Letter to the New and Up-And-Coming MUAs of the World

So, you want to be a makeup artist?

I was asked by a sweet friend to take some time with a talented up-and-comer, a young lady who loves makeup and wants to make it her full-time love interest, and profession. I get lots of questions from others about how to get started too. I am an old-timer and have been beating faces for years and years now, so here is what I would say to those of you who want to be in the industry and love it too!

[I wrote this specifically to my precious little talent, but afterwards thought it would be helpful for all of you too]

 I did not have any idea what I could do, and I had no idea that any money could be made in the beauty business so I got into an office job, and hustled my way back into the beauty bizz. Part of the reason I have to part-time hustle is because I did not get started early, and because I did not do what I needed to do, when I needed to do it. I really think it would be smart to start now and do a few things for yourself to blow your career up to a new level:

1 – Start now!! (but do not expect much in the way of compensation)

My precious assistant. I am not even mentioning her name because I am fearful that some other MUA will snap her up!

You do not have to launch your own company, but it would be super smart of you to start working as an intern/assistant for another well-known and established beauty pro. There are lots around so look closely and work with someone who has already made a name for themselves…this part is SUPER important. Contact them and just tell them that you are in the learning stages and REALLY want to shadow, and to help. Most pros will love to help someone else and gladly teach them the ropes (if they don’t, you do not want to mess with them!!). Find a true pro who will not be intimidated by new talent or perspective, but welcome it. It is also highly advantageous to them because they will have another set of hands to work when they are tight on time – and that is a huge value proposition. Now, and always, know your value – this will be key to you in life. I have an assistant that works with me doing set up and clean up, and I also have an assistant to help prep my clients when I have large groups. Look for someone who does fashion shows, weddings, and group events – that is where the magic happens.

2 – Get your credentials!!

Photo by the incredibly talented Aimee Sue Photography.

Seriously. Go to school! Get certification. Get as much paperwork as possible. LOTS of MUAs have not done this (me include) and it makes life harder.  It also makes it harder to get pro discounts. Good product, that you will be proud to have in your kit, is expensive and pro discounts will help A LOT! If you have a certificate, you will be easily able to attain pro status. If you do not have certificates you can still get pro discounts BUT you will have to jump through hoops and it will take a lot longer because you will have to prove that you are an accomplished artist who does this for a living. I have been down this road and that paperwork will mean more than you think. It will mean you will easily cut through red tape to work in high end salons (if you want to do that). It also means you never have to justify yourself – and that is worth whatever time and money you have to spend to get there.

3 – Get this in your head: You are in business!!


Read business books, take business classes, get real about marketing and media. These are all really key functions of running and maintaining a healthy business where you make money. It is not all about clients – especially if you do not know much about time management, health of your kit (this is a super big deal – learn how to clean and rotate product!), supply and demand, customer relationship management, front-end selling, back-end follow-up. There are lots of broke artists out there! Get your “business head” on. Learn to combine business ideas to do new and innovative things with your business. You can do anything you want – ANYTHING.

4 – Get involved with doing good stuff!!

This is me talking to you as a friend and human. Look in my eyes. Serious. Do your research and get involved with the beauty business in your area. Use your talents to help others. Use your skill to lift people up. Don’t get it twisted, the beauty business is NOT about just beating faces to perfection. This business is really about lifting people up, reminding them of the beauty they already have, learning how to make the most of assets, and then reminding the person in your chair that NO AMOUNT of makeup will make them more beautiful than they already are. It seems counter-intuitive, because your job – the way you make money – is doing makeup. Trust me on this one. You are there to enhance your clients natural beauty – learn how to appreciate the smallest things and refine them, while you are doing that, teach them how to do it too! Use your talent for good. Do good stuff. It will grow your business naturally, but it will also grow you as a person, it will also build important bridges that will serve as framework as you grow as a person and professional…good stuff brings good stuff.

5 – Get your head right!!

Seriously. This is going to be really, really, really hard work – the best, most fun, heartbreaking, soul-freeing work you can imagine. Your clients will always be right. They will all have personal preferences. It will be your job to keep up with all of that; to remember them in special ways; to befriend them, to listen, to be available. Keep in mind your business will be 24-7. You will need to learn a special kind of love and ethic. It will be a labor, but it will be a labor of love. Also, know this right now: You will need to travel, you will need to be able to go when and where your business takes you. Keep your priorities right, right now, and keep your focus laser sharp. One slip early on and you can set yourself back in a big way (ask me how I know). Make a decision and keep that decision in your mind always. Dream about it, envision it, write down plans and ideas to take you to the next level. Keep yourself on track. Nobody else will do this work for you. Truthfully, most others will be so busy, they will not care. Not because they are malicious, but because they will be working hard finding their way too.

Until then, during the journey, I will be here and I will nudge you, challenge you, and annoy you…if you want. I am excited to see you attain your dream.

With love and support!!
That Basic Chic