Considering a Career in Makeup Artistry

August 4, 2023

Glamour, Gloss and Guts – Considering a Career in Makeup Artistry

Are you thinking about becoming a certified makeup artist? Perhaps you curious about what a certified makeup artistry course should cover to prepare you for a vibrant career path?  Does earning a makeup course certificate to take your passion for makeup to a new level interest you? This post will take a look at how to become a makeup artist. Let’s discuss some of the criteria that should be evaluated when researching makeup courses.

Beyond product application

Let’s start by considering makeup artistry through a lens that goes beyond conventional stereotypes of brushes, sponges and product palettes.

For example, today’s certified makeup artists are much more than appliers of product. They’re special effects creators, formulation experts and essential professionals. Industries range from entertainment to bridal beauty; product development to couture fashion. While the looks might be glamorous and “glossed up,” they may also reflect “guts.” This is the case of special effects!

For instance, professional makeup lines such as Makeup Designory, widely known in the professional makeup industry as MUD, have helped transform makeup artistry into an an in-demand career. A pioneer in advanced education for makeup artistry, MUD is a leader in developing high quality education. They blend science and technology with artistry and craftsmanship. MUD allows you to create realistic wounds that stand up to the harsh demands of high-definition film. You are able to achieve delicate, luminous bridal looks. You can simply bring out a client’s “natural beauty.” Professional makeup artists use their talent to achieve looks that go far beyond the learnings available on do-it-yourself tutorials.

A credential that transcends glamour

A makeup artistry certificate provides the credential that can open doors to a wide range of work environments. Film sets, fashion runways, editorial and product companies demand makeup artists who have completed a professional makeup artistry course and have received makeup artist certification. Completing a makeup artistry program is often the first step on a journey toward a rewarding career as a freelance makeup artist. The career data company Zippia reported in June 2023 that more than 1,900 freelance makeup artists work in the United States.

Effectively applying products and becoming proficient with techniques like lash extensions are only a few of the skills certified makeup artists rely on in their careers. Makeup artistry requires attention to minute details, open-mindedness and creativity, and knowledge of different skin types, skin tones, and conditions. The largest organ on the human body, skin is ever evolving over a person’s life. As such, makeup artists must have an appreciation of skin and how it changes based on a person’s age, health condition and lifestyle factors. Moreover, some makeup artists specialize in esthetics, working in a spa or salon in addition to providing makeup artistry services.

What to look for in a makeup artistry course

Education is the starting point for turning a makeup hobby into a professional career.

For instance, the professional makeup programs created by MUD have been equipping the world’s top makeup artists since 1997. The company’s proximity to Southern California’s thriving film industry has led to it becoming a renowned educator for special effects and entertainment. MUD education delivers at the elite Bellus Academy, a destination beauty school with campuses in San Diego County and Manhattan, Kansas.

In our Manhattan location, we offer a comprehensive program that includes special effects, air brushing, and bridal makeup. Bellus Academy is proud to be one of the select schools to partner with internationally acclaimed brands Make-up Designory (MUD). Students are equipped with a professional MUD branded kit and perform makeup looks ranging from bridal, theatrical to airbrush techniques.

According to Paul Thompson, Director of Education, makeup education has too often been overlooked in traditional beauty schools. By partnering with a professional brand esteemed in the industry, schools can ensure that their students complete the makeup artistry program with the confidence and credentials to meet and exceed employers’ expectations.

Make-Up Artistry Curriculum

Given the pace at which technological innovation is affecting the industry, it’s important to look carefully at a school’s make-up artistry curriculum. A program should include basic courses on color theory along with essential training on skincare and sanitation.

Additionally, a well-rounded program should offer training on fashion and special effects. Professional-grade products are formulated and manufactured to perform differently than over the counter products sold in retail environments, so an educational program should integrate professional products in its curriculum.

Likewise, the educators who work with students and deliver a school’s curriculum are another factor to consider. Have the educators been recognized with industry awards? What kinds of experience have they had working in the professional beauty industry? Jessica Andrews, a makeup artistry educator at Bellus Academy, draws on her experience. She is a makeup artist with New York Fashion Week and other fashion and beauty venues.

She says it’s important that a makeup artistry program integrate classroom theory with hands-on practical application. Working in a hands-on environment provides experiential learning and helps students gain confidence as their skills evolve. Beyond working in the school salon environment, Bellus Academy students get experience working in the real-world.

For example, Bellus Academy provides services at community events such as military balls, local fashion shows, and community celebrations.

From student to standout

The path from student to stand-out success doesn’t necessarily mean a long trajectory. Energy and passion can help fuel a new makeup artist’s rise. For example, Sparkle Myer, an Indianapolis resident created her own makeup line. She’s has a feature on NBC’s Today Show after wrapping up her program in 2013. She spoke with the Indianapolis Star about her morning TV debut and the opportunities she had to provide makeup for Madonna’s backup singers at an Indianapolis performance.

Aspiring makeup artists may also find it inspiring to talk with students currently enrolled in a makeup program. In addition to asking questions about the curriculum and hands-on learning, it can be helpful to talk with students about the inspiration that led to a career change. For example, many nursing and health care workers are attracted to the esthetics sector based on the similarities in caring for others. Similarly, graphic designers and artists are often attracted to the creativity that makeup artistry offers.

When speaking with a school’s staff, students and graduates, prospective makeup artistry students inquire about the legacy of makeup artistry that stands behind a school’s makeup program. For example, the MUD curriculum comes from the legacy of Hollywood’s studio system; the coalition that effectively put makeup artistry on the map as a career. Thompson has worked in television and commercials, taught extension courses at UCLA and worked as a makeup artist for Disney before joining MUD and leading its education efforts. A holistic approach to makeup artistry that considers how the industry has evolved and continues to change leads to a deeper and more immersive learning experience.

What about networking?

Networking helps build professional connections and opens doors for certified makeup artists. Be sure to ask a school about whether it invites celebrity guest artists and industry influencers for campus visits and discussions. Similarly, students should ask about job fairs, placement services and guidance to support makeup artists as they complete a program and enter the job market. Bellus Academy has cultivated relationships with some of the most esteemed professionals in the beauty and entertainment industry.

There’s a scholarship for that

Identifying the right school to become certified in makeup artistry is a first step. Consider financing the cost of education. Beauty Changes Lives is a nonprofit that equips and empowers future beauty professionals – including makeup artists – through tuition scholarships and mentoring opportunities. A number of esthetic scholarships can help fund the cost of skincare education.

Laura Pascazio, a 2016 recipient of a Beauty Changes Lives scholarship, founded a bridal beauty business in Charleston, South Carolina. Within a year of finishing her beauty school education, Pascazio had a team of eight professionals working for her boutique business.

For example, when Covid shut business down for a while, Pascazio helped her colleagues apply for Beauty Changes Lives micro-grants. Because of that, her success and generosity are profiled in leading beauty trade publications as well as wedding media like The Knot.

A Bright Future

Several factors point to a bright future for careers in makeup artistry. Social media has transformed everything according to Thompson of MUD. Whereas in the past, fashion magazines mostly attracted young women to the “glamour” of professional makeup artistry, social media has accelerated and expanded interest in beauty careers among both men and women.

Certainly, it’s interesting to note how gender roles have evolved when it comes to careers in professional beauty. It can be hard to imagine now, but during much of the 20th century, makeup artistry in the firm and special effects sector was largely the province of men. Since the 1970s, women have increasingly become leaders in the industry, driven by social media, including YouTube tutorials as well as Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and more.  

Makeup is accelerating rapidly as a career path for many reasons. Considering economics, makeup artists are doing very well.

 Interested in learning more about career opportunities in the professional beauty industry? Contacting Bellus Academy and speaking with a dedicated career counselor can be the first step in an amazing career.

Spotlight on Success

8 Questions with Kansas City Fashion Week Make-Up Artist of the Year Jessica Andrews

After working her magic at New York Fashion Week’s  fall 2018 and spring 2019 shows, Bellus Academy director of make-up artist Jessica Andrews  brought her talent – and her Bellus Academy design team students – to Kansas City Fashion Week. On April 13, the Junction City Kansas native took home top honors as Make-up Artist of the Year at the KC Fashion Awards.

Following acceptance of her award, Jessica spoke about how her career is evolving and how Bellus Academy students are joining her on this journey.

How did Bellus Academy start with Kansas City Fashion Week?

Jessica: Bellus Academy has partnered with Kansas City Fashion Week for several years. The show’s organizers have made it standard practice to reach out to the Bellus Academy team, and a great event/education partnership has emerged.

Bellus Academy’s Design Team

Can you describe how you led the Bellus Academy design team to develop this year’s looks?

Jessica: As a make-up artist, it’s important to be able to interpret the fashion designer’s vision on the model’s face. We still created some classic looks like the smoky eye, but this year, there was a lot of bright pops of color on the lips and a general trend toward very bold, dramatic and avant garde looks.

Was there a look that particularly stood out?

Jessica: Yes, the Devil Doll by Audrey Lockwood collection presented vivid contrasts and bright hues of fuchsia, sapphire, emerald greens and scarlet. The Bellus Academy design team created strong makeup looks that played off the bold and forthright fashion statement.

What is the biggest challenge makeup artists face when working a live event?

Jessica:  It’s definitely the clock. New York was a much more hectic environment. Sometimes, you’ll only have two minutes to create a model’s face. At Kansas City Fashion Week, we had time to get inspired and review designers’ looks in advance of the show. Still, most of my students will tell you I was a bit like a drill sergeant racing around backstage and making sure looks were right and ready on time. At New York, it’s another challenge to work with models who are walking at multiple designers shows and  are often projecting dramatically different looks.

What’s Next in Makeup Artistry for Jessica

Where will you be taking your talents next?

Jessica:  I’ll be part of the 18th Street Fashion Show in Kansas City on June 8, but my next big audacious goal is to get to Paris Fashion Week. Then there are also huge shows in America like LA, Miami and various fashion week events in cities coast to coast.

What advice do you offer next-gen make-up artists?

Jessica:  As an educator I tell my students to be prepared. Stay humble. Expect to do pro-bono work to build your connections. Eventually, you’ll see the fruits of your labor. It takes time to build a following so stay patient. Success also takes a willingness to travel and be exposed to new experiences and opportunities. I’m getting to a point in my career where the connections I’ve made are starting to open up doors for me. And it’s exciting!

Have you got any additional projects in the works? Jessica:  Yes! I just launched a line of 3D mink strip eye lashes marketed on my website,

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