Are you about starting a makeup artist business and want to get licensed? If YES, here is a complete guide on how to get a makeup artist license with ease.

Makeup artists are individuals who use their talents and tools to makeover, transform, and improve another individual’s face (and sometimes their body). The works of these talented individuals corrects imperfections, highlights positive attributes, and remedies issues.

But whether they are highlighting cheekbones for a key event, perfecting the smoky eye for a photo shoot, or applying prosthetics for theatrical productions, makeup artists are truly artists in their own right.

This talent is not just a passion but also a business since very good makeup artists command lofty fees and possess loyal clients. The work they do demands a perfectionist attitude, as this profession requires a steady hand, an eye for detail, precision in application, and a well-developed appreciation of colour, shading, and blending.

It’s important to state that successful individuals in this field have a passion for beautifying clients, so they are keenly aware of which colours look best on which person. They are masterful with makeup application techniques; they have a deep understanding of skin types, tones and makeup ingredients.

A Detailed Guide on How to Get a Makeup Artist License

Makeup licenses are more like a driver’s license – you learn and take an exam to prove you’re capable and fit for the role. But unlike driving, makeup artistry can become complicated in the sense of who can and can’t work as a professional. First, licensing boards exist, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of the makeup industry.

Report has it that not every region or state in the united states needs their makeup artists to possess a license. Depending on where you are, you might even be able to set up a makeup business without any formal training. But have it in mind that working on clients when you have no experience will only end in disaster.

When starting your career, whether you’re taking makeup courses or building a business, make it a point of duty to research into local regulations. Sometimes, all you have to do to get your makeup license is to sit for an exam. If you find out that you do need a license to practice makeup artistry, don’t get all scared – at least your training have not been in vain.

Licensing exams generally do not go into enough detail about makeup artistry techniques to give you a well-rounded education. What licensing exams do mainly is ensure the safety of professionals and customers by covering topics like hygiene and sanitation.

How to Get your Makeup Artist License in the United States

If your interested in turning your passion and enthusiasm for makeup into a career, then you must not only prepare through education and training, you also have to make sure you practice within the parameters of the law. Licensing requirements for makeup artists are not as straightforward as they are for other beauty professionals.

Research has it that unlike other licensed professions, state laws relating to makeup artistry are often ambiguous, at best. Some states in the United States, such as Colorado, have explicit licensing requirements for makeup artists, which include being licensed as an aesthetician, while some other states in the United States, such as Connecticut, have little or non-existent language in their cosmetology regulations that address makeup artistry.

Some require licensure for makeup artists performing their services in salon settings, but do not require licensure for makeup artists performing wedding or theatrical makeup services outside of a salon.

According to industry reports, Louisiana is the only state in the United States that offers a makeup artistry license. Maryland repealed its makeup artist license in 2008, while the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology is considering a bill that would introduce a makeup artist certification.

Another thing that makes it all confusing is the fact that some states, like Florida, do not license makeup artists; instead, they require them to complete a skincare program of 260 hours and then register with the Department of Business and Regulation.

Note that with all of the confusion surrounding makeup artist licensure, one thing remains clear, a lot of industry employers now prefer makeup artists who are licensed as either cosmetologists or aestheticians. The best course of action any aspiring makeup artist can take is to contact their state board of cosmetology to ensure they are meeting licensing requirements which, for many states, requires:

  • Finishing an approved program of aesthetics/cosmetology
  • Applying for licensure and meeting a number of licensing requirements, such as meeting minimum age and education requirements
  • Sitting for and passing state license examinations, which typically include both a written and practical examination


Due to the varying makeup artistry requirements, you will find that the curriculum of makeup artistry programs also vary quite a bit from one program to the next. Note that if an aesthetician or cosmetologist license is required to practice makeup artistry, individuals are typically bound by programs that are approved by their state board of cosmetology.

Individuals planning to practice makeup artistry in a state where licensure requirements for makeup artists do not exist often have more flexibility with the type of makeup program they choose; but because makeup artists can actually gain from an aesthetician or cosmetologist license, these beauty professionals often decide to complete an approved program and become licensed so as to widen their professional opportunities.

For aspiring individuals who want to complete a program in cosmetology, the process may be long, with many states such as Arizona requiring a cosmetology program of at least 1,600 hours to qualify for licensure. In contrast, aestheticians in Arizona need only complete an aesthetics program of 600 hours to achieve licensure.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the chosen route for makeup artists is typically an aesthetician license. Have it in mind that makeup artist programs are often designed as either basic programs or advanced/specialty programs. For makeup artist candidates, a basic comprehensive program is the best choice, as it includes both theoretical and practical study in areas such as:

  • Safety, sanitation and hygiene
  • Principles of makeup
  • Makeup artist toolkits, brushes, and cosmetics
  • Colour theory
  • Face shapes, skin makeup
  • Makeup for broadcast and photography
  • Day and evening makeup looks
  • Theatre and stage makeup
  • Hair and eye colour
  • Contouring and highlighting
  • Makeup blending techniques
  • Corrective makeup techniques
  • Application techniques of foundations, eyeliners, primers, concealers, false lashes, eyebrow shaping and colouring, lip lining and lip colour, blush, etc.
  • Special event/bridal
Joy Nwokoro