Articles - 10th May 2019

What You Need To Know To Become A Freelance Makeup Artist

Words by Becca Gray
Illustration by Jon McCormack

As a Freelance Makeup Artist, I have worked hard, studied hard and put my passion for beauty into my career to get to where I am today. Getting to work with a wide range of companies on different types of shoots means I’m able to explore a wide range of makeup styles and given the opportunity to express myself in different ways. Every single job has left me more prepared and more inspired for my next job.

Here are my top tips on How to become a Freelance Makeup Artist.


This is the most important thing I could possibly tell anyone who wants a career as a Makeup Artist. I completed a three-year-long degree at London college of foundation and it set me up for life.

On the course, we learnt everything about makeup from historical make up, including how Cleopatra did her makeup and how she used it to make a statement, to all the different looks that have been popular throughout the ages. Plus everything else you can possibly imagine that’s to do with beauty in between.

As we practised these looks on each other, I gained experience experimenting with different skin types, tones and colours. This training was so important for my confidence.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of very short courses around and online courses. I have never done either, but I know that neither of these would have been enough for me to start my career based on what I learned and what I have experienced on the job since. Unfortunately, I do hear of a lot of people who do a two-week course and then give up.


If you don’t have the time/money to do a long course, a short one will have to do, but then you will have to make yourself practice, and practice a lot. I would also recommend assisting and learning on the job. Assisting is a great way to learn how to act and prepare yourself for working with others.

It’s not just about your skills as a makeup artist but also how you engage on set, listen to feedback and communicate with clients. There is definitely a backstage code and it’s important to learn this and behave appropriately so you keep getting asked back.

Say yes to everything. Okay, maybe not quite everything but even the jobs you don’t think sound that great could lead to more work. You never know who you are going to meet and what jobs they could give you in the future.

Always be professional

This is so important; from being on time, how you dress and what you say to your clients. I’ve often been told by clients that they have experienced makeup artists who have turned up moaning about their husbands or whatever else. Leave it at the door! It’s all about them and not you.

Look the part. I’ve heard my clients commenting on other artists turning up looking scruffy and not wearing makeup. I know sometimes it’s the last thing we can be bothered to do but at the end of the day you are providing a service and if you want to be high end you have to dress like it too.

Work hard

Some times in my career I have not had a day off for over a month. You gotta do what you gotta do, and just remind yourself it is worth it.

Some people may not agree with this but I would always rather say yes to work and then catch up on sleep and life when the work is quiet. The problem with being freelance is that the jobs and money vary so much from week to week, which you need to consider when choosing when to work and when to rest.

Sometimes I can earn more in a day than I do in the whole of the following week. So now I try to set monthly targets for my earnings and this does help. On any random days off I try not to panic but focus on updating my website, writing blogs or making new contacts.

Invest in an amazing website

My website is my number one way of getting business, other than word of mouth. I would really invest in this if you can and take the time to get it the best it can possibly be. Find a good website designer who knows all about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and how to make it eye-catching.

I got mine redone at the beginning of last year and even though it didn’t look physically different, the investment in the SEO has made a huge difference. Other than this, the only money I have ever spent on advertising is on google ad words. I found this really helped with gaining inquiries.

Collaborate and make friends

I have lots of friends in the industry, other makeup artists who we can moan to each other when things get tough or ask advice if we need a new product. I also am friends with hairdressers and photographers and we recommend each other which really helps. Plus, it’s so much fun to be working with your friends who love the job as much as you do.

Know your client

Learn to read people as much as possible. You want your client to feel happy and confident. Lots of people are extremely nervous to get their makeup done, especially when it’s their first time. You have to go out of your way in order to help them feel relaxes. Remember the client is always right.

There is no point giving them a full-on makeover with contouring/highlighter and the rest, when they want a natural look. Listen to what they ask, make suggestions but, in the end, you want the client to be happy, so do what they want.

Have a social media presence

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with social media. But at the end of the day, I think being self-employed means you do need to be on there and you do need to keep it updated, as future clients will look through your work. See it as a part of your business portfolio and something you have to do.

Give yourself targets of how often to post, and add it to your to-do list. For example, stick to three posts a week. You don’t have to spend hours on it and for me, taking the pressure out of it really helped.

Also, stop comparing yourself to others. Everything looks better on Instagram, so try not to let what other people are doing make you question yourself and your own career.

Don’t give up!

Last but not least. If this is something you seriously love then you must keep going. There will be good days and bad days but remember it’s never going to be easy but it will be so worth it.

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