If you follow some of the industry’s biggest celeb makeup artists on the ‘gram (think MakeupbyMario and Patrick Ta), it probably looks like one of the most glamorous jobs a makeup lover could have. But it’s not as easy as one might think. Being a celebrity makeup artist definitely has it perks but often means a hectic travel schedule, living out of a suitcase and long days on set. It’s a life makeup artists Mary Phillips and Mario Dedivanovic know all too well. So we asked them to share what it’s really like — and how an aspiring celebrity MUA can get started.
Whether you watch the YouTube greats, enroll in a course or find an established artist to assist, you need to learn your stuff. Even if your dream is to become an avant garde artist who only paints upside down brows, you still have to learn the rules to break them. We recommend following YouTubers who are also professional makeup artists like Wayne Goss who shares his expertise on everything from how to hack your makeup to whether makeup school is actually worth the money. Whatever method you choose, try to learn as much as you can before practicing on others.
Don’t Be Too Proud to Work for Free
Mary Phillips — whose A-list clients include Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Chrissy Teigen — started young. What began with playing in her mother’s makeup became a passion Mary knew she wanted to turn into a career. As an L.A. native, she was lucky enough to have access to some of the world’s most exclusive artists — something she took full advantage of. After years of assisting makeup artists for free (which included un-glamorous tasks like cleaning up after their dogs and running errands), that she describes as “[her version of] college”, Mary was able to make her dreams a reality. In addition to assisting top makeup artists, she also worked behind the counter and at a salon, which was a lot more structured than what she does now.
You (Probably) Won’t be Famous Overnight
Mario (known to his 5M Instagram followers as Makeupbymario), came up in a similar way. In a recent interview with Fashionista, he shared how he went from working behind a counter to creating some of makeup’s most iconic looks. After graduating high school, Mario got a job as a fragrance consultant at Sephora where he fell in love with makeup. Mario would greet customers by day and research makeup techniques and artists by night. Little by little, he was able to build his book and assist smaller artists before going on to assist some of the greats in the industry. This experience led to high-profile campaigns, and larger opportunities which would eventually result in a decade-long collaboration with his most-famous client: Kim Kardashian.
Build Brand Relationships
As a makeup artist, it’s also essential to build great relationships with both clients and brands — you never know where your next campaign could come from or how you’ll connect with your next big client. Great relationships can also lead to your very own collaboration: Mary Phillips recently dropped a travel-focused collab with NudeStix and MakeupbyMario dropped a three-piece collection (including a stunning eyeshadow palette) with KKW Beauty to celebrate 10 years of friendship and fire makeup looks.
Hustle Every Day
Being a celebrity makeup artist often means being in high demand, so you can expect your schedule to be packed and travelling to become a way of life. In a recent interview with us, MakeupbyMario shared a day in his life: “This past month has been so insane. I was in L.A. and then New York, then London and my collab came out. At the same time I was promoting GlamMasters with Lifetime in the U.K., and two days later I had my master class with 600-plus people. A day after that I had a brand event that I had to go to, and then I had to fly back to New York and then to LA to work on three really big shoots. This is not an eight-hour day — we’re talking 14-hour days. One day was in the desert; one day was on a farm. The last day I left that campaign and flew to Toronto on a red-eye, ran to the hotel and went straight to another brand event. Right after that, I jumped on a plane and went straight back to New York. That’s what it’s like.” Mary had a similar story, emphasizing last minute bookings and days spent living out of a suitcase. While every makeup artist’s schedule will vary, both Mario and Mary agree you have to be strong to do the job.
Still want to become a celebrity MUA? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author:Tembe Denton-Hurst hails from Brooklyn, NY, but if you ask her, the answer will be much more complicated. She's passionate about YouTube, storytelling and swatching everything she can get her hands on. When the assistant beauty editor isn't brainstorming crazy ideas for makeup.com, she's lurking on Reddit, spending time with her cats Stella and Dakota or asking obvious questions.