How Can I Become a Makeup Artist?

Recently my business as a competition makeup artist has gone from getting a few clients to being completely booked and creating wait lists. A blessing in disguise really.
I do get the occasional request from someone letting me know that they are interested in doing makeup like me and for me to teach them how. Here's the thing though. I can teach you how to apply makeup, but there is more to it than that.
I take my makeup business very serious. The money is good, sure, but I do invest the money back along with my time, effort and energy into what I do. I am meticulous when it comes to planning and marketing my business. I don't just slap bright blue eyeshadow and wish you luck on stage. I offer a lot more than that. If you are seriously considering diving into the makeup business, then I'm happy to share some of the things I've done that have helped me along the way.
Backstage at the NPC CT State Championships
Makeup client: Laura Callan.
Image by Bill Mack
First of all, I didn't go to school for cosmetology or anything of that sort. In fact, I have a Bachelor's and a Masters degree under my belt. But I love makeup. My mother has, and will always be my inspiration for so many things -- education and makeup are 2 of them. I remember that Revlon lipstick that she would always wear- a burgundy-red. She would use it on her lips, and dab it on her cheeks as a cream blush. My mother is a beautiful woman and that simple step made her feel and looks so much more beautiful! There is something else about my mother: She was a rebel...a woman who accomplished many things in a man's world.
She successfully attended and completed Medical School and became a doctor at a time when women were supposed to spend more time in the kitchen making dinner. My view and relation to makeup comes from a very empowering perspective. I also witnessed how good, happy and confident it made my mother feel.  That's exactly how I want to make the women I work with feel.
So here are some things to consider if you want to embark in the world of makeup artistry.

The first thing you'd need to figure out is why do you want to do makeup? I tell you, selfish needs come across very quickly when you relate to others. If you are trying to make a quick buck by doing makeup, your clients will be able to tell right away. Define why or how you want to go about this and be clear and honest with yourself...and your clients.

Makeup Client: IFBB Pro Cynthia Colon
2013 New York Pro
Image by Jeff Binns for Rxmuscle
Get some experience and training. Even though I had no formal education in makeup, I did get the best training and experience from working at a MAC counter. When I took a break from my regular job as an Assistant Residence Director at a college, I knew I wanted to still do something part time. After nagging and constantly visiting my local MAC counter, the employees and manager took note of  how serious I was. I had already been practicing on my own, learning about different techniques, formulas, etc. Not only that, but I tried just about every makeup brand imaginable. Yes, I went through a shopaholic phase. It was serious. I had tried everything from Chanel, to Dior down to Wet 'n Wild and Maybelline. That gave me a well-rounded knowledge of various products and brands. I know what to spend money on, and I know what to save on. And I tell my clients the same. I am not suggesting you go ahead and break bank buying a crapload of products that will sit in your bathroom cabinet unused like I did. But I am suggesting that at least you read about products, brands, skincare, etc. by going on forums or makeup boards and even reading magazines. 
My training and experience at MAC has been detrimental to my work as a makeup artist. I didn't just wake up one day and start putting makeup on people. I was trained and started educating myself about it for a number of years...almost as long as I've been a figure competitor (10 years) but working at MAC was definitely the cherry on top.

Makeup client: Erin Duggan
2013 Powerhouse Classic
Image by Bill Mack
The third thing goes along with the above point. I value the faces I work on because I value my face too. As a makeup artist I always say: If I don't use it, or test it, I don't use it on my clients. That simple. Test products out. See how they work on you. The last thing you want to do is use a product on a client that you've never used, or at least tried. It might turn into a hot mess the day of the show!

I love the women I work with!
With Kate at the 2013 Atlantic States
If you are outside the fitness and bodybuilding industry and have never stepped on stage before, chances are, you will not fair that well as a makeup artist in it. There is a uniqueness to what we do. It helps to know or be a competitor yourself. The stage lights, the prep necessary to compete, the rules within the NPC/IFBB (or whichever federation you choose), the promoters, how they go about business, the competition schedule for that need to learn all of this! You can't just come out of nowhere and go into a show and do makeup. Doesn't work like that. Trust me. I've made my mistakes...even with the most sincerest of intentions by wanting to help out other women, there are several steps to be considered and you need to learn them and go by the rules. Being a competitor and having had that experience has helped me tremendously.

What I did on a typical day working at a MAC counter is only about 20% in comparison to what I do with clients that compete. Make yourself available. Again, learn the schedule for the day of the show. Find out about the venue also. Unlike working at a counter or doing a friend's makeup real quick, this is not a 30-40 minute thing and then your day is done. Depending on what you offer your clients, be prepared to be there longer than anticipated or... all day. The more accessible you are, the more likely a client is going to book with you again. Don't do their makeup then disappear into thin air.
Smiling with Alesha backstage at the Hartford Europa

Invest into your own services. This goes with all the points above. When booking clients for competitions, you need to make sure you have a hotel, or have access to a space that is comfortable for both you and the client. Don't leave yourself or your clients up in the air wondering where you will be. You need to communicate this with them otherwise, you are making their day more difficult when you should be making it easier.

Learn to do your best work in the shortest amount of time. When I first got started working under someone else who did competition makeup, I was told I was taking too long. And she was right. I was. It would take me like 45-50 minutes to do a full face. I blame my nerves and lack of experience for this. With time and experience, I find myself finishing a complete look in less than 30 minutes! This ensures that I'm not running too far behind and that my clients look perfect. But remember, I also make myself available throughout the show. I don't disappear so if I am needed for more touch-ups or fixes, I am right there! Practice, practice, practice. The thing that will take most of your time is the eyes!!! When you are crunched for time, get that done first! Get those lashes on!!!
Applying makeup backstage at the NPC CT States
Makeup client: Allie Sodins
Image by Bill Mack

One of the subjects I cover and stress the most during my workshops is hygiene. Be hygienic. If you are a makeup artist and you are not cleaning your brushes between clients, or sanitizing your lipsticks, liners, etc, then I don't want to even talk to you. That's disgusting. You should have enough brushes that in case you are going back to back, you can replace them. Have brush cleanser handy. This doesn't soak brushes and because the formulas typically have some alcohol in them, the brushes dry quick. Keep rubbing alcohol handy to spray on lipsticks between usage. Sharpen your lip liners between applications. Keep hand and face wipes close by to clean your hands and to use on clients. These things are important and it makes your makeup client feel safe! It shows that you care!

At one of my workshops using my
good friend Cherie as my model. 
Be prepared to do free work. Yup. You read that correctly. When I first got started and wanted my name to get out more, I offered free makeup to both amateur and pro competitors I knew on a personal basis. It helped a lot because word of mouth is your most powerful marketing tool (and facebook!!!). When you invest in your business, part of your investment plan and cost should include a few free clients. You are not only doing it for them, but also for yourself and your business to build a [good] reputation. To this day I still offer what I consider "sponsorships" to local, national and pro competitors. Even if I am established, I still want to spread the love and offer services to someone who might be in a financial crunch. I highly recommend doing this.

Last but not least, be personable and friendly! The competitive fitness industry is small. It's like living in a small town where all your dirty laundry gets aired and spread fast. People talk. Women talk. Men talk. Some will love your work, others will find it mediocre and there will be those who will hate it. That's fine. You can't please everyone. But being personable is not something people will ever forget. People are more likely to book you again and give you a second chance even if your makeup was just okay but you can forget it if you act like a complete a-hole. Be nice to people. My thing is...all the women I've met have a story to tell, just like I have mine. I connect with them on a personal level and treat them all like a friend or sister. This goes back to the very first point I made. It makes me feel happy that I have empowered and made another woman feel great. Don't open yourself up to do makeup or have a business if you don't care about your clients or are going to complain or talk shit about them. It's not professional or cool at all. Be kind and treat them with respect!
Friends for life! Cupcakes and all! 
If they are happy, I'm happier!
Sandra and Katie backstage at the
2013 Powerhouse Classic

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