The Pandemic Has Caused Many Makeup Artists to Pivot — Here's How They're Bouncing Back

Balancing gigs as a freelancer is tough on any day, but there's no telling what it's like in the midst of a pandemic — especially if you're a makeup artist whose job is dependent on close human interaction. As the economy slowly reopens (and as the number of COVID-19 infections continues to rise in the US), some beauty pros who found themselves out of work back at the start of it all, like hairstylists and nail techs, have started accepting clients again, provided that all parties involved wear face masks to lessen the chance of infection.

For makeup artists who come in face-to-face contact with their clients, things aren't that simple, and after five months of our new normal, many who have followed social-distancing guidelines are just beginning to bounce back.

"Before the pandemic, my primary source of income was working on TV sets, beauty campaigns, and fashion editorials," makeup artist and beauty influencer Jonet Williamson told POPSUGAR. "With social distancing being enforced, I haven't been able to do that since March 12, which was the day of my last on-set job." Williamson is fortunate enough to have had six years of experience in the industry under her belt that taught her that having a job isn't always promised. With no way to work, she was forced to dip into the "rainy-day fund" that she's been building up throughout her career.

"As a freelancer, you have to always be mindful that you may not have a gig next week [or] next month."

"As a freelancer, you have to always be mindful that you may not have a gig next week [or] next month, and even when you are getting work, some jobs take 30 to 90 days to pay you. So you learn quickly the importance of saving and how to balance money," she said. At a time like this, you also have to learn how to pivot your business strategy, something that beauty entrepreneur Tiyana Robinson has made a career out of over the last few years.

A former makeup artist based in Washington DC, Robinson is the creator of Makeup Mogul University, an online business school through which she coaches fellow makeup artists on how to scale their businesses and diversify their incomes, something that's especially important now, when those same artists can't rely as much on physical services anymore.

"They're not allowed to have multiple clients in close proximity, they have to sanitize their space between clients, and they have to wear and/or provide PPE to their customers," she previously told POPSUGAR. "All of this affects their bottom line!" With no clear end to the pandemic in sight, Robinson is expanding her business virtually and leaning into finding other digital solutions for her students and those whom she mentors.

One solution is turning to social media and using it as a promotional tool, something that's paid off for Williamson.

"It's crazy to think about, but I've literally had to pivot and find new ways to generate income using my talents. Social media has been a blessing," she said. "Brands that I would normally work with as the makeup artist on set are now hiring me to be the 'talent' or content creator. The pandemic has really forced me to take myself seriously as a content creator, and it's been amazing."

Makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran's career took a similar turn.

"It used to be very taboo to be both a makeup artist and influencer, but not anymore," she told POPSUGAR. "I consider myself to be bridging the gap between the two. Since states have been opening back up, I've been taking more and more shoots on as there have been sporadic busy periods. I've been able to work on content creation for some of the brands I've worked with behind the camera as well, and I don't see this trend dying down anytime soon."

In some ways, you could say that this time has been a big help for both of them. Creating content for brands has allowed Williamson to "dive deeper" and build on her photography, videography, styling, and creative directing skills. But she still misses being able to work on set.

"I miss the feeling of seeing one of my faves on the call sheet and giving them the biggest hug ever once I see them on location," she said. "Now that things are opening back up, I'm still a bit hesitant, but only time will tell."