Business Overview


A makeup artist specializes in changing the appearance of various customers. These changes are created by a combination of makeup, specialized tools, and artistic talent. Such businesses are an essential part in filling a community with confidence, spirit, and pride by making them feel better about their appearance or achieve a particular look.

Who is this business right for?

First and foremost, this job is ideal for those who are very skilled in applying makeup to themselves and others. Those with artistic skills find it easier to transition into this line of work, while anyone with previous work experience in the cosmetic industry will be able to start their own business much easier.

What happens during a typical day at a makeup artist business?

In terms of serving customers, each day for a makeup business can be slightly different. Some customers want simple help with things like powder and lipstick to look good for a single event, while others may want more permanent alterations such as false eyelashes. On a busy day, most of your time is spent helping individual customers. Downtime may be spent ordering and receiving new makeup supplies, advertising your business, and networking with others in the cosmetics industry.

You might also spend time traveling to locations like film or television sets, theatre groups, and the like applying makeup for specific purposes, like horror makeup, creating the appearance of a corpse, etc.

What is the target market?

While people of all genders and ages may want your services, your primary demographic will be young women between the ages of fifteen and thirty.

How does a makeup artist business make money?

Primarily, a makeup artist makes money by charging fixed prices for a variety of different makeup services. You may also make money by selling makeup and makeup supplies.

What is the growth potential for a makeup artist business?

The growth potential for this business is steady, as the Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that jobs in this and other cosmetic industries to grow by ten percent between 2014 and 2024.

Getting Started


What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful makeup artist business?

As mentioned before, any previous experience in the cosmetics industry is very helpful in establishing your business. While not necessary, any formal education through beauty school or other cosmetics programs can also help develop these skills. Finally, extensive personal experience with trying different kinds of makeup and helping others apply makeup will provide much of the necessary experience you'll need.

What are the costs involved in opening a makeup artist business?

One of the best things about a makeup artist business is that it has a relatively low starting cost. This is because if you are willing to travel to clients' homes or businesses or allow them into your own home, you will not need to pay the costly overhead and utilities of a business lease. In that case, you can start your business for $8,000 or less. Five hundred of that amount goes towards paying for the design of a professional website, while $2500 should go towards traditional advertising to let your community know about your grand opening. The remaining $5,000 goes towards purchasing new makeup and makeup supplies, including a variety of foundations, eyeshadows, lipsticks, and more. Your supplies will include various exfoliants, self-tanners, emulsifiers, and many more. While you can start your business by purchasing less than $5,000 of supplies, it is important to remember that the more supplies you have, the more services you can offer.

What are the steps to start a makeup artist business?

Once you're ready to start your makeup artist business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:

  1. Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
  2. Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your makeup artist business is sued.
  3. Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
  4. Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your makeup artist business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
  5. Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
  6. Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
  7. Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
  8. Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
  9. Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Where can I find a business mentor?

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Recommended: Fizzle.co offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for for free.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a makeup artist business?

If at all possible, try to work for another makeup artist before striking out on your own. This gives you an invaluable wealth of experience regarding what you should and shouldn't do. Don't be afraid to make your friends and family some of your first customers: they will be more forgiving, and their new looks will help to advertise your business. Finally, don't forget more traditional business techniques such as signing your customers up for email lists and keeping them up to date on your business and entice them to return.

Growing Your Business


How to promote & market a makeup artist business

You should use traditional media to market your business when you can, including newspaper and radio ads (especially when you first open). You may also consider networking with barbers and other adjacent industries to help advertise for one another in your respective stores. Be sure you advertise heavily via social media: it takes little to no money to do so, and the highly visual nature of things like Instagram is uniquely suited to showing off your work.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

In addition to the advertising methods mentioned above, consider offering discounts, free services, or even free makeup as a reward to customers who refer their friends. Use your social media pages to run contests intended to build interest and gain customers. Finally, try some non-traditional advertising such as offering basic makeovers at public parks and festivals. This lets customers see what you can do with a few simple tools and entices them to contact you for additional service.

How and when to build a team

Many home-based makeup artists work solo. However, once you have a steady stream of customers and are having difficulty serving everyone, you may consider building a small team and eventually branching out into a standalone location.

Legal Considerations


State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a makeup artist business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Form an LLC in 5 easy steps

Earning Potential


How much can you charge customers?

How much you can charge customers varies significantly because of the variety of services that makeup artists offer. For instance, you may offer basic makeovers for $39.99, more specialized makeovers (such as for Prom) for $59.99, and more extravagant makeovers (such as for a wedding) for $194.99. For all of your prices, be sure you have researched your local competition and are not over (or under) selling yourself.

What are the ongoing expenses for a makeup artist business?

Once you have your initial makeup and supplies, your only real ongoing expenses will be advertising (likely $200 or less per month), additional makeup and supplies ($150-$200 a month), and the cost of gas for any travel that you do (which will vary).

How much profit can a makeup artist business make?

The amount of profit you can make depends on the exact number of customers you have and the exact services they request. A makeup artist performing 49 or more makeovers a week, for instance, will have a six-figure salary before taxes, though realistically, it will take time to set up a regular stream of new and returning customers.

How can you make your business more profitable?

As your business and your own experience grows, don't be afraid to increases your prices. If it is within your skillset, try to diversify your business: being able to do both hair and makeup, for instance, makes you twice as marketable. Finally, make sure that you rotate your advertising and your services to reflect certain high seasons for makeup (such as Homecoming, Prom, and even Halloween).

Next Steps

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