How To: Start your career as an MUA

Being a relatively new MUA in the game, I umm'ed and ahh'ed over whether to post this blog post. Its a question I get asked daily. Be it over Twitter, over email or in person when I'm working, it seems becoming an MUA now is a very popular career choice to make. So I thought I would make this post, even if it helps just one person want to start their journey and guide them on where to begin! When I first started researching, I found it incredibly hard to find resources online of where to begin, so here is what I did, where I began in my make up artist career. 

You may remember my tips and tricks post on how to nab yourself a make up counter job. If you haven't, go give that a little read.  Working on a make up counter is one the easiest ways to grow as an artist and teaches you invaluable skills that you will need. Not only are you surrounded by make up AND people everyday, but you are being paid to learn, to paint faces, to learn colour theory and often, you get a lovely little discount to help fund that kit. Sadly I know how hard it is to land yourself a counter job. It took me years. Coming from a small town, where counter jobs were sparse, I had to travel about 3 hours door to door, for my first ever counter job at Armani. It was a great foot in the door, and I learnt tonnes. Plus for me, it further cemented the idea I wanted to be a "proper" make up artist. 

So maybe you are working on a counter currently and wondering what your next steps are? Maybe you are just curious. Or maybe you are struggling to get a counter job or just simply  want to work for yourself or in tv or film instead of in retail. These are the next steps I took/am taking to further my career as an MUA. 

Start Testing

If unsure what testing is, it is when photographers, stylists, models and MUA's all come together creatively to produce something amazing for their portfolios, for free! Yep it is free work. Generally, without a portfolio of your work, it can be very very hard to gain other work. Sure, you can gain the odd night out make up, bridal ect... but if you want to get into more editorial or film/TV, a portfolio is so necessary. I use The Freelancer Club and Star Now to get testing opportunities, but often you can type testing into Twitter and your local area and a few will pop up without having the pay the subscription fee's!

Get some business cards

You won't believe how long I put this off. But business cards are so so much more important. The first wedding I did, the photographer asked for my card and I didn't have one so I scribbled my name down on a piece of paper I found in my bag. When it came to contacting them for some images for my portfolio, they never got back to me. Probably because I seemed so unprofessional scrambling around trying to find something to write my name down on. Or they probably lost it and had no idea who I was. Get some business cards. And get them looking great. Nobody is going to remember one with just your name written on it. Think about your branding and what you want your business card to say about your small business. I got my business cards from Vista Print, which has quite bad rep, but I paid for better quality paper and I am honestly over the moon with them and going back for more. You get what you pay for. 


For me, this has always been one of the harder elements of trying to start my career. Working full time in a small town, where make up wasn't really a "thing", I came to London, but I have no idea where to begin. The importance of networking though is invaluable, and I am trying to make more of an effort. In pretty much any industry, its a very much who you know thing, rather than what you know and the same goes for make up. Try to get to industry events, masterclasses, test as much as possible. Get to know fellow creatives, photographers, hair stylists, everyone. Be the person they recommend when someone needs a make up artist. Immerse yourself in the creative field and surround yourself with like-minded individuals and the work will come naturally. 

Social Media 

Social media is an invaluable tool. You can get out there to a huge audience. Lucky for me, my blogging had bought in a relatively OK amount of followers and some sort of audience, but if you are starting from scratch, get involved in the community. Set up a blog, get involved with Twitter chats (#bbloggers and #creativehour are great for MUA's and #The GirlGang is an amazing girly chat for making online friends!) join Facebook groups and get chatting. My advice for social media is don't spam, nobody likes a spammer, so just be yourself, be natural and inject your personality into your profiles. Talk about relevant things and don't be afraid to actually talk to people and get involved. Activity will then come to you. And try not to focus on EVERY social media channel, you will get burnt out. I tried doing them all, but working full time AND blogging AND trying to set up my career as a freelancer, it just can't work. I don't have enough hours in the day. So my three are Facebook, twitter and instagram. I do use Pinterest, but I don't tend to use it as a tool for bringing in clients. 

Get a website 

Something I am super slow in the making of a website. I have technophobia I swear, so for me, making a website was a scary decision. Luckily I have a boyfriend who is very good at technology and helped me. I would find a professional if you are like me. Write everything down on a piece of paper, all your ideas and what you want your website to look like, what you want it to include, your target audience, everything. So your website designer (or yourselves) have something to go on. Trust me, having a website where you can link people to if they ask to see work, is so much easier than being like "well actually I'm in the process of making one but here is my Facebook and I can email you more images if you like". Remember clients probably have 3/4 other artists who have got back to them about a job. If you are making the process even longer, they are going to go with the person who has a website up and running and can easily direct them to their work. Try and make every aspect of your small business as streamlined as possible. Try and think about if YOU were hiring a make up artist. What would YOU want? What would put YOU off?

So those are my little tips for getting started. Mainly get a portfolio, get some free work under your belt, then build up everything else. It'll get there. Mine slowly has. 
I think I'll continue this series with tips on how to get started on turning your freelance into a business, if that's something people would be interested in! Let me know in the comments below!

Kayleigh x

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  1. Think about your hobby and interests (e.g., if you are crazy about music, you don’t necessarily have to be a guitar player. Try being a cool manager for some guys), look at career choice exam to find more.


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