Becoming a MUA

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Jan 16, 2012

Lisa U.

Hello :)

I'm really interested in taking a course to become a MUA.

Does anyone have any tips on basics you need, kit essentials etc.

Thanks x x 

Jan 17, 2012

Lisa U.

Thank you both!

Are Sigma good enough to work with? I really like their brushes.

I will make sure to step up photographing looks/make up that I do, thank you for the tip :)

Tanya - I will have a look at your post now :D


Jan 17, 2012

Lisa U.

Ooh thanks, I live in South Wales in the United Kingdom and we don't have a Sephora :(

I have a big collection but I'd like a seperate collection for my kit. Thanks for the help.

Can I just ask, what did you mean by 'body' on your website? Or is that an American thing? Sorry to keep on asking haha. xx

Jan 18, 2012

Lisa U.

Aw thank you! You've been a great help!

Ahh, I get what you mean now. I've not really used any body make up before so I'll have to invest in some :) I didn't even really think of that ha! I really want to be a freelance so I'm hoping to become a MUA for photoshoots.

Thank you again! xx

Lisa - I noticed that you said you want to be a makeup artist for photo shoots. This is not the way to go if you intend to make a liveable wage unless you are in insane demand, which can take a very long time, if ever. Your biggest business as a makeup artist will come from COMMERCIAL and BRIDAL work, as many fashion stories and runway jobs aren't even paid gigs. Like any business, there are "bread and butter" jobs, and then there are "fun" jobs that allow you more creativity.

Building your kit is, of course, essential. But hygiene is of top priority, and something I see even working artists goof up. I was watching "The Real Housewives" the other day (I can't stand those bimbos, but it was on haha), and the one makeup artist had a kit that was so dirty, it made me want to throw up. Hygiene is not only about sanitizing brushes and using disposable makeup wands, it's about keeping your products LOOKING clean, never exposing your client to unsanitary or used product applicators, and always putting your client's comfort and safety first. If you give even one client pink eye, your business is toast.

When building a kit, it is essential to use professional products. This will not include brands like Neutrogena, L'Oreal, Revlon, Sally Hansen, etc - and the Sally Hanson "Airbrush Legs" in specific, which is a butane (lighter fluid) based product that can cause serious skin reactions and burns, asphyxiation and other lung-related issues, and serious long-term damage with regular exposure. Buy a professional airbrush that uses AIR as a propellant, and this problem can be in an aerosol can is a gimmick. Make no mistake, drug store brands in general should not be used for professional purposes. We all have our one or two favorites, but for the most part, your professional kit should be....professional.

If your client is paying for your services, they expect to be treated a certain way - and private makeup application is a luxury service. Does this mean spending a fortune on makeup? Not necessarily. Brands like Yaby, for instance, have great and affordable products as well as makeup artist solutions to help compact your kit. Their foundations are $12 or $13 each and their empty palettes are a great way to store lipsticks to save valuable space in your kit. OCC and Stilazzi offer discounts as well, and Stilazzi brushes are the bomb. Also, trade shows like IMATS and The Makeup Show are a great place to get brands like Smashbox, Temptu, and MAC on the cheap!

I could go on for days about this topic, but the last point I NEED to hit is pricing. Do not ever charge a kit fee for anything other than film work. SO many new makeup artists charge "kit fees" for any shoot they do, even test shoots (often referred to as "tfp" work) which should be free. This is the fastest way to shoot yourself in the foot, burn bridges, and become permanently labeled as an idiot. Either you take a job free of charge (test) to enhance your portfolio and network, or you charge a test day rate or standard day rate. For bridal, you can also charge per face. A kit fee is not a fee you charge to build your kit, a kit fee is a film term reserved for makeup artists who work on set and DEPLETE their kits working for weeks and months at a time on a single project. When quoting clients, you should give them a single number, not a rate plus kit fee. Your quote should be high enough to cover your costs, which is why we don't charge $20-$35 a face for bridal and undercut the industry. If you need to get an idea of what to charge, call local high-end salons and see what they charge for makeup. You should be charging much higher than their price per face, and for your day rate you should decide what your hourly worth is...and multiply by 8. This should be based on your training and experience level. Hope that made sense, it's late;)

Jan 20, 2012

Lisa U.

Oh my, you're that guy from YouTube, I watch your videos aha!! I've just experimented with your glossy eye look!

I know what you mean, when I said that I meant in the future, I live in a little town in the United Kingdom so I think I have a seriously long way to go before I can become 'known'. When I become qualified I will still be working and as you say be doing bread and butter jobs to do with make up.

Hahaha I hate TV like that as well, you're not alone! Next on my list is alcohol a lot of make up artists use here that clean to a hospital standard :)

I'll keep what you have said about the make up in mind, we also have an IMATS here in the UK soon :)

Charging a kit fee didn't even enter my head haa. I didn't think you could even charge for that. Isn't that like a plumber charging for the use of his tools haha?! I will def look in to pricing and keep that in mind, I think that I will def have to call a salon to see what they charge. Will all the excitement of starting a course and building a kit I haven't really thought much about pricing!

Thank you for replying, all the help has been great xxx in the states at least, a lot of green artist charge these silly kit fees and's like a plumber surcharging you because he brought tools - stupid! lol. I didn't assume you would go there, but I did want to warn you to stay away from anyone that tells you otherwise!!!

Hahah that's my new identifier, I swear my new name is "that video guy" or "that guy from youtube." Probably 3 times in the past week a stranger has said that to me in public and I was totally lost for a second! It has a ring to it, I may legally change my name:)

Totally bummed that my brand won't be at IMATS UK this year:( Maybe next year? I really would like us to show there. Have you been to IMATS? You'll love it!

Jan 21, 2012

Lisa U.

That is crazy. If anyone advises me to do so I'll tell them you gave my advice haha!

Ha bless you. I bet you get it a lot. I realised how silly it sounded after I replied. I've always been so great at playing it cool.. Not haha.

That's a shame, we love new products and brands in the UK, everyone goes crazy. I'll make sure to look out for it. You should def def def keep on to them about it :) I've never been before no :( I'm a newbie to make up and haven't had the chance to go to any events or anything yet. I think I would need someone to take my money off me at IMATS though, I couldn't be trusted haha.

Question: I noticed you said that a professional kit should not include drugstore products, I am going to do prom makeup for about 5 girls and have considering to use lower end products because 1- I can't afford to buy and make a professional kit at this time and 2- this is my first shot at free lancing. I understand that once I do get more into this and go to cosmetology school it is silly to be stocking my kit with those products! For my situation, should I still use them or should I do a little a shopping on the higher end side? 

Are you charging them for the makeup? I think if you're treating this as a business transaction, then it's not "silly" to bring the appropriate products. As a paying client, you would expect to be treated with a little luxury, no?

This same song and dance comes up constantly, but you need to look at it differently:

Every business has start-up costs, and purchasing professional products should be considered an investment into your business. Have you ever been to a salon that washes your hair with Suave and then colors your hair with box color? You'd be appalled. You seek out a professional because they are not only knowledgeable, but they are using professional products.

In the USA, most states do not require ANY license to be a freelance makeup artist unless you work in a salon environment. So if cosmetology school is next on your list, why not freelance on the side? And you are aware that cos schools rarely teach makeup, and generally have dated techniques, right? You're better off watching youtube or apprenticing.

Professional products do not have to cost a fortune. There are SO many companies that offer starter kits that yes, are an investment up-front, but if you did the math you'd see that it's way cheaper as a whole than any drugstore kit. Yaby, for example, has foundations that are about USD $12.50 (without any discounts applied) and are professional-grade photography foundations. So you could purchase a set of those, or collect L'Oreal one-by-one at the same price. High-end doesn't always mean $40 foundations, it might just mean doing your research and making a small investment that will save you money in the long run.

If you are still planning on doing prom makeup, I'd give them a considerable discount or even do it free of charge to promote your name. If you do charge, put that money back into your business and you'd be surprised how quickly you can afford a real kit! Personally, I'd be embarrassed if I showed up with Maybelline, and all of the prom ladies wore Smashbox and NARS. Awkward situation. Your client should always leave your chair feeling like she just received something special and luxury. If you start thinking and acting like a professional, it's AMAZING how fast your business will grow! Good luck - I know you can do it!

Jordan, great words of wisdom. Love everything you said! I totally agree whole heartedly about kit fees (I almost wish this term never existed) and rates.

Lisa, here's my advice.

Personally I think going to any cosmetology or beauty school is a HUGE waste of money and time. Most of the time the instructors are former students who jumped right into teaching and have no real industry experience and often times teach from outdated textbooks. I have a few makeup artist friends that took that route, and their work is sloppy. In the year and a half they spent at school, they could have had a year and a half in the real-live industry gaining personal experience and learning from their own trials and errors (and for free, btw)

With that being said, in the 7+ years I've been a professional makeup artist, I've made a lot of mistakes, most of them in the beginning. If I could go back and do it again, here are the steps I'd take:

1. HIRE a bomb photographer. I stress on the word "hire". 99% of the time, a photographer willing to do a shoot for you for free will be mediocre at best. You can't put mediocre photos in your portfolio. No one will take you seriously. SCRUTINIZE the photographers work. Does it look like it could belong in a Gucci ad? Hire that guy. It needs to be of magazine quality. You'll need a minimum of 12-15 looks. This means 12-15 DIFFERENT makeup looks, not 12-15 different photos of the same girl. The demographic of your portfolio should reflect the demographic of the country you live in. Another thing to keep in the forefront of your mind while building your portfolio... refrain from doing the creative artsy looks you love to do most. It's hard to resist, but the fact is, your potential paying clients don't want to see that, it scares them away. They want to see natural and polished looks. Smokey looks are ok, bridal looks are good, natural, commercial looks, etc.

Once you have your photos, HIRE someone to build you a website...unless you are capable of making a website that doesn't look amateur. Branding is everything in every industry. If your website and portfolio photos are of the most pristine quality, that's what most people will see. If you as a makeup artist do mediocre work, they'll hardly notice, and you'll still get booked.

Lastly, and I'd argue most importantly, PAY for advertising. It's starting to sound expensive right? As the saying goes, it takes money to make money. What you pay for advertising will be pennies compared to what you make. Starting out and in the first few years, most of your paid work will come from the wedding industry. Pay for advertising on big wedding networking sites that feature vendors. And on the money subject, I want to put my two cents in on pricing yourself.

Over the years I have seen this market go up and down with rates... and not necessarily due to the economy...
Lately there has been a pervasive trend with newer talent, makeup artists, stylists and photographers to deeply discount their rates or accept jobs for a small fraction of the standard rates... as someone who has been in the business for a considerable amount of time... I can tell you that doing this on a regular basis is so detrimental not only to yourself but collectively to the market that you work in. Yes, it's acceptable to take jobs for less (within reason) when you are new... but make it clear to clients that this is not a standard practice. Clients will brand you as the person to call for "cheap"... and ultimately it drives down the rates across the board... value yourself and your talents...and if you can't get jobs at regular rates... work on sharpening your skills, improving your technique!

Feb 01, 2012

Jaimi-lee S.

wow everyones replies are fantastic and ALOT of help!! <3

Lauren - love what you said about cosmetology school hahaha. Agree 100%! Like 90% of the students in my private courses are licensed cosmetologists who didn't learn jack about makeup in school!

Feb 02, 2012

Shelby T.

I agree you DO not learn a lot about makeup in cosmo school but you do learn great Sanitation, and you learn about a TON of Skin Illnesses that you need to look for also its good to have under you Belt if down the line you ever want to go into a Salon. i full time freelance but i am Very happy i have my Cosmo licence so i can go into a salon and work a Job here and there, completely 100% legal. 

Shelby - she could learn all those things in esthetician school or by apprenticing. No one is discounting a cosmetology license, just pointing out the very obvious lack of in-depth makeup education. There are better places to learn makeup ONLY. Obviously if you are looking to work in a salon, a license of either kind is important - up to Lisa which direction she'd rather move.

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Lisa U.

South Wales, United Kingdom