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How do I Become a Celebrity Makeup Artist?

By Simone Lawson
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Celebrity makeup artists work with performers to create fashionable and flattering appearances that are enhanced by cosmetics. Makeup artists may apply cosmetics before television, theater or film performances in preparation for awards shows or benefit functions as well as various public appearances. To become a celebrity makeup artist, it is helpful to complete formal training and obtain a cosmetology license, build a strong clientele and create a stunning portfolio.

The first step towards becoming a celebrity makeup artist often involves proper training and education. It is helpful to gain acceptance into a reputable and well-known cosmetology school. Completing training at a renowned school will provide the most up-to-date training and increase the chances of meeting influential clientele. The celebrity makeup artist industry is highly competitive, so possessing the best training will greatly increase a cosmetologist’s advantage over other candidates when applying for jobs.

Cosmetology programs are often broken down by the hour. Most programs require an average of 1, 250 hours to complete training. Makeup artists often study hair cutting and coloring, nail care and beauty treatments in addition to training in makeup technique and application. Specialized training is required for those seeking to create special effects makeup for film and theater productions.

It is important to check with the school regarding licensure agreements before enrolling in a program to become a celebrity makeup artist. Most employers require cosmetologists to be licensed and trained in the location in which they are working. Some schools may have reciprocity agreements with other areas that will allow cosmetologists to obtain licensure in other areas without having to obtain another certificate. If the school does not have a reciprocity agreement with any other areas, the cosmetologist will likely only find employment in the area in which they completed training.

Networking and actively seeking new clientele is an important step to become a celebrity makeup artist. Many artists meet employers during their training period. Television and film agencies will often send scouts to reputable schools to seek out new and interesting talent. Teachers at the school may know of various agencies that a cosmetologist may send portfolios and resumes for consideration.

Most programs require a certain number of hours to be spent performing practical application. It is generally a good idea to invite influential and well-connected people to act as models for cosmetic application practice. This helps to complete training hours while allowing others to experience a first-hand view of one’s work.

Building a creative and diverse portfolio is an essential component to become a celebrity makeup artist. A portfolio should display a cosmetologist’s best work while showing their ability to create many different looks and styles. Portfolios often serve as a makeup artist’s strongest asset when seeking employment. Many training programs offer courses in portfolio building, but if it is not included as part of the program, it may be beneficial to complete a portfolio course independently after graduation.

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Discussion Comments

By KoiwiGal — On Dec 06, 2013

@Mor - That doesn't mean getting into this kind of industry is completely out of your power. You just do what everyone else has to do in order to break in. You work for free for a while until you manage to meet the people you need to get into paid work. There are always plenty of spots in short films that need good people to work for basically food or a pittance. There are internships that can be found in almost every aspect of film where you will basically be a gofer until you develop some skills.

If it's makeup in particular you want, I would just volunteer to work on every possible show you can, whether it's a school pageant or a student film, until you make the right contacts and start building a reputation. You'll also be able to practice your skills which definitely can't hurt.

By Mor — On Dec 05, 2013

@clintflint - Unfortunately, I think it's almost certainly going to turn out to be a matter of who you know in getting these kinds of jobs. I can't imagine they often advertise for makeup artists in the local help wanted sections. More likely someone already knows someone suitable and that's how they get the job.

By clintflint — On Dec 04, 2013

I think the best way to find out how to become a celebrity makeup artist is to do some research on how other people managed it. There are probably quite a few interviews out there and it wouldn't surprise me if makeup artists were willing to email a few details out to someone if they were interested and polite about it. I would try to talk to people who were recently able to break into the scene, as well as people who might have been doing the work for a while, just to make sure you are completely up to date with the industry.

And if three out of the five people you talk to say they went to a particular school or took a particular course, then that's what you should also do.

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