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How To Become A Freelance Makeup Artist

We’ve all seen the amazing make up artists on YouTube and Instagram but have you ever thought about joining them? Learning how to become a freelance makeup artist can be the start of an incredibly rewarding and lucrative career.

Doing what you love is always the best way to start a small business and if beauty is your jam, then why not turn it into a side hustle?

Today we will take you through an in depth guide to getting started as a make up artist whether you want to work in stage, at weddings or in a salon. 

First we will learn about the industry and the different types of makeup jobs available.

Second, we’ll develop your portfolio to showcase your skills and work.

Third, you can start to network with professionals in the industry and build relationships with them to get your first clients. 

Finally, offer your services and start earning money!

Keep reading for everything you need to know to become a successful make up artist!

how to become a freelance makeup artist

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How To Become A Freelance Makeup Artist

What is a Freelance Make Up Artist?

Freelance makeup artist is a term used for a makeup professional who is not employed by a salon or cosmetic company. While a freelance is not tied to any organization or brand as a permanent employee, they may visit people’s homes or have their own studio that clients can visit. 

Freelance make up artists artists typically work for themselves, contracting their services to clients on a per-job basis.

Some freelance artists also work as consultants or educators, teaching other professionals about makeup application and techniques.

Just like employed make-up artists, freelance makeup artists help clients accentuate their natural beauty. They suggest certain cosmetics, colors and trendy looks and are experts at doing using make-up in different ways. 

Makeup artists may work behind the scenes at a wedding doing makeup for the bride and bridesmaids or they may work in stage and film makeup.

The different jobs a freelance make up artist may work include:

  • Weddings
  • Model shoots
  • Stage plays and TV
  • Dance recitals and pageants
  • Ad campaigns
  • Makeup classes

The Benefits of Working As A Freelance Makeup Artist

Working as a freelancer isn’t for everyone but if you are interested in starting your own business, it can be a great way to make money and do what you love.

Here are some of the reasons to get started as a freelance make up artist:


Freelance makeup artists are free to set their own hours and work when it suits them. You can start working as a freelancer on a part-time basis and then build up to full-time as you wish. 

Unlimited Earning Potential

As you will set your own prices and your own hours, the sky is the limit when it comes to how much money you can make as a freelance make up artist. 

Ability to build your own brand

Many freelance makeup artists can end up creating and selling their own products once they have established a brand for themselves. Many clients will ask for your product recommendations and they will want your expertise in all things cosmetics.

Career Opportunities

Being a freelance make up artist can go further than painting faces. You can create your own online courses to teach others how to do makeup or you can even self-publish a book with your professional make-up tips and tricks. 

You can also build a following on social media and get paid for promoting products that you love (in addition to getting freebies too!). 


How To Become A Freelance Makeup Artist – Step By Step

As a freelance makeup artist, you can expect to be responsible for your own marketing, scheduling, and billing.

You will also need to be comfortable working with a range of clients, from individual women and men to weddings and other special events.

It’s important to be knowledgeable about different types of makeup and application techniques, as well as the latest trends in beauty.

You should also be comfortable working under pressure and on tight deadlines.

Now you know exactly what a freelance makeup artist is, let’s go through the steps to becoming one and starting your own business. 

Step 1- What Kind Of Freelance Makeup Artist Are You?

You may already have an idea in mind but it is important to decide what kind of makeup artist you want to be.

Do you want to work at weddings or in theatre? Is there a market for that kind of work in your area? 

Bear in mind that your lifestyle will play a part in the kind of makeup artist you want to be.

For example, bridal artists primarily work on the weekends while working in theatre can involve very late nights and long hours. 

Here are some of the options to consider:

  • Bridal make up
  • Stage make up
  • Photographer’s companion
  • Special effects and costume make up
  • Modelling 

Once you have decided what kind of make up you want to specialize in, the easier it will be to set up your freelance make up artist business and find clients.

Don’t skip this step because choosing your niche now will make things easier in the future. 

Step 2- Get Certified

What Skills Do You Need To Become A Freelance Make Up Artist?

Freelance makeup artists are in high demand for film, television, and photo shoots.

But before you can start landing work, you need to build up your skills and experience.

Here are some of the things you need to know to become a successful freelance makeup artist.

First, you need to have a strong understanding of basic makeup techniques.

This includes everything from foundation application to eye shadow placement.

You should also be familiar with the different types of products available and how to use them correctly.

In addition to your technical skills, you also need to be able to work well under pressure.

When you’re working on a shoot, everything needs to be done quickly and efficiently so that the crew can move on to the next shot.

Obviously a love for everything make-up and skincare is the number one skill you need.

You’ll also need a good foundation (see what I did there!), in color palettes, contouring and other aspects for using make-up to accentuate the face.

Here are some of the skills a good make up artist needs: 

  • Creativity, artistic skills and boldness.
  • Knowledge and understanding of different skin types and skin problems
  • The ability to hear a vision and put in into practice
  • A willingness to try new things 
  • Knowledge of different brands, brushes, and other tools.
  • Good communication skills to work with clients to achieve the desired look
  • Business acumen – organization, self-promotion and planning at all very important for freelancers

Although you can start off working as a freelance makeup artist by creating your own YouTube channel, it can help to take a cosmetology course if you want to get real freelance work. 

Makeup artist training courses are available in person and online and will help you to become a certified make up artist. 

The Best Freelance Makeup Artist Course

There are lots of different make up courses you can take depending on the kind of artist you want to be. As you can imagine, stage make up is very different from bridal cosmetics. 

A great place to find online courses is Udemy. I love Udemy for learning new skills because:

  1. The classes are self-paced, so you can plan your learning around your own schedule. 
  2. The price of these courses is much less than if you received training from a makeup academy in person but you will get to learn the same skills.
  3. You can take these courses from the comfort of home

Here are some of the best courses that they offer:

Makeup Artistry Basic to Masterclass

how to make money as a make up artist

Course Structure: 31 sections • 157 lectures • 6h 36m total length

What you’ll learn:

  •  Learn about topics like Sanitation & Hygiene, Color Theory, Skin Preparations & Primers, everything about Foundations (Skin Undertones, Coverage & Usage, etc. ), Brushes guidelines, Clients Consultation, Makeup preparations & appointments, etc.
  •  Enhancing your own beauty by learning the basic application techniques of Highlighting & Contouring, creating a Natural Eye Makeup Look, Shaping Eyebrows, Applying False Lashes, etc.
  •  Learn to apply your new skills on different Facial Features, Skin Types & Skin Shades!

This course gets a 4.6/5 from 1062 past students. 

Hair & Make Up + Bridal Course

how to be a freelance make-up artist

Course Structure: 9 sections • 33 lectures • 12h 19m total length

What you’ll learn:

  • A complete guide to eye make up
  • Day to evening looks
  • How to create vintage make up looks
  • Different face shapes and skin types
  • How to create romantic bridal looks

This course is run by London School of Trends and gets great reviews. 

How To Be A Professional Make Up Artist

how to become a freelance make up artist

If you want a really in depth course then consider taking this one that will show you everything you need to know to become a make up artist. 

Course Structure: 4 sections • 66 lectures • 25h 10m total length

What you’ll learn:

  • Everything you need to know about skincare and make up
  • Image consulting 101
  • Things you need to know as a beauty professional

Step 3: Get your make up kit

Building Your Freelance Artist Makeup Kit

As a Freelance Makeup Artist, you will need to have an extensive makeup kit with excellent quality products to cover any occasion. 

If you are a makeup fanatic, you may already have favorite brands and products that you can incorporate into your make up kit. 

Building your freelance makeup artist kit can be expensive so make sure to do research before you splash out a lot of money. 

Decide when to invest extra money for higher quality products and when a more moderately priced option will do.

Remember that you will need to have options for different skin types and different shades of skin color.

You can buy large palettes of foundations and eye shadows from places such as Sephora that can help you build up your make up artist kit quickly. 

Also check discount stores such as Marshalls and Kohls for bargains too. 

Organize your kit before starting it so that it’s easy and quick to use when you are working at a job.

Having a clean and organized make up kit will position you as a professional who knows what they are doing. 

What equipment do freelance makeup artists normally require?

  • The most important equipment for a freelance makeup artist are a good set of quality brushes. 
  • You’ll also need foundations in a variety of shades and coverage
  • Bear in mind that you might have to cover blemishes and even tattoos
  • Some make up artists like to offer airbrushing so consider adding that to your kit if you can afford it
  • Blush, eyeshadow and lip color should all be in your kit too
  • Contouring and bronzers are other things to consider
  • You may also need false eyelashes and glue
  • Good portable lights are essential for freelance makeup artists as you never know where you will be working


 Make-Up Kit Essentials:

make up kit for freelance makeup artist


  • Moisturizer
  • Primer
  • Face mist

Face Make-up

  • Foundation
  • CC Cream
  • Setting spray
  • Concealer
  • Setting powder
  • Contour 
  • Highlighter
  • Powder
  • Bronzer
  • Blush

Eye Make-up

  • Under eye concealer
  • Tightening balm
  • Eye Primer
  • Mascara
  • Eyeliner
  • Kajal
  • Eyelash curler
  • Eyebrow pencil
  • Eye shadows

Lip Essentials

  • Gloss
  • Lip liner
  • Lip balm/Vaseline
  • Matte colors
  • Lipstick

Brushes and Tools

  • Face brush (for applying foundation)
  • Smaller angled brush
  • Fan brush
  • Powder brush
  • Eyeshadow blender brush
  • Blender sponge
  • Powder Puff
  • Applicators
  • Tissues
  • Cotton buds/Q-Tips
  • Tweezers
  • Nail file
  • Make up remover
  • Cotton wool pads

You’ll also need a large bag or makeup case to carry all your supplies in. Most make-up artists like to use a wheelie bag as it is easier to lug around from job to job than a big suitcase. 

Other Business Expenses To Consider

In addition to your make up kit, you will have other expenses when running your freelance business.

Here are some of the most common expenses:

  • Gasoline- To get to your jobs
  • Taxes – As a freelancer, you will be responsible for your own taxes and social security payments
  • Insurance (more on that later)
  • Business registration and book keeping

Freelance Makeup Artist Salary

As most people become a freelance makeup artist because they have a passion for makeup, the money can seem secondary. That being said, you can make good money doing bridal make up or working behind the scenes at shows too. 

As with most freelance jobs, the amount you can earn as a freelance makeup artist is highly dependent on how long the services take and your skill and experience level. 

Most customers will compare make up artists rates by the following:

  • Length of the service offered
  • Experience and skill of the make up artist
  • Type of job (luxury photo shoot v engagement party, for example)

As you are not employed by a company, work is not guaranteed and it can take a while for you to build up a portfolio.

Make up artistry work can also be seasonal, for example, most weddings take place in the summer months so you may find yourself very busy then and with much less work in the winter.

How much can you earn as a freelance makeup artist?

The salary range is huge for make up artists and you can earn anywhere from $100-$1000 per job. Around $75-100 an hour is typical for wedding makeup but you can earn significantly more if you are doing the make up for a whole wedding party. 

It is not unusual for make up artists to make over $50,000 or more a year working full time.

Setting freelance rates can be tricky.

You don’t want to be too high and scare people away, but you also don’t want to be too low and not make a profit.

Contract negotiations are key when freelancing, and you’ll want to make sure both you and the client are clear on the work that will be done.

Confirm in advance the timeline for completion, and what happens if either party fails to meet their obligations.

Invoicing is a must-do for any freelancer – it helps keep track of your income and makes it easier for clients to pay on time.

If you are unsure on what to charge for your make up services, the best thing to do is to research what other make up artists are charging in your local area. 

Consider the following:

  • Type and scope of the services you offer
  • How high end the event is
  • The demographics of your area
  • Your skill level and experience

For example, here is what one bridal make up specialist is charging in my urban area:

Bride $225

Bridesmaids $185 

Moms $185

Jr. Bridesmaid (age 13 -15) $165

Flower Girl (age 6 -12) $60 

Make sure you charge enough to be seen as professional but not too much that you don’t get bookings. 

You want to make sure that your rates are fair and competitive with your local area.

Step 4: Build Your Portfolio

Next you want to really hone your skills by practicing on your friends and family.

This is important because you need to build up a portfolio of your work to show prospective clients. 

Your portfolio, whether it is an online gallery or a folder to bring to meetings, is essential for showcasing your make up artistry skills when you attend job interviews.

Customers will want to see what you are capable of and to make sure that your style matches their vision. 

You can build your portfolio up by offering free make up sessions in exchange for photos of your work or by hiring a professional photographer to take photos for you. 

One way to build up your portfolio quickly is to offer discounted services in exchange for photos.

This works especially well for wedding make-up as you can get professional photos from the wedding photographer.

Try to have a range of different types of work in your portfolio – different skin tones, different styles of makeup and different events.

This will help to show clients that you have a broad range of skills. 

In addition to a portfolio, you should have a basic one page resume that highlights your skills, experience and the kind of work you do.

You can print this off to present to potential jobs and also add it to your own website and social media pages. 

You can make one for free using Canva.

Here is an example:

make up artist resume

Creating Your Own Freelance Makeup Artist Website

Starting your own freelance make up artist website is an excellent way to start building a portfolio and a name for yourself in the industry.

A website can help you showcase your work and also get some traction for your brand.

You can combine your website with a YouTube channel to really boost brand awareness. 

If you don’t have your own website then don’t fear. It is really easy to create your own website and you can do it in an afternoon.

On your website, make sure to have the following web pages:

  • An about page that explains who you are
  • Contact information including your email address
  • Services/Hire Me Page
  • As many samples as possible of the kind of work you are looking for
  • Any feedback or reviews you receive from clients

Here is a step by step guide to creating your own freelance make up artist website in just an hour or so.

Step 5: How to Get Clients as a Freelance Makeup Artist

You may have the best qualifications and experience, but if no one knows about them, you will not get any work. 

There are many ways to market yourself, and it is important to find the ones that work best for you.

When starting a freelance makeup business, social media is an easy way to get your name out there.

You can create your own accounts on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok and showcase your work there. 

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, and post interesting articles and blog posts about your industry.

Most of the time, potential clients will search for you on social media so they can find out the kind of work you do. 

The great thing about social media is that it is free and you can get market yourself to a huge audience that way. 

Another really good way to get new clients is by building up a YouTube Channel.

If you can become known as being an expert in make-up, you will easily be able to attract new clients who love your work. 

Here are some other ways to find new clients for your make-up business:


Ask for referrals from friends and satisfied customers. Word of mouth is often the easiest way to get new clients. 

Offer Freebies

Offer your services for a fundraiser or as part of a promotion to a local business. Many places need prizes for silent auctions or other fundraisers and these can be a great way to get your name out there. 

Market Yourself

Set up a makeup counter at the local mall and offer free mini-makeovers

Teach Others

Offer make-up classes in person or online. YouTube is a great place to start but you can also consider teaching in person classes at a local community centre or even a store. 


Attend bridal shows and other networking events to find customers. Having a booth at a show is a great way to get lots of bookings fast. You can offer a special show promotion to encourage bookings. 

Reach out to other industry professionals like photographers and offer to form a partnership where you recommend each other to clients

Attend Workshops and Conferences

Professional workshops and training courses are another great place to find freelance jobs as a makeup artist.

Salon Space Renting

Many beauty salons offer the opportunity for you to rent out a chair and manage your own work hours. Contact local salons and see if they have a chair available for you to rent. The great thing about this is that it gives you an existing client base to work from. 

Where To Find Freelance Makeup Artist Jobs

You might have luck finding makeup artist jobs on sites such as, and Workopolis. 

You can also try local salons and spas near you to see if they are looking for a freelance makeup artist to add to their staff. One store that frequently hires MUAs is Sephora. 

A quick search on Google in my local area brought up a ton of freelance make up artist jobs – this is an in demand industry with lots of opportunities to grow and make money. 

how to get make up artist jobs

How To Become A Freelance Makeup Artist- FAQS

Do You Need A License To Be A Freelance Makeup Artist?

There is no such thing as a make up artist license in most places. Educational qualifications are not the same as legal licenses.

Most states and provinces don’t require a license for freelance make up artists although estheticians and cosmetologists may need to be licensed in order to work in salons. 

That being said, if you are working as a freelance make up artist, you may want to get a business license from your state.

To officially create your freelance makeup artist business, you will need to come up with a business name and register it for tax purposes. 

Once you choose the type of entity that best suits your needs and register for an EIN , you can open a bank account and get registered in your state as a legitimate business. 

I recommend choosing a name that is the same as your website domain name. 

You can search for available domain names for free at Namecheap.

Do I Need Liability Insurance As A Freelance Makeup artist?

Insurance is important for any small business owner.

It is important to have insurance to cover any issues that might arise from your work, from allergic reactions to products to missed events or unhappy clients.

Liability insurance is essential for protecting your business.

This type of insurance protects you against claims in the event of accidents, which could be due to a client tripping on the way to your booth or having an allergic reaction.

Beauty insurance provides coverage for general, professional, and product liability.

Without beauty insurance, a client’s sudden demand for medical costs threatens to take your revenue with it.

Your insurance policy should also cover your make-up and other tools in case they stolen stolen, as well as hairstyling equipment and any other equipment you use. 

You’ll also need to change your car insurance if you are using it to get to and from gigs. 

Make sure to consult with an insurance professional when choosing a policy to make sure it fits your individual business needs. 

How can I ensure success as a freelance make up artist?

Although nothing is guaranteed, you can make success more likely by following a few simple tips:

Stay Up To Date

Keeping on top of makeup trends and new products is one of the best ways to make sure you succeed as a make-up artist. 

Provide Great Customer Service

Respond to emails in a timely fashion and make sure to stay professional, no matter how difficult the client. 

Deal with complaints as swiftly as possible and try not to take things too personally. 

Keep Your Services Fresh

Another way to keep your business is to continually grow your product offering. For example, you can branch out to provide hairstyling, skin care consultations and nails if you have the bandwidth.

How To Become A Freelance Make-Up Artist- Final Thoughts

In conclusion, freelance makeup artistry is a great career for someone who wants to be their own boss, has a creative flair, and enjoys working with people.

If you are interested in becoming a freelance makeup artist, start by doing your research and acquiring the necessary skills

Attend makeup classes and workshops, build a portfolio of your work, and start networking with other professionals in the industry.

With hard work and dedication, you can achieve success as a freelance makeup artist.

Good luck! 

how to become a freelance make-up artist