The Glamorous Career of Hollywood Makeup Artist

Who hasn’t wanted the Oscars or Golden Globes and marveled at the perfectly coiffed and made-up beauties on the red carpet? Or maybe you’re enthralled with the special effects makeup that transformed our mild-mannered office boy into a super hero, or a super creepy villain. Whether the need to is to make a plain person look glamorous, or a beauty look evil, or even to make a normal person look normal, all that magic happens in the production company’s hair and makeup department.

A hair and makeup pro can make a good living in the entertainment industry, but there are a few tips you might consider before heading down that career path. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, while there were 673,700 jobs for barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists in the U.S. as of 2016, only 3,540 worked as theatrical and performance makeup artists with 2,590 working in the motion picture industry. The median annual income for a movie makeup artist exceeded $75,000, with the top 10% pulling in more than $127,00 per year.

As with so many things in life, location is everything. With Hollywood still reigning as the Mecca of the film industry, more than half the jobs for film makeup artists are in California, and another 20% located in New York. While it is certainly possible to snag some freelance work with local production companies or studios that are shooting on location in your region, if you’re looking for steady work in the industry, it helps to live where the industry is.