How to Become a Make-Up Artist in 3 Simple Steps

What is a Make-Up Artist?

Make-up artists are professionally trained artists that transform the skin and improve its appearance of by using make up paints and other accessories.

Continue reading and learn how to become a make-up artist.

The daily duties of a make-up artist are:

  • Deciding if the physical outcome of the client is satisfying
  • Ordering the materials she/he needs from the suppliers
  • Making draft notes and initial sketches
  • Organizing a plan of action and a timetable
  • Explaining to the client the process
  • Applying make up to the client
  • Making sure the make-up fits with client’s colors and clothes
  • Staying updated on new techniques

Make-up artists need to pay attention to the details as even the smallest detail can change their clients’ appearance.

They also need to have critical thinking skills and a good aesthetic because they will need to decide which make up fits better a client, depending on several factors.

Good communication skills are also needed as they come in touch with clients on a daily basis and they have to be able to explain them the make-up process.

Make-up artists are mostly employed by the entertainment and beauty industry.

They work at television and movie studios, fashion shows, photography studios and beauty salons.

They also work exclusively with a person, travel with them offering their services.

The average salary of a make-up artist is .

Make-Up Artist Specialties

Theatrical make-up

Theatrical or stage make up is used along with stage lighting with the goal of highlighting the actor’s face in order to make his/her expressions visible to the audience. This can be achieved by defining the lips, eyes and facial bones.

Fashion make-up

Fashion make-up is mainly used in fashion runway and fashion photography. It is also commonly used in films and television.

(FX make-up) Special make-up effects

FX make-up is mostly used at film shooting. Make-up artists use plaster casting, prosthetics, theatrical blood and other mediums to achieve non-human appearances and metaphysical characteristics.

Bridal make-up

Bridal make-up is a relatively new sector of make-up. There are several looks that can be given to the bride like glamorous, ethnic, or contemporary.


At this technique the make-up artist uses an airbrush spraying various ingredients like water based color and alcohol.

High definition

At high definition make-up they use reflectors, lights and various ingredients like minerals to make the skin flawless.

What is a Make-Up Artist

Becoming a Make Up Artist

Step 1: High School Preparation

High School Courses for Make-Up Artists

Physics and Chemistry It maybe sounds a bit odd but these two classes will help you with your make-up artist studies. They will help you understand the composition of the ingredients you will be using, how they react to the skin if they cancel each other out etc. Art & Design It is common sense to take art & design classes as an aspiring make-up artist. Take classes in art and color theory if offered. These classes will help you develop a basic sense of aesthetics that will be really helpful later.

Step 2: Complete an Accredited Training Program in Make-up Artistry

Make-up Artistry Certificate Program 3 months to 1 year

These short term programs are usually offered by technical schools and state universities. They are about 18 semester credit hours programs and are offered either on-campus or online. Due to the practical nature of this profession we suggest to complete an on campus program. It is easy to get accepted as you will only need a high school diploma or something equivalent like GED. Curriculum Required Courses (12 credits)
  • Culture and Appearance
  • Fundamentals of Makeup for Beauty and Fashion
  • Advanced Principles and Techniques of Makeup for Fashion and Beauty
  • Professional Level Challenges in Makeup Artistry
Electives (6 credits)
  • Introduction to the Visual Arts
  • Art in Western Civilization: Ancient Through Medieval
  • Art in Western Civilization: Renaissance through Modern
  • Textile and Apparel Industry
  • Stage Make-Up
  • Advanced Stage Make-Up
The cost of a Make-up Artistry Certificate Program is relatively low and ranges from $1,800 to $19,500.

Associate’s Degree in Cosmetology program 2 years

Because there is no make-up artistry associate’s degree program you can get a cosmetology associates degree with make-up orientation.

These are 48 – 75 credit hour programs and can be completed mostly on campus.

It is easy to get accepted at a program like that, as you will only need a high school diploma or a GED.


Core Courses

  • Freshman Cosmetology
  • Junior Salon I
  • Junior Salon III
  • Tinting I
  • Tinting II
  • Senior Salon I
  • Senior Salon II
  • Rules, Regulations, and Physiology
  • Intermediate Cosmetology Lab
  • Resolution of Skin Diseases and Disorders
  • Intermediate Cosmetology Lab II
  • Chemistry and Chemical Services
  • Basic Business Practices


  • Introduction to Hair Coloring and Styling
  • Intermediate Hair Coloring and Styling
  • Advanced Hair Coloring and Styling
  • Contemporary Hair Styling
  • Fundamentals of Chemistry
  • Fundamentals of Chemistry Lab

The cost of an Associate’s Degree in Cosmetology program is relatively low and ranges from $6,000 to $26,000.

Associate’s in Specialized Business Degree (Special Make-Up Effects program) – 2 Years

If you want to become a special make-up effects artist there are some associate’s degree programs available.

They are 70 semester credit hours programs that can be completed on-campus. The admission requirements are a high school diploma or a GED.


  • Sculpture I
  • Cosmetic Make-Up
  • Foundations of Make-Up Effects
  • Anatomy and Anthropology
  • Hair and Beards
  • Sculpture II
  • Mold Making and Casting
  • Digital Sculpting
  • Critical Histories of the Arts
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Advanced Make-Up Effects
  • Beginning Animatronics
  • Advanced Mold Making and Casting
  • Special Effects from Page to Screen

Animatronics track

  • Professional Skills Workshop / Make-Up Portfolio
  • Advanced Animatronics
  • Special Effects Props

Fashion and Performance Track

  • Basic Airbrush Illustration
  • Professional Skills Workshop / Make-Up Portfolio
  • Special Effects Props
  • Fashion and Performance Make-Up

The cost of an Associate’s in specialized business degree (Special Make-up effects program) is $33,500.

Step 3: Get licensed

While there is no official make up artistry licensing, in order to practice this profession you will need a certification in cosmetology.


While the requirements vary from state to state all states require to be at least 18 years old and have completed a professional training (1,000 to 2,000 hours of theoretical and practical training) in most cases from an accredited from your state’s board school.


The exam is divided at 2 parts the written exam and the physical exam.

The written examination of the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology covers the following areas:

  • Sanitation and Infection Control Procedures
  • Advanced Knowledge of Human Physiology and Anatomy
  • Structure and function of the layers of the skin
  • Advanced Knowledge of Skin Conditions and Disorders
  • Chemistry
  • Cosmetic Ingredients
  • Factors that Affect the Skin
  • Dermatological Terms
  • Plastic Surgery Terms
  • Skin Analysis
  • Exfoliation Methods
  • Electricity and Use of Various Electrical Equipment
  • Advanced Methods of Hair Removal
  • Advanced Facial Treatments
  • Advanced Body Treatments
  • Lymphatic Drainage
  • Pre/Post Operative Treatment

The physical examination of the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology covers the following areas:

  • Cleansing the Face
  • Setup and Client Protection
  • Ultrasonic Exfoliation Treatment
  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage
  • Particle Microdermabrasion
  • Jessner’s or 20% BHA Chemical Peel
  • Advanced Facial Treatment – LED
  • Electricity and Electrical Equipment – Microcurrent
  • Dry Exfoliation and Mud or Seaweed Mud
  • Advanced Body Treatment

 Cost: $40

How Long Does it take to Become a Make-Up Artist and How Much does it Cost?

Option1: Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 3 months – 1 year$1,800- $19,500
Certification 1 month$40
Total 4 months – 1 year $1,840 – $19,540

Option 2: Associate’s Degree


Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$6,000 to $33,500
Certification 1 month $40
Total 2 years & 1 month $6,040 – $33,540

Make-Up Artist Training Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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