Flawless Uncovered: Life In My 20’s As A Makeup + Hair Artist
I once read “the work you do while your procrastinating, is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life” I couldn’t agree more. Since I was able to play with makeup up until I was about 23 is when I decided to make it my career. I remember spending my time collecting inspiration images of makeup and hair looks. I would watch YouTube tutorials for hours, and of course play with makeup to try to achieve a variety of looks.
I’d like to dedicate this to those out there who also had the fascination with makeup and hair.
Q. What type of work is out there for makeup artists, hair stylists, or those who do both? What does the average pay look like? The pool is big on options. I will list the options.
Note that there are different levels in the retail business; you can work at a department store, or for an actual makeup company. Pay can start anywhere from $12-$35 an hour, and even possibly more with experience or working yourself up with companies. When working for a department store it is very common that you will also make additional commission.
This type of work you can either do makeup, hair, or both. Brides range between $350-$1500. Bridesmaids $60-$500 each.
This is the term used for anything that is being photographed. Open up a magazine and you will see all those advertisements, and editorials. Makeup and hair artists are required for all of that. Shopped online recently? Everything you see on the web or those emails you get offering free shipping on your next purchase will most likely have a model wearing their items. The bigger the company is the bigger the pay. Pay works as either a half-day rate or full day rate
Half day $250-$700 and full day $500-$3000. Note that even with big companies different projects have different budgets. The same company could hire you for $600 a day and then months later if hired again for a bigger project you may get anywhere close to $1500.
4. TV & Film
This one varies on pay. Depending what you’re working on. It will be the same concept of half day or full day rates. Usually a kit fee is involved. Big campaigns you see on TV like a Dior ad or H&M probably pay their artist on the higher end.
As much as I wish they paid what they use to. Unfortunately, usually the key artist makes the money. All of the other artists either get a small pay or gratis (payment in product).
*I’d like to add that training and constant reevaluating is crucial to be successful. Learning technique and the business side is very important to reach your potential and get the big paying jobs.
Let me try and simplify what I did to get where I am at 29 years of age. At 22 I got my feet wet and did little shoots here and there, and also volunteered for small local fashion shows. All of it was unpaid, and most of it nothing to brag about haha. I did that for a few months until I felt in my gut that this wasn’t what I wanted to continue doing. I wanted more. But didn’t know how or what to do. One of my best friends who did some modeling at the time encouraged me to enroll in a makeup school, and get training so I can learn how to be successful. I did just that. I researched and my only option was to leave the Bay Area and move down south for real training. I knew if I was going to pay for training and leave home, it HAD to be worth it. Failure was never an option.
I attended Empire Academy of Makeup in Costa Mesa. This is a must for those serious about makeup. Donna Mee is the real deal; it was not as easy as you may think. I was taught technique, the business side, and how to go about it in any area I choose.
After graduating I tested like crazy, trying to master everything. I learned and built a strong portfolio in order to book those big jobs. My goal was to get signed to an agency in San Francisco, and build my resume to eventually make it to bigger agencies in other big cities.
Testing and doing everything I learned in school got me noticed by modeling agencies. Agents wanted to send me their girls and boys to test with them. It was reassuring that what I was doing was on the right path, priceless. At 25 I joined various local agencies and was part of their roster for assisting.
At 27 I got signed to Artists Services, being one of the youngest artists to be signed to an agency. It was a bit scary yet exciting. Had I not done all the steps I took to even know an agency was an option, I would have probably figured it out in my late 30s or possibly given up.
I am blessed with the most amazing agent who believes in me, and is my biggest cheerleader. I’m beyond grateful.
I continue to evolve and learn from mistakes I have made. That is the beauty of any career. With failure comes lessons, and with lessons comes a better and stronger artist.