Mary Erickson - mask makeup Mary Erickson
Makeup - Hair - Wardrobe - Styling | San Diego - Los Angeles
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NEW!  Negotiation 101
Tips to help you negotiate pricing by KJ Bennett

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Student-School Agreement
If they won't sign this, walk away!

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Makeup Workshops
A workshop is as good as its teacher. How do you know if the teacher is good? Here are some tips to help you.

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The First Step In Your Makeup Career
An Alternative To Makeup Schools

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Before You Choose a Makeup School
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Model Shoot Suggestions
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Headshots Wardrobe
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When I apply my shadow on the eye I notice particles fleck to the undereye area. I have tried “erasing with base” which works sometimes and using a tissue but I wondered if you had a better option.

Also what is the best concealor you have found thus far? I have used MAC pot concealor and it works great for breakouts but not so great for undereye circles. I have used base from Blasco for undereye circles but it creases -just okay on breakouts. I have used Bobbi Brown and it’s okay on undereye but I don’t like for breakouts. What have you found that works great?

Thank you so much for your website. It is so nice to have an established artist to talk to.

Katherine B

You can switch to a cream shadow and eliminate the problem. You can also dampen your synthetic brush (NOT A REAL HAIR BRUSH) and make a paint out of your powder shadow. I do this with the Camera Ready Shadow at

As far as dark circles; the best thing to use is neutralizer NOT CONCEALER. I suggest unless you have dark skin, Cinema Secrets Pallet 1 or 2, blue neutralizer/ Orange Highlight, this is sold in my makeup store at Good Luck.


I would like to know of the best makeup artist/stylist agencies you know of.

Noelle Andraos

The best I believe would be Celestine ( and Cloutier ( Sorry I don't have a web address for them. Most other agencies won't get you the money you can make on your own, they just don't have the clientele. Zenobia ( does provide a friend of mine a few jobs a year and they are non-exclusive so that's worth a try. The only agencies I can think of at the moment that I would sign exclusively with would be the Celestine and Cloutier.


I really enjoy your site. You are very informative and I also like your work a great deal... I have a question about how to 'solicit' celebrity clients. I have means to their agent contacts etc., and want your opinion on what the best way is to get their attention. Also, do you think that offering them a freebie makeup application (so they can see if they like you), is a good or bad idea? I have all the tools and marketing resources I need. Just need this question answered by you the expert :) I appreciate any help you can offer me....


You really can't solicit celebrities, they usually land on an artist through word of mouth. Sometimes they work a job and really like the artist and then ask for the same artist on other jobs. Offering a freebie to a celebrity won't work, money isn't an object with them and they do not normally pay the makeup bill themselves. What they want is someone very good and fast and someone that they personally get along with well. Contrary to popular belief, most celebrities do not have their own artist. Remember celebrities travel a lot and the artist could not have another life if they were just the artist to this one celebrity. Your chances of getting to work with celebrities would be better if you had a major makeup artist agent in LA, that's where most artists get the good jobs with celebrities.


I love your site and all the great information for new makeup artists. I would like to know what foundation you like for a dewey finish. I'm trying to build a book with a variety of looks with different skin textures. You can see examples of my work below. I'm trying to work in the New York market.

Washington DC

Hi Fiona - I can't believe you are asking me! your work is incredible! I use a bit of liquid foundation mixed with just a tad of tan pigment, or I coat the top of the face (highlights) with face gloss.....I have done both. Many major brands have Face gloss and pigments. Good luck!


I am an aspiring makeup artist in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. I am a junior at Kutztown University, majoring in Theatre with a concentration in Makeup Technology. I have a few questions for you about the business. First, would having a Bachelor's degree, regardless of major, improve my chances of getting work in Hollywood? Do most makeup artists find work, or do they spend a majority of their time waiting tables and being valets? Forgive my naivety, but I am just getting started, and I really need some direction, as well as a bit of reality.

Elizabeth Francis
Kutztown, PA

Hi Elizabeth. A college degree will not help you as an artist unless you get it in marketing and you use the degree info to market yourself. Most people that call themselves makeup artists are doing other jobs, makeup counter work, clerical, waiting tables, a number of jobs to pay the rent.

The field of makeup artistry is very similar to the field of acting. Most never make it, a few make a living doing tedious, unglamorous makeup work, and even fewer get the glamorous fashion, magazine cover type work, the music videos and celebrity gigs. A lot of it has to do with talent but that has to be mixed with a bit of very good luck and the ability to schmooze and get along with people. Unless you are in a major market and have a very good agent you will probably never get much of the glamorous work. Also, like acting, the 'artists of the moment' are very rarely popular forever; the field is very fickle. Even those on the top have to fight to stay there and most will lose their popularity once the industry decides they are 'has beens' this is an industry that thrives on the young, new talent, which is only good if you are young and new, remember, nobody is young and new forever. I am trying to paint you an accurate picture, as you asked for a dose of reality. I love this career but I am in the group that makes a living doing mostly very unglamorous work because I am in a market that really is small and conservative. I make more then a lot of artists because frankly the unglamorous work pays well and is abundant. I don't however think it is what most artists bargain for when they dream of being an artist.

My suggestion is to get a degree and try the field of artistry, if it's not for you, you will have that to fall back on and it sure can't hurt you.


Something I've had trouble with is getting prints from photographers after the shoot. Also, what's some advice on making sure you get paid? Thank you for all your awesome advice!


See my article on TFP, which explains how to get prints..... If you are talking about getting prints from a photographer who actually paid you for a job, forget it, it's not part of the package. If you are concerned about getting paid by a client or photographer I would first ask you why? Is the client/photographer shady? from out of town? If you do not trust a client or photographer to pay you, I suggest you do some research before working the job. Find out who they have worked with in the past, what production people...and then ask the production people how the client pays. Most people who have not paid artists are people that make this a practice and so by doing a bit of research you can find out. If its a shoot for Nike or Gap, chances are you will be paid....If it's a shoot for a wannabe model you better get your money way before you crawl out of bed the day of the shoot. If the shoot is for a big client like Nike, don't start fretting about your payment until 60 days has past, then make a call, these large clients go through agencies, your invoice has to go through a lot of people before you finally get paid. 90 days is not unheard of. If you are ever asked to cut your rate, you can negotiate with payment, I would insist on payment day of the shoot if you have discounted your rate at all. Hope this helps.


Where can I get a good makeup chair?

Southern California

I recommend the tall aluminum makeup chair with the pouch under the seat. It is light weight, comes with carry strap and costs under $100.00. You can call Naimies and they will ship it to you, or visit their site at


How much money would you estimate a person should put into a kit,schooling, and a portfolio? And how long does it take to start making money?I decided to be a make up artist and just do not know where to begin. Where do I begin? I want to work in the music business.

New Hampshire

To work in the music business you need to be in LA or NY (that is my assumption though there may be other places with a good music market I don't know about). You will end up with about $1,500.00 into your kit and if you go to school full time the cost is about $4,000.00 and this varies depending on the school and classes you take (you don't need to go to school in my opinion for this kind of work) I suggest for this kind of work that you take a few basic makeup classes (1 day type classes that focus on the areas you need help with) I also suggest you assist a good artist and watch her or him, learn all you can from watching others and asking questions. You will work free about 2 years while you build your portfolio, the portfolio itself is only about $250.00. Your portfolio is what gets you work, and it has to be competitive with others that have been in the business a long time. You will have to start with mediocre photographers to test, working your way up to better photographers and better photos as time goes on, this process takes a long time. As you build your portfolio, you will gain experience, you will look at the test shots and figure out how to make your work better. As your work gets better you will be able to convince better photographers to test with you. Your goal is the goal of many good artists, the music industry is a big draw for young new artists. Your competition is fierce to say the least. To make it in this part of the industry you will have to be VERY good, you will need a good agent, until then you wil need to know how to network and market yourself. I suggest you take classes in marketing and join networking type groups that will help you meet people in the industry you want to work in. I also suggest you call a few of the artists doing this kind of work and ask them to allow you to clean their brushes and carry their bags for free, this will get you in the door and allow you to be on the job and see what you really need and what its all about. You can sign up as an assistant at to start and be sure to email the artists in your area. Also, check out the message board at there are a lot of artists there and you can ask lots of questions. Good luck to you.


I've got a question for you regarding "rain days". A photographer has me booked for a shoot for a Monday and has asked for Tuesday and Wednesday as "rain days".

Now, a few days after they booked me for this I've had another offer for a magazine editorial shoot for the first rain day. What can I do about this? I can't turn down two days of work in case it rains. Is the photographer meant to pay for rain days? I don't! I really want, and need to, take the magazine shoot.

What's your take on this?


Rain days are not days anyone will pay you for and they are not days you should give up other paying work for. What I do is let the client/photographer know that I have been offered another job on the scheduled rain days but do have a back up artist for them standing by should they need one on those days. You then should find a back up artist that is available those days, someone you trust to do the same kind of job you would do.

Most people in business understand that when you are booked for work that pays, that will always take priority over rain days. Another note.......If you are offered a job on the date of the shoot you should let the photographer know before you take the other job that you are preparing to turn down a job on such and such a date and that you now need confirmation that the job is a definite go because now you will have to charge his client a 50% cancellation fee if the shoot does not happen on that date. Good luck.


Thanks for all the wonderful advice and direction. I have (through your guidance) set up many appointments with really great photographers for TFP work-thank you. My question is how do I get into editorial print work? Who do you need to contact? Any information you can give would be wonderful.

Thanks so much-you really helped me get grounded and focused on the things I really needed to concentrate on.

DeShawn Hatcher, MUA

First lets talk about editorial work, this is the lowest paid work in the industry. You are talking about $100.00 to $400.00 for a full days work in most cases. Local magazines pay about $100.00 and national about $400.00. Lets suppose you know that and are willing to take the low pay for the editorial recognition, that's fine, I do that at times but this will not pay the bills and it is work that is very sparse. Nobody makes a living at editorial work.

Now that we have that cleared up, here is how you get that work.

Go look at the magazines you want to do and right there in the credits you will see who is shooting for the magazine, you need to contact that photographer and beg him to let you do the next editorial with him, remember you will be in a long line of begging artists. Then, contact the magazine, you will see addresses and phone numbers in the magazine near the front. You need to contact the powers that be and let them know you are looking to do their next editorial lay out. This will take a lot of negotiating; you need to really get to know these people! This is not easy work to get. Most of the national magazines go through agents. ONLY agency artists usually get those jobs. You will have an easier time getting a local magazine gig. Good luck let me know how it goes.


Thank you for your wonderful website. Your portfolio is stunning, I particularly like the eye "masks" you created. The information and advice you provide is so valuable. Thank you for your generosity in sharing this information.

I am writing about the article on Makeup Schools. I am thinking of attending the Westmore Academy and I was wondering how it rated with the graduates you spoke to.

I have been trying to research the business aspect of being a make-up artist. If you have the time, I would greatly appreciate hearing from a professional if my career goals are realistic. I can only afford to take on the student loan debt if I can expect to make some decent money in my first years in the business. Is that possible, given the nature of the business?

I work in regional theatre as a director and designer. I love it, but regional theatre is a tough job if you are interested in the little luxuries of life like decent healthcare and a car that runs. I am a mask designer ( and I have been thinking that pursuing a career as a make-up artist would be a way to add to skills I already have and a good way to break into the more financially solvent worlds of film and advertising. I am not looking for a full-time career. I would like make-up design work 6-8 months out of the year.

I am confident in my artistic abilities and my networking skills, my doubts are about the industry. I have heard gloomy tales of having to work for free in order to break into the biz and long periods of unemployment. I have heard glamorous stories about people earning $500 a day and $150,000 a year. I have not been able to find any practical information about the financial realities of the business. Neal Raffler the admissions rep at Westmore Academy told me that after graduating you can get a job that pays $25-$100 an hour and people working at an assistant level can make $40,000 a year. But he is a salesman for the school, do you know if graduates of the Academy have done as well as he claims?

Alyssa Ravenwood

Thanks for you compliments on my work! I saw your masks and they are great! you do nice work as well.

The following advice to you is with the assumption you are interested in Beauty/straight makeup. If you are interested in FX, that is not my area of expertise and this would not apply to you.

Now, to answer you question about makeup schools and taking on debt. We have a big problem right now in the industry, that is too many artists for too few of jobs. I am a bit concerned with the influx of new artists that the schools are putting out into the world. Most artists like actors do not make a living in the industry. There are very few people who make more then they spend in this business and that's the truth I wish the schools would give you, I don't think most of them do.

Is this influx of new artists good for the industry? yes, in a way it is. It creates a lot of competition and that results in higher standards overall. It does tend to drive the prices down for artists and that in the long run will make this career less attractive for all but the people that really love it and are willing to do it for the creative outlet and not the money.

So, my suggestion is never to go into debt this way, chances of you paying it back with money you make in this career is very slim. I worked free for the first few years as most artists do, working free means you have to have some outside support and be able to treat this as a hobby for a while. Without this luxury most will never last. Testing and building a book does take a few years, you will never leave a school with a book worthy to show clients, you have to test with great photographers and models. I am sorry but they are not a part of the makeup school system.

As for claims of assistants making $40,000 a year. Never seen it. Not going to say it doesn't happen but that is not what I have seen. Most assistants work free. Most established artists make about $30,000 to $60,000 a year, after about 5 years and this is before expenses. Now a few top artists in the industry make 6 figures, have top agents and don't answer their own phones. This is very few, its like being Tom Cruise in the world of wannabee and even good actors in the world.

So, here is my advice if you do not have the time and money to spend in school. Follow around and assist a good makeup artist in your area. Yes, you will have to assist free. Find out if this is really what you want to do, get this person to teach you makeup, in exchange for free assisting a lot of artists will do this. Then get out there and get some experience with weddings and prom girls, this is instant money while you get experience. That's what I would do and in fact this is what I did do.

Good luck to you!


I am working on my portfolio. Some makeup artists have told me to work with photography students for a first portfolio. How is this usually done? We both provide the models, I'll do the makeup and hair, and we split the cost of pictures? PLEASE HELP!!!


I suggest you work with established photographers, the best photographers you can get. Usually they can get the models. If you work with students, you may not get good photos. Sometimes student photographers are all you can get when you are brand new and that is better then nothing, it will give you practice for one thing. Established photographers can use model clients and offer you to the model free as a beginner and sometimes the model will go for it, expect her to watch you closely and change a lot of your work in this case. Go to your local modeling agency and ask them what photographers shoot their models, they should have a list. I would then call the list of photographers and tell them you need photos for your book and would be willing to work free as long as the model is real good, don't leave out this last part. Model must be good to work free, you don't want B models in your book (Tell the photographer that you don't want Glamour and nudes because this is for your book). You should pay the photographer his price for the photos but with a good photographer and a good model you should get some good stuff. Good Luck!


Hi Mary, How are you doing? I just got a call from MAC and they want to interview me! I'm so excited and nervous at the same time! Anyways I just wanted to know if you could give me some advice. when I go to my interview for mac they are first going to interview me and then I need to do a product demo on a model. My model that I'll be doing my makeup demo on is of spanish ethnicity. She has dark brown hair with highlights, Big Dark brown eyes with double eyelids a little deep set and thick well defined brows, amazing high cheek bones , and fair skin with a yellow/peach undertone. She uses studio fix powder in NC20. Now that you have sort of a picture of her can you suggest to me what kind of day look and a night look I should give her? I need advice on what paints, eyeshadow, lip liner, lipstick, and lip gloss to use on her I was thinking of using buff for her blush. Thanks for all your help!
PS. Can you give me any tips on just the interviewing part itself too? (=


Mac knows you can learn to do makeup no matter who you are. My guess is they want to see you interact with the client. Be friendly, and explain every product you are applying as if it were just invented and the greatest thing to hit the planet. Appear comfortable as you apply the makeup and put your client at ease with chit chat about her!!! ask her questions like, what are your favorite eye shadow colors? compliment every nice feature, "you have beautiful cheek bones, MAC Desert color will be perfect to play them up" you get the picture. They are not looking for a great artist, they are looking for a great sales person. Practice with one of your friends in the chair as you apply makeup. The colors you have chosen I am sure will be fine, just blend well, and be a perfectionist, don't let nerves prevent you from doing a job you are satisfied with. You might even explain if you are nervous that "I am very nervous because this job means a lot to me, so please excuse the shaky hand". Keep in mind MAC artists do not make a lot of money, it's a pretty lowly job as an artist, you're in fact not an artist, you're a sales person. Good Luck!


I would like to know what is in your set kit, the kit you take on location.

<Posted question on message board>

A set bag is a small makeup case (or it can be a bag). I use a mini case. My set kit has the following (these are not taken from my regular kit, these are always in the set kit, duplicate products):

  • 1 lip pallet (small, pallet of about 5-8 colors)
  • Foundation pallet (RCMA 16 shade pallet is best) sold at my online store
  • 3 brushes, synthetic, powder, blush
  • 2 lip liners
  • One Camera Ready Cosmetics Blush pallet
  • One Camera Ready Cosmetics Shadow Pallet
  • Scissors (fingernail)
  • Brush for hair
  • Comb teasing
  • Blotting powder (no color Camera Ready Cosmetics) sold on the online store
  • 2 Sponges
  • Tissue
  • Small (very small) hair spray
  • Eye lash glue

This all fits in a tiny kit, that's all you need for touch ups on location.


I've got a question for you - on your rates page you say your editorial rates are negotiable. Could you give me an idea of what you charge in comparison to your commercial rates for editorial? What kind of jobs do you consider "commercial"?

Los Angeles

My editorial rates depend on who the client is. National Magazines pay anywhere from $200.00 to $350.00 for a photo shoot that lasts anywhere from 2 to 8 hours Local magazines pay about $50.00 to $250.00 for a shoot. The compensation comes in the fact that they put your name in print in the magazine.

An editorial job is a magazine shoot. Just about anything you see in a magazine that is not a specific ad for something is probably an editorial jobs. They shoot is put together by the magazine and are paid by the magazine, usually to accompany and article.

A commercial job is a job where the client hires you, for example you are hired by Sony for a magazine ad or hired by Jack In The Box for a newspaper ad. These jobs pay the highest day rate usually. In San Diego about $600.00 per day in LA about $800.00 per day (up to 10 hours)

So if your working for the ego gratification, editorial is what you want, if you want cold, hard, cash you want the commercial work. Not as fun but pays the rent.


Do you do all the peoples makeup in the pictures or do you just post it online? If so i think u should put on your website tips for makeup. That would be a great help. Thank you.

Taylor 16

Yes I do all the makeup on photos I post. I would give tips on the page but it is hard give a general tip that would apply to everyone. If you have any specific questions on application I would be happy to answer them.

I am just starting my career as a make-up artist and was wondering if you can be real honest and give me some advice. My mother's friend has been trying to get me to sale BeautiControl Cosmetics, it is a line you sell like Mary Kay. I am good with makeup application and she says I can sell makeup and have fun doing what I love at the same time. My goal is to do TV and Film as soon as I finish a bit more training. I am currently helping in a photographer's studio doing makeup for his clients. I do admire your work and your advice and would appreciate any advice you can give me.

Los Angeles, CA

This is a subject I have honestly been trying to avoid on my Q&A page but I have so many letters like yours that I think it is time I give my opinion on the subject for all to see. I have been trying to avoid it because I know a lot of good artists that sell makeup of one kind or another. I do not know of any professional artists that sell makeup they do not use on TV, Film, or Print work.

This last sentence is the key. If you are a professional artist doing TV, Film and print work you know that you cannot use just any makeup. BeautiControl, Mary Kay, Avon and other makeup lines such as these just won't work. The pigment isn't right, the colors are not right and they don't work in a professional environment, How can you sell makeup that as an artist you know is not the best for your medium (print, TV, Video, film, etc.)?

NEVER try to sell products to clients you will meet as a professional artist (when you are on a paid job) this will get you fired.

If you still want to sell BeautiControl email Olga at She is the one I would sign up with if I were going to sell any products. Don't just sign up with anyone. You need the support of a person who is ethical and kind, I know that Olga would be a good leader and would give you the support you will need.


Thanks for all your valuable tips. Starting out as a make up artist in Switzerland is difficult as there is not a lot of information available. I therefore often rely on great websites like yours on the Internet. I’m intending to get Joe Blasco foundation to go in my kit, but he has such a big choice where do I start ? As most of us I don’t have a fortune to spend and have to pick a few basic colors. Do you have any suggestions ? Which ones are a ‘must’, which ones ‘nice to have’. Look forward to your reply!

Regards from warm and sunny Switzerland

These are the foundations I have in my kit:

Cinema Secrets Palettes 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 this covers every possible skin color in easy to use pallets (you can find these at the Makeup Store)

I only use cream. I do use moisture with cream if cream seems to heavy for the person but I stick with cream, it's easier to tote around I like working with cream better then liquid as well because I can turn a cream into a liquid but can't really turn a liquid into a cream.


Hi. I have seen you answer stuff on 411, which is amazing b/c you are very generous and specific w/ your answers even though you obviously are very busy- thanks! I am a regular person, not a model or professional or anything, but I have a love/hate relationship with foundation. You recommend cream foundations - I live in a hot, humid climate and would be worried they would either slide off or crease and cake up under the thin skin under my eyes. Powder usually grabs under my eyes too, even though I'm only in my 20's. Suggestions? Thanks!


I am not busy at the moment, I am in the middle of Pikes National Forest in Colorado. I am taking a very long vacation from the rat race. Try Max Factor facefinity, you can get it at Longs, and other drug stores as well as a few grocery stores. You will love it. It stays on well, is a liquid but still covers well, won’t melt off even in humid weather. Great for everyday makeup. I however would still use Cinema Secrets myself, it is not oil based and is one of the dryer creams, I have never seen it melt.


Hello. I recently graduated from makeup school. And I'm looking for some assistant job, though no luck so far. Do you think it's good idea for me visit major TV, movie studios to know if there is a makeup artist who is willing to take assistant? Or it's so hard to meet makeup artist when I just visit like this? I'd be very happy if you can answer my question.


Have you added yourself to the Makeup Mentor page as an assistant? if not, do that first and contact a mentor in your area. Let them know you are willing to work for free for a while so that they will see you are worth working with. When you are ready to work on your own then you need to visit people that are in a position to use you. When you are new it is easier to go for smaller projects like independent films etc. Visit small time photographers to get experience. In my opinion and in my experience beginners make a lot of mistakes that are best made with small jobs and not big money jobs. You will ruin your reputation with potential clients if you take them on before your ready. Your best experience will be with high volume, fast paced work like a photo studio doing senior makeup, or bridal parties, or a small film doing the extras, anything that allows you to do a lot of makeup one after another.

You will know when you are ready to move up the ladder but don't move until you know your ready. The biggest mistake you can make is to take on responsibility you aren't ready for and getting a bad reputation. So take it slow and start small, your education has just begun. Good luck to you.


I am interested in becoming a make-up artist, and I am interested primarily in print work. I am in Seattle, but plan on attending school in LA. How essential is to live in NY or LA when you are in this business? I would like to stay in Seattle, but I want to make sure there will be enough work for me... Any advice is appreciated!!
Thanks so much!

Seattle, Washington

You can get work in Seattle, you will just have to be liked better and be more valuable to clients then the people already there. There will be work but of course not as much as LA or NY. Keep in mind there are not as many makeup artists to compete with either! Being in a smaller market can have advantages. My advice is to stay and establish yourself where you want to live and though it will take a few years you can do it. Concentrate on being the best at what you do and being valuable to people you work for. Good Luck.


I recently visited your Website and I thought it was great. Some of the effects you can make are amazing and some are really glamorous. I am 14 years old and thinking about careers. I am seriously interested in becoming a make-up artist and hair stylist. All of my friends ask me to give them makeovers all the time, especially if we are going to parties. They all said I they like the way I make them look. They also ask me to style their hair. Even my family have commented that I am quite good. I wanted to know how you got started and how you became so successful. Also how did you become so good? I was also wondering what the average salary was? I read in a magazine that make-up artists can earn from £250-£1000 a day! Is this true? I'm not sure how much that would be in dollars though.


You get good through practice, lots of practice. We learn from our mistakes and we keep learning until all of the mistakes have been made (that's the rest of your life). The better you get the more money you will make (if you have a good business head on your shoulders). Most artists do not make a lot of money it is only the few that know how to market themselves and make friends in the business. In high school take as many art and marketing classes as you can. Business classes cant hurt either.

If I had to do it all over again I would get a degree in marketing with a minor in Art, that is really what you need is to be a good business person even more then a good artist because most of us freelance, that means we are our own boss and have to know how to do everything, billing, advertising etc. Stick with it if you love it because it is a great and fun career!


I came across your websites many moons ago and think its are very talented ,which brings me to write to you.... I'm hoping you could help answer a few questions I have....

I would like to start submitting résumé's to try to get involved in films and TV productions and music video's... I'm not sure exactly what to do....I do not know what information to send... do I send my resume with rates??? do you have a typical letter that you send??? Is it possible for me to look at it???? I hear a lot of talk about the union... but still no one really gives me really any clear information....

I've come a long way, trying to establish myself in this industry....but I do not have anyone who I can go to for advise.. all of the people I know are photographers, their advise gets me so far, but are still left with a lot of blanks that need to be filled in....

Mélanie Manson
Los Angeles

Your work is awesome. I do not suggest that you send letters out or resumes. Call and ask for an appointment to show your book. Call only top people and forget the small-timers. Bug the top people until they will see you then show them you book and make a good impression. Keep calling them if you have to. When they hire you.... be awesome, early, and always reliable and make everyone comfortable while your working. Keep in touch with your good clients. Make friendships with other artists so they will refer you when they are busy, this is very important! Make sure all the other artists like you and view you as a team player. These are the things that matter even more then how good you are. GET OUT THERE! And good luck.


Thanks for sharing your passion and knowledge; your information has been inspirational. I've been a hairstylist for 12 years and have been playing around with makeup for 5 years. I've decided to take my business to the next level. I've have a few questions regarding a hard copy portfolio: Where can I purchase a professional quality portfolio (I can't seem to find one locally) What size photos do you recommend for the portfolio? Do you recommend having two or more of the same? Any other advice in this area would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch.


I use an 11X14. I got my portfolio from House of Portfolios in New York (212-206-7323). Others I hear are good, Brewer Cantelmo in New York (212-244-4600) and Advertisers Display in NJ (, 800-489-3246). I have my name imprinted on the front, and I think the book cost around $200.00 four years ago. I suggest getting the best quality that you can afford - cheap looking books do not impress most clients or photographers. I have 3 portfolios: one for commercial clients, one for photographers, and one editorial. You really need to gear your book to what your viewer is looking for. A photographer looks mainly at the photography and not makeup and hair. A catalog client looks at your overall style to see if it is fitting for their image. Regular people such as brides love "Before and Afters." You should only have "Before and Afters" in your bridal book, if you do brides. Good luck and I hope this helps.


Where do I get a makeup kit?

San Diego

A makeup kit is given to you at some of the schools, included with the tuition. If you decide not to go to a school, or if you would like to get your own kit together, you will need to decide first what you will need in the kit. (See answer below.) The best advice I can give about a kit is that you need to keep your portions VERY small. A lot goes in to a kit, and it can get heavy and hard to lug around. I carry mini-portions of everything in my kit and I restock it often. Palettes are important. I also have a set bag that is always packed and ready to go. A set bag is what you take on location. Let's say you are at the studio doing makeup and everyone decides to run to the park for a couple of shots. You have no time to pack a bag, you must always have a set bag packed and ready to go. The set bag would be everything you need on the set - powder, blush, lipstick, hair brush, hair spray, sponges, brushes (just a few), tissue.

Now the trick is getting the large makeup into mini-palettes. You best bet is to buy foundation in palettes (all the colors in one easy tray). RCMA and Cinema Secrets come in premade pallets ( Cinema Secrets has lip pallets as well. Powder is transferred to small plastic containers that stack.


I would like to start working in an upscale salon under the makeup artists to start up my career as a makeup artist myself. I thought this would be a good way to continue learning/training. Can you recommend me some famous/good salons in the Los Angeles area with good artists? Can you also give me some pros and cons of this approach?

Los Angeles

I am not familiar with upscale salons in the L.A. area. I do know that most successful artists are in the film and print industry and not in salons (but there are exceptions, I am sure). If you want to get practice and knowledge in the industry then I suggest that you do as much hands-on makeup as possible. Do weddings, proms, work a makeup counter; work where you can do a lot of faces. You can also sign up as an assistant on I use assistants about twice a month, and I think there are other mentors that will use you occasionally as well. My problem with the salon idea is that I am afraid you will not be learning from artists that are doing the work you aim to do, if you are interested in film, print, etc.

You also need a license to be in a salon, which means that you need to go to cosmetology school - and that will not help you as an artist at all. If you want to be an esthetician, your place would be a salon, and you would need to go to cosmetology school.

Good luck to you!


Mary, your site is an invaluable resource..Congrats!

Just wanted to ask: What do you recommend a makeup artist should include in their kit?


I am asked this question so much that I have sat down and gone through my kit and here is every item in there. Hope it helps.
Items with a "***" are available at my on-line store (

Sponges cut (good quality) ***
Disposable razors and shaving cream (small can)
Cotton swabs
Moisturizer (small bottle)
Foundation Cinema Secrets in pallets (number 3, 5, 7, 9, 11)***
RCMA Foundation (Shinto Pallet and KO Pallet)***

Lip stick (20 colors Cinema Secrets, in pallets) ***
Camera Ready Pallet of high pigment blush ***
Camera Ready Pallet of shadow ***
Gel Eye liner Black and Brown (Camera Ready Cosmetics)***
Fake lashes, individuals and #53
Brush cleaner (small bottle)
Fingernail Scissors
Lash glue (duo only)
6 loose powder colors from white to black (in stackable containers small) ***
Mascara brown and black waterproof
Disposable mascara wands
Bruise wheel Ben Nye
Lip pencils 5 to 10
Stipple sponge
Black cream and white cream makeup (clown)
Hair clips
Brushes (a couple of full sets) Italian Badger hair ***
Nail polish remover pads
Eyeliner pencils (about 5)
Eye lash curler
Lip glosses - 5 to 10
Water small bottle
3 to 5 liquid foundations (small bottles) light medium and dark for mixing
Pencil sharpener
Camera Ready oil Control Blot powder (colorless) ***
Facial cleanser (small bottle) or pads
Toner (small bottle)
Eye makeup remover (small bottle)
Vaseline for lips
Cotton rounds
Cotton Swabs
Round powder puffs (velour)
Wet ones (unscented)
Pallet of Neutralizers by Cinema Secrets number 2 ***
Men's cheek color cream and women's cheek color cream
Clothing clips (found at office supply stores)
Oil blotting papers
Eye Shadow Pallet (Camera Ready Cosmetics)***


My name is Shalcy Robins. I was wondering if you could tell me how much a fashion stylist makes. I am very interested in working with fashion; I need to know this information because I am doing a school project. I you might know can you please tell me what the beginning salary is and also the highest amount you can get paid being a stylist?

Shalcy Robins

Working as a stylist can be freelance (self employed) or you can work for someone else. You will usually make what you are worth to who ever you are working for. The range is wide. I know people working for minimum wage out of fashion school and I know people that have never had formal training that make over 6 figures a year as stylists. You are an artist when you are a stylist and like most artists, most are not paid well, thus the term “starving artist” A few will make a living at it and fewer still will get rich. You do this kind of work because you love it. Not for the money!


First of all I want to say thanks for sticking up for makeup artists that live in the valley! I love your site, its great! My question is, how do I break into doing makeup for music videos and CD covers? Who do I deal with?


I do not get much of that type of work here in San Diego. I suggest you check the 411 directories or one of your local production books. Usually photographers use their regular makeup artists for CD covers. Get in with a few good photographers, do small projects with them and when they get the good work they should call you. There is a lot to be said for loyalty; you need to grow with the people you work with. If you see potential in a photographer stick by him or her like glue and he or she should do the same when the good work starts coming their way. This is how I have done the 5 video covers in my portfolio.


I have many questions for you. I can't seem to get a straight answer no matter who I ask. So, if you could I would greatly appreciate it.

I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, I can travel to school to become a makeup artist but there is really nothing around. DO you have access to schools in PA., or even know of any?

I would like to do bridal makeup during school for added experience, but do I need a license and how would I get one?

Can I build a portfolio from a bridal work? It wouldn't be professional but I don't know what else to do.

I am sorry I know nothing about the schools in PA but do check out the teacher’s credentials at any school. You want to learn from someone who is good and successful. You can check out and see if there is anyone in your area, that would be my first move.

You do not need a license to be a freelance artist for the entertainment industry in California. You do need a license to work in a salon. You need to check the laws in your area, they are different in each state.

No, you can’t build a portfolio from bridal photos that you can show clients unless those clients are brides. Your portfolio should be made with real professional models and real good photographers.


I admire you for your work, for your tactfulness and your humanity. I know that you have heard my question so many times but I hope you are willing to help me. I have checked out so many schools via the Internet, read all the information over and over but it's difficult to decide which school is best. I'm living in Switzerland and its impossible to figure out how the instructors are. I know that you get out of a school what you put in it and I'm so ready to do so since that is all I can think about at the moment. I tend towards Westmore, Makeup Designory or Complections International in Toronto. Do you have any advice for me? Thank you very much in advance. I wish you every success and take care.


Thank you for your kind words. I wish I could help you with a school. I do get this question a lot. The schools are changing all the time, one school is the favored one week and another the next. I would look at the instructor’s credentials at each school. There are a lot of cases where “those who can’t do teach!” Not always of course but do look out for this.

Keep in mind that a very good artist makes a lot of money and schools are not going to pay this kind of money to a teacher; they would go out of business. So who teaches? That is the question I would be asking. Unless the school has instructors that are well known in the field they teach you are going to need more training then what you will receive at any school so don’t look at school like the last step into your career, look at it as just one step of the learning process should you take that road. I would choose a school by the instructor’s credentials. The instructors should have a great resume and portfolios and they should be on line (not hidden from the public) they should be well known in the makeup world. You should verify this by checking out the credentials of the instructors. I would also insist on the instructor I was promised, schools have a reputation of switching teachers on the students, they also have a reputation of exaggerating the instructors resume, if its not on the internet for the world to see I would question it. I would opt myself for private tutoring, this is how I learned; I am not a group learner. Try for instructors in your area if this is of interest to you.


How often do you update your portfolio? Aaron
Kansas City, MO

I update my portfolio every time I get a great new photo I love. Some of the stuff I have is very old but if I like it better then anything new I keep it. The rule is, no more then 15 awesome photos. You are as good as the weakest image in your portfolio. When your book is being reviewed that is the photo most people look for, that tells the viewer what you consider your best work and what they can expect out of you at best.


I like Freelance work, but I really don't like doing hair much, is it not likely I will find work if I won't do hair, or if I will if I am not as good with hair as with make-up?


In a small market you are better off if you do both, I have yet to meet any artist that does both real well, everyone is stronger in one art then the other (in my circle of acquaintances anyway) I consider LA and NY the only markets in the USA that you can get away with doing just makeup and still make a living. To be honest, I don't like hair much either but over the years I have gotten pretty good at it. You have to work at it and have some freedom to play, so do it when you are testing or just play with hair whenever you have a willing subject. Don't be afraid to make mistakes! I have also found that classes do a little good but not much, you really have to just get it there and have fun with it. Look at photos and see if you can copy the hair you see. You would be surprised at how easy some of the stuff you see is. Good luck to you.


I have a hard time doing both eyes, one always looks perfect, and one looks less than perfect. I think it is something to do with the position I stand in when applying, how do I help this other than practice, if there is a way?

Kansas City, MO

Make sure your subject is facing the light head on. Make sure one side of the face is not in shadow. Make sure also that you stand at the side of the eye you are doing. Do not try to reach over from one side of your subject to do an eye on the other side. It helps some artists to have their subject face a mirror and then look into the mirror to see if the eyes are even. This does not help me, I never use mirrors for anything, not even hair. I hope this helps some. A lot of artists share this problem and I wish I could pinpoint the problem. Try the approaches I gave you and see if you can figure it out.


As a model, how do I find a legitimate and good agent?


This is the formula to judge an agency; if even ONE of the answers is yes then you do NOT have a good, legit agency.

  • They have a great photographer, only one that they recommend but he is very good. (This is because they probably take a cut of his payment)
  • They have the initials TCT (or now Wilhelmina Scouting)
  • You are less than 5’9" and they tell you that you can be a fashion model (you are surely the exception because of your outstanding face)
  • They tell you to lie about any of your stats
  • They cannot wait to talk to you and sign you up even though you have never made a dime modeling and no one yet has offered you a paying job. They are never too busy to talk to a potential model. (Because they have no paying clients, they need to make money directly from you!)
  • There is a small sign up fee for paper work and whatever. (You can't expect them to foot the cost for paper work)
  • You will need a few classes to get you started. (Of course that will cost you)
  • You will need to go to some meeting somewhere to meet all the great agents at one time. This is where all the great talent is discovered! (Of course it will cost you, ahhh the price of fame and you know the big agents have such a hard time finding models that they have to go to conventions to scout them out)
  • Someone approaches you at a mall and just happens to have a card with them that has the word scout on it.
  • Someone very important is in town and looking at models, you better get those photos done right away!!! This is a major opportunity. (The less time you have to think about the money you are spending the less likely you are to come to your senses)
  • They will supply the makeup artist for your shoot, or a professional artist is never mentioned. (OK, this last one is a shameless plug for myself and other artists like myself, but most good agents do recommend you use a Professional artist and have a list of good ones in town)

Did you answer yes to any of these questions? If you did you need to keep hunting for a good agent!


I get the impression you really enjoy what you do. What are your top 5 loves and hates of this profession?


I have a lot of loves and hates in this profession. I will start with my dislikes, the word hate is too strong, I do not hate any part of my job. I dislike:

I dislike the large egos I sometimes have to work with (this is rare but it is part of the job).I dislike waiting to be paid and wondering if I will!I dislike sitting around in a studio with no windows all day just waiting for talent to shine so I can powder and look busy.I dislike having to carry 3 heavy cases and a makeup chair up stairs and all over the place.I dislike being told by a model or actor how to apply makeup on them.

I Love:

I love the really fun people that I get to work with. Most art directors and photographers are a lot of fun.I love the freedom I have to make artistic decisions with the hair and makeup.I love the fact that no 2 shoots are alike, there is a lot of variety in what I do.I love the look on the faces and the compliments I receive when the client, photographer, talent etc. are happy with my work.

I love to be my own boss and work when I want and charge what I feel I am worth.


I think your site is great and I thank you for sharing your knowledge! My question is; how do you achieve the look of a flawless complexion?! (as I've found, even professional models don't always have great skin) What products and brands would you recommend for concealing and managing skin imperfections (for light-dark complexions)? Thank you soo much!


That flawless look you see in magazines is usually a model with great skin to start with and if she does have discoloration or blemishes its a combination of heavy cream makeup or airbrush makeup and computer touch up. For everyday wear I recommend a good light cream makeup like Cinema Secrets or RCMA You probably still won't have flawless skin unless you are close to it already. Photoshop (computer) cleans up the imperfections real quickly and easily but that won't help in your day-to-day life.


TFP shoots never work out for me, what am I doing wrong?


This article on the subject is worth reading. Click here to go to the article.


I have a few questions. I am wondering where I can find a video on make up, something that helps teach. Also I am wondering how I can find out about make up shows?


Hi Sherrie,

Try War Paint Magazine. Also, check out message boards for updated show info. There are artists talking about them well before the show dates.


What do I need to do as an assistant?

Houston Texas

I get a lot of calls and email from people wanting to break into the business and wanting to assist. Most of the time I use them a few times and never again. This is what most artists I know as well as myself look for in an assistant.

1) An assistant should make the key (or the artist who is using them) look good. What ever it takes, help with whatever he or she needs, and always watch to see what it is he or she needs.

2) Never be late to a job, I am always about 20 minutes early, I sit in the car and read or make calls. This way if there is trouble on the way I will still be on time. This is the least you can do.

3) Never handout your card, or make buddies with the art director or production staff. This will insure that you will not work with the artist who hired you again. I know you are looking for future work, but do it on your own time, and best not to try and take it from someone who was nice enough to get work for you.

4) If you are sitting relaxing while the key is working there is a problem. Unless the key asked you to please sit down and take a break you should be working at least as hard as he or she is.

5) Invest in a kit (all the supplies you need to work on your own) If you are lacking supplies you will always be just an assist, no one will want to refer you for a job if you do not have the supplies. I have had so many "artists" call me and tell me that they are artists looking for work but do not yet have a full make-up kit. That is like a photographer without a camera, no one will take you seriously if you have not invested in your career at least this much.

I started as an assistant and this worked for me, I was a popular assistant and finally the artists stared giving my name out when they were busy. Established artists are where your best work can come from so treat them well.

Never talk poorly about another artist, it will come back to haunt you. The last thing you need is any artist (even a bad one) to harbor resentment toward you. The more friends you have in this business the better you will do. Try not to look at other artists as your competition, look at them as you colleagues and you will do a lot better, and be happier, you may find your best friends in this business. I know I have.


What licenses do you need in CA for hair, make up, and to be called a stylist?

Madonna Junior
San Diego

There is no License in California for freelance makeup artistry. If you cut and color hair you need a cosmetology lic. If you do makeup in a salon you need a cosmetology lic. Most professional makeup artists (TV, film, Photography) do not have cosmetology licenses. I see no need for one unless you want to do hair in a salon, or if you want to work in a salon.


After seeing your website I realize as a new make-up artist I have a lot of work to do! I just moved to LA from Boston where I work as a regional make-up artist for Chanel and then for Lancôme. Before I moved I was working for Aveda in a Day Spa and a Lifestyle store. I've also been doing brides for about 7 years (I'm 28)... Trying to get started in LA has been pretty tough... I'm currently working on a new portfolio (my old is one is just that, old) . Do you have any advice?

I loved your work... especially the transformations. Thanks for reading, and good luck to you... I am a fan!

Los Angeles

Thank You! The transformations are my favorite as well, keep in mind however they are not part of the portfolio I carry, for some reason this is seen as unprofessional (I have no idea why) so I only put them on my website. It sounds like you are on the right track with your career; putting together an awesome portfolio is your first step and the most important. Make sure it is only about 15 photos and make sure that each photo is great!! Make sure ever photo in your portfolio is good photography a good model and of course great makeup, hair and styling. Big mistake a lot of artists make, is that they chose photos with good makeup and hair and take the photos out to show photographers who are turned off by the photo; they do not even notice the hair and makeup. This mistake cost me a lot of work! Do not bother to work with a photographer or model that will not produce for you very professional prints. This will be one of your toughest challenges.


I loved your site. You do excellent work. :-) I was wondering if I could get some information from you. I am interested in becoming a stylist. How did you get started? Did you have any special training? I am a recent graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, with a degree in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing but was wondering if that was enough, or if there were any special classes I should take. Any information you could give me would be appreciated.


Thank You for the nice compliment, I am asked this question a lot and you will find the answer probably not what you would expect.

In San Diego most production companies and photographers do not like to hire Makeup/Hair and Wardrobe stylists separately. Most would prefer to hire a makeup artist that does hair and wardrobe, as this saves money and we are not a big commercial market like Los Angeles and New York where the budgets tend to be bigger. Consequently over the years as a makeup artist (over 20 years now) I learned to do hair and wardrobe styling. I learned by watching others and by using my own creativity that I believe comes naturally to most artists. I never did go to a fashion school of any kind but I grew up spending hours a day cutting out photos of models clothing styles that I liked and going through every fashion magazine I could find to view the styles, hair and makeup.

I do not want to imply that fashion school is a waste of time, learning is never a waste. Please keep in mind also that I am not primarily a fashion stylist. I consider myself first a Makeup artist and this has always been my main pursuit, fashion styling just happens to be part of that job description where I am located.

Good Luck to you!


I am a freelance make up artist and have been for 5 years. I have a problem that only occurs once every 4 or five months. Can you think of a reason as to why when I apply foundation to some darker skin types it seems to get absorbed rapidly by the skin causing it to look blotchy?

Toronto, ON

I have found this problem with people using any product on their skin that makes the skin peel. Alpha Hydroxy and Retin A users usually have skin that is peeling in places but you can not see it with the naked eye. The foundation will adhere unevenly to the skin, be sure and moisturize the skin well before application of your foundation on these people. Now with dark skin I do not recommend moisture because normally you will find it to be oily skin to begin with so try an oil control gel or cream so that you have an all over even skin texture to start with. One more tip with dark skin; if I have an African American client with pretty good looking skin I try to just even it out with coverage only in the needed areas, I try to avoid foundation all over the face if I can.


Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. I have another for you. What is it in some foundation that can cause a white cast or masked look when a picture is taken. I mean, the color is not too light but when you look back there is a white masked effect left.

Toronto, ON

Very good question! Makeup has a different light reflective quality then does the natural skin. When doing makeup for the purpose of photography always match the face to the chest and not the neck or chin area unless it is just a head shot, this gives the model even all over one color. A lot of times this will make the face a few shades darker, that is ok as long as you do not ignore the neck and ears and make sure your coverage is complete. When you powder go all the way to the chest as powder has its own light reflection qualities. One last thing, make sure your foundation is a high pigment foundation so you are not using too much and covering the natural skin too heavy. Try Cinema Secrets or RMCA cream foundation for photography, these are my favorite, though any high pigment, professional cream foundation should work. Make sure your powder is translucent and does not change the color of your makeup. Try oil blotting powder by Camera Ready Cosmetic.


I looked at your site and thought it was great. I was wondering if it wasn't too much trouble if you could give me some advice? Maybe some words of wisdom of things I should be doing, things I should avoid, or things I might try. I live in Toronto, Canada. I don't find it hard to get work, but I don't have a car at the moment and I'm not really advertising myself yet until I'm more mobile. I was also wondering if you could tell me what type of products you use and recommend?

Lisa Hilder
Toronto Canada

Thank you for the compliments on my site. That is the work of a great Webmaster!

You will have to have reliable transportation in this business so I would suggest you have that before trying to secure work. I do not know a lot about the Canadian film industry and I really stay out of the film industry here because it doesn't pay well. The film industry is great if you have a lot of stamina and energy for the long hours etc. I don’t. I enjoy the short photo shoots and 1-day commercials myself. I like a slow pace but it is hard to compete in the business of freelance that I have chosen.

You asked what products I recommend. Well, I use a lot of different products. I use Cinema Secrets and RCMA mostly for foundation. I like the Camera Ready powders, blushes and shadows. I use Cinema Secrets lipstick and Max Factor 2000 Calorie Mascara, those are my favorites but I am not real loyal to any product; if it works I use it and the less expensive the better.

You also asked for general advice on the business. I will refer you to my questions page where I have answered this question but will add here that it is important to surround yourself with people you can trust and that you admire and try not to look at other artists as your competition, picture them as your friends and colleagues, they can be of great help to you and you can help them. Artists that stick together and help each other out do better individually as well.

Good Luck to you, please write me if you have any further questions.


Thank you for coming to the Photo Expo to speak. You should have your own seminar all to yourself! Your work is amazing.

How much should I budget for a Hair and Makeup Artist? Do you do both - or do I have to hire another person that just does hair? What is a common rate for headshots?

Jeffrey Scott
Honolulu, HI

Thank You for the compliment!. Your price for a makeup artist will be different depending on the market you are in and what you need. If you are doing a commercial shoot in San Diego your artist will cost about $600.00 to $700.00 a day. If you are in Florida doing the same shoot that will be a few hundred less. Los Angeles would be one of the highest in the country right now. I am not sure about Hawaii but if you call around to a few agents you find out quickly what your average price would be. To answer your question on hair, most make-up artists do minimal hair styling for shoots. You will find a few like myself that do both on a regular basis. Most artists charge about $100.00 to $200.00 to do the hair and makeup and go. I find here in San Diego that most of the talent find this price reasonable and do not have a problem with making this further investment in their career. If they think they can do it on their own they are wrong and have not done the proper homework on the career they are attempting to enter. Seasoned talent never question that they need an Artist.


I am in San Antonio, TX. How do I find a good make-up artist?

San Antonio, TX

There are a few ways you can find a good artist. Contact your local film commission for names. Contact other photographers in your area that use artists, your best source would be high end commercial and fashion photographers in your area, they will know who the best are.


I am not sure what I should ask make-up artists when I interview them?

Ken Lester
San Francisco, CA

There are a lot of question you should ask I will give you a few of the most important ones:

Look through their portfolio and pick out a few very impressive photos, ask who shot them and then call the photographer to make sure the book is valid and that the artist consistently does a good job. There are artists with photos in their book that they did not work on, you need to verify that this artist has her or his own work in the book.

You might ask the following questions:

  • What is your training?
  • Do they do a lot of print or mostly TV? (If they do mostly TV and little print they may not fully understand print makeup and apply too heavy)
  • What is the difference in the application of TV makeup and print make-up?
  • A good artist will know that print is not as heavy and must be perfect; there is no room for error in print.

Artists trained in print tend to cost more and be a bit more exacting, these artists are perfectionists. Don’t ever settle for a TV trained artist on a print job unless you can tell by looking at their portfolio that they are very good with print makeup. If you are on a budget and find a cheap artist, chances are you have found a TV/video/film artist and chances are you will NOT be happy with the makeup they apply for photography.


What products should I keep around for my customers that do not use make-up artists?

San Diego, CA

A few musts are:

  1. Camera Ready pressed powder (no color) - everyone can use this
  2. Velour Powder puffs to apply the powder (disposable for one use only)
  3. A few basic Cinema Secrets lipstick Pallets.
  4. Hairspray, brushes, combs, scissors, tweezers and disposable razors are all things that should be in your kit.
  5. RCMA Shinto and KO mini foundation Pallets.

I had an artist do a shoot for me and the model was African American, the make-up looked very ashy what happened?


Probably the artist applied a foundation or powder that was too light or had too much pink in it. If you think the client looks ashy, take a Polaroid and check it out ask the artist if he or she thinks it looks ashy. This problem can be fixed with a powder that matches the skin usually. That is why you need to have dark powders on hand. Camera Ready Cosmetics has a very dark color. Not every artist has a variety of powder; If the artist does not do make-up on a lot of African American clients they may not have real dark powder so be prepared to have a few supplies on hand!


I am a new fashion stylist and I would like to know if there is any advice you could offer me. I live in the Atlanta area. This is where my heart is at and I am determined to be successful at it. Thanks so much, your portfolio is very impressive.

Toi Mapp
Atlanta, GA

I am going to cheat here and give you the rules I try to live and work by, it is Keough's Commandments for LOSING by Don Keough, CEO, Coca-Cola. Keep in mind these are rules for losing not winning.

1. Quit taking risks.
2 Be content.
3. Before you make any move, always ask yourself, "What will the investors think?"
4. Avoid Change.
5. Be totally inflexible-stay on the course, no matter what.
6. Rely totally on research and experts to make decisions for you.
7. Be more concerned with status than service.
8. Concentrate on your competitor instead of you customers.
9. Put yourself first in everything you do, ahead of your customers and suppliers.
10. Memorize the formula "TGE...That's Good Enough" to set a ceiling on quality.
11. Find a way to rationalize the slowing of growth.

Beyond those basic rules for losing, here are some basics for winning:

Never be late.
Never forget about a shoot or job.
Never be unprofessional.
Never talk poorly about your competition.
Never gossip about people you work for or with.
Give 110% always even when you do not feel like it.

This covers what I consider important to succeed, the things they don't teach you in fashion school or make-up school, and that is a shame. Good luck to you!


Hello Mary,

Your website is answer questions very thoroughly. I'm looking to do make-up in the retail industry but have no training or education in make-up application. I would love to work for make up counters such as M.A.C., Estee Lauder, Shisedo, etc.....I was thinking about attending Make up Designory school in order to impress my employers to get a job. I also have 6 yrs. customer service which will help me out a great deal. What schools do you recommend and what steps should I take in order to become a make up artist in the retail industry? Eventually, I would like to do fashion shows, is this difficult to get into and I would also need a great portfolio for this correct?

Thank you mary for your time and effort!! You're awesome!!

Cypress, CA


For the retail industry I think school would be a waste. Retail is sales and they are looking more at your ability to sell makeup then do makeup. Your personality and appearance is more important in this industry then your ability to do makeup. You may take a basic lesson from an artist if they are going to have you do a demo (MAC will have you do a demo) but I would not invest a bunch of money. That's my advice, good luck.



Hi Mary...I love your site. It is a great source of information for someone like me who has just started out in this business. My question is, how important is air brushing in the industry now, the reason I am asking this is that I am about to enroll in a workshop that teaches airbrushing and it is not cheap. what is the scope for it in the future, is it worth learning or not? Thanx

Toronto, Canada


Yes, it is worth learning but all classes are not worth taking. Make sure you are taking a good one and not one that's over priced. Suzanne Patterson has a great class, I have taken it myself. Her website is Knowing Airbrush is valuable because a lot of people are requesting airbrush, you need to be ready in case you get that request. High Definition and brides are both instances you may be asked to airbrush. Good Luck. Mary


Hello, could tell us whether the modeling company that our daughter joined up with is legitimate. The company says it is a model management company rather than an agency. They are called _________. I appreciate any opinion you might have! Thank You

Mom in San Diego

I hate to tell you that ________is a waste of time and's not necessarily a scam but they DO NOT get models work, they may say they do but they do not... Most paying clients go to agents rather than websites to find models...they may go to an agency website to look at models but then they hire them from the agency.

These are things to look out for...these are warning signs that you have a scam or what we call a photo mill.

  • Charging for anything....web listing, photos, etc
  • Referring you to a particular photographer for pictures or taking pictures for money themselves (this means they are probably taking a kick back and you are getting a photoshoot worth nothing to about $200.00 and the company is keeping the rest. This is how many of these companies stay in business.
  • Offering classes of any kind (models don't need classes, even for runway) these are things a real agent will instruct you on for free as you move a long your career.

These are a list of legit agents in San Diego, the ones that get models work (paying work) -- List deleted here (please email me for the list

I suggest that you take POLOROIDS with no makeup and send them to the above agents with her stats and ask for an appointment... After you send the Polaroid's call them and ask if they did receive them and ask for an interview.

If you daughter does not have self confidence and doesn't take rejection well I would advise you not to do any of these things because models hear "NO" most of the time...they hear, you are too short, too fat, too skinny, your nose is big, your feet are ugly etc.... They all go through this and it does hurt, even the really strong girls can be devastated by some of the things they hear.

I hope that helps... Also, never pay for portfolio photos until an agent tells you to, a legit agency will give you a list of recommended photographers and if you don't go to one that agent prefers you will probably end up re-shooting because they won't like the shots. If there are not at least 2 or 3 photographers on that list or if the agent collects money for the photoshoot, run.

Beware...this business attracts all kinds of shadey types, they see girls and guys that dream of being a model and prey on them.



I just visited your website and it is the best website I have every seen. I really appreciate that you take the time to answer questions and give tips to aspiring/up and coming artists. I was just recently asked to do an advertising TV shoot this coming Wednesday and I'd like to get your opinion on what are the best tools to use for a client/talent who perspires profusely during the shoot? We are shooting a pastor and I've noticed that he's frequently sweating when he speaks (similar to Whitney Houston). Should I be using kleenex to wipe him down, as blot sheets look too thin? What would you recommend in instances where you're working with someone who sweats a lot especially under the hot camera lights? Please advise. I really appreciate it.


I blot with a towel, then I powder if he isn't too sweaty You can also get the paper toilet seat covers to blot... they work just like blotting paper but will save money in this case.



I'm currently testing and working my way (very slowly) up the editorial latter. Very slowly.

Editorial is cool. But my thoughts on make-up are so much simpler than that. My dream job has always been making up the news cast. Preferably, an nbc, cbs, fox one.

I'm not even sure how I would get on this road. I know it would be a long long way away. But I'd like to start getting the experience I need to someday have that job. I'm not sure if I should be trying to transition into film..?

Sorry this is a little vague. I see the goal but the entire path is unknown. Like I said, I don't expect to reach this goal in the near future but would like to, at least, start working towards it.

Any advice you can offer would be great!


You would need to be in NY, Chicago or Atlanta, perhaps Miami... as far as I know thats were the major stations are located.... local stations don't usually hire artists on a regular basis... Your best bet would probably by CNN in Atlanta, they employ a lot of artists.

So I guess your first step would be to move to one of these cities if you are not already in one. After that I would start contacting video people and small satellite stations for experience. You can Google the major stations and find out where their satellite stations are located...most major cities have satellite stations, just keep in mind they have independent names so you have to do a little research. Check out your local film commission guide or call your local film commission office, they may know. Good luck!


I do a lot of corporate video make-up (usually HD) and work with many men. Can you recommend a powder that can mattify very dark African American skin? I have issues, especially if they are bald.

Atlanta, GA

We all have these issues and generally the darker the skin the more you will get shine, my suggestion is using one of the CRC loose powders (we have some dark colors) and then pat with dark antishine over the powder.... just a little antishine and not all over just on hot spots... you will have to continue to powder throughout your shoot. You can fine the anti-shine at and you will find the powder at Butternut suits most people of color unless they are VERY dark.



I have been an artist for about 6 years and find that I'm just not getting ahead. People tell me to Network and I have but it's not paying off at all. What am I doing wrong?

Most people do not know how to network properly. If you are handing out cards and telling people about yourself and what you do you are not networking as effectively as you could be.

If you walk away from a networking encounter and the other person knows more about you than you know about them, you have probably failed to make a good impression. People like to talk about themselves,what they do, their families, and their hobbies. They would normally rather talk then listen. So ask questions and listen, find out what the other person needs, and take mental notes. Whatever you do, don't name drop, or go on and on about your resume. Nobody cares who you know or who you have worked with in the past.

The real key to networking is that you have to really be interested in the other person and you have to like people in general. If you don't, you might as well stay home because people are intuitive. People know if you really are interested in them and what they do or are just playing the game. How do you like and find an interest in people that you are meeting briefly at a party or event? You have to listen to them, and find common ground. They have problems just like you do. They are trying to make a living just like you are. Whoever you are talking to is someone's child, someone's parent perhaps, someone's best friend, someone's spouse. They have suffered losses, disappointments, tragedies and triumphs just as you have. Keep this in mind when you talk to someone.

When you know a lot about someone and you are interested in them, they feel like they know you. This will result in a memory of you when an occasion comes up where they may need your services. Given two talented choices, who are you going to refer when you have a job to refer someone to? The artist that spent 15 minutes telling you she worked with Lady Gaga, Matt Damon, and the Queen of England - or the artist who knows your childrens' names and your favorite movie?


I'm working on a all male model shoot, something crazy like 15 or so. I have done grooming before but this is the first time that I will be working with such an exclusive amount of male models. I don't want to miss anything.

So, the question is what are the must haves for grooming kit with the amount of models mentioned? I did a search and nothing came up. I appreciate your time and I don't mean to impose.

Hi, thank you for the compliment. I do a lot of men’s grooming and I carry the following:

I hope this helps and good luck on the job, it sounds like you will only be able to powder and comb the hair if you have to do this in a short amount of time.



How do you know if you are buying authentic Ben Nye or a knock off?

Ben Nye does not allow their products to be sold on Amazon and Ebay. If you find it there, it’s not coming from Ben Nye. This means it’s probably not Ben Nye, it’s most likely a knock off.

Ben Nye does not allow their products to be sold under retail price. If it’s not being sold at the full retail price on any site, it’s not coming from Ben Nye.

Does this mean the product is a fake product made in China?

I would assume so. The other option might be old product that someone is trying to get rid of because they lost their distributorship? I can’t say for sure, but I can say that if you find Ben Nye on Amazon or Ebay it’s not being sold by an authorized dealer. What’s really odd is that the knock off Ben Nye products are often higher on Amazon and Ebay then the real thing. I have no idea why people would pay more for an item to get it on an auction site. I’m still trying to figure that one out. There are many legitimate retailers of Ben Nye in the world, more than I can count. is one of the largest if not the largest authorized retailers in the world.



I have been an artist for a few years and I do mostly TV currently. I use Joe Blasco in my kit and after ordering on line via Amazon I ended up with a fake product. I paid $20.00 for it and was wondering if I can go ahead and use it on the talent? I hate to waste my money and just toss it.


Hi Sean

Products that are knocked off in China are a little scary because you have no idea what’s in them. It’s also not going to look like the authentic product and why would you risk your reputation for a $20.00 savings?

Joe Blasco is not cheap to make. It has a lot of pigment. When you buy knock-offs you aren’t getting this quality product, you’re getting more of a dollar store quality product. It’s of course not going to preform or look anything like the authentic product. It could also be someone selling old stock, and you don’t want to put that on your talent or yourself.

If you find Joe Blasco for less than 10% off of retail then it’s being sold by a non-authorized dealer.

Joe Blasco will not allow his retailers to sell for less than 10% off retail, so anything found for less is fake or old. If you call the Joe Blasco Company they will tell you that anything found for 10% off retail does not come from Joe Blasco. You can purchase the authentic product from, or from the Joe Blasco website. Be very careful when buying on Ebay and Amazon; this is where most people go to sell knock offs. Good luck!



Hi, my name is ​Renita. I'm in a makeup class in a community college. Its only 4 months but the instructor has been in the industry for years, I believe 25 to be exact. I'm about to graduate and transfer and move on to my BA degree, but I need money to start saving for my college tuition.

Now the instructor has been given us opportunities to show case our work and tells us about open calls and shows etc etc. She gave us info on a fashion event/pool event thats happening this Saturday.

Not everyone in my class will participate it but I decided to because its extra credit if I do AND I think it can help me grow as an artist. I've never actually done people's makeup before (except on my mom and cousin) so I am incredibly nervous doing all 16 female models (I might be only doing 8 but still scared.) And I'm mostly freaking out about color theory because I am a complete logical/analytic/mathematical type of person so it is so difficult to be artistic, but I try.

So I'm scared about not matching them perfectly and I'm scared about beginner's talent, or lack thereof.

​I would forget about color theory.... Take your foundation, put it on the collar bone of the model... it has to match exactly...if it does not match her skin on her collar bone mix until it does or find a foundation that matches. Her face has to match her collar bone and I'm going to assume you're instructor doesn't know this., just from what you've said in the email.

But what I am mostly concerned is, how do I go about crediting this? Should I ask for a call sheet? I am pretty sure I'm not getting paid at all (but do you think I should do and if so, how do I ask for money?) I want a call sheet because discounts...and a kit is expensive to keep investing and building it.

This isn't a paid job and I doubt you will be able to use it for anything other then school credits. Most companies do not accept non paid work for pro status consideration. Pro status for product discounts are intended for artists making a living as artists.​ ​ I suggest you not ask for payment, you need to do this for experience or pass on the job.

How do I also get credit for doing their makeup? Its a small fashion event. I'm going to assume there will be only 500 people. I doubt 3 thousand. But it definitely is considered a fashion poolside event. It'll be models showcasing swimwear for an hour then the rest is a party and dance event.

Credits you get for non paid jobs are only going to help in your class (not in real life). I would do this for the experience alone. I don't believe you are yet at the status where you would be paid for this type of work.

Nobody seems to be helping me and I'm quite anxious to even ask my instructor about these questions. It'll seem like all I want is money, but its mostly about recognition and trying to get qualification for makeup pro discounts such as CRC, MAC, NARS, etc

Most schools do want just your money, not all but most. You normally get what you pay for as far as education. I don't believe most companies are going to accept a certificate from a community college for a pro discount but they might give you student discounts.

What do you think I should do? I talked to the lady that is sponsoring it all (or a part of it) and she says that for me working there, all I get is a free pass into the party but I want more than that because I am going alone and I highly doubt I'll even stay and mingle.

​If you feel the experience is not worth it, I suggest you decline the job because they made it clear you would not be paid. However, if you already accepted the job at no pay I suggest you do it and go home. It sounds like you need experience and this might be a good opportunity to get some.​

Also is this considered professional work? If the models and everyone else are getting paid, does this mean I should get paid too?

No, this isn't considered professional work. These are the kind of jobs you do for experience as a new artist. Most artists get paid after working on jobs like these and testing for about 2 years. You need a very good portfolio before you will be paid professionally. ​

Please help, I am simply a college student trying to make ends meet.

​If you are doing this for the money I suggest you find another career, this one will not pay you for a very long time. Successful artists have a passion for doing makeup, paid or not, I don't see this in you from what I've read here and so doing this job for the experience may be a waste of your time, but you committed and so the right thing to do would be to do what you committed to.

Sorry for taking your time, but thank you for reading my message.

Look forward to hearing your response!

Good luck to you and I hope this email helped in some way!


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