If you have dreams of becoming a makeup artist that includes standing in the wings of a popular television studio or a major theater group, or traveling the state, prepping models for high-profile fashion shoots, there’s no other place in the world with as many professional opportunities as California.
California is the epitome of glitz and glamour. It’s where stars are made and dreams are realized. It is also where everything from television commercials to major motion pictures are created, setting the trends the fashion-elite throughout the world end up making their own.
A 2013 report released by the California Creative Arts Council in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation found that the creative industries in California — which includes makeup artistry — contributed $155 billion to the state’s economy, resulting in a net value of 7.8 percent of the gross state product.
If you want to work as a makeup artist in California, you must be state licensed as an esthetician through the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. In addition to makeup application, an esthetician license permits you to perform a wide variety of skincare services.
How to Become a Makeup Artist in California
To become an esthetician in California, you must complete a formal esthetics program of at least 600 hours through a Board-approved school of esthetics or cosmetology. You can view a list of approved schools here.
You may also complete an apprenticeship in esthetics, although the Board must approve the apprenticeship, the sponsor, and the apprenticeship’s practice hour requirements.
Once you have completed the required classes and instruction in esthetics through an approved school of esthetics or cosmetology, you must apply to the Board and be approved before you can sit for the required licensure examinations.
To qualify for an esthetician license in California, you must be at least 16 years old and have completed the 10th grade. The Board utilizes the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology’s (NIC) practical and written esthetics examinations for licensure, which are administered through one of the Board’s permanent testing sites in either Fairfield or Glendale.
Upon passing both examinations, you will be issued a California state esthetician license allowing you to begin practicing makeup artistry anywhere in the state.
You must maintain your esthetician license in California by renewing it on a biennial basis and paying the $50 renewal fee.
Professional Opportunities for California’s Makeup Artists
As a makeup artist in California, you may freelance as an independent contractor, or find a salaried job with an established salon, media production company, theatre troupe or cosmetics company.
Television Production Companies
Some of the largest and most prominent television and film production studios in the country are located in California, thereby providing you with a near-endless number of opportunities to work as a makeup artist for actors, newscasters, and other on-screen personalities:
- ABC Television Studios, Burbank
- ABC Daytime, Burbank
- Bunim-Murray Productions, Van Nuys
- Castle Rock Entertainment, Beverly Hills
- Comedy Central, Los Angeles
- Dick Clark Productions, Santa Monica
- DreamWorks SKG, Glendale
- E! Entertainment Television, Los Angeles
- HBO, Santa Monica
- Harpo Films, Beverly Hills
- Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Television, Santa Monica
- The Jim Henson Company, Hollywood
- David E. Kelley Productions, Manhattan Beach
- Lucas Film, Ltd., San Francisco
- MGM International Television, Los Angeles
- Mark Burnett Productions, Los Angeles
- NBC Universal Network Television, Universal City
- Paramount Television/Pictures, Beverly Hills
- Sony Pictures Entertainment/Television, Culver City
- Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Los Angeles
- Warner Brothers Pictures/Television, Burbank
Film Production Companies
- The Weinstein Company
- Lions Gate Entertainment
- Viacom (Paramount Pictures)
- News Corporation (Fox Entertainment Group, 20th Century Fox)
- Comcast/General Electric (NBC Universal, Universal Pictures)
- The Walt Disney Company (Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm, Touchstone Pictures)
- Time Warner (Warner Bros. Entertainment, Warner Brothers Pictures, Castle Rock Entertainment, New Line Cinema, Turner Entertainment Company)
- Sony (Sony Pictures Entertainment, Tri Star Pictures)
California is home to a large number of cosmetic manufacturers, which may be a good fit for makeup artists who want to explore jobs in cosmetic distribution, marketing, product creation, and sales:
- GAR Labs, Riverside
- Bismillah Body Shop, Antioch
- Mukcoi Products, Lompoc
- BioZone Laboratories Inc., Pittsburg
- Forever Beaumore Cosmetics Inc., San Jose
- Green Visions, Vacaville
- McKenna Labs, Anaheim
- S. Cosmeceutical USA, Inc., Livermore
- Artistic Cosmetic Technology, Santa Fe Springs
- Beauty 21 Cosmetics, Rancho Cucamonga
- Bella Pierre Cosmetics, Van Nuys
- Classic Cosmetics, Chatsworth
Salons and Spas
Salons and spas are a hot commodity in nearly every town and city in California. Many of these salons serve as skincare salons, which often include professional makeup services:
- Bellissima Spa, San Diego
- Bayside Salon, Newport Beach
- Euphoria Lounge Salon and Spa, Monterey
- California Oasis Spa, Fresno
- Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel
- Paradiso Spa and Salon, Hollister
- Eureka Spa, Eureka
- Bella West Spa and Salon, Lancaster
- Tranquility Salon and Spa, Valencia
- Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, Carlsbad
- Privato Salon and Spa, Bakersfield
- The Resort at Squaw Creek, Lake Tahoe
Theater and Performing Arts
Performance art is, of course, a California staple, but it’s not just film and television that draws actors. There is an abundance of theaters and playhouses throughout California that highlight this state’s love of live theatrical and musical shows. If you also have a love of the theater, your you may choose to focus your career on performance and theatrical makeup:
- Geffen Playhouse, Westwood
- A Noise Within (classical theater company), Los Angeles and Pasadena
- Mark Taper Forum, downtown Los Angeles
- Bootleg Theater, Echo Park
- Los Angeles Theatre Center, downtown Los Angeles
- The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage, Santa Monica
- Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles
- Kirk Douglas Theatre, Culver City
- Cabrillo Playhouse, San Clemente
- California Center for the Arts, San Diego
- Performing Arts Center, Long Beach
- Center Stage Theater, Fontana
- Garage City Theater, Santa Monica
- Civic Arts Plaza, Thousand Oaks