makeup artist school

There are so many reasons as to why becoming a makeup artist is a fulfilling career path! Some of the top reasons are you get to utilize your creativity, make your own hours (depending on the job), and meet other like-minded creatives across all facets of the industry. If you love makeup and want to unleash your creativity, makeup artistry is the career for you. It may be intimidating, but just about every entertainment venture requires makeup artists. But how do you actually become a makeup artist, and what do you need to do it? Should you attend makeup school like Chic Studios? Should you join the union? Read on for answers to those questions and more in our Chic Guide to how to be a makeup artist in Los Angeles.

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Types of Makeup Artists

Not all makeup artists are alike! With various types of makeup looks to play with the number of makeup artists to create these looks are endless. Depending on the job, you’re not going to do natural makeup for someone who has a red carpet or tv appearance. The more mediums and types of makeup you’re comfortable with, the better. You’ll be able to interchange and figure out what looks are great for clients who don’t necessarily know what they want. In our Professional and Master Makeup Artistry Program at our Los Angeles makeup school, we teach our students how to achieve and execute various types of makeup techniques and products.


Makeup for print modeling, usually known as editorial, can vary depending on the elements of the photoshoot. Whether it’s very high concept or more grounded, you’ll need to tap into your creativity that veers into the avant-garde and experimental and with more grounded, you’ll need to think traditional commercial shoots and print advertisements.  

Up Close Beauty Shot/Headshot

If you’re trying to break into the entertainment industry, a headshot is a must! The intended outcome of a headshot is for the subject to look like their best self but still look like themselves if you were to see them in person. For both men and women, makeup should be natural and also look like they aren’t wearing any. In our courses, we touch on the “no makeup” makeup look as well as men’s grooming. These skills are important to know and understand especially since for most artists, they won’t be meeting their client until the day-of. Just by looking at them and asking them questions, you should be able to make them look like the best version of themselves without the caked on makeup.

On-Camera Personality

One step further in the natural/not natural makeup dichotomy is that of on-camera personalities. If makeup for television and film aims to look natural on camera, makeup for broadcasts and similar programming aims to look like “evening-wear makeup.” The makeup needs to be dark enough that it’ll show through the various stage lighting, as well as look good from any camera angle. HD makeup products are your friend as well when it comes to on-camera appearances and personalities. Nowadays, tv shows are using more high definition cameras which can be unforgiving. You need to make sure that highlights and shimmers are placed in the right areas and won’t draw attention to any facial flaws.


In the Los Angeles entertainment industry, Film and TV might be the hardest makeup to create since you’re trying your hardest to make the subject look natural but using products that are HD friendly and full coverage. In the entertainment industry, the lights and high-quality cameras are anything less than forgiving. With such harsh lighting on set, makeup artists need to find and use products that will stay on, hide every pore, and always have their touch-up powder with them. At Chic Studios, we have a class specifically for mastering makeup in TV + Music Video. Our students are able to play around with makeup is HD and create looks that won’t have any flashback whatsoever.


Runway makeup is a subset of editorial and print makeup. Runway makeup is created to be complementary to any outfit going down the runway as well as fit the setting and mood of the show. The majority of makeup looks are dewy skin and avant-garde eye makeup looks. By playing up one feature, it adds drama to any outfit and collection. The makeup for runway shows has to look uniform on every single model. It’s usually not long lasting especially if a model has multiple runway shows in one day.


Better known as “special effects makeup,” it is where you use makeup to alter appearances to create realistic bruising and scars found in dramas like Grey’s Anatomy, as well as create aliens and non-humanoids like zombies found in “The Walking Dead.” FX makeup is a whole realm on its own and much different from standard makeup design. Even though we do not teach the class at Chic Studios, we play with our beauty products to create shading for bruises and scars (no latex needed) as well as incorporate airbrushing techniques to erase tattoos as well as create fish-like scales.

Makeup Kit Basics

A makeup kit is exactly what it sounds like! It’s the tools needed for any makeup gig thrown your way. Included in your kit should be the basics: brushes, disposables, sanitation, skincare, and tons of makeup that should be versatile and used for different skin types and tones. In a makeup kit, you’re supposed to supply everything included. Your own kit is unique to you because you have the types of products and tools that you’re comfortable with.

What should I have in mine?

If you already have a vast makeup collection already, this should be easy for you! However, a lot of makeup artists in training have no clue what to include first. At Chic Studios, we provide all enrolled students with a basic makeup kit which would include an 18 piece brush set from Real Techniques, brow set from Billion Dollar Brows, skincare set from Bioderma, as well as disposables and palette + spatula from Qosmedix. During the time spent at Chic, we encourage our students to bring in palettes and products that they want to try out and add to their makeup kit. We want them to build on the starter set and choose products that in the end, they’re comfortable and compact enough to work with. When it comes to your makeup kit, you need to have products that work for you and that you are comfortable with! Don’t go around spending more than $100 on products that you’ve never tried before. Start off your kit with products that are affordable (drug store) and in time, you’ll be able to add in and take out products. Space is key! If you want a fruitful makeup kit, compact your products to save time and space. Palettes are essential as well as using travel sized container jars to hold a collection of concealers and lipsticks in. Along with that, you can also sign up and put your PRO card to use! PRO cards are great because you’ll be able to receive discounts on high-end products. As soon as you graduate, Chic Studios, you’ll be able to get a list of 30+ applications that you can apply for and be in makeup heaven!

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Furthering Your Makeup Career

In order to pursue a makeup career, you won’t need to pursue a license or certification to practice. That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t pursue an education in your craft, but it does make the decision somewhat more muddled. If you want to become a makeup artist, then you need to decide what works for you. There are some amazing makeup artists found on Instagram, who are self-taught! With the power of the internet, you’re able to learn everything online– even take online makeup courses. However, the downside with taking the online makeup courses is that they’re not hands-on and you’re mostly doing makeup on yourself. Doing makeup on another person is a completely different element especially if they’re someone you’ve never seen or met before.

Although you don’t need schooling to pursue a makeup career, it truly can help in the competitive field. By going to a makeup school, you’ll able to work with various skin types and tones every day and learn from makeup instructors who have been working the business for 10+ years. We’re so proud of our staff and curriculum at our Los Angeles makeup school. We’re able to give our students the proper hands-on education they need, as well as teach them proper sanitation, set etiquette, and how to build their freelancing business from the ground up. Even though going to makeup school is an option, it is the best investment you can have! Our classes are intensive, small, and hands-on! Our instructors love the intimate setting so they can truly see a student’s technique and figure out how to improve or enhance it. It’s amazing seeing people come into our classroom who have never even touched someone else’s face to become a natural pro in a month’s time.

We’re always telling our students that the learning is never over. Throughout our Chic Pro Community, we’re posting jobs for them about assisting and seminars that they should attend in order to further their makeup career. When there’s more time towards sharpening your skills, you’ll be able to receive more work as well as be a master of your craft.

We’ve mentioned online classes and learning through the Internet, but even though they seem like valuable tools, there is a lack of total legitimacy. Youtube is a great source of finding out what looks are trending and how to learn how to do makeup looks on yourself. However, trying to learn off of it and assess something like a person’s eye shape, their shade, and actually applying it to someone’s face (we always tell our students to talk to their clients and ask “Is the pressure okay?”) can make a huge difference! They won’t touch on it during a 10-minute glam look tutorial– they’ll only work and create a look using their own face shape.

Makeup Arts and Union

As soon as you graduate from makeup school, there are plenty of things to do after! Once you have your beauty Instagram page up, your website, and portfolio ready… the next steps are solely for your business and branding. Whether or not you want to join the makeup artists union is up to you and how you want to drive your career. If you want to be a makeup artist working mainly in the fashion industry, joining the union will not be super beneficial for you. However, if you want to work in film and television, the Local 706 union is definitely worth considering for a number of reasons, but the most important ones are insular stability and union assurance. Becoming a makeup artist as a full-time job is already a huge risk in itself, so joining a union will give you the stability you need to reassure you that you’ll receive work and have support from fellow artists as well.

In our Los Angeles makeup school, we discuss the important next steps in our Bridal Makeup + Business course. Sure, we can teach you how to achieve the perfect look in under an hour, but we want to make sure that you’ll be able to receive all the benefits and rewards of becoming a makeup artist. We won’t throw you out to the wolves, we’ll make sure you enter the professional beauty industry with as much knowledge as possible.


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Makeup Portfolio

Next to showing great skill, having a portfolio is the most crucial aspect of getting work as a makeup artist in the professional beauty industry. It requires so many elements as well as time and energy to put together and show off the amazing work you can do. Like we’ve mentioned before, the content you put into your portfolio depends on the career path you choose to take. If you’re interested in working in the fashion industry, they want to see your tear sheets, if your work has been published, what photographers and stylists you’ve worked with, etc. It’s also great to showcase a number of high fashion looks as well so you can show how versatile your technique is. If you’re interested in becoming a freelance makeup artist and want big name agencies to look at you, you’ll need to have a variety of different looks in your portfolio. They’ll usually want to see the prettier looking photos as well as a range of different models to show that you can work on different skin tones. When it comes to how many looks you should have… the possibilities are endless! If you want to keep on getting jobs and staying active, always work to create looks that could be added to update your portfolio. You should have one photo of everything– whether it’s men’s grooming, character makeup, bridal, fashion, etc. When it comes to your clients, you’re selling your work so you need to make sure it’s shown off the best way possible. Check out more info about creating a portfolio on our last blog post, How to Build Your Portfolio like a Pro Makeup Artist.

A great thing about graduating at Chic Studios is that we put together a portfolio photoshoot for our soon to be graduates. We have the photo studio, set, models, and photographer– all our students need to do is bring their creativity! As part of their last test, they’re timed and must create a certain look (evening, bridal, heavy glam) that has the beauty elements we’ve mentioned and gone over in the past month. As soon as they’re done and critiqued by our instructors, they bring up some powder or lip products to touch up their model and it’s time for the photoshoot! The students are given the freedom to choose what type of photos they want to add to their portfolio. They’ll receive a high quality and retouched image to add to their website or Instagram!

Finding Work as a Makeup Artist

As in every job in the entertainment industry, there are so many ways to finding great jobs as a makeup artist. And as it is working in this business, it’s all about your connections and relationships along the way. Whatever career path you choose to take, just keep in mind the moment you step onto a set, you’re making connections. Becoming a makeup artist these days is all about the social aspect, aside from the talent. You’re constantly needing to meet people and create an impression on them that will make them want to hire you again. Let your willingness and drive do the talking for you! No one is going to want to continue working with an artist who has a sour attitude– so perk up (no caffeine necessary) and make whoever is in your chair as comfortable as possible.

In order to find work, there are so many places to look. In your city, check to see if there is a creatives group on Facebook! You’ll be able to connect with other makeup artists, models, photographers, and stylists in your area. You’re free to post on there if you want to do test shoots or add more images to your portfolio. Checking sites like Eventbrite and are great as well. You’ll be able to search for events and meetups based on interests. On these sites, they’re always inviting makeup artists, beginners, and enthusiasts to great workshops and beauty seminars in the area.

We tell our students all of these sites and more when they join our Chic Pro Community. With two successful locations in New York and Los Angeles, we’ve created a Facebook group exclusively for our graduates where they can connect with each other as well as learn about job postings through our admissions team. Not only do we provide job opportunities for makeup artists working for Chic Studios, but various companies reach out to us and ask for teams of artists to work on their set. We cannot stress enough how important connections are! Starting out in our community is a great way to begin elevating your presence and trying to find work as much as possible.