How much do makeup artists charge? If you dream of becoming a professional MUA, this is definitely information you’ll need to know!
Getting trained and certified as a makeup artist takes a lot of hard work and practice. So, when will you see your income reflecting the amount of effort you’ve already put in? There are a few rules to follow when pricing your makeup artistry services. However, none of them are black and white.
These guidelines differ for every MUA, depending on your area of expertise, location, and more. But one thing is for sure: you HAVE to know the right amount to charge!
Follow along as we lay out best practices for pricing your makeup services. By the time you finish reading, you’ll understand how to best grow your income by charging clients the right amount(s) for your services!
How Much Do New Makeup Artists Charge?
As you first begin your career as a makeup artist, it’ll be vital for you to do some research into the current industry standards. Another key thing you need to do is look into your local competition.
When you’re just starting out, it can feel a little tricky to strike that perfect balance between what your work is worth and what your local rates are. However, finding this harmony will be critical for your success!
For instance, you don’t want to price yourself too low for 2 reasons. First, you’re worth more than that – especially if you’ve put the time, effort, and money into receiving a solid education and certification. Secondly, such a move can actually give a negative impression to prospective clients. If your prices are too low, they may assume that this reflects poor-quality work.
On the other hand, it’s also be a bad move for a brand-new makeup artist to charge the same amount as the other MUAs in the area who have a lot more experience. They had to work long and hard to earn the right to price their services the way they have. You, too, will be expected to do the same.
So, how much SHOULD you charge when first starting out?
As a rule of thumb, pricing your makeup services at about $10.00 to $15.00 LESS than the local average rate is the sweet spot you want to aim for.
How Much Should I Charge as a Freelance Makeup Artist?
As a freelancer, you’ll be your own boss. As a result, you’ll have complete and total freedom to charge whatever you want for the services you provide. With that in mind, there are many different types of makeup services your freelance business can offer. Depending on the service, you might want to charge clients differently.
And as we just discussed, it’s important to also keep in mind your level of in-field experience, too. As a freelancer, if you’re new to the game, you should be approaching your pricing plan with that “$10-$15 less than the competition” strategy in mind.
PRO TIP: Start your career as a freelance makeup artist in the strongest way possible by completing QC Makeup Academy’s self-paced, online Master Makeup Artistry Course!
4 Types of Makeup Artistry Services and How Much to Charge
1. Wedding Makeup Artist
Let’s start with one of the big-ticket items on any makeup artist’s list of services: bridal makeup. Every bride gets their makeup done on the big day. Moreover, so do their bridesmaids, family, and sometimes even their friends.
So, how much can you charge as a bridal makeup artist – WITHOUT pricing yourself out of the park?
The most important thing to remember for your makeup business is finding the middle ground. As an emerging MUA, you should not be charging the same amount as another artist who has 15 years’ experience! But we trust you already know that.
What to Charge for Bridal Makeup
For example, let’s say the average bridal makeup artist in your area is charging $80.00 per application. In that case, you should stay within approx. $10-$15 of that price. After all, you are qualified – and your prices should reflect your education!
Plus, it’s important to remember that the bride’s makeup should (almost) always cost the most. Unless her bridesmaids are paying you for hair styling as well, the bride is the main focus! Makeup for other people in the wedding party comes second. As such, it should be priced a tad lower than the bridal application.
As a makeup artist who specializes in bridal makeup, you can charge the average rate OR a bit more. Again, it’ll depend on your level of experience. A word of warning, though: make sure you market your business and get the word out before raising your prices.
No one wants to overpay for a makeup artist they’ve never heard of!
2. Special Occasion Makeup Artist
Like bridal, special occasion makeup prices take on the same structure. That’s to say, you’ll charge within range of the average makeup artist in your area.
It’s important to remember that the term “special occasion” can mean a lot of different things. For instance, it can cover anything from proms to corporate parties. So, the consultation will play a major role in determining whether a client pays more or less.
Of course, we recommend sticking to your regular pricing structure in order to avoid confusion (and keep your income steady). But if, say, a girl wants to look extra glam for her prom, then you should charge and be paid accordingly.
What to Charge for Special Occasion Makeup
Special occasion and glam makeup are generally priced between $50.00 to $70.00, give or take. Now, if you’ve spent a few years mastering the art of prom makeup, feel free to charge a bit more for that particular service!
The great thing about running your very own makeup business is that you can always raise your prices if you notice that you’re either a) not getting enough clients, or b) not able to pay the bills!
3. Regular Makeup Artist
Some days, a girl (or guy) just needs to treat themselves to gorgeous makeup. This is where you come in – especially if you’re working a makeup counter job or as a salon makeup artist!
People come in every day, wanting to feel a bit more special than usual. They might want their makeup done to accompany a new hair style. Either way, you can make bank by booking these clients.
What to Charge for Regular Makeup
How much do makeup artists charge when working within or for an established makeup company?
If you intend to fall into this category, then it’s important to know that you might not be able to set your own rates. Instead, you could be getting paid a set hourly salary, and potentially also earn commission on top of that. Of course, if you run your own makeup salon, then as we mentioned earlier, you’ll get to choose what you want to pay yourself.
But if you work for someone else, there are still ways for you to WOW clients, keep them coming back, and prove that you’re worth a wage increase!
For example, you could also market your makeup services as “casual” or “every-day”, so that customers know you’re willing to do smaller applications. These are great for subsidizing a work day in which you only get one appointment.
Plus, if you do a good job and make a friendly impression, that client is guaranteed to call you back for another casual application! Your employers will definitely be impressed with this!
4. Performance Makeup Artist
It’s likely that you’ll get called to do makeup for a show – whether it’s from a theater company or a small town singer. This is why your makeup course should cover theatrical and film makeup, since there are more factors to consider compared to regular makeup.
You never know, you might end up signing a contract with a local star or production company!
What to Charge for Performance Makeup
So, how much should you be paid for these types of makeup jobs? Again, it depends. If you’re working on a few actors for a play, you should be paid an hourly amount for x amount of faces.
If you’re meeting a singer at the venue and applying her makeup before the show, your rate should be for both the application itself and the travel time it took you to get to the venue.
With performance and set jobs, your pricing structure will have to be easily adapted to the task at hand. Keep this in mind when you’re setting your standard makeup prices! Having an hourly rate set out before you land these jobs will help you when negotiating payment.
Did you know that QC Makeup Academy offers a Special FX Makeup Course? It’s true! Learn all about it here and enroll today!
How Much Do Freelance Makeup Artists Make?
Now that you have a better idea of what you should be charging for certain makeup artist services, what can you actually expect to make per year as a freelancer?
There’s no single answer to this question, since there are all sorts of external factors at play, such as:
- Your location (i.e. big city vs. small town);
- The demand for your services;
- Local competitors;
- Whether you run your own business or work for an established company;
- The effort you’re willing to put into your marketing strategies, online presence, brand/brand awareness, client acquisition and retention, etc.;
- And more!
That said, ZipRecruiter reported that as of September 9th, 2021, the average freelance makeup artist can expect to make anywhere from $36,000 to $66,000 annually.
So, as you can see, freelance makeup artists have all the potential in the world to make a killer income!
The Key Takeaways
No makeup artist should ever sit with the same prices for more than a few years. Each time you apply makeup on a client, you’re gaining experience and adding to your portfolio. For instance, there’s no reason why you can’t earn over $100.00 per bridal application after a few short appointments of working in the field.
We’d just like to point out that pricing slightly lower to start is probably the best route to take for your business. It’s better to raise your makeup prices as quality and experience grow, rather than lower them because you’re not booking any clients! Plus, you’ll need to make room to add a few extra dollars to your prices in order to cover the necessary travel expenses for each job.
No matter, what, do your research! Look at what your competitors are charging, as well as how your skills compare to what’s available in your area. If you’re the only makeup artist around who, say, knows how to use an airbrush makeup machine, feel free to set the standard!
Join the discussion 2 Comments
How can I become a certified makeup artist?
Hi Jeff! The best way to become a certified makeup artist is to research into various schools, see what they offer, and determine which school would be the best fit for you! Some areas around the world require a cosmetology license to be obtained in order to work as a makeup artist, so we strongly recommend checking out your area’s legislation and requirements, to see whether a certification would be enough for you to be able to work as an MUA, or if further licensing would be required. 🙂 Please feel free to check out all of the courses QC Makeup Academy offers here: https://bit.ly/3bnTflM
If you wish to get more information about our school, courses, tuition, etc., please feel free to email us any time at [email protected]! xx
All the best,
The QC Team