One of the first questions every aspiring makeup artist asks is, “How much money can I expect to earn?” It’s a good question—especially since people may be telling you that being a professional makeup artist may not be a solid career option. If you are currently battling doubters and naysayers, a few minutes of research will quickly show that thousands of men and women have found success in the beauty world. It is a $900 billion industry, after all.
Of course, your clients must be sure that buying your services will be money well spent. Don’t make the same mistake as many novice makeup artists by launching your career before you are properly trained. This can ruin your reputation and spoil your business.
A competent makeup artist should earn between $90 and $125 for a single application. But, that’s just the beginning. Bridal makeup can cost $250 with additional charges for bridesmaids, maids of honor, mother of the bride and mother-in-law. Then, of course, there’s the pre-wedding makeup trial for around $150. You’ll charge more if you also style hair, provide skincare advice, apply false eyelashes or use airbrush makeup. Sure, you can make a decent salary as a professional artist but your goal is to add value to your services and to charge more for the extras your clients will love.
Here’s how to boost your earnings.
Take a professional makeup course—it’ll help you earn more
After watching videos on YouTube and checking out looks on Instagram, many makeup-enthusiasts start advertising themselves as professional artists before they’re ready. It takes some talent to copy makeup looks by checking photos and watching tutorials, but it will never replace proper training.
Because social media training focuses on copying a look, it does little to teaching proper technique. And copying, by its very nature, destroys creativity! Copying a look does not make someone a makeup artist… but using professional makeup techniques to enhance your client’s features sure does.
Do you have a working knowledge of application techniques, color theory, current trends, facial structure, and skin types? This knowledge comes through training and practice. Once you graduate from your makeup certification classes, you’ll be qualified to start taking freelance makeup artist jobs and earning good money.
Be realistic with your salary expectations
As a new artist, don’t expect to earn big bucks at the start. Setting your rate appropriately as a newcomer will give allow you to develop a reputation and a following of loyal clients. Overpricing before you have lots of professional experience could sink your career before you start.
Before pricing your makeup services, consider:
- Your level of professional makeup training – excluding copying
- Your industry experience
- Your makeup portfolio & resume
- The price point of competing artists in your area
Even if you’re better trained than other established makeup artists in your region, you would be smart to set yourself at the median price point when starting out. This friendly price point will make it easy for people to take a chance on you. Clients will then come to you through word of mouth recommendations. Once you are well established, raise your rates as you see fit.
When you should raise your makeup artistry prices
There are two fast ways to raise your rate. The first is through advanced training. Certified makeup artists should always be learning and growing. If you continue to educate yourself, you will constantly be improving and your rates will naturally increase because you will be in high demand. Advanced makeup courses such as Airbrush Makeup, Pro Makeup Workshop, Global Beauty, and Skincare will raise your expertise and your rate.
The second way to increase your makeup salary is to add celebrity clients and challenging projects to your resumé. In addition to those two fast routes, there is one tried and true way: accumulate experience. As your reputation grows, so will the prices you charge.
Other routes to increase your makeup artist salary
When starting out, I suggest seeking out bridal makeup artistry clients. They are often the first and most readily available clients for emerging makeup artists. You can make a very good salary from bridal makeup alone. If you live in a large city, you may also find work doing photoshoots, runway shows, low-budget films, and TV gigs.
Signing up with a direct-to-client makeup company or working at a makeup counter will get you a tremendous amount of real-world practice. You’ll also earn a good income and expose your artistry to a variety of potential clients. As your experience grows, you’ll find other opportunities. You may sign up with an agency, join a film and TV union, design for the runway, or work with celebrity clients. All these freelance makeup artist jobs come with high salaries.
You set your own income level
Makeup may be a creative career, but you have much more control over it than you think. Makeup artists willing to put in the time to educate themselves, practice, and take the steps toward their goals will find success.
Makeup artistry is a career like any other. If you take it seriously, success and a good income will be yours. So to answer the question, “What can I expect to make?”— well we can tell you about basic rates but, frankly, the sky’s the limit. It depends entirely on you and your ambition.
If you’re on social media, find me and always tag me on your work—I love to offer advice and give out hearts! @nathanwalnut