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Published March 27, 2018
Published March 27, 2018
Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash

There are qualities you need to have to be successful in the beauty industry that have nothing to do with makeup. Here are 5 tips to building a successful career as a makeup artist in the hyper-competitive beauty industry.

1. Beware of the Grind!

Before you start the hustle and bustle, you have to ask yourself—Is this the right industry for you? Are you doing it for the right reasons? Being a successful makeup artist is far from just being good at makeup; you will be running your own business. That means, in the beginning, you are going to be a one-(wo)man show—the one responsible for all the pitching, accounting, stocking up your kit, etc. There is nothing wrong in not wanting all of that on your shoulders, but you do need to know it will take a lot of no-beauty-sleep nights to stand out in this saturated industry.

2. Enjoy the Process!

People today see a lot of new successful people. Do you feel like everyone is getting that awesome gig and evolving, except you? I understand that can feel overwhelming and intimidating. Don’t let others, and the internet, rush you! Everyone has their own path. Stop comparing yourself to others, and focus on yourself and being the best possible you. Work on your skills, read about the history of makeup, see how it all started—this will make you understand the industry more. Take your time— there is no elevator to success. Don’t think that because you are starting at the lower end of the “makeup chain,” you won’t have the opportunity to shine. It can come sooner then you expect!

3. Learn to Read the Situation

Makeup artists have to be personable and have great social skills. After all, your profession is based on applying makeup on others! You will need to understand how to approach different types of people. A great MUA has to get on their “the situation”! If you have someone in your chair who is talkative, you should be ready to talk as well. But, be wary of gossip—never share your client’s secrets or talk bad about others. Also, if you are working with individual clients, you have to make sure that the makeup you are applying suits the person. If someone is shy and not that used to wearing makeup, don’t try to force your own style. The client might not feel comfortable with wearing bold lips or false lashes, no matter how good (you think) she would look.

4. Be Ahead of the Curve!

This industry is trend driven, and it continues to evolve daily. Go through magazines, study new techniques, and get a glimpse of the red-carpet looks. Even though you might not like some of the new trends on the market, you need to accept that this is the reality of the situation. Your clients will be asking for the new hot thing they saw on a magazine cover, and you need to be able to execute it. Sometimes you need to put your ego aside, and simply adapt. That’s what it means to be a professional. You can be the best makeup artist out there, but if you don’t do what you were hired for, you will not be called again. As artists, we never stop growing and learning new techniques. You shouldn’t fight the new—embrace it!

5. Think Like a CEO

You have to set a goal for yourself. Envision where you will be in 5 years, and work towards making that happen. If you want to reach the stars, you need to start acting like a CEO. Set a schedule for yourself, and stick to it. Besides just adding makeup gigs to your calendar, you need to create time for catching up on emails, to marketing yourself, personal errands and fitness, and organizing and maintaining your kit. Create a list of things you need to do and add them to your calendar; that way you are holding yourself accountable. Focus on the things that are making you grow, and eliminate the ones that are not benefiting you in any way. Trust your gut—it’s okay to say NO to events, meetings, or even people. You need to spend your time wisely, and assess if what you are doing is leading you to where you want to be.


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