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Your Makeup Career

11 Struggles Only Freelance Makeup Artists Will Understand

From small makeup mishaps to the trials and tribulations that structure your entire makeup career, being a freelance makeup artist isn’t easy. But it can be one of the most rewarding careers with one of the most diverse career paths.

Since you’re not reporting to any agency or company, you’re your own boss. As you reap all the rewards of being a freelancer, such as setting your own rates and choosing your clients, you also have to be the sole bearer of all the difficulties along the way.

It may seem like you’re all alone, but you really aren’t! All freelancing makeup artists know that the struggle is real. Still not convinced? We’ve come up with a list of the 11 struggles that only freelance makeup artists will understand.

1. When a client reaches for your kit

makeup kit

… and your mind goes a mile a minute asking questions like, “Have they washed their hands?”, “Are they touching everything in that drawer?” and “Don’t drop it. Don’t drop it. Don’t drop it!” If they end up going near any exposed palettes and doing swatches of your products, remember to disinfect everything after your appointment!

2. When clients ask you for a discount during or after application

We know it’s hard, but one of the perks of being a freelancer is being able to say no! Being the business savvy freelancer that you are, you’ve probably already put together a contract and had it signed by your client. They know your rates coming into it, and if they wanted a discount, they should have asked beforehand!

3. When you have to wash multiple brush sets at once

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Sometimes you’ll end up using almost all the brushes from three different brush sets during the same appointment. Cleaning brushes is definitely one of the least exciting aspects of your job, but giving your brushes a thorough wash is absolutely necessary. Check out this post to find out if you’re cleaning your tools right!

4. When it’s time to restock your makeup

As a freelancer, nothing is more gratifying than a giant shopping spree. After all, what’s a better excuse for purchasing makeup than business? But it’s always a struggle when multiple items in your collection go kaput and you have to replace them all at once. You end up walking out of Sephora with a hella long receipt, but your bag only contains different shades of the same product. It just isn’t satisfying!

5. When you get to IMATS to purchase that perfect nude lipstick

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It’s a drag when you finally get to the much-buzzed table at IMATS (International Makeup Artist Trade Show), and the product you’ve been dying to get your hands on is already sold out. With the rare (and sometimes steep) discounts on popular products and the dazzling displays of up-and-coming companies, many products get sold-out at this popular convention.

6. When your clients parrot tips and tricks they read/saw online

You’ll encounter some clients who are incredibly enthusiastic about makeup, but sometimes they just don’t have all the facts right. It can be frustrating if they tell you how to do your job with incorrect/unsafe methods, but keep your cool! If they’ve got something wrong, correct them and then share some insider tips and tricks straight from the horse’s mouth. You’re a professional, so it’s time to show it.

7. When you can’t find that one product to pull the look together

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No, Russian Red isn’t a suitable substitute! Nothing is worse than being two steps from completing a look and not being able to find that tube of Ruby Woo lipstick you swore you’d packed. It may not bother your clients, since they just see it as just another red lipstick, but we know the truth, and dang it, it hurts.

8. When your client doesn’t show up

Not only is this rude, but this appointment might have made the difference between eating off the dollar menu at McDonalds or having groceries in your fridge. If you can, research your clients well beforehand to figure out if they’re of the flighty variety, and maybe even charge a percentage before your appointment as a deposit. A girl’s got to eat, right?

9. When you’re doing a celebrity shoot

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…and you have to balance what management wants with what the client wants. Especially if you’re working on set for a photoshoot, sometimes the expectations between the faces you’re working on and the team behind them are very different. Finding a balance is key. Most importantly, use your genius to make sure that your client feels good in his or her own skin.

10. When there’s no in-between

One of the toughest aspects of the freelancing life is having a schedule that’s all over the place. You’re either working on overdrive, or you have nothing to do for hours at a time. There never seems to be any middle ground! Working a steady shift would be nice, but you wouldn’t trade working freelance for anything in the world—even if it means you only get a break to eat when your clients do!

11. When the client doesn’t like what you do on her face

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Particularly in cases with clients who are a bit older and have come to terms with how their face looks naturally, you might turn their entire world upside-down by simply brightening their overall skin tone. Encourage them to speak up if they feel uncomfortable. After all, you’re there to make them look and feel radiant, and you don’t want them to leave disappointed when they get up from the makeup chair.


Want to step out from behind the makeup counter? Check out this career profile on freelance makeup artists to find out if you have what it takes!

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