Changing Makeup Careers: From Beauty Counter to Bridal

No matter what profession you’re in, changing careers can be tough. Some of the initial hurdles you worked hard to overcome are back again, and you may find yourself having to start from the ground up. But it doesn’t mean all that blood, sweat, and tears you had already put in are for naught! I mean, you’re not going from working as a server to working as a neurosurgeon…there are some transferable skills between working at the counter and being a freelance makeup artist. What you have to do is identify what you can take from your old career and bring with you as you move forward into uncharted waters!

Making any sort of career change takes guts, but it’s not just a leap of faith. You have to make sure that you’re not only educated in the field you want to make a name for yourself in, but also have the technical and soft skills to back yourself up. Think you’ve got what it takes? Keep reading to find out how to change makeup careers from beauty counter to bridal makeup artist!

Amount of time spent actually doing makeup differs

There are many obvious differences between working behind a counter and working as a freelancer for bridal makeup. Besides the different schedules (and mandatory dress code!), the most obvious difference is how much time you actually devote to doing makeup!

When you work at a beauty counter in the mall, your number one goal is to meet sales targets. You’ll spend only a fraction of your time on the floor actually applying makeup, as that part of the job is a sales and marketing technique to sell the brand’s products. Some companies prefer you to have more leading experience in sales and customer service before makeup artistry, and others prioritize product knowledge and practical makeup skills. All of these skills are necessary in the freelancing world, but you aren’t selling products when you’re working in bridal makeup—you’re selling your skills and services to make the bride-to-be feel radiant on her special day!

You may want to consider taking makeup classes or getting a certification to refine your skills before you start offering pricy bridal makeup services. Often your attitude transition will require you to rejig your priorities and get used to selling yourself and letting your work speak for itself!

What kind of bridal makeup do you wish to do?

makeup artist classes

Consider the different techniques you’ll have to bring to the table. Maybe you’re super confident in your brush and sponge application skills and want to delve into airbrush makeup — while regular makeup application is still going strong in the bridal makeup world, airbrush makeup is accruing a large and loyal following!

Airbrush makeup feels feather-light on the face and provides clients with a truly luxurious experience while achieving a flawless HD complexion that lasts all day. It is worth looking into if you are serious about doing bridal makeup full-time, but make sure that you round out your skills with manual application as well. Practice working with your hand/sponge/brush to reasonably duplicate the airbrushed effect without the fancy machinery just in case your bride prefers traditional application.

Alternatively, maybe you prefer to expand your client base by tackling South Asian bridal makeup. This type of bridal look marries culture with aesthetic. Traditionally, these bridal looks are heavy and caked on, but with western influences, current South Asian bridal trends tend to be more natural when it comes to the face instead of the traditional mask-like appearance. It certainly isn’t boring though! Think thick black lashes and dramatic lips – -they’ll always be bold in our books!

Make good use of your time behind the counter

Bridal makeup is different than what you may be used to doing behind the cosmetics counter. Often, the makeup looks you’ll be creating in the shops will be basic applications to allow the customer to see what the product will look like. Bridal makeup, on the other hand, is a whole other beast! You should, however, make use of your previous positions and counter experience to prep you for your dream job!

makeup school online

Start doing more special occasion makeup behind the counter. You can request to book full-makeup appointments to build your skills in the meantime. More practice equals more credibility after all!

If a customer likes what you do, they may even request or refer you to do actual bridal makeup! Remember, you have to consider the wedding dress, the flowers in the bouquet, and the bride’s jewelry in addition to her skin tone, skin condition, eye and hair color. You’ll find yourself adjusting your techniques for photography as well so you’ll have to make sure the makeup looks good to the naked eye and to the camera lens! Often you’ll have to go a bit heavier on the blush, light on the bronzer, and color correct every part of the bride’s face in order to create a flawless complexion. Make sure you get your practice in so your transition between careers is a smooth as can be.

Learn how to schedule and prioritize

Transitioning from a job behind the cosmetics counter to becoming a self-employed freelancer means you must leave behind that stable day-by-day work schedule! Instead of having regular shifts, you’ll have to get used to setting your own schedule and working long hours that may eat into your personal time. It’s important to know your own habits and speed when it comes to makeup appointments.

Because you’ll likely be setting up your own business and becoming your own boss, you’ll also have to make time for the “boring” business stuff that goes beyond shopping for your makeup kit! You’ll have some overhead to manage, and the time you’ll need for that doesn’t come from nowhere! Dedicate time to polishing up your portfolio, setting up appointments, managing your social media sites, and budgeting your expenses. These aspects of business take time—you really don’t want to make any mistakes in your accounting—so don’t bite off more than you can chew, especially at the beginning!

Build a strong portfolio

No, this isn’t about only having a banging Instagram profile! You should build your own dedicated website to show off your best makeup looks on both yourself and your models.

makeup artist certification

Many free sites are available that allow you to showcase your talents. While you are boosting your Instagram profiles by posting your experiments with the latest trends, you should also get in a couple professional shoots to amp up your professional profile. Try reaching out to up-and-coming photographers and models who are all willing to work pro-bono in order to mutually benefit one another.

Physical prints of your work don’t have to be 11x14s in a huge professional portfolio. As long as you have any prints in a photo album, it shows you’re proud of your work and makes you stand out! If you can’t afford to print photos or don’t have a camera, you can even do face charts for some looks you’ve done.

Got your business off the ground but are having trouble staying afloat? Check out this article by QC instructor Nathan Johnson for his tips on staying competitive in the business!

Victoria Begin

Author Victoria Begin

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