasing a selection of various foundations with different shades and finishes will undoubtedly be the most costly investment in your makeup kit, foundation is also one of the products that will make a difference. In the same way that a client will notice if their foundation doesn’t match their face because you don’t have their shade in your collection, your client will be wowed by the final results when you use a foundation that perfectly matches their face shape and their desired finish (Dewy, Matte etc)

Eyeshadow Palettes

Creating beautiful eyeshadow looks is easily the most fun part of being a makeup artist, purchasing eyeshadow palettes with a lot of different colours is also a tonne of fun. For the best value, start off building your collection by purchasing palettes with a lot of colours instead of smaller palettes, these palettes can be more expensive but you’ll be glad you made the investment when you are recreating new looks and find that you already have the perfect colour you need. Quality eyeshadow can make the difference between creating eye looks that are bold and vibrant and looks



Create your Portfolio

Your makeup artistry portfolio will be the place where you can showcase your talents to the world and where potential clients will be able to evaluate your work on similar face shapes to theirs. Potential clients will also be able to use your portfolio to choose the makeup style that they would like applied to their face.

When you are creating your portfolio, try to include as many photos as possible of different styles of makeup

  • Event
  • Formal
  • Bridal
  • SFX & Character
  • And any other styles that interest you

This portfolio is a professional showcase to demonstrate your abilities at applying various styles to different face shapes and ethnicities.

When first creating your portfolio, ask some of your friends to be models in your portfolio. You can create different makeup looks on the same person as a great way to fill up your portfolio before you even begin charging for your services, if possible ask friends with varying face shapes and skin tones so that you can show a range of different models in your portfolio. All of a sudden, with only three models you could easily have nine+ portfolio images.

Posting your portfolio on Instagram is a great way to make your portfolio easy for potential clients to access, you can also upload before images to the same post so that viewers can swipe and see the difference in the transformation.

Pro Tip; Professional lighting and photography can go a long way to make your portfolio stand out and make your photos look professional. If you don’t have access to a professional photographer you can still get great photos by using a well-lit room or getting some cheap box lights off eBay and using a newer model iPhone to take professional quality shots for your portfolio



Freelance vs Employment

Running your own business and being the boss is often considered the dream as you have extremely flexible hours, but it isn’t for everyone. As a makeup artist, you have the option of entering into the industry as a freelance makeup artist but you also have the option of applying for jobs in the industry.

As a freelance makeup artist, you will need to spend a lot of time building your portfolio, talking to potential clients and running simple administrative tasks (We will publish a new article all about running a freelance makeup business soon!). Once you have been working in the industry for a few years and have spent a lot of time marketing your services and bringing in new clients you will find that you will need to spend very little time marketing your services because you will be picking up new clients through recommendations of previous clients. Obviously being a freelance makeup artist can provide lots of opportunities and freedom to set your own working hours and be on the move to take your services anywhere.



Working as an employee can provide great job security for those that do not want the stress of managing their own business, it is important to note that for some of these career options, you may need further training and nationally recognised accreditation. As an employed makeup artist, you will be able to work in the retail industry as a sales consultant for makeup stores such as Mac, Sephora & Mecca or at a makeup section in other retail stores such as David Jones or Myer. Your role will be to provide advice to customers by recommending the best shade foundation for their face and providing advice on the best makeup products to buy. You can also upskill and work as a beauty therapist, in which you will be able to provide a range of services including;





Network with other Makeup Artists

Building a network of fellow makeup artists around you within South Australia and across the country can be a great way to build lifelong friendships that you share a passion with and can bounce ideas to and from.

There will be times throughout your career as a makeup artist where you might not be able to take a booking from a client, you can easily refer the potential client to someone in the industry that you know and trust. They will likely also refer work back to you


Optional; Register an ABN & Business Insurance

As you continue to pick up freelance work as a makeup artist, providing your professional makeup skills to friends, family and new clientele, you will need need to register an Australian Business Number (ABN) with the ATO.

The ATO defines the threshold for when you will need to register for an ABN when you no longer intend to provide your services as a hobby but when you intend to run a business and turn a profit, the best way that we can simply is that if you are looking to get paid for freelance makeup services consistently, you will need to register for an ABN which is easy and free to register on the ATO’s website.

You may also want to consider taking out insurance to protect you and your business. Most makeup artists tend to not purchase insurance but it is definitely worth having a look into. There are three types of insurance t

Public Liability Insurance (PLI) is one of the most important forms of insurance to consider for anyone providing freelance services, this type of insurance protects you in the event that the customer sustains property damage as a result of negligence.

Business & Portable Equipment Insurance provides cover for the cost to replace your makeup kit and tools in the event that they are lost, damaged or stolen.

Professional Indemnity Insurance; whilst it is extremely unlikely that your client experiences an extreme allergic reaction to the products you apply, however, it is still a possibility. Professional indemnity insurance will cover you, in case this does happen.



Promoting your Business

We have already discussed the importance of networking with fellow makeup artists as a way to promote your business. There are several ways that you can bring in work for your make

When you are first starting out and wanting to bring in your first few clients, you might want to also provide free or heavily discounted makeup services to your friends and family as a way to practice and build up your portfolio, providing a discounted service means that you will still be able to cover the cost of your products. Remember that as you build up your experience and expertise as a makeup artist, that you need to charge around industry rates. Meaning, that you do not want to be undercutting your competition by a significant amount, undercutting prices waters down the value of the services that makeup artists provide.

One great way to promote your new business providing makeup services is through Facebook  & Instagram. As a makeup artist, social media platforms will act as a portfolio to showcase your skills in applying makeup in different styles on different people. Keeping your social media platforms up to date on a regular basis shows potential clients that you are committed to your craft as a makeup artist