I hit upon the subject of professional training to become a makeup artist in this post (aimed towards having a career in media makeup) but I have so many thoughts on the topic of self-teaching vs paying for a professional course that I thought I would turn it into a little series of posts. As usual, I have had a lot of coffee so I’m expecting achy fingers by the end of this post. Grab a cuppa!


Makeup artistry has blown up in the past few years and continues to do so with the likes of Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest making it look like a full on glamorous career. And it can be really confusing to know which direction to take when wanting to get into the industry. There is no rule that a makeup artist has to have formal qualifications to work. But do they help? Or can you self-train and get by just fine?

I feel that I have done it both ways. I spent a fortune on a Media makeup, hair, fashion styling and prosthetics course. Also spent approx 267,000 hours watching tutorials on YouTube where I have learned a lot. And so I have come up with a list of pros and cons for each way of going about it.


Professional Makeup Artist Training Pros And Cons



Having constant access to professional working artists- Again I can only go on my own experience (I’m presuming all pro training academies work in pretty much the same way.) My tutors had worked in pretty much every area of the industry from Hollywood blockbuster movies to doing regular bridal work and everything in between. Having tutors that have years of experience in the industry is a fabulous thing. While training you are able and encouraged to ask questions that help to build up a picture of what having a career as a makeup artist is really like. As well as getting advice about everything else from how to book jobs, kit essentials, and professional technical advice on using certain products safely etc. (I personally enjoyed hearing stories about which celebrities were twats!) It is nearly ten years since I finished my course and I know that I could send them a message or go back to the school if ever I needed any help. That, I think is invaluable.



Building a circle of like-minded friends and work mates. Again I’m calling this invaluable.The people that I met on my course are still my friends all these years later. Some are in the industry and others are pursuing other careers now. But having those girls as work mates immediately after the course ended was wonderful. Myself and one of the girls got our first job with the same production company and ended up working on about 5 jobs together with them. It took the nerves down a notch having a mate with you. The road trips, the dodgy hotels,  not to mention the actual jobs that we did, are some of my most treasured memories.

Pro#3~ A foot in the door. As I mentioned, Private makeup schools have tutors with years of experience within the industry and they have built up a good reputation. A catch 22 when starting out is that you begin with no reputation. Without trying to be crass, by attending a course and gaining a qualification you will have a bit of a head start as you have trained under well-respected artists.

Pro #3


Hands on experience. Makeup Courses will make sure that you leave the school with a portfolio. So you will take part in several photo shoots with professional models where you will be able to do all kinds of makeup looks to give your finished book diversity. Some of our tutors even took us out on jobs while training. A few girls helped out on the Iceland adverts that ran in between “I’m a celebrity get me out of here.” Myself and a couple of girls got to help make prosthetics for “Casualty 1909” and go on set at the BBC. And another one of my classmates got a job as the assistant makeup artist on the same job.



Con #1


Extortionate costs- My course, in particular, was £16,000, in other words, a house deposit. Also factor in travel costs and possibly accommodation depending on how far you would need to travel (one of the girls on my course came from Hawaii to do the 4-month course in Manchester!) I’d like to add that I am in no way rich and I spent inheritance money on my course.

Con #2


Time away from home. This may or may not be an issue to a lot of people. For me, as a mother and a bit of a homebody, I thought that I would add it in, mainly because I’m struggling to think of cons! I personally had no issue with this as I drove the 2-hour round trip every day. I do like a good drive! But as mentioned above, if the course that you are interested in is far away from where you live then you may need to spend an extended period of time away from home.

Self-training pros and cons.

Pro #1

Nowadays we have in depth information on every subject at our fingertips, 24/7. It still blows my mind sometimes! From You Tube to blogs and not forgetting the humble physical book. Knowledge is easily gained anywhere at anytime. My personal favourite learning tool when it comes to makeup is YouTube. God knows how many highly successful, professional makeup artists have channel’s now! My personal favourite among them is Wayne Goss who I believe is, or was initially self taught. I have learned a lot from him over the years. No bullshit, wicked sense of humour and very inspiring! I bloody love that man! Eve Pearl is another (again, I believe self-taught) artist who I find hugely inspiring! Whenever I’ve had a wobble with confidence in the past I watch this video and feel incredibly inspired and ready to jump back into it.


There is minimal expense in being self-taught. Flick on your laptop, read a book, go to seminars and trade shows, join makeup artist forums, offer local artists your assistance and just generally take in information from anywhere you can. As long as you are passionate, dedicated and hard working you will go far!





Building a kit, initially, this may be more difficult. As most companies that offer pro discount require proof of qualifications, call sheets etc. Getting the invaluable pro discounts will prove harder if you are solely self-taught. Of course, you can 100 percent get by on the basics while you are building up a client base, and in all honesty getting by on the basics alone is a great learning curve.

con #2

A similar con to the one above. But without a formal qualification, I believe it can be more difficult to get makeup artist insurance.


So overall there really is no set in stone way of becoming a makeup artist. I think if you want to go down the private training route or even a local college course to gain a qualification and your personal finances and circumstances allow, then I would highly recommend it for the list of pro’s above. If your circumstances won’t allow it then there is absolutely no reason why you can’t use the many resources available nowadays to learn makeup application and get an insight into how the industry works. Build a kit, get a Facebook page, hand out business cards and get started. Work experience is where you will learn the most anyway so why wait?


I do hope this post is helpful to anybody that is hoping to become a makeup artist. And I hope I haven’t missed anything important out. Please do leave any of your own tips and advice in the comments.