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How to Be a Makeup Artist (and Book Your First Client) in 2021

Interested in becoming a makeup artist? 

Makeup artists are in the top 10 popular beauty careers and it’s no secret why. Women need them all the time. Instagram influencers, beauty gurus, and the boom of social media put these professionals on the map but makeup artists have been around forever. As competitive it is, it will always be a great beauty career to start and make your unique mark on. 

Use this post as your starter guide to becoming a makeup artist and booking your first client. 

This post may contain affiliate links, please read my full disclosure here. If you have any questions or comments please contact me. Thank you for reading! 


Before you decide to be a makeup artist you have to decide whether you want to be self-taught or be professionally trained. If you choose to be self-taught and start taking clients, before you buy a makeup kit, practice practice practice! Everyone who is your ideal client should be a practice client to start.

Doing makeup on different people will give you the confidence you need to start taking paying clients and not only that, you’ll learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t.

As a beginner, you more than likely have no professional or portfolio-worthy pictures of your work. After each practice client, remember to always take pictures of your work! These will work as starter images for your social media/portfolio and also give you an idea of what you need to work on. 

Don’t obsess over the quality of your work at first, it will get much better the more you do it. Take clear, photogenic pictures and make sure you’re far enough to get a full face view but close enough to get makeup detail.

Do this for a few weeks until you feel ready to freelance and start taking paying clients. 


01. Build Your Makeup Artist Kit 

A makeup artist kit is essential as a new artist, this is what you’ll need first to start taking clients. You might think that you need every shade of every color product to get started but you don’t and you especially don’t need to spend a lot of money on high-end products.

Start with all drugstore makeup. Drugstore makeup has some of the best quality makeup, most I still use today in my own kit. 

To get what you need for the variety of skin shades you’ll be working with, a pro tip for new makeup artists is to start with only three foundations and three concealers.

One of the darkest, one of the lightest, and one of a neutral shade. 

These three shades will get you started and you can work these by blending the colors to best match your client’s shade.

This leaves you with room to spend money on other things like setting powders and eyeshadows. After your first couple of clients, you can reinvest into buying more shades and high-end products. 

Makeup Brushes

Makeup brushes are just as important as everything else in your kit if not more because they determine the outcome of your application.

*You could use cheap makeup and great makeup brushes and create a gorgeous makeup look or use high-end makeup and cheap brushes and do your work no justice, that’s how effective makeup brushes are.

Makeup brushes can get really expensive since it’s better to buy them individually rather than in sets but still, there are great affordable brushes for beginners and pros.

This makeup brush guide explains how to choose quality over quantity, learn the types of brushes, and what kind are best for beginners. 


02. Pick a Name, Get Business Cards, and Start Building Your Portfolio 

By the way, what do you plan on calling yourself?

A lot of makeup artists have a special name that differentiates them or you could use your name and add “artistry or mua”. This will be the name that goes on all of your social media handles and your business cards.

Once you’ve chosen a name, order a stack of business cards that include your name, social media and phone number, and email for all new potential clients.

You can order a stack of 100 cards at Vistaprint  for as low as $15. Business cards are important because they’ll be more than one occasion when someone asks you or asks a client for your information and they’ll come in handy.

Also, it’s an easy way to get your name out there, handing them to people you speak to throughout the day and giving them to friends and family to pass along. 

How to start building your portfolio 

Starting your portfolio is next which your social media will serve as for beginners, it will be the main source of your initial clients.

Most of your clients can be found on social media, which means Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter so I would suggest you make a separate business page for these to make it as professional as possible.

If you want to merge your client portfolio with your personal page then you have to get used to the idea that it may overtake your personal posts because of all the promotion and consistency you’ll need to do to build a successful freelance business. Just keep that in mind.

On your social media, start posting pictures of your practice clients to get the word out that you’re taking clients.

To start your brand off on the best foot make sure all of your pictures have some cohesion i.e. they were taken with the same lighting, same background, and same angles. If you notice, a lot of successful makeup artists have a consistent layout through their social media profiles too. 

freelance makeup artist portfolio


03. Name Your Price

As a beginner freelance makeup artist, it’s ok to start off charging low prices. Don’t rush to charge over $100 for a service because you do see a more seasoned makeup artist doing it, even if you feel like your work is really good. The low price will get your initial clients running through the door and help build up your brand authority. After 6 months to a year of consistency definitely raise your prices. 

Along with figuring out what you will charge, decide what services you’ll provide. It can be as simple as one service,
ex. Full Glam Makeup, $0

or multiple services,
ex. Full Glam Makeup, $0, Eyes only, $0, Natural Makeup, $0.

Each service you provide based on your skillset will need a different price. Do your research and see what other makeup artists are offering and if you can offer that too. 


04. Sign Up for a Booking Site

A booking site is absolutely a necessity for a career in the beauty industry. Gone are the days when clients can just book you through Instagram DM’s, it’s chaotic and unprofessional!

A booking site makes it easy for your clients to book your services and keeps things organized.

It also makes sure that clients don’t abuse you just because you’re a new artist! If clients don’t see that you take yourself seriously they won’t either. They’ll message you at all times to ask about booking availability, they’ll waste your time by booking without a deposit, canceling last minute, or not notifying you that they’re canceling at all.

Without a booking site there won’t be a menu of prices out for potential clients to see so they’ll “shop” around asking you what you charge for this and that. The booking site is the key to stopping all of that before it happens. 

What’s a good booking site? 

A site/app like Acuity scheduling is extra customizable, allows you to let clients pay ahead of time, choose whether you let clients cancel or reschedule appointments and accept payments from PayPal, square, and stripe. It’s also compatible with IOS and Android.

Some of my other favorite booking sites/apps for Makeup Artists are Setmore and Square Appointments.  

Simply put your booking site link in your social media bio’s and promote your services as usual.

*Always require a deposit! It’s up to you whether you want it to be refundable, or non-refundable and put towards the service but always require one. It will weave out the clients that aren’t serious from the ones who are. 


05. Decide Where You Will Service Your Clients

Makeup artists have the freedom to work from nearly anywhere. You can work from your home, making your clients travel to you, you can travel to your clients and service them in their homes or you can work out of a salon or studio.

Depending on the type of client you want to serve the most really decides which location would be better.

For example, if you plan on doing more editorial makeup and models then you’d more than likely be on location, traveling to your model’s studio or shoot.

If you plan to take your average client you can set up a small studio area in your home and have them come to you. Wherever you decide, make sure that it’s clean, private, and professionally set up. 

makeup artist backdrop

Make sure that your area has good ventilation, good lighting, and is comfortable for your clients and clients waiting.

Since posting pictures of your work is key to gaining more clientele make sure there is also a photo area where you can take pictures of your finished result.

Essentials for this photo area would be a backdrop and ring lights. Both of which you can DIY or buy from Amazon. 


06. Do Your Research

This is a step you’ll likely be doing during this whole process. You’re probably already seeing what other makeup artists are doing, what they’re posting, and the kind of work they do on their clients.

Make a list of your top three makeup artists and emulate what they’re doing. Don’t copy anybody exactly! You can’t anyway because all makeup artists are unique but, by emulating I mean to see what’s keeping their clients coming back. Pay close attention to their content like how often they post, what services and discounts they give their clients and how can clients get in contact with them. 

Take notes on what you like and see how you can do the same in your business. 

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, what works for somebody else will most definitely work for you too. 

Sites like Glossible network are a community of professional makeup artists that help you be your best and succeed. Use these artists for inspiration and insight because there will be moments in your career when you feel like giving up. You can be reminded by them that they never did, so never should you! 


07. Be Consistent! 

Clients won’t be very consistent at first and that will be discouraging but be consistent. Create a posting schedule and get creative with your posts so that you can keep your social media updated and engaging. People will be strolling through your social media daily and every day. There’s a potential client looking even if you have only 4 client pictures up, trust me.

It can be frustrating not knowing what to post in between client pictures and since at first your clients may be spread out over a few weeks, you might not know how to keep your audience engaged. 

To avoid that frustration all together read this post on Instagram tips and tricks for makeup artists and make sure that you always have something engaging to give your followers. 

Be consistent. Don’t give up when things seem slow. To get clients fast initially, give out plenty of discounts for any reason at all. 15% off Fridays or 20% because it’s a holiday. This works! 

Whatever it is, just be consistent, post often, and hustle!! 

Pretty soon most of your content will be client pictures because you’ll have so many. You’ll have a booming social media portfolio that brings in new clients consistently, and you’ll be booked and busy.  


Being a makeup artist is definitely an exciting beauty career! If you find success being one you’ll perfect your makeup skill and become the go-to for your client’s beauty needs. You’ll grow your clientele and become a pro makeup artist who can charge up to $200 for your services, working with models, influencers, and gaining a lot of recognition.

I can’t think of a better time to become a makeup artist and make your mark in the beauty industry. It’s easy to get started but it’s not easy to be successful. It takes some real dedication and consistency before you see the results you want but the wait till be worth it!

Do you plan on starting this beauty career? Leave a comment! 



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