I have been working as a freelance makeup artist for eight years now, starting rather late in my career. I have had a few young people ask me recently for my opinion on whether or not they should go to makeup school if they want to pursue a career as a makeup artist.
I can tell you that the industry has changed immensely over the last decade. Between beauty blogs, YouTube and Instagram, the interest in makeup and makeup artistry has exploded, and the growth has been nothing short of remarkable. Fifteen or twenty years ago, there weren’t even a fraction of youngsters, as there are now, with the desire to grow up to be a makeup artist. Back in the day, it was unimaginable that this could be a rewarding career.
I have always been passionate about makeup and had a natural flair for it. I had never really considered becoming a professional makeup artist, simply because I didn’t want to live and work in a big city. It wasn’t the lifestyle I was interested in. I love nature, and I love living in a rural area. I assumed it meant that a career in makeup wasn’t possible, because there aren’t big cosmetic retailers anywhere near me and recognizable television, film and print work is hard to come by outside of a big city. So I just didn’t consider it.
Fast forward to my early 30s and I realized that there was a market for bridal beauty out in the beautiful rural areas, which seemed like a path I could pursue. I supported this by beauty blogging in the off-season and taking on additional makeup jobs for proms, special events, and boudoir and photography shoots. This helped me realize that I could have a solid career as a makeup artist regardless of where I live. It’s not always glamorous and it’s not highly lucrative, but it feeds my passion for helping women feel beautiful.
I didn’t go to makeup school. I self-taught to support and supplement my natural talent. So, when I’m asked if going to makeup school is “necessary” my response is, it depends. You don’t have to go to school to be a makeup artist, and I’m proof of that. I always take the discussion further by asking them questions that will help them carve their own path:
What kind of makeup artistry are you looking to pursue as a career path?
I think the answer to this question is the predominant factor in whether or not you “need” or should consider going to get a diploma or certificate at a professional makeup school. While professional training wasn’t required for me as a bridal and boudoir makeup artist, it’s a completely different story when you get into other forms of makeup artistry. For example, fields where you’re expected to implement highly skilled techniques and consider factors such as lighting effects, colour theory, skin analysis, etc. definitely require specialized training. Some examples of these fields include:
I want to emphasize that there’s a huge difference between doing your own makeup and posting it on Instagram or YouTube versus working with actual clients in a professional or industry setting. Obtaining professional training gives you opportunities to learn and perfect not only your techniques but also exposes you to the inner-workings of the industry with which you may have been unfamiliar with previously.
Here’s another thing you must consider— There is a lot more competition nowadays compared to when I first started working as a makeup artist. Thanks to social media platforms, YouTube and Instagram, there is a dramatically higher interest in makeup artistry as both a hobby and a career aspiration. Taking a professional makeup artist certification program will improve your skills, build your confidence and credibility, and show a dedication to your craft that can help you stand out amongst the competition.
Some other benefits of going to a reputable school like the CMU College of Makeup Art & Design are:
- Peer and I
- Industry Insider Knowledge
- Learn Proper Industry and Client Etiquette
- Build References
- Build Your Portfolio
- Hone Your Technical Skills
- Learn Proper Business Skills
Accredited cosmetology schools do qualify for financial aid, such as OSAP in Ontario, for their diploma programs. It is important to look for a program that is offered by a school that maintains a reputation for excellence and success among its graduates. Do your research and invest in training that supports your dedication to excelling in your future career as a makeup artist.