MAKEUP EDUCATION:  IS IT WORTH IT?

MAKEUP EDUCATION: IS IT WORTH IT?

As an aspiring pro, you can easily spend $10,000 on all of the fancy makeup in the world. However, the products alone don't make you a professional makeup artist. 

I recently heard this phrase and I loved it:

“It’s the hand, not the brand” that creates beautiful looks.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Nice products makes applying makeup easier, but if you don't know how to properly use them, you're throwing away money. If you don’t have the clientele to support such a large kit investment, you can’t possibly use that much makeup before it goes bad. That isn’t really smart is it?

So where do you spend your money when you are an aspiring makeup artist? On your education. Sorry folks, Youtube isn’t gonna be the only thing you need. Let's discuss makeup classes and discover if makeup education is really worth it.
 

ARE ALL MAKEUP CLASSES THE SAME?

Decide if you want to be a working makeup artist or a Instagram or Youtube artist.

Decide if you want to be a working makeup artist or a Instagram or Youtube artist.

As a makeup educator for over 2 decades, (gulp!) I have seen and done it all.

In the last 2 years, “Instagram” classes and makeup classes have been popping up all over that it's flooding my social media news feed.

There is a new trend in makeup and it's called "Teach everyone to be a makeup artist". But dear baby kitten, being a makeup artist is SO much more than that.

When it comes to taking makeup classes with your favorite social media personality, I must tell you, as a working professional myself, be very cautious with these types of classes.

Why?

Because most of these artists are not working professionals. 

DID YOU KNOW?

To be a real working makeup artist, most states require you to have a license?

To be a real working makeup artist, most states require you to have a license?

Did you know that most states require you to be a licensed cosmetologist or esthetician to practice makeup and charge money for services? It’s true.

Word to the wise: Check with your state to be sure what the laws are and if you must have a cosmetology or esthetics license to do makeup on paying clients. Chances are you need that license. 

Our gal pal Yasmin Kalish gave us this little nugget. DO YOU NEED A LICENSE?

If you are confused, contact an attorney in your state. Most will be glad to let you know, with a simple phone call to help you interpret the law. Also, calling the state directly isn’t a bad idea either. Get your facts right and listen to the people who make the rules, not the people selling you a makeup course.  The people selling education have one goal. Selling education. 
 

DESIGNATED MAKEUP SCHOOLS

Makeup schools can be great, but don't offer you any type of licensing protection.

Makeup schools can be great, but don't offer you any type of licensing protection.

Looking at taking a class at a school designated for makeup? Tuition can be high (and sometimes as much as cosmetology school) and all they give you is a "certificate". This certificate doesn’t give you the legal protection to do makeup in most cases and sometimes don't give you the proper skills you need to make it in the real world.

If you are doing TV or film, the laws are a slight bit different, but unless you jump right into TV & film, (and can make a living doing it) it’s best to proceed with caution and learn what is acceptable in your state. I don’t know many people who go right into TV & Film, it's rare. Very rare. Not to mention in most cases, you have to be union.

Most aspiring makeup artists start out doing special events, makeup counters and other consumer type jobs before diving in doing fashion or commercial work. States are broke and they are cracking down everywhere. Fines are steep.

On our popular makeup Facebook group, Glossible, I hear stories (and they are becoming more and more frequent) about how people are getting letters in the mail from their states for violations and not being licensed. Be sure you are covered. Everyone on my team is licensed and it’s a requirement to be on my team. 

Designated makeup schools don't protect you. Think wisely.

BEING SELF TAUGHT ISN'T A BAD THING

Vivian Baker’s set up for a major motion picture, due out next year. This particular set up is for the leading role using The Makeup Light. How brilliant is this? This is what a REAL pro does everyday. Only really determined artists make it to this level. Hard work and integrity to the craft is key.

Vivian Baker’s set up for a major motion picture, due out next year. This particular set up is for the leading role using The Makeup Light. How brilliant is this? This is what a REAL pro does everyday. Only really determined artists make it to this level. Hard work and integrity to the craft is key.

Are designated makeup schools a great place to start or can being self taught in addition to having a license be a good thing? 

In talking with gal pal, movie makeup legend, Vivian Baker about educating the new artistsshe says:

Vivian Baker working on Bryce Dallas Howard on Jurrasic World. 

Vivian Baker working on Bryce Dallas Howard on Jurrasic World. 

My philosophy isn't a popular one, so here goes.

I think that there is too much "tell me" and "teach me" and not enough of "figuring it out." Allowing yourself some humility.

I think that most people who want to be makeup educators need their ego stroked or are not working because they can't cut it as a working makeup artist. I think there is too much education without the "education sales" now. Meaning educate to sell the actual education. These artist are teaching their job away. Education does not replace experience. Experience always wins.
Airbrush is the perfect example. Figure it out! 

What does that mean to you?
Instagram artists and schools offering class “certification” doesn't mean a thing. Just because you have a certificate does not mean you are allowed to do makeup legally. Don’t be foolish. If you want to be within the letter of the law, spend the money and get your cosmetology license or esthetics license. But so does practice. Get dirty. Supplement real life experience with makeup classes to get the most out of your career.

HOW TO CHOOSE A MAKEUP CLASS

Educator and working makeup artist Margina Dennis teaching at our studio in Chicago. Margina is a busy working union makeup artist in NYC. www.marginadennis.com

Educator and working makeup artist Margina Dennis teaching at our studio in Chicago. Margina is a busy working union makeup artist in NYC. www.marginadennis.com

Before investing $8,000 or more in an accredited cosmetology school, take a few makeup classes with working professionals. This will be the cheapest way to go and will really allow you to see if makeup artistry is something you want to go into.

Makeup classes with working pros can be pretty expensive and rightfully so. They are teaching you their years of experience and tell you all of the mistakes they have made along the way. Most don’t sugar coat it and it gives you a real insight into what it’s like being a true professional.

It’s hard, I know. Do you want to pay $500 for a 1 day class with a real makeup artist or buy $500 of palettes and pretty makeup for your "kit"? Usually the girlie side wants all the pretty things but $500 compared to $5,000 for makeup kit is a wise investment.

Here is some food for thought:

Education never expires and never goes away. It is with you for a lifetime.

Talk about a return on your investment.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A MAKEUP EDUCATOR

Margina demonstrating clean beauty. Mastering clean beauty is the work horse of any working professional.

Margina demonstrating clean beauty. Mastering clean beauty is the work horse of any working professional.

Here are some tips at what to look for in a makeup educator. 

  • Look at their website.  
    Is their website chaotic and cluttered? If the website is chaotic and cluttered, their class may be too. You can't teach good taste.  
    Are they an educator promoter? Or an individual selling the class. Learn about both of the people who are "selling" the class. 
     
  • Do they walk the walk? Or just talk the talk?
    Do they have experience in the things you want to learn yourself? OR are they just a “show pony?”
     
  • Do you like their esthetic style?
    Do you like how they do makeup? Do you like their presentation? 
     
  • Does your educator seem genuine?
    If you have conversations with them, do you feel they are genuinely concerned with your education or does it feel like it’s just about money and signing you up?
     
  • Want to work in TV or film?
    Take classes from a union makeup artist. Ask them if they are union makeup artist or what credentials they have? Is it listed on their website? These are the people you should be learning from. Not from someone who has never done the actual work of being on set. Also ask them how long they have been teaching. If you find out someone is 25 and they say they have 10 years of experience, call bullshit. I don't know many 15 year olds who work as a professional.
     
  • Want to work in bridal?
    Is your educator a working bridal artist?  This one kills me every time. I see people teaching bridal workshops without ever doing brides. Brides are a different beast all together and are not for the light at heart. If bridal is something you want to get into, be sure to take classes with pros who are experts in this area.  A minimum of 10 years of experience in bridal is crucial. 
     
  • Do you like their online social media presence?
    I hear this a lot, lately, people not liking someone's social media personalities.
    I find a lot of educators belittle people or are downright rude online. It's as if some of these folks or have some sort of superiority complex.

    To me, there is a difference in being confident and being condescending. I know a lot can be taken out of context in the written word because we lack tone and body language in an online presence, but sometimes it’s painfully clear how some conduct themselves on social media. If you like them on social media, chances are you will like them in person too. If you are going to spend 8 hours with someone, don't spend it with someone who is not a very nice person online. Their social media presence is an extension of who they are to the core.  It's one thing to have a bad day on social media, it's quite another to be this way consistently.
     

"Educator Wars" are stupid but they are real.
I also see a lot of “educator” wars as if some how these people have the right to be the only show in town. Who died and made them king or queen of the throne? Education is personal and different for all people.  We all learn differently and at different paces. What may be amazing for me, may not be amazing for you.

The truth is, makeup education is turning into a big business and a lot of working pros do have something to offer to the next generation. Some makeup educators have such a huge passion for teaching. 

Too often the good makeup educators are "scared out" because of the bigger educators bully them or belittle them in very passive aggressive ways on social media.  Educator wars are real. So many of these educators start ripping each other up and in my opinion look absolutely ridiculous. If you look close, you can tell who is trying to jockey for top educator position. The last I heard we are all in this together as an industry. No one is the cock of the walk.  I do believe some are better than others and some I will gladly put my seal of approval on and some I do not. But that is not for ME to decide. That is for YOU to decide. And no one else.

  • A good educator will never be intimidated by another educator. Ever.

Keep that in mind when deciding who to take a class with.
 

  • Ask for referrals
    There are a lot of makeup groups on Facebook that you can get advice from.  Go into true “Pro” communities and ask who THEY like as an educator. Enthusiast groups aren’t a very good place to judge because most of them aren’t in it for a career but for the love of makeup.

    Not everyone is going to love every class, but if the overall review is good, then its worth considering. Reviews are fantastic and should be a crucial part of any vetting process. (Just be sure the person you are getting the review from actually took the class, because of the previously mentioned "educator wars").

TIPS FOR CONTINUING MAKEUP EDUCATION

Tip #1: Save for Good Education

Before you invest anything into a kit, or cosmo school, budget $2,000 a year for makeup classes with WORKING artists.  That is less than $40 a week. Basically a daily cup of Starbucks.

Set your online banking system to put $40 a week in your savings account automatically so you don't even miss it.  Before you know it, you have your education fund ready to go....and it won't even hurt!  I do this myself and I am always excited when its time to take a class I have several thousand dollars saved to dip into.

I take very expensive business classes outside of the beauty industry and one class alone could cost $3500. I invest in my business as much as I do my kit and it has served me well. Save your money in small nibbles so it never stings.

Tip #2: Go Cheap for Beauty School
You don’t need to go to the most expensive cosmetology school.  Here in Chicago, there are cosmetology schools that range from $7,000 to $25,000. In my opinion, school is what you make it. 

When you are getting your license, you need to learn as much as you can in cosmotology school and get your hours you need to take your state board tests. What you learn in school is great because you can practice your craft under the supervision of a licensed instructor. It’s really that simple.

Your real education is going to be learning on the job once you get your license. Experience matters. Before you are a real bad ass, expect to be doing this for at least 5 years before you feel masterful. 10 years before you can teach.

Remember the old saying you need 10,000 hours to be a master of anything? I believe that to be absolutely true. Some are faster to master things than others, but be prepared for the 10,000 hours.

Tip #3: Financial Aid
Most accredited schools have financial aid. A lot of times, if you can qualify, a lot have grants and free money to give you. I think it’s one of the most brilliant ways to start your career and then you can take advanced classes with working professionals after graduation to feed your soul.

Tip #4: Visit cosmetology schools and see what you qualify for
Go visit schools and find out what you qualify for. You may be shocked to discover all the free money out there waiting for you.

When I went to esthetic’s school, I qualified for a $5,000 grant so my education only cost me $5,500. I went to school full time and I worked full time. You can do it. It’s only a year of your life. It will go by really quickly. If you want it bad enough, you will make the sacrifice.

Tip #5: Dedicated Makeup Schools

If prosthetics or specialized  makeup school is really what you wanted to focus on, I personally would only go to a dedicated makeup school AFTER I have my license.

Why?

Because then you will understand sanitation, skin structure and other valuable things that will be a wonderful foundation for advanced education and you will be legally covered in most cases to perform services.

Tip #4: Apprenticeship
After you graduate, find someone to assist.

A great book to read is Deshawn Hatcher’s book “Assisting Rules”. Deshawn keeps it real and why finding an assisting job is tough. It's a must read and mandatory in your book collection.


Vivian working on the set of "Oz the Great and Powerful". Vivian checking her artists work before filming...

Vivian working on the set of "Oz the Great and Powerful". Vivian checking her artists work before filming...

When I asked Vivian Baker about assisting, Vivian writes:
When it comes to assisting, I see this a lot,  even at the level that I am working in:
"Just tell me what to do."  WTF? Then why are you here? 

I'm too busy doing MY job to tell you what to do. Me telling you what to do isn't making my job easier. You are becoming a liability, not an asset. Doing a makeup and walking away from it means nothing. A great makeup artist knows how to walk into ANY situation and be helpful. They work to support me ( the boss) not me support them. 

When I bring in a young makeup artist into my world, it's very clear they don't know their tools. Especially in prosthetics...I have found that schooled artist sometimes can be some of the worst. They wait for me to tell them. These are the artists that have a hard time making it. They think there is only one way. That isn't the case, EVER in makeup. Don't wait for me to tell you what to do, figure it out. 

Learning how to be a wonderful assistant will help you navigate faster in the makeup education department.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Vivian Baker with her emmy for Drew Barrymore's makeup in  "Grey Gardens"

Vivian Baker with her emmy for Drew Barrymore's makeup in  "Grey Gardens"

My friend Vivian is such a wise soul. I thought her words of wisdom would touch all of you the way she touches me daily. I hope you find inspiration in her words:
 

It is an honor to be in my position. Not a right. I must earn it daily. There is more than the makeup. The makeup must pour out of me. It is my drink of choice. My greatest high!! I love to be drunk on a great makeup. And I can go film to film without a great one. So I make the easy ones great. Then I paint every chance I get. Feed my addiction. Makeup is so much more than school. School happens every day and in every situation.

I hope these tips and tricks help you decide how makeup education of all kinds can help you. Makeup artistry is a very rewarding career, but as you see, it’s more than having 10,000 worth of beautiful makeup in a kit.

What do you think of my novel!? HA! Sorry folks. Leave a comment below.

Be fabulous!
XO
Sonia

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