Makeup Enthusiasts vs. Professional Make-up Artists

Category: , / 12/31/2010
I love makeup as much as the next person, but some people live and breathe cosmetics.  These men and women often grow up applying makeup on their friends and siblings and love to experiment with new looks.    However, there are some key differences between those who love makeup and those who apply it to others for a living.
  1. MUAs are often required to create very soft looks. While it's fun to experiment with makeup, MUAs must create the client's desired look.  Many clients want soft, "no makeup" looks so people will look natural in photos.  The makeup application must not detract from the product, model, bride, etc.
  2. MUAs are rarely the most made-up person in the room. Some call times can be very early and MUAs may be rushing from one job to the next.  MUAs are paid to apply makeup to other people, not themselves.  I've seen MUAs arrive with no makeup on, or be in such a rush that they don't have time to touch up their lipstick.
  3. Enthusiasts buy makeup for themselves, while MUAs have to cater to everyone. That new foundation may be fantastic, but $60 a bottle adds up if you need to buy it in five or more colors.  Cost, color range, and value in cosmetics start to have different meaning when items have to be kept in stock for all skin tones.  MUAs also have to throw out products when they expire, which sometimes affects the type of formulations chosen.
  4. Most MUAs carry their kit around. Most MUAs bring a large percentage of their collection to each job.  Space becomes valuable and the total weight of the kit matters.  Some MUAs pack kits for specific jobs, but it is often more economical to find multi-tasking products and space-saving organizational items to keep kits clean and orderly.  After all, time is money.
  5. Successful MUAs specialize. Some MUAs love color, while others have a more natural look.  Skilled MUAs can create any look, but it is best to specialize and sell a signature "style" to clients.  For example, clients would probably wouldn't want the MUA whose portfolio is full of smiling brides to create a horde of zombies for Halloween.
Thinking about going pro? Check out my book, The Mercenary Makeup Artist: Breaking into the Business with Style.

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