Need an art degree?

Start here!

A Brief History of Makeup

For centuries, both men and women have used makeup to alter their appearances and enhance their outer beauty. Historians believe that the ancient Egyptians were the first society to invent and use makeup. Much like some of the cosmetics used today, however, the cosmetics used by the ancient Egyptians served a few purposes.

Like the majority of makeup, the makeup used by ancient Egyptians served to enhance their looks. Heavy eye makeup was often heavily applied, for instance, because it created a dramatic look. The dark color of the heavily applied makeup also helped shield the eyes from the glaring desert sun, as well as the “evil eye”.

More than a few ingredients in ancient makeup, however, are now known to be very unsafe. Lead is a perfect example of one of these ingredients, and this heavy metal was one of the most common makeup ingredients throughout history. The ancient Egyptians used it to make their dark eye makeup, known as kohl. Since a pale complexion was once considered to be rather attractive, white lead makeup was used throughout history by several different cultures.

It wasn’t until the 20th century that the dangers of lead-based makeup became well known. Around this time, the pale look also fell out of fashion, and lead-based makeup quickly became a thing of the past.

What is a Makeup Artist?

Put simply, a makeup artist is an artist that uses human skin as a canvas and makeup as a medium. Although most individuals choose to apply their own makeup, there are some occasions that require the skilled hands of a makeup artist.

The specific duties of a professional makeup artist will sometimes vary slightly, depending on the artist’s specialty. Some makeup artists may specialize in applying makeup to department store consumers, for instance, and act as salespeople as well.

Fashion makeup artists are responsible for applying makeup to fashion models before and during photo shoots and runway shows. These makeup professionals usually work under the direction of a photographer or fashion designer, and apply makeup that complements the clothing or other fashions that the models are promoting.

Makeup artists may also apply makeup to performing artists in plays, films, television shows, and concerts. These professionals are sometimes responsible for creating special effects makeup. Special effects makeup artists can transform an ordinary person into an extraordinary creation. Monsters and aliens, for instance, can be created with the skilled application of special putty and stage makeup.

What are Some Different Career Opportunities for a Makeup Artist?

One of the most common places for a makeup artist to work is in a department store or salon. In this position, a makeup professional is able to interact with consumers every day. Some makeup artists may choose to work as freelancers, specializing in doing makeup for events, like weddings. Very successful makeup artists may even be able to work in film or television.

Several exciting opportunities await talented individuals looking to build a makeup career. Although the work can be demanding and tiring at time, it is also usually very rewarding and very fulfilling.

What Skills and Training Should a Makeup Artist Have?

A successful makeup artist career begins with a passion for all sorts of makeup. Makeup artists should also be aware of which colors look best on different skin tones. Knowledge of proper makeup application techniques is also an essential skill.

Thorough knowledge of different skin types is also essential, particularly since some makeup ingredients can cause uncomfortable skin reactions. Every time a makeup artist applies makeup to a person’s skin, she should be aware of any negative skin reactions, including rashes and other types of irritation.

While many makeup artists already have the passion and majority of the skills necessary for a successful career, most of them also choose to refine their knowledge with a cosmetology degree. To start a successful makeup career in film or theater, some makeup artists may want to earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Fashion.

Learn more about how to become a makeup artist.

What is the Average Salary of a Makeup Artist?

The average salary for a makeup artist can vary, depending on a number of factors. A makeup career will obviously be more lucrative for very talented professionals. Makeup artists in larger cities will also usually make more money than those in less populated areas, due to the higher costs of living and more opportunities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for makeup artists in 2011 was roughly $50,980. Professional makeup artists working in the film industry, however, will often make a higher wage than makeup artists working in a department store. On the high end of the scale, for example, some makeup artists made over $100,000.

Featured Schools with Fashion Programs: Request information to learn more.

Learn about art schools accepting students now: