Industry VoicesMakeup Business

My 5 Secrets to Standing Out in the Makeup Industry (beginner friendly advice)

Hint: Being a makeup artist is about more than applying products

Emily Blum
Updated March 8, 2019

…being a good makeup artist isn’t just a job, it’s also being a healer by beautifying, communicating and ultimately making your clients feel positive about themselves inside and out.

Makeup is so exciting; from amazing looks you’ve seen on someone on YouTube to the colorful palettes you see at Sephora.

I have always loved makeup since the age of six when I received my first Hello Kitty lipgloss for my birthday.

It never occurred to me until I turned 18 that makeup artistry can be a career, and something I would ultimately be recognized for my work in.

When I was 18 and fresh out of high school, I moved to New York from Ohio to follow my dream of becoming a makeup artist. At the time, I wasn’t sure what my ultimate goal as an artist was except to learn what the field consisted of and what I can do to beautify people and myself.

I didn’t know that there was such a thing as “standing out in the industry”, rather I just came in with a desire and a passion to create art and discover a talent that I didn’t know I had.

My time at makeup school was very challenging in the sense that all of my classmates were already in their 20s, 30s and even 40s and a lot of them have had a lot more world and business experience and I didn’t know anything except for the little world that I had in the suburbs.

My classes consisted of  makeup application, lectures, guest speakers and, most importantly, how to market myself as an artist as well as learning the harsh reality of the industry where people can be egotistical and pretentious.

After a couple of months attending makeup school, I realized that my classmates weren’t just my classmates, they were my competitors.

However, that did not make me apprehensive to continue makeup artistry because I had one thing that they didn’t always have: a pure passion to just create art and not harm anyone emotionally in terms of “wanting to get on top of my game.”

I just wanted to learn and prove to myself that I could, in fact, succeed in transferring my visions on human canvases.

You’re probably wondering from my experience what my advice is to all of you aspiring makeup artists who want to stand out in the industry?

Photo by Miguel Herrera, makeup by Emily Blum


1. Have a Pure Vision

Have the pure desire of becoming a makeup artist to prove your skills to yourself, not for the sake of bragging to others about your talents or even wanting fortune and fame for what you do.


2. Be Humble, Be Nice

Humility and wanting to help/teach other artists is unfortunately not someone I’ve come across in our field very often, so be willing to humble yourself with various experiences. Be willing to learn and in turn, be willing to help others.


3. Your Unique Style

You’ll develop your style over time and put that in every piece you do. What is it that makes you different? How do you want people to remember you in terms of your style?


4. Get Referrals and Repeat Customers

There are two big things clients will ultimately remember you by if they want to hire you again, or recommend you to a friend:

  • Your professionalism – this means the quality of your work, your knowledge of products, you sanitation practices, being on time etc.
  • Your personality and attitude – does it come across that you’re passionate about what you do, being a good listener, and easy to work with (that counts for clients, photographers, hair stylists and everyone on set!)


5. It’s About More Than Applying Products

While it may sound cliche, something that I’ve really grasped with experience is that being a good makeup artist isn’t just a job, it’s also being a healer by beautifying, communicating and ultimately making your clients feel positive about themselves inside and out.

I wish you all good luck and a lot of great discoveries on your journey!


Emily Blum

Emily's makeup work includes superstars Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal of Guns N' Roses, John Moyer of 'Disturbed' and Scott Stapp of 'Creed'. She has also worked with New York agencies including Wilhelmina Models and MSA Models, and has worked New York Fashion Week. She attributes her professional success to a keen aesthetic eye, artistic ability and way of connecting with clients from every walk of life.

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