Starting Out as a Makeup Artist and Pursuing Your Passion

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I never thought I would ever seriously look into becoming a professional makeup artist. I was just a girl who watched one too many Michelle Phan makeup tutorials. Completely self taught. No formal education. No license. Not even a kit I could be proud to call my own. Only ever did makeup on myself or on the occasional willing friend. It was an idea I nurtured in the very back of my mind, but never really pursued… Mainly out of fear and doubt.

Fear and doubt have a way of keeping us from doing the most incredible things.

“I don’t have the education.”

“I’m afraid of failing.”

“Passion isn’t going to pay the bills.”

“I’m not good enough.”

The first piece of advice I’m going to give you today is one that I constantly have to tell myself: Your passion is always worth pursuing.

If your passion is in beauty, then today’s post is for you. I recently, FINALLY, began my journey as an aspiring professional in the beauty industry and I’ve gathered some tips from makeup artists I’ve met that have really helped me get started.

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  • Educate yourself. If you have the means to go through formal training right now, go for it. If you don’t… Don’t let that stop you! There are so many successful self-trained makeup artists in the industry. Use the internet as a resource. Learn from other makeup artists. Pay attention when you’re getting your makeup done.
  • Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Maybe you’re killing it at full-on Rue Paul’s Drag Race makeup, but not so much at minimal no-makeup makeup. Or you’re really good at a smokey eye but haven’t mastered the perfect winged eyeliner. Remember: practice makes perfect and you want to be putting practice into areas you know you could be better at.
  • Get yourself some business cards. I’m a strong believer in the law of preparation. Wale Oladipo said “You cannot enter into any outstanding future you are unwilling to prepare for.” You may not have clients yet, but you never know who you are going to meet. I’ve been in so many situations where complete strangers have asked for my business card, even without seeing a portfolio, and I didn’t have one to give them.

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  • Fake it ’til you make it. I recently had the opportunity to work with a makeup artist who has decades of experience in the field and she told me this. There isn’t anything you can’t do (or can’t learn to do). Refer to the first bullet point.
  • Build your kit but, when going on your first few gigs, try not to dwell on what you’re missing. You can always mix colors together to get the right shade of foundation, concealer or lipstick. You can double up your lipstick as a cream blush. You can use a darker foundation or concealer as contour if you happen to be missing the right shade. You can make it work.
  • Always remember to take before and after photos. This is not my greatest strength. It’s easy to get a little overly excited, dive right into it, and completely forget to take a before photo. It’s just as easy to become so absorbed in that moment when your client sees the finished result and forget to take an after photo. You’re trying to build your portfolio. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures!

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My last tip is to be proud of your work. You’re doing what you’re passionate about. You help remind women how beautiful they are every day.

Good luck!

Shelley (:


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