Conquering Makeup Contests (And Why You Should Try)
Have you ever almost entered a makeup contest, only to back off at the last minute? We know—putting your work out there can be intimidating, especially when you know someone is going to judge and compare it against the work of other talented makeup artists.
But, like eating your vegetables, entering makeup contests is good for you as a professional makeup artist (yes, even when you don’t win). And—less like eating your vegetables—makeup contests are a lot of fun! While the looks you’re creating in your everyday work are probably pretty standard, many contests have themes that give you the chance to let loose and get creative.
And—need we say it—contest wins can be good for your business. Getting your work hosted and promoted by the contest runners is basically free advertising with a reach you’d probably never be able to get on your own. Plus, there’s the prize. Who doesn’t love getting free stuff?
Ready to start prepping your entry? We’ve got tips on becoming a makeup contest champion!
1. Read the rules
Yes, we know this one is super obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people flop in competitions just because they didn’t bother to read through all the rules. Boring as it may be, go through the contest rules thoroughly before you decide to enter—and definitely before you start planning the look you’ll create.
You don’t want to put in hours of work on a look only to get your entry dismissed because you messed up your submission form. Put a tiny bit of time into the technical stuff, and then let your awesome work do the rest.
2. Get good photos
Remember when we talked about how important good photos are for your beauty blog? Well, the same is true for makeup contests. If you submit a dark, blurry picture, all the judges will notice is how bad you are at photography—not how amazing you are at makeup artistry.
We’ve written about taking good makeup photos before, but here’s a quick rundown of the basics:
- Good lighting—natural light works best
- A decent camera (not your phone)
- A neutral background
- A steady shot
- Not too much editing!
3. Don’t hold back
As a professional makeup artist, you’re focused on creating the look your client wants. But not in a contest! Don’t waste this chance to dig deep into your creative side and create something original, over-the-top, and outstanding.
Getting inspiration from other artists is totally okay (in fact, we encourage it!) but make sure your final look is one-hundred-percent you. Replicating a look that’s been done a million times before won’t help your entry catch the judges’ eyes, even if you do it really well. Instead, spend some time brainstorming ways to reinterpret old, overdone looks, or come up with something totally new.
4. Create a full look
Even if the rules of your contest don’t require a full look, plan on creating one anyway. This means creating a full face—not just the eyes—but it also means styling your model’s hair, picking jewelry and accessories, and choosing your model’s clothes. Basically, coordinate everything that might show up in your photo.
You don’t need to spend hours on the styling (although we do recommend dedicating some time to a cool ‘do), but your model’s ratty workout shirt won’t exactly add to ethereal woodland princess look you’re trying to create.
5. Practice makes perfect
If you’re going to put the effort into entering a contest, you want to do it right. That means practicing your look a few times before staging your photo shoot. Repeating your look lets you figure out whether your concept is actually working, or if it needs a little adjustment. And, of course, every time you apply the makeup, your work gets better and better. Practice until you can create the look flawlessly, then do one more practice run just for good measure. Then go get your camera.
6. Don’t get discouraged
Say it with me: I will not win every contest I enter. Accept that now, and you’ll save yourself a lot of angst down the road. No one succeeds at everything they do, and contests are no exception.
But not winning a makeup contest doesn’t reflect on your skill as a makeup artist. Maybe you were up against a lot of other strong entries. Maybe it wasn’t your best work (hey, it happens). Maybe your entry just wasn’t quite what the judge was looking for, or maybe another entry appealed more to their personal style. Judges do try to be objective, but fighting against personal preference can be an uphill battle.
Whatever the reason, don’t get discouraged. Check out the winning looks and think about your own work to figure out how you can improve for next time. And remember: the number-one secret to winning contests is that the more you enter, the more likely you are to win!