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Should I Become a Makeup Artist?

7 Essential Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Makeup Artist

Everyone wants to be a makeup artist these days. If they don't already think they are one, they are aspiring to be one after hours of watching YouTube tutorials and Instagram pictures.

You might do your own makeup beautifully and possibly your friends' makeup, but do you have what it takes to be a working makeup artist in the real world?

While perfect makeup application is an important piece of the puzzle, there is a lot more to think about. It's not all about re-creating an Instagram photo — in fact it very rarely is. I'm actually a working makeup artist, and here I'm sharing the seven essential questions to ask yourself before taking on the job.


1. Are you squeamish?

Regular old human beings will be your clients as a working makeup artist. Most of us do not have the luxury of working on perfect runway models or celebrities every day. Regular human beings tend to have regular human conditions such as facial hair, acne, skin tags, runny noses, eye boogers, nose boogers, bad breath, and other varieties of unsightly bumps and patches of flaky skin.

If you cannot discretely ignore all of these human conditions and bodily fluids, and make the person in your chair feel comfortable and beautiful, you might want to rethink your career path.

2. Can you diagnose skin infections and conditions?

People will often come to a makeup artist with conditions that could potentially infect yourself, your tools, and your entire makeup kit. It is imperative to be able to spot these career killers. If you cannot recognize potential pink eye or poison ivy or impetigo, you will be in a world of hurt.

Be prepared that clients that are desperate for a makeup application will often lie about their conditions or might not realize that they have something that is potentially contagious. If you make the mistake of using your brushes on an infected person and then you dip those brushes into your makeup, you could potentially infect your future clients, as your tools and products will be contaminated. Nothing kills business faster than clients telling others that they contracted an infectious disease from you. Not to mention the expense that you could potentially incur when you are forced to throw out your kit!

3. Do you know how to cover an oozing zit or scab?

Acne is a special condition that is not often seen on beautiful editorial photographs. There are all different stages of acne breakouts that need to be considered. Are you comfortable touching skin that is possibly oozing or covered in white heads?

Another stage of acne is the picked-at bleeding scab. This is something that is virtually impossible to hide, and often just as unpleasant as the zit that's about to burst. You will have to be able to stomach this and politely and hygenically cover these blemishes as best as you can.

4. Can you take direction?

You might have your own creative ideas for your clients. You will probably think that your ideas are best. It is very rare that you will be able to have full creative control over your subject. You, as the hired makeup artist, will often have to follow direction from a photographer, a bride, a lead makeup artist, or the client herself. Even if you disagree with the look, you will have to grin and bear it.

5. Do you have a thick skin?

If you are easily offended, then makeup artistry is no the field for you. There will be times when you pour your heart and soul into creating the most beautiful look on a client. You will hand her the mirror and she will stare in horror at her reflection. She might cry. She might start wiping makeup off of her face. She might ask that you redo the entire eye look or rip off the lashes. She might say aloud something like "Do I look like a prostitute?" or my personal favorite, "Do I look like a clown?"

No matter how good you are at your job, you will never make everyone happy. In the beauty business, you have to be able to take criticism and unhappy clients and figure out a way to fix it. Sometimes it will be unfixable, some clients will never be happy, and when that happens you have to be able to shake it off.

6. Do you enjoy sitting down?

If you are looking to go into a field where you can enjoy leisurely lunch hours or are able to sit down during the day, you should not choose to be a makeup artist. Especially when doing weddings or big shows and events, there is little to no downtime.

You will have someone in and out of your chair for hours on end. You will find that the latte you bought in the morning will be cold by the time you take a sip, and your feet will be killing you after being on them for eight to 12 hours at a stretch.

7. Do you have a poker face?

You will meet people from all walks of life in this field. You will see face after face and hear story after story. Not everyone will be your favorite client. Are you able to stop yourself from rolling your eyes? Can you hide your annoyance when your client goes into a 20-minute diatribe of why she cannot have makeup with gluten in it? Can you keep a smile on your face no matter how difficult someone can be? What will you say or do when they start wiping the makeup off that you just worked so hard on? If you have a hard time hiding your emotions, you need to reconsider this field for sure.

If you answered "yes" to most of these questions — then you are on your way to one of the most fun and creative fields there is. If you answered mostly "no's" it's time to reconsider your career path and just enjoy makeup as a fun hobby.

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