Makeup Artist

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

In the U.S. alone, there are 670,000 people employed in the beauty services sector, an industry that’s expected to expand at an estimated rate of no less than 13% through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A passion for success in this sector could take you from film, TV, and theatre to fashion, from wedding services to your own boutique.

Ask the Expert: Theresa Novicky, Owner of Makeup By Theresa

What is the first step to getting started in the makeup industry?

It depends. If you live in a state where you need a license to be a makeup artist, then that is your first step. If you just want to do makeup, I’d recommend getting an esthetics license, but if you think you may want to add hair services, then a cosmetology license is a good move. In terms of learning how to apply makeup, I gathered a lot of information and techniques from YouTube, as well as working on myself and friends.

After that, you want to get a basic kit together, but I wouldn’t buy a premade kit — you won’t use half of the products and you’ll end up wasting money.

Is the industry growing?

Yes, partly because there’s currently a post-pandemic wedding boom. There’s also a lot of production work lately, as marketing has moved to video, so requests for makeup artists on-set is high and there just aren’t many of them in the Raleigh, NC area.

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What type of person is a great fit to try this?

Someone who is fine with making a slow start. It takes time to get your name out there. You also have to be comfortable being in close contact with people, of course… with being in their personal space. It can also be tough on your body: There is a lot of standing, so invest in a portable chair and good shoes.

I recommend this job to anyone who loves makeup and who has a good understanding of color theory. And even if you don’t, you can learn it on the way.

How much money can a person expect to make in the first year and in five years?

It depends on where you are. In the first year, I grossed $5,000, but I lived in southern Maine and nobody knew me. I relocated to Raleigh, and now make much more. If you can get weekday clients and sell products, you can make around $20,000, but if you can get a full business together and have artists working for you, you can make six figures. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

Related: Need One-on-One Help? Book a Session with an Entrepreneur Expert.

What kind of experience/training do you need?

Again, it depends on where you live. In Maine, I needed a license to accept money for makeup applications, but in other states you don’t. If you don’t need a license, you really don’t need much experience. I learned everything from YouTube, and with time. You can also work at a beauty counter, which helps you get comfortable talking to people and working with different skin tones and face shapes. Now I take at least two makeup classes a year, and usually have to travel for them.

What do you wish you’d known when you were just starting out?

That you aren’t going to please everyone. Just because you get a bad review or negative comment, that doesn’t mean you should shut the door. I certainly felt that way a few times when I started.

Who are your customers?

Typically, they are women aged 25 to 45 who are looking to be the best versions of themselves, and in the most natural way possible. New customers often find me via my website, but I also get a lot of inquiries from The Knot and some from Instagram.

Related: Get the No.1 Guide to Starting Your Own Business



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