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What does an
Makeup Artist do?

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Other common names for this position: Beauty Therapist, Body Makeup Artist, Commercial Makeup Artist, Prosthetic Makeup Artist, Special Effects Makeup Artist


Makeup Artists (MUAs) are professionals with artistic skills and experts in the use of makeup to enhance the beauty and physical attributes of models or to radically change their appearance whenever necessary for a specific production (e.g. science-fiction and fantasy productions). Makeup and prosthetics may also be used to alter the appearance of a person for theatrical, television, motion pictures, and other forms of performances and productions.

Production studios, theatres, fashion show producers, performers, brides, hair salons, spas, and beauty centres are among the most common employers for Makeup Artists. They get hired to work as part of the staff of a production or a performance.

Furthermore, it is very common for Makeup Artists to be self-employed and have their own client base, as well as a basic or advanced training or experience in hairstyling. They are also known for teaching master classes to potential Makeup Artists or just people who want to expand their knowledge in the subject.

Primary Responsibilities

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Makeup Artists are required to complete.

  • Applying makeup to enhance or alter the physical appearance of Actors, models, performers, and customers:
  • Conferring with producers, customers, and performers in order to determine the desired appearance;
  • establishing budgets accounting for materials and labour fees;
  • examining sketches, photographs, and other references from concept artists to get inspiration for the desired look;
  • reading and analyzing scripts in order to predetermine the necessary makeup and changes depending on different scenes and sceneries;
  • purchasing and making sure they have all the necessary tools, equipment, and materials for the job at hand;
  • properly transporting their tools, equipment, and material;
  • restocking materials when required;
  • assessing the customer’s skin tone and complexion, as well as their specific requirements, if any, in order to determine the necessary products and materials they will use;
  • preparing the skin for makeup application (e.g. cleaning, exfoliating, moisturizing, and priming) and applying makeup setter once the look is done in order to make it last longer;
  • shaping the client’s eyebrows when required;
  • applying makeup according to client’s instructions or giving recommendations according to the event/performance;
  • starting over when the client isn’t satisfied with the overall look;
  • altering or fixing makeup during performances or productions in order to compensate for lighting, changes, and makeup wearing off; and
  • providing customers and performers with makeup removal sheets and assistance afterwards.
  • Attending special events such as weddings where they have multiple clients to tend to at the same time.
  • Keeping their work station clean and washing their brushes and other tools after a day of work.
  • Keeping records of all jobs performed and of their customers.
  • Showing products to customers, as well as providing detailed instructions regarding application.
  • Training apprentices and new Makeup Artists, as well as teaching master classes whenever they have enough interested people.
  • Designing and crafting prosthetic attachments when necessary:
  • Measuring customers or performers in order to ensure symmetry of the piece they’re creating; and
  • attaching prosthetics and using beauty blenders and makeup to create an illusion of realness.
  • Keeping up-to-date with the latest beauty and makeup trends, including skin care products, and not being afraid of taking risks.

Daily Tasks

  • Applying various layers of makeup to performers and customers in order to obtain the necessary effect and look.
  • Cleaning and cleansing the skin of the customer and performers before and after the performance.
  • Demonstrating and explaining the use of different beauty products.
  • Keeping records of all jobs performed and of their customers.
  • Attaching prosthetics and using blending tools and makeup to create an illusion of realness.

The average salary for Makeup Artist related jobs is $79,521 per year or $41 per hour. This is around 2.4 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $56,000 while most experienced workers make up to $111,000. These results are based on 1 salary extracted from job descriptions.

Gross Salary79,521.00 $
CPP- 2,479.95 $
EI- 930.60 $
Federal Tax- 11,983.14 $
Provincial Tax- 5,779.89 $
Total Tax- 21,173.58 $
Net Pay*58,347.42 $
In Ontario, Canada, if you make 79,521.00 $ a year, you will be taxed 21,173.58 $. That means that your take home pay will be 58,347.42 $ per year, or 4,862.29 $ per month. Your average tax rate is 26.63% and your marginal tax rate is 32.98%.
* Deductions are calculated based on the tables of Ontario, Canada income tax.
Required Skills and Qualifications
  • Hand dexterity and knowledge of the use of skin care tools and products:
  • Knowing how to analyze, clean, and work with different skin types; and
  • using different types of makeup and tools (e.g. foundation, eyeliner, blushes, lipstick, lip gloss, brushes, or sponges) to obtain the desired look.
  • Creativity and a strong artistic sense, always willing to try out new ideas.
  • Interpersonal and communication skills:
  • Communicating clearly in order to explain procedures, as well as receiving accurate and relevant information from customers regarding desired looks;
  • listening carefully and understanding customers’ questions and complaints in order to be to resolve any issues promptly; and
  • being able to work cohesively with customers and other co-workers.
  • Being resourceful, energetic, driven, structured, and displaying a strong desire to take initiative.
  • Organizational and time management skills:
  • Having strong multitasking skills;
  • having time management and prioritization skills in order to satisfy the demand;
  • being highly responsible, reliable, and organized; and
  • having strong attention to detail.
  • Self-motivated and willing to work independently, as well as part of a team.

In order to become a Makeup Artist, applicants must possess and innate talent for plastic arts and a strong sense of style and fashion. In matters of education, it is possible to pursue a career in this field by completing a specialized training course or program in an accredited vocational school or college. These courses usually take 1 to 3 years to complete.

Like with most professionals in the world of Arts, Makeup Artists are encouraged to keep a portfolio with all their previous works and projects. Portfolios work as a presentation card and as a display of professional experience for the artist. In this sense, there are no set number of years of experience for Makeup Artists to find a job with a studio or production company, as they can present their work as their experience.

Nowadays, these professionals also rely greatly on their social media to display their work in order to eventually gain enough followers that will allow them to find sponsors that send them free products for them to try out with their clients, make reviews, or use during makeup tutorials. Moreover, filming makeup tutorials and being active on the different social media platforms while aiming to gain new followers greatly increases a MUA’s visibility and general recognition.

Makeup Artists work different hours depending on the project they may be involved with. Some productions are done in sets whereas others might be done in specific locations at different hours. Therefore, it is necessary for Makeup Artists to be able to travel to any location that may be necessary. Travel allowances and accommodations are often taken care of by the studio or producer.

Job Offers
There are currently "561" available job offers for the Makeup Artist position on Below is a list of available jobs, based on Canada's most populated metropolitan areas.