10 Things Other MUA's Don't Tell You About Being a MUA.
I’m here to add value to your social media experience. It is important for me to share all the realities of what it means to be a working makeup artist – both the good and the bad. It is important to feel like you are not alone, and not everything is always as amazing and carefree as it appears online. These are just a few of the things I wish someone would have told me when I was first starting out.
This job is hard. Yes of course there are jobs that are more demanding in different ways, but that doesn’t make our job any less difficult. If you got into this job because you think it is ‘fun’ to do makeup on people you are in for a rude awakening. Success in this industry is not only based on how well you can apply makeup, you need to be business savvy, have a thick skin, be persistent, and persevere to make it.
This job is not glamorous. Following around celebrities, flying on private jets, sitting around drinking starbucks and taking pictures where you look super cool standing in the middle of the dessert holding your makeup brushes ….. this type of life happens for a very small percentage of us and can sometimes be based on circumstance and not necessarily skill. Value the career that you have but continue to push for better things. Be okay with working on disgusting sets, places with no washrooms or air conditioning – working through this stuff makes you better at what you do and greatful for the times when you do get to work with more than just the basic necessities (like free coffee).
You won’t get any free stuff for a long ass time. In today’s world working MUA’s are competing with influencers and beauty gurus who are more valuable to beauty brands than the average working makeup artist who does this every day to pay the bills. If you can't reach a substantial audience with one instagram post or YouTube video you will have to work harder, rely on your network and produce high quality work to get free stuff. The product I receive for free is a result of my own hard work and believe me when I tell you I have been shut down and ignored so many times because I am not an influencer, and I don't meet the minimum requirements for free product.
Not everyone is going to like you. Get used to it and own it. Not everyone has to like you. This doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole about it, but just be okay with it. You will work with clients who book you, treat you like their best friend and then will turn around and book someone else two days later. This is reality. Other makeup artists will treat you poorly because they feel threatened and don’t want to see you succeed. This is terrible, but it happens. There will always be another MUA out there who is cooler than you, better than you, younger than you – whatever it is – and that’s okay. Trust that as you work through this industry you will build networks and find ‘your people’. These are the people that will be loyal, want you to succeed, and will also want you to share in their successes. Trust me, these wonderful people are out there waiting for you.
This career does not happen overnight. Nothing comes instantly with this career. It takes 3-5 years alone to build up a regular client base. Understand that it takes time to build a career and do what you have to do to support yourself in the mean time. Stay focused on your end goal but don’t go bankrupt holding out for that one big job that is going to change your life. It’s never the one job that makes or breaks you, it’s always the sum of all the other stuff that you are doing that will make it happen for you.
You can’t learn everything from the internet. Watching a beauty guru apply makeup on themselves does not prepare you for the real world. What happens on social media, stays on social media. Filters, fillers, and fake lashes are not a part of my day to day. If you want to make it in this industry, you actually have to leave your house to apply makeup on other people. If you want to work as a MUA get out there and do something about it.
Going to school doesn’t make you a better artist. Graduating from makeup school does not automatically make you better than any other artist who is self taught. Skill comes from experience, and the experience that makes you a great artist is found out in the real world. If you took 10 artists with the same amount of experience and critiqued their work, there would be no way to tell who went to school and who didn’t. A very small portion of what you need to know about this industry is taught in school. If you are currently in school for makeup, understand that nothing will be handed to you once you graduate. If you are not in school for makeup that is okay too! You aren't going to be any less of an artist.
In this industry the highs are high, and the low’s are low. You are going to experience and have access to amazing things as a makeup artist, but you are always going to have days and weeks where you feel like you are failing and want to give it all up. This leads me to my next point.
You need support. Find a work husband or work wife in this industry. Your regular basic friends are not going to want to hear you complain about work because all they think you do is drink coffee, take pictures on set, and talk about your favourite products from Sephora. I am lucky enough to have a bff who is a makeup artist just like me. We support eachother, we listen to eachother boast and complain, and we try to keep each other from quitting on a weekly basis. Find one of these people, they will be one of the most import parts of your journey in this industry.
There is room for everyone to succeed. Treating other people poorly doesn't get anyone anywhere. Stealing jobs, undercutting other artists - we all lose when this happens. There will always be someone else doing what you think you should be doing, or working jobs you wish you had - this never goes away. But believe me you will be much better off cheering on other people, rather than staying at home and being bitter. If you work hard and persevere, in time all the things you want will come to you and before you know it you'll be doing the exact jobs you were wishing for.
Now with all of this in mind - be kind to others, practice and work on your craft, and get out there and be a kick ass MUA!!!