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6 ways to earn more money as a makeup artist

Hustling to pay the bills is an everyday battle for many freelance makeup artists. If you want to work full time in a freelance role, there are things you can do to make sure you can cover your living costs. While you take the time to build up your name, you may not have regular work. My top tips for surviving these difficult years for your business:

  1. Get a website. Websites are easy to come by these days. You can study Search Engine Optimisation for free through Google and build yourself a website that will show up on the keywords you think your customers will be searching. Wordpress and Wix are a few free options. I recommend getting a website created by a designer if you can afford it. You will need high quality imagery for your website and portfolio to stand out.

  2. Stop ripping yourself off. This is one of the hardest things to learn as a freelancer. At first you are so excited to get clients that you are willing to work for less just to secure the jobs. This will not be great for you in the long run. People are not going to be happy if you suddenly charge them the full rate after discounted rates. It is important to make sure you are always being paid what you are worth. Keep in mind that your services are tax deductions for businesses that hire you. If you are offering a discount or even working on a TFP shoot you need to consider whether you will get anything out of it that is worthwhile for your business or personal goals. If you will get amazing images that you can use on your website and social media, it may be worth doing a TFP shoot where no-one is paid. If the photographer does not edit skin well, the images chosen are not flattering, then there is no point. Set your fees and stick to them.

  3. Diversify your income. There are lots of things that makeup artists can do to makeup money. Think outside the box. Create your own classes, sell products, get a part time job in a makeup shop, offer niche services that no-one else in your area does. Think of ways that the skills you have can be used, I personally use my makeup skills to restore dolls for people.

  4. Promote yourself on social media. Many clients are using Facebook and Instagram to find artists in their area. If you do not have a present on these platforms you may be missing out on clients that don’t know you exist. Use high quality imagery to promote yourself and your business so you will stand out. You can work with other creatives in a TFP arrangement to create photos for your social media and website.

  5. Sell products and extra services. Stocking makeup and products is a great way to make extra income for your business. You can make sure your clients will be able to work with them correctly and choose what is right for them. Adding extras onto services such as deluxe lashes, mini facials, brow shaping is another great way to make extra money.

  6. Take a non-refundable booking retainer to secure bookings. Taking a non-refundable retainer means that if a client cancels at the last minute, you will still get paid. I prefer to refer to this as a retainer as opposed to a deposit because deposit implies that it is a part of the full fee for the appointment. A retainer, retains your clients booking. The money can go towards their booking fee but you should ensure that you are covered incase they cancel. I have had a client cancel when I was just about to knock on their door, having turned down other jobs. In this case I kept the retainer that they had agreed to when they created the booking. Make sure this is included in your contract or terms and conditions.

The best makeup brushes created by real makeup artists

Makeup artists have been creating their tools for years but these products never seem to be popular in the influencer market. As a makeup artist I look for quality products that work well and last. When selecting makeup brushes I look at the shape of the brushes, are they designed for the steps of makeup in the way I like to work? Is the hair of high quality whether it is real or synthetic? Are they going to be easily stained? Will they handle my harsh treatment with sanitation and washing regularly? I have fallen for the marketing hype so many times and purchased consumer level brushes that did not perform the way I needed them to. Bristles falling out after the first week, firm hairs that don’t blend well and handles that fall apart are just some of my complaints.

Here are my favourite high quality, professional makeup brushes, designed by working artists.


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The Australian godmother of makeup, Rae Morris created her own line of innovative magnetic brushes. The brushes stick to metal surfaces such as your palette and stand up. They are easy to find and stay clean while you work. The only downside is that they are made from animal hair. They are made in Japan where creating the highest quality brushes is an art form and the main income for many villages. My favourite is the medium point shader. They are available at Mecca.



Cozzette Beauty brushes are created by the one and only Roque Cozzette. Of all the brushes I own (there are hundreds) these brushes are my favourite. I have had several sets of Cozzette brushes for years now and not one single strand of hair has ever come loose. My brushes get treated pretty harshly with daily sanitisation and washing. The shape of each brush is so well thought out, and perfectly matched to the human face. The eye blending brushes are my die hard, must have brushes. They make working on any eye shape a dream. I cannot live without the D220 Pencil Brush, S185 Mini Eye Blender, S165 Magic Blender and S123 Diamond Stylist. These brushes are fully vegan, made from synthetic hair. Makeup superstar Danessa Myricks uses these brushes.


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One of the first makeup artist created brush brands that I supported was Makeup Weapons. Created by Brisbane makeup artist Sheri Vegas, she has since branched out into brow balm and bio glitter. You can tell by looking at the shapes and sizes of the brushes that a working makeup artist designed them. Each brush is shaped perfectly for it’s designated task. I was super happy to see a miniature angle brush when this brand first launched. I also adore the Deluxe Pigment Brush and use it for concealer under the eyes and the Pointed Blending Brush for blending shadow in the crease. Sheri’s brushes are vegan and the handles are made from sustainable bamboo.



Merton Muaremi has thrown his hat into the makeup brush ring with his Essential Brush Collection. While I do not own these brushes, they are on my want list. I love the design breakdowns on his website that cover all of the niggly little issues I find with brushes myself. Things like not being able to find an angle brush that is thin enough is something that bothers me. I would love to find out if his can compete with the Zoeva winged liner brush. I think a lot of the consumer brand brushes are just too big, highlight brushes that cover the whole cheek, lip brushes that are too wide. Merton has thought of everything including avoiding stains. As a professional artist your kit needs to look spotless at all times.

Who are some other makeup artists that have released their own brushes?

How to be a great makeup artist's assistant

Why should you assist other makeup artists?

Assisting more experienced makeup artists is a great way to develop your makeup skills and network within your industry. When you go to makeup school you learn the basics. These foundation skills (ha) allow you to explore and create your own style safely, but you won’t be an expert. The skills you need to be a great makeup artist are honed over time through practice and experiencing different scenarios, lighting conditions, eye shapes and skin types.

How to be a great makeup artist assistant

  • Ask for clear instructions at the start, not sure what you are expected to do, ask.

  • Let the artist know if there is something in particular you have struggled with that you want to see.

  • Don’t be distracting while the artist is working, I have had assistants that chat to me non-stop while I am working. I am usually busy ensuring the best service for the client so need to focus.

  • Watch and learn, if the artist hasn’t given you a task, watch what they are doing and discreetly ask questions.

  • Be prepared to do the dirty work, washing brushes is one of the most crucial tasks my assistants can do that will actually be helpful to me.

  • Be their second pair of hands, my favourite assistants are always there anticipating what I will need and handing it to me just as I turn around to look for it.

  • Take note of how they set up their kit and how they work, every artist is different. I have a very particular way for setting up my work area.

  • Research their style and work, working with people that have styles that are totally different to yours will mean looks can be inconsistent.

  • Don’t take photos without permission and never post them without first checking. Lots of shoots are confidential until the release date. Posting instagram stories of shoots can mean that magazines won’t accept the submission.

  • Stay out of the way with your phone, the number of times I have been trying to take a photo and a makeup student jumps in to take one on their phone is astounding.

  • Don’t hand out your business card on the shoot, this comes across as trying to steal the makeup artists clients. We are all happy to share with other respectful artists.

  • Check before taking tools from the makeup artist’s kit and return them. I once had an assistant take my makeup chair when I asked her to do a minor lip touch up on some models, when my next model showed up she had to stand. So many times I have had makeup students borrow something from my kit and not bring it back to me, so when I need it I cannot find it.

What should you expect in return for being an assistant?

If you want to assist other makeup artists you should treat it like a learning experience and so should they. I provide my assistants with a break down and brief of what I want them to do before hand. Most artists will not have a budget to pay you for assisting. If they do then you will be expected to perform higher duties. For this reason many are hesitant to take on assistants as it cuts into the budget. I won’t take an assistant onto a job where I won’t have time to instruct them if there is no budget. I prefer to take assistants to jobs where they will learn something outside the norm that could be useful for their business. Or if they are particularly interested in something but cannot access it, like fashion shows. On the other end of the scale are makeup artists that will exploit free labour. I once assisted an artist that asked me to apply 4 full faces of makeup for a wedding using my own products with no guidance from her. She didn't show me anything and got paid $120 for each face I did. I walked away feeling gutted, like I had been taken advantage of. Of course she asked me to assist her again next weekend but I said no.

I often refer jobs to my previous assistants so being a good assistant is an important step for your business. There are enough jobs to go around and some artists have a bigger network so receive more jobs. I actively support and promote anyone that has assisted me where I can.

Happy assisting!

xo Katie