Being a Makeup Artist: Expectation vs Reality

Once looked down on as a career for those that weren’t academic enough, the Makeup Artistry trade is now on the rise and more popular than ever with business-minded women at the forefront of the industry. You only have to log into your Facebook account or scroll down your Instagram feed to see a makeup artistry account, and it’s not hard to find one in your local area either. Many women go into the world of makeup artistry with false perceptions – some think it’s an easy way out, and some think it’s all about being bombarded with free products daily and living the high life. I’ve personally had a lot of people making assumptions about what being a makeup artist actually means and entails, so, I wanted break it down into the expectations that some people have, and the reality…

Expectation:Brands will notice me and send me loads of free products!”

Reality: You’ll more than likely be buying your own products for some years to come.

It’s really hard to get noticed in the makeup game, even more so now that there are so many people labelling themselves as a Makeup Artist. It might seem simple to set up a blog and start talking about your favourite products, but what’s hard is the consistency and hard work behind the scenes. Sometimes, it could be years before a brand notices you, and the complimentary products only come along once you’re established and on the grind day in day out.

Being a Makeup Artist: Expectation vs Reality

Being a Makeup Artist: Expectation vs Reality | Rachael Divers

Expectation: “It’s easy to learn makeup!”

Reality: Makeup is less than easy to learn in any sense.

Many young girls go into makeup as they think it’s an easy way out and a break from academics, but not only do you need to know all about makeup products, the ingredients, colour theory and application techniques, you also need to know all about the skin, bones and muscles of the face and neck and their functions too. And that’s not accounting for the time and cost of education and ongoing development. It’s not a topic you learn about once and then you’re set for life – it’s an ongoing and evolving process and you will always need to be re-educated on new innovations, techniques and even new product ingredients. Ingredients can be banned or brought out often, and this is something you’ll need to be aware of as innovations continue.

Being a Makeup Artist: Expectation vs Reality | Rachael Divers


Expectation: “I’ll be able to play with makeup all day!”

Reality: Applying makeup is just the icing on the cake…

Sure, applying makeup is a major part of the role of a makeup artist, but if you’re self employed too, there’s so much more to do. I can’t tell you how many hours I lose chasing late payments, writing invoices and sending out receipts alone. Then there’s the large matter of insurance to sort, business premises, bills, kit cleaning, stock control, diary management, advertising, accounting and so much more. Yes, you’ll get to play around with makeup, but it gets much more serious and more complicated than that. Most of your time will be spent marketing your business, ensuring upkeep and of course, making sure Mr Tax Man gets his returns on time.

Expectation: “I’ll get to make over loads of celebrities!”

Reality: Working with models and celebrities doesn’t come that easily…

Working behind the scenes on big productions or movies takes expensive specialist training and a whole load of time and assisting. It isn’t a matter of calling up an agency one day and being put onto a special assignment. You’ll need to steadily gain trust, earn respect and put in a lot of hard work for little return. It’s not as glam as it might seem on the surface, and you’ll more than likely have to take a few steps backwards into a junior role and work your way up once again. And don’t think you’ll be able to tell all your friends and the whole of social media what you’re up to either. Working with people in the public eye requires discretion – you might even be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. It’s all about professionalism, and often celebrity work or special projects have to be kept under wraps. Break your contract or act unprofessionally and you’ll be blacklisted quicker than you can say contour.

Although the reality isn’t quite as glamorous as the expectation, one thing is for sure, makeup artistry can be such a rewarding job and a ton of fun too. You’ve just got to remember that any business takes time to grow along with a lot of nurturing, hard work and care along the way. Remember, all you see online is what people want you to see – it’s not necessarily the reality.

© This post is copyright of Rachael Divers 2017.

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