Makeup Artists: What is the Job Really Like?

Hey loves!

A makeup artist. What do they do? What is their lifestyle? Honestly, what sounds better than spending your day playing with colors and painting faces? Guys, it is so much more than that.

From someone who saw what it is really like, let me paint you a picture. What I learned was so eye-opening!

Makeup artistry is a fun, creative job. But like anything else, it is a job. I wanted to do this job my whole life until I moved to NYC and saw this industry for real! When I worked with makeup artists in New York City, they would wake up at the crack of dawn, pack their suitcases with makeup and drag it on the subway to their first job. In order to make money and support themselves in the big city, they would do multiple jobs a day and work until extremely late the same night. They also barely get any days off!

It’s hard work, and let me list off some reasons why. I tend to do better with lists for this type of thing:

  • You work long hours, every single day.

  • If you want to make money, you better be a big fish in NYC or LA. Or, work bridal as a side job. If you are in a smaller city, you have to be the top. And you better be doing hair too!

  • The makeup has to be perfect. Literally perfect. For advertisements, the camera and lights pick up everything. That means seamless, perfect makeup.

  • Oh, and you get however much time the people you work with say you do. You might get 10 minutes, you may get 2 hours.

  • You have to know how to do different makeup for different things. A fashion show and an advertisement require way different types of makeup. Fashion shows are glowier and require less makeup, while advertisements require heavier makeup with no shine.

  • Be prepared for anything. A classic look, a dramatic look, avant garde, etc. You have to have real skills!

  • The makeup world is superficial. The model is too fat or terrible skin? You’'ll hear people straight up say it. You’ll be around disordered eating, perfectionists, etc. It’s hard. Finding real people is a struggle.

  • You will be a therapist for those models. Literally. And, you can’t repeat anything they say in the chair or your job is on the line!

  • After are 30 or so, it stops becoming fulfilling. You’ll start wanting a real job and to not be busting your ass off for a job that doesn’t make you much and that you don’t have to get questions or judgements every time you say what you do.

  • You don’t get a normal lifestyle. Makeup is your life.

  • Is any makeup artist actually washing their brushes or sanitizing their product? Lol, no.

  • If you want more clients, you can be a part of an agency. Which takes a cut from your paycheck. Oh, and in order to work with an agency you need to have great images and have done work. But how do you get work? By being already talented. Honestly, this industry is so saturated and hard to break in, I don’t even know how it’s done anymore.

These are the things that I found after assisting and working jobs. I didn’t hate it all, but those difficult parts of makeup trumped the good things. I loved the creativity and the idea of working for myself. I also loved the art of makeup and making someone feel beautiful! You were surrounded by creatives that had passion and it was a motivating space. Unfortunately, I lost that passion when I saw the dark sides of the industry.

It was something I loved and learned from. And for that, I am grateful. Hope you enjoyed learning about this!