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Makeup artistry is a unique profession that allows individuals with a passion for beauty, a creative mind, a flair for color, and an eye for detail to turn their talents into a successful career. Whether working in the fashion industry, the film/television industry, the theater industry, or the personal services industry (salons, spas, bridal business, etc.), makeup artists enjoy a career that can be quite glamorous and exciting.

Most successful makeup artists have a few things in common: they are all adaptable, creative, and enthusiastic, and they all have a solid foundation in makeup artistry gained through formal education and training.


State Requirements for Makeup Artists

State licensure requirements for makeup artists are quite muddy, to say the least. There is little conformity from one state to the next regarding licensure requirements. For example, Louisiana offers a makeup artist license, California requires makeup artists to be licensed as estheticians, and Connecticut does not require a license at all. Further, the requirements for achieving state licensure as an esthetician, cosmetologist, or makeup artist also differ quite a bit.

For example, makeup artists in New York must complete an esthetics program of at least 600 hours and then take and pass two esthetics examinations for licensure, while makeup artists in Florida need only complete a skincare program of 260 hours and then register with the Department of Business and Regulation to begin practicing makeup artistry.

There may also be different requirements for makeup artists working in a salon setting versus those working in a freelance capacity, so makeup artists are always best served by contacting their state board of cosmetology to ensure they are practicing within the law.

Getting an Education: Makeup Artist Programs, Schools, and Classes

Esthetics Schools and Programs

In accordance with the licensing laws in most states, a comprehensive education in makeup artistry typically involves completing a program of esthetics that is approved by the state board of cosmetology. Esthetics (or aesthetics) is the study of skincare, which also includes makeup application. An esthetics program therefore consists of study in such areas as body and skin anatomy and physiology, bacteriology, chemistry, and skincare and esthetics procedures.

A comprehensive esthetician program consists of theoretical knowledge, practical experience, and business-building skills. Students are first introduced to skin types and basic facials in an esthetics program. They then move on to advanced facials, waxing, makeup application, and then innovative, more complex procedures such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser and light therapies.

Upon the completion of an esthetics program approved by the state board, students are eligible to take state licensing examinations and become licensed as an esthetician. Makeup artists with esthetics licenses may perform all aspects of skincare, including makeup application.

Makeup Artistry Schools and Programs

Individuals interested in practicing makeup artistry in states with no licensing requirements or individuals who want to also pursue additional study in makeup artistry often complete dedicated makeup artistry programs. Many beauty schools offer both basic makeup programs and advanced makeup programs. While basic makeup programs provide study in the foundational concepts of makeup artistry, advanced makeup programs often provide study in specialized areas of makeup artistry, such as special effects makeup and prosthetics.

Some of today’s makeup programs are taught by master professional makeup artists in state-of-the-art makeup academies. The curriculum of these programs is designed to provide students with real world skills in an academic setting. Because the craft of makeup artistry is quite diverse, it is possible to find makeup programs of varying lengths and specialties.

Makeup programs may be found in community colleges, cosmetology schools, or esthetics institutions, and most programs can be completed in 6 to 12 weeks. Many of the larger cosmetics companies, such as Bobbi Brown and M.A.C., offer comprehensive makeup programs, and a number of programs are now offered primarily online, with online coursework enhanced with instructional videos and DVDs.

A number of makeup artistry programs offer more intensive study, which can be completed in a little as a weekend. Specialized courses in areas such as special effects or performance makeup are also often designed to be completed within a few days.

A comprehensive makeup artistry program likely includes coursework in areas such as:

  • Makeup artistry supplies and tools
  • Sanitation
  • Skincare
  • Fundamental makeup artistry
  • Advanced makeup artistry
  • Business of makeup artistry
  • Makeup application
  • Skin types
  • Eye and face shapes
  • Brows and lashes
  • Bridal makeup
  • Fashion show/photo shoot makeup
  • Selecting the right products
  • Enhancing natural beauty
  • Contouring and highlighting
  • Custom blended foundations
  • Airbrush makeup

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