Five years ago, there were two or three online makeup schools out there, and they were all credible institutions. Today, there are dozens upon dozens of so-called “online makeup schools” that claim to educate aspiring makeup artists. They vary widely in price and quality, so it’s more important than ever to do your research and pick the best online makeup school to fit your needs.
When researching, be sure to look out for these tricks that shady makeup schools will try to pull!
Cheap course, AMAZING kit
Most good online makeup schools will provide you with a makeup starter kit. This kit should include some of the tools of the trade you’ll need to complete your assignments and practice your makeup artistry skills. But if the makeup course itself is relatively inexpensive and the kit they offer is out-of-this-world fabulous with tons of expensive makeup and tools… then odds are your tuition is really going toward the makeup and not at all toward teaching you how to apply it. The whole point of makeup school is learning professional makeup artistry, not just to get a bunch of expensive makeup disguised as an education!
Vague “how it works” information
In order to properly learn makeup artistry online, you need to be able to complete numerous hands-on assignments AND get personalized feedback from someone who can tell you if you’re doing something wrong. This is not easy to do, and many shady makeup schools don’t bother setting up a good learning process for their students. To hide this from prospective students, a lot of schools just don’t talk about the “how it works” of their learning process on their website. Sure, they’ll give you generic information like “learn online!” and “watch videos!”, but won’t talk about their tutors, grading system, how students get feedback, etc.
Again, you’re enrolling in an online makeup school, and paying them for the education process. So make sure it’s a good one!
No info on your actual tutor(s)
A good way for a shady school to make money is to get a famous makeup artist to record training videos, then sell those videos at a premium, calling it a “course”. Similar to our last point, these shady schools will spend a lot of time praising their “teacher” (the person in the video) but won’t talk about how your assignments will be graded.
Push them to give you an answer (and they’ll do their best to avoid telling you!) and you’ll learn that your assignments will actually be graded either by a computer program, or by their staff who have little-to-no makeup experience. If a makeup school doesn’t make it crystal clear that all of your assignments will be graded by your personal tutor who is a professional makeup artist, be sure to confirm that this is indeed the case before enrolling.
Shady companies have no qualms about making up fake customer reviews. So it’s best to go to an impartial website like a company’s Facebook page in order to get honest reviews direct from students. But even on Facebook, you have to be careful. Shady makeup schools will often create fake student profiles, pay social media users, or have their own employees write phony Facebook reviews in order to make the school seem legit and well-off. These can be hard to catch, but here’s what you should look for:
A large number of reviews all made within a very short timeframe;
A large number of reviews where the users are all from the same area or work for the same company;
Reviews that all share the same text, or no text at all;
A Facebook page with a lot of reviews, but very few active followers
If you suspect a company’s reviews are fake, try reaching out to some of the reviewers. Someone who wrote a fake review (especially if it’s a review from a while ago) is unlikely to ever reply to you. Whereas a real student from a credible school will be more likely to reply and give you honest feedback about their experience.
No one wants to talk to you
The whole point of a shady makeup school is to make as much money as possible, without a whole lot of effort. This means that many of these companies aren’t staffed very well, and will likely not spend a whole lot of effort or money on customer service or student support. So if you have your doubts about a school, pick up the phone! If you’re calling them during their regular business hours (which, by the way, should at least be 9-5 Monday to Friday in North America), and they don’t pick up the phone, that’s a problem. If you send them an email and you don’t hear back, or receive a reply that’s unfriendly, unhelpful, or full of spelling mistakes, etc., it’s a pretty good indication that it’s an overall crappy school!
It’s one thing to offer payment plans for your tuition, and a good online makeup school should offer this. But these payment plans are offered as a convenience on your set tuition, and your payments end on a specific date. Some shady schools offer a subscription-based tuition. This is where you’ll pay them a monthly fee in perpetuity just to access their training materials or to keep your certification “valid”. This is often attractive especially if you’re on a budget, because their monthly payments are lower than a credible school, but in the end it’s really just a money grab. Don’t fall for it!
Look, it’s unfortunate, but a lot of so-called online makeup schools out there really just want your money and don’t care about your education. Your best defense against these scams is to know what to look for and thoroughly research before enrolling. A good rule of thumb: a credible school will be happy to explain everything to you, show you course samples, put you in touch with their students or graduates, and encourage you to shop around. Once you know what you’re getting yourself into, you can start on a journey to an amazing career as a makeup artist with a school you’re confident will help you achieve your goals!