Makeup Artist License

Do you need a license to be a makeup artist?

Many jurisdictions do not require working professional makeup artists to be licensed. However, some regions will require you to obtain a cosmetology license before you can practice makeup artistry.

Read on to see what your state regulations are, and learn how to properly research what type of certification or license you need!

What You Need To Know

Know the Difference

Learn what the difference is between makeup artists, cosmetologists and estheticians.


Regulations By State

View the makeup regulations in the US by state and the associated labour laws near you.


Do Your Research

Don’t see your state in the list? Learn how to check if a license is required in your area.


Comparison Chart

Before you decide if you need a license, you need to know the difference between a makeup artist, cosmetologist, and esthetician.

Although these 3 professions all learn about makeup, they are not the same. Each requires different levels of training.

Makeup Artists



Job Description

Use cosmetics to alter someone’s face or body. Makeup Artists do not apply permanent makeup. Offer specialized services including hair styling, skincare, and nail care. Specialize in advanced services such as skin treatments, laser hair removal, and permanent makeup.

Required Education

Certification courses
License may be required depending on state regulation.
~3-6 months

Cosmetology programs approved by the local cosmetology board.
1-2 years

Esthetician training programs approved by the state.
~1 year full time

Career Paths

Freelance, retail, theatre, television, movie sets, weddings, editorials. Salons, spas, independent practices. Salons, spas, independent practices.
Download Comparison Chart

Cosmetologists are required to become licensed in most areas, because their services influence the skin, hair, and nails and require more than just cosmetics. The type of program you’re required to take varies from place to place, but once you’ve received your certificate you’ll complete a locally regulated written test and a practical demonstration of your skill.

Like cosmetologists, estheticians must be formally trained and licensed according to the requirements of their local licensing board. Accredited programs will meet the standards of your local board, and you’ll demonstrate your training in a written and practical test.

Makeup Regulations By State

In general, if you are only applying temporary cosmetics, you will not be required to obtain a license based on current regulations in most states.

United States

Click your state below to view your local regulations:


Click your state below to view your local regulations:

  • New South Wales
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania


Click your province below to view your local regulations:

We’re continuously updating this list!

Don’t see your state listed? Keep scrolling to learn how to research if need a license to become a makeup artist


Click your province below to view your local regulations:

Research Best Practices

Here are some steps for you to check if a cosmetology or esthician license is required in your area

Step 1

Look at your state’s official statutes on cosmetology

The “Barber and Cosmetology Act” is usually found under the title “Professions, Vocations, and Businesses” in your state’s statute

The easiest way to find the official statute is through your state’s cosmetology board. On the homepage of the cosmetology board, look for a menu heading that say “Laws”, “Regulations”, or “Statutes”. This will generally link out to the official statute

Step 2

Look at the definitions under the Cosmetology Act

This is usually the 2nd or 3rd section of the Act

Look at the definition for “cosmetology” and/ or “esthetician”. Check to see if the word “makeup application” or “applying cosmetics” are included under the practice of cosmetology and/or estheticians

Makeup application can also sometimes be defined as “appplying powders, tonics, oils, clays, or lotions to scalp, face, or neck”

If makeup application is considered a practice of cosmetology, proceed to Step 3

Step 3

Look at the exemptions in the Cosmetology Act

Usually found a few sections below “Definitions”, look for a section titled as “Application of Chapter” or “Exemptions”

In this section, you will find that you will generally not require a license if you are a makeup artist working in the film & TV and theatre industry, a makeup artist working in a retail environment, or working without compensation

Quick Guide

  • Find your state’s official statutes on cosmetology
  • Check the definitions of cosmetology/ estheticians/ beauticians to see if makeup application is listed as a practice
  • Check to see if there are exclusions in the law
  • Call your labour department
  • Don’t solely rely on what is stated on the state’s cosmetology website

“I loved my course! I thought it was so detailed and interesting and the online videos were amazing. Definitely helped in my journey to becoming an established artist”

Madeleine BulbeckMaster Makeup Artistry Graduate

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