Beginner Tips to the Budding Makeup Artist

The idea of becoming a makeup artist may seem overwhelming, not simply as a personal challenge but also a financial feat. When I first became interested in makeup artistry, I owned three eye shadows and a tube of mascara. I had no idea where to begin or who to ask! I thought eyelash curlers were ancient artifacts and foundation was akin to concealer. I am, by far, not a conventional makeup artist. I am a canvas painter who started a strange journey a few years ago that landed me with the job title. Ah, another story for another time.

I've changed this article and broken in down into smaller segments from its original publication on Squidoo. Here are some really basic, "where to start" tips and resources.

“If you're starting out with three eye shadows and a tube of lip gloss, 
get in front of the mirror and start figuring out how many different looks
you can create with three eyeshadows and maybe some lipgloss.”

Momma always said, "You have to show the world what you can do with nothing." The rest will follow suit. P.S. Throw out every "rule" you've ever been told about how to wear makeup. That helps.

Already figured out a few killer looks?

In all seriousness, read read read! I started digging on the forums of Model Mayhem, a networking site for models and photographers (and everyone else in the industry). Next, I went to Youtube. I desperately needed someone to show me how on earth they got eyeliner on their lids!

Model Mayhem: Mentors in Makeup
Youtube: EnKoreMakeup
Youtube: Petrilude
Youtube: Pixiwoo

Blend, blend, blend your makeup!

Seamless gradations look clean and beautiful.

Contouring is an extremely powerful tool that will aid you in accentuating or down-playing parts of the face. This is useful when it comes to making up different face types.

Learn the color wheel.

You cannot live without it and becoming familiar with it will only make your life easier. My knowledge of the color wheel comes into play every time I mix foundations, pick eyeshadow colors, blushes, the list goes on. There are pocket color wheels available at most office supply and craft stores.

One thing I did notice right away is that you cannot trust "warm" and "cool" references in makeup colors. All brands DO NOT use a true artists color wheel, specifically when labeling foundations and concealers. A skin tone that I would consider "cool" in the context of oil painting is not necessarily true for a good portion of the makeup world.

Makeup Artist Basics: The Color Wheel <- Great resource. After you're hit with all the jargon, the author does a great job of putting color theory into context.

Looks and Genres

Familiarize yourself with the looks popularized by our Hollywood trend setters. Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Marlene Deitrich are just a few. In modern day we have the Kim Kardashian Smokey Eye or some of Nicki Minaj's wild looks to inspire us. If a client were to ask for a look by the name of the celebrity who made it popular, you'll be ready!

  • Natural- Fairly self-explanatory, Natural makeup compliments the model and accentuates her natural beauty so much so that it may be hard to believe she's wearing any at all!
  • Glamour makeup is dramatic but not over-done. It is a step above natural but not Avant Garde. This style is to make you look your best and usually involves full foundation coverage, accentuated contours, blush, and so on.
  • Runway or Fashion Makeup- Subject to trends, Fashion Makeup runs the gamut and can be anywhere between natural and avant garde.
  • Avant Garde- literally meaning "Vanguard" this term is used when working very creatively and experimenting artistically. Vibrant colors and unconventional applications (i.e. feathers) help define this genre.
  • Vintage- Makeup done to replicate styles of eras gone by. Think Pin-up, classic Hollywood, and period makeup (i.e. Elizabethan).
Stage & Theater and Special Effects are their own separate entities that are beyond the scope of this article, so I will not be going into them right now.

Take a minute to digest these while I finish republishing the rest of my makeup artist tips. I'm glad to say there seems to be a lot more info out there since the original writing in 2012.


  1. Learn the color wheel! I like it. I think that learning will make a big impact to my career as I aspire to become one of the best makeup artist in the Philippines like Rea Pinpin.

    1. isn't that a professional makeup artist in the Philippines?


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