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What is a Freelance Makeup Artist?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A freelance makeup artist is a cosmetics professional who usually travels to his or her clients' locations. In addition to applying makeup, a cosmetics artist may also style hair or provide skin care advice and products. Cosmetology school training, professional cosmetics equipment, and a photo gallery of his or her work are the most common credentials and tools that this person needs.

While specialization in areas such as advertising, weddings, and film makeup are possible for freelance makeup artists, many work with clients in a variety of industries. Ad agencies, as well as public relations firms, hire freelancers to provide hair and makeup services for commercials and photo shoots. Brides may not only choose a makeup artist to apply her cosmetics as well as create a stunning bridal hairstyle, but also to create special occasion makeovers for the groom and wedding attendants. Freelance professionals may be hired for hair and makeup services at "on location" movie sets. On location film sets are those that are conducted at different indoor and outdoor settings within a town, neighborhood, region, or country rather than inside a movie studio.

Makeup artists who work freelance in the film industry often have special effects training in creating theatrical and dramatic looks. For example, they will often need to be an expert in creating a character's bleeding forehead look using cosmetics, but must also understand how to compliment a period costume with realistic looks that match the time. For instance, Victorian women in the 19th century typically only wore faint cheek color as the style was pale skin; veins showing at the neckline were thought to be attractive. Makeup artists working on films must do their research to apply cosmetics accurately. In the Victorian example, they may use light foundation to create a suitably pale skin look, then add a fine blue eyeshadow pencil to create the illusion of prominent veins.

Freelance makeup artists typically continue taking courses to keep their skills up to date. They may also take classes to allow them to specialize in a specific area, such as fashion and working with models on photo shoots. A professional makeup artist typically strives to use quality, non-allergenic cosmetic products on all of his or her clients. These individuals must build a reputation and use client testimonials as well as photos of their past work to help gain better paying projects, and many freelancers have websites that promote their achievements in the professional cosmetics industry to prospective clients.

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Discussion Comments

By bear78 — On Feb 16, 2013

@suntan12-- I agree! I love doing makeup! Doing this as a job would be a dream and doing it freelance is even better.

By ZipLine — On Feb 16, 2013

@ddljohn-- You can but if you want to be paid competitive rates and have many clients, you should receive professional training.

I have a friend who is very good at makeup. She basically has all the knowledge that a professional makeup artist has. She does bridal make-up for friends and acquaintances. She is making a decent amount, but if she wants to increase her rates, she needs to have some sort of professional certification.

At some point, she will probably run out of acquaintances to work for and will have to be a professional to find clients.

By ddljohn — On Feb 15, 2013

Can I work as a freelance makeup artist without getting training?

By SauteePan — On Mar 07, 2011

Suntan12 - I agree that it does sound like a fun job. I remember when I was getting married, I hired a makeup artist to do my makeup and I learned so much for the way that he applied my makeup.

I was really interested in how he made my eyes really stand out. I normally applied my eye shadow along the creases of my eye lids but he made an arch from the inner corner of my eye and worked his way out. It looked really good.

I think that bridal makeup is the most fun because you get to see people when they are really excited and make them look terrific.

I know that top freelance makeup artists earn a salary of over $100,000 in many major markets. Wedding makeup and special events really create the biggest opportunities.

By suntan12 — On Mar 06, 2011

I think it would be really fun to be a makeup artist. I used to work behind the cosmetic counter for Clinique and I loved doing makeovers on the customers.

We would also have special event makeup artists that would help us out during special promotions. There are many professional makeup artists that began behind the counter and then went on to cosmetology school and became a successful freelance makeup artist.

Some of these makeup artists find jobs within cosmetic companies as trainers for the salespeople. They teach the sales associates how to apply the makeup correctly and use multiple products in order to maximize their sales.

They often travel and hold training seminars when there are new product launches. They hold basic and advanced training classes for all of the sales staff in order to help the company make its sales goals.

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