Starting a career in the makeup industry

From the Experts, Your Makeup Career

How to Make a (Good) Name for Yourself in the Makeup Industry

Celebrity makeup artist, Nathan Johnson (@nathanwalnut), is QC Makeup Academy’s Executive Makeup Artist and is based in New York City. This month, Nathan gives us advice on how to make a (good) name for yourself in the industry!

Having a great reputation in the makeup industry is based on far more than the ability to do great makeup. Of course, being an amazing and versatile artist will give you a huge leg up in the industry – but here are a few thing to concentrate on to insure you have a stellar reputation…

Be educated and practiced

Knowledge is power and when it comes to makeup and practice is essential. The first thing you need is an amazing education. Your education should cover all aspects of classic makeup. No, being “self-taught” from YouTube and Instagram will not cut it.

YouTube and Instagram teach trends and they put little care into making sure you learn proper, timeless techniques. When you learn classic makeup techniques, you will always be a master of your artistry. When you learn from YouTube, you learn trends and you will always have to watch new videos to learn anything else. When you know classic application techniques you will never need to watch a video to learn how to do anything, you can simply apply your techniques in a new and different way.

Advanced skills from makeup artist training online

Additionally, most of the people on YouTube have no professional experience, so you are likely picking up a lot of bad habits. When you learn makeup from a classic approach, you will always be ahead of the trends. Your makeup will be timeless. Make sure you have a great education and that you practice on as many people as possible!

Remember, you cannot learn to be a makeup artist if your only practice is on yourself. Because of your nervous system, you are a cheat sheet to your own face. Practice on other people, and lots of them.

Be professional

How you behave at the job will have a huge impact on your reputation. There are a few things you can do to make the best impression:

  • Always show up a few minutes early
  • Double check that your kit is perfectly stocked before arriving on the job
  • Always let the client lead the conversation
  • Always have clean product and brushes – the fastest way to get a bad reputation is to use contaminated product or brushes on people!

Oh, and always be polite.

Make yourself available

One of the greatest aspects of working in makeup is the flexibility of schedule. But, when you first start out, it is very important to make yourself available. You might have a hard time building a good reputation if you refuse work as an industry newcomer. At times, that might mean taking jobs you don’t find ideal and working hours that you may not want to work. No, you don’t have to accept everything. But know that as a newcomer in the industry, people will quickly call someone else, and if that person accepts the job they will also get the call next time.

Makeup is not a 9 to 5 job. To really build a good reputation, you’d be smart to take that to heart. Once you establish yourself, you will have more flexibility in terms of what to accept and when to accept it. But as a beginner makeup artist, be open to taking more jobs. Every person you work with has the potential to connect you to another client!

Master makeup artist applying makeup on set

Be reliable

Once you agree to work with a client, don’t cancel. They went out of their way to choose you for their special day, so it is imperative that you be there for them. This also includes answering emails and calls the client may place because they are nervous. A little kind reinforcement from you can change all of that for the better. Of course, if something dire happens, like a death in the family, you should cancel. But before you do, have an alternative set up for them, and be willing to take on any additional costs they may incur as a gesture of good will. They picked you for a reason. Don’t let them down.

Be a learner

Always be learning. You should enroll in courses, read beauty magazines, watch the trends, and put it all to practice. QC Makeup Academy has a huge assortment of online makeup courses that will keep your skills growing.

The tips above will help you not only be a better makeup artist, but also a well-respected one. I hope this guidance is valuable for you, but I want you to remember one very important thing…always be yourself! They are hiring you for two reasons; what you can do, and who you are. So practice, professionalism, and reliability are all very important, but so is letting your heart and personality shine through.

Want to follow in Nathan’s footsteps? Follow his guide on how to become a celebrity makeup artist!

Nathan Johnson is a film, television, celebrity, and real women’s makeup artist with 18 years experience in the industry. Nathan believes in education and empowerment—his personal mission is to make America more beautiful one woman at a time. He brings product reviews, makeup tips, and personal experience to the QC blog.

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