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Dawn's best advice for New Makeup Artists

Written by Dawn Maloney


*Dawn Maloney is a makeup artist and educator with over 26 years of experience in beauty, fashion, image styling, and business.

Newly trained makeup artists and students ask me this question all the time. How do I start my career? I truly believe that the makeup counter is the best place to start for a new makeup artist. When you’re straight out of makeup school, you are excited to get your career started and there’s no better place than the makeup counter. The counter teaches us MUA'S many valuable career lessons.

Over the years I have encouraged new makeup artists to follow this path and I have gotten some pushback. The makeup artists say I don’t want to “sell”. The truth is everything is a sale. Whether you are selling yourself, services, or cosmetic products you are selling something. It’s crucial to practice selling. The counter forces you to come out of your shell and build your work experience. The makeup counter teaches you many valuable lessons that you will use throughout your career.

  1. How to work with all types of people. People come in all shapes and sizes and have many different personalities. Makeup Counters provide you with the opportunity to work on all skin tones and types. Most importantly the counter forces you to interact with total strangers.

  2. You get paid to practice. You get good by working with clients. You get to practice your makeup skills while earning a paycheck.

  3. Learn about different types and brands of makeup. Department stores, cosmetic retailers, and makeup studios carry different makeup lines. You will learn about the latest and greatest products. Some companies bring in special makeup artist-educators who can also learn from them.

  4. It pushes you through the fear of asking someone to purchase something and ask for money. There are many talented makeup artists, but very few have a booming business or career. That is because they are afraid of asking for money.

  5. Networking with your coworkers and the feral public. You will have the opportunity to have conservations with like-minded that could possibly open some doors.

  6. Sales skills: learn how to sell products but also yourself. The counter is where you get to know yourself. You can see yourself in action. What are your strengths and weaknesses? You will be able to fine-tune your skills or completely learn something new.

  7. Be professional. The counter quickly whips you into shape with professional skills. You now have a job and responsibilities. You must be on time, dress approximately, groom yourself, and learn the corporate culture. These are all skills that you will use in your entire professional life.

I began my career at a makeup counter while also working as an artist at a photography studio. Both jobs made a huge impact on my career. I am so grateful for those experiences that helped shape me into an industry professional. I hope that you build a rewarding career and someday share your career advice with a novice makeup artist.

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