5 Ways to Fast-track Your Makeup Career

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It is said that the earliest users of makeup were likely ancient Egyptians, who lined their eyes with kohl. Since then, the world has seen many makeup types and trends, from the porcelain-faced geisha’s to the perfectly contoured Kardashians.

Though the trends are many and varied, there is one thing we know for sure: there is a strong allure to the magic of makeup. A little lipstick and eyeliner can make any woman feel more confident and powerful, and a great amount of satisfaction can be given the artist responsible for painting her face. But whether you’re interested in creating makeup looks to accompany fashion moguls’ designs, making up models for the cover of Vogue or working one-on-one as a makeup artist to your favorite star, there are some things you need to do in order to get ahead of the competition.


1. Develop a Strong Portfolio

So, you have talent. That’s great, but it means nothing if you can’t show off that talent to potential clients or agents. I’ve had conversations with some of the most coveted agents in the makeup world, and when it comes to developing a portfolio, they say these are the things you should keep in mind:

  • Your portfolio should only show the very best of your work. If you’re unsure if an image is good, leave it out. It’s better to have only a few incredibly beautiful images than a large number of lackluster images.
  • If you don’t have any images to fill your portfolio, try to connect with emerging photographers, models and stylists. Keep in mind, though, that all members of the team should be talented, in order to create the best images. If you create a beautiful makeup but the photography is terrible, you won’t want to put the image in your portfolio.

Woman with makeup artist choosing color of eyeshadow

The images in your portfolio should be representative of the industry in which you’d like to work. For instance, if you want to be an editorial makeup artist, you’ll want to be sure to fill your book with clean, fresh-faced makeups. If you like to do multiple styles of makeup, have different sections of your book dedicated to those styles, or different links within your webpage portfolio.

2. Assist the Best in the Biz

If you’re new to the makeup world and you expect to be booked to key a major fashion show tomorrow, your expectations might be a bit unrealistic. One way to get yourself noticed is to assist an influential makeup artist. Find out which agency represents your favorite makeup artist in your area, call them and make it known that you want to be added to their list of assistants. Have your website and portfolio in excellent shape before you call, because if the artist has an assistant opening, all parties involved will want to see your work.

3. Be Persistent: Knock on Doors, Pick up the Phone

If you already have a beautiful portfolio and you haven’t had much luck snagging an assistant position or an agent, you might be rolling your eyes at me right now. But never fear! I’ve heard it first-hand from many major makeup artists that they had to nag and bug and call and email many, many times before they had success. You must be courteous and professional, but don’t give up. Eventually those in charge will discover that a patient, persistent person like you is worth giving a chance.

4. Have a Strong Social-Media Presence

You don’t have to Instagram photos of your daily latte and tweet every waking thought, but you should have some sort of social-media presence. Nowadays, prospective clients, agents and collaborators are all on social media looking for talent, so you’ll want to show photos of your work and link to your website.

Make-up artist working during photo session, horizontal

5. Be Professional When you finally get your chance to show your talent, don’t mess it up by getting in an argument with the photographer, showing up late or wearing so much perfume that you make the model sick. If you’re booked as an assistant, you should be perfectly happy to hold the artist’s brushes while she paints faces. If you’re a joy to work with, you will be booked again. With a little patience and hard work, maybe artists will be begging to assist you one day.


Now we want to hear from you! Do you struggle to get out there as a makeup artist and start your makeup career? Have you tried any of the advice given on this post? Share your experience with us in the comments below. 

PS: Here’s a little gift from us to you! A free eBook with suggestions to create your makeup kit (for makeup beginners and pros). Download it now for free clicking the button below! 


Chantel Fernow is a writer, editor and make-up artist who resides on the Oregon Coast, USA. She is a former beauty editor of the international trade publication Make-Up Artist magazine (https://makeupmag.com/), where she wrote and edited beauty stories and produced high-fashion make-up pictorials with some of the world’s top make-up artists.

During her time spent as education director of the magazine’s International Make-Up Artist Trade Shows (IMATS), held annually in Los Angeles, New York, London, Vancouver, Sydney and Toronto, she recruited speakers (including Oscar and BAFTA winners), built the class schedules and oversaw the program on site.

She has presented her fiction and literary articles at a national level, and with a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing, English literature and philosophy from Colorado Mesa University, her creative works have appeared in such publications as MiPOesias, Tusk and Portland Review, among others. She continues to contribute copy to Make-Up Artist magazine, where she regularly interviews beauty and film artists from around the world.

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