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.
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Learn how to start your own Makeup Artist Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a makeup artist business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Makeup Artist Business
- Form your Makeup Artist Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Makeup Artist Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Makeup Artist Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Makeup Artist Business
- Get Makeup Artist Business Insurance
- Define your Makeup Artist Business Brand
- Create your Makeup Artist Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your makeup artist business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
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 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).
Who 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.
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.
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 skill set, 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).
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Makeup Artist Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your makeup artist business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C Corp
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 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.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 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.
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, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 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.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
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.
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.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Start a Makeup Artist Business in your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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Is this Business Right For You?
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.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
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 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 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.
Not sure if a makeup artist business is right for you? Try our free Business Idea Generator and find your perfect idea.
Take the Next Step
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.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
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.
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.
TRUiC's Free Business Tools
- International Makeup Association
- Professional Beauty Association
- IAPO International Association of Professional Makeup Artist