If you want to become a celebrity make-up artist or to enjoy steady work applying make-up, you first have to receive some training. While you may want to hold on to your day job in the meantime or at least have a steady stream of income to support you before your new career takes off, don't give up on your dream. It may take a while before you can call make-up artistry your full-time job, your persistence pay off with every satisfied client and the resulting recommendations that come your way.
Enrol at a reputable school that offers make-up courses. You can choose to focus on only the type of make-up artistry you specifically want to pursue--beauty make-up for brides and special occasions, for instance--or take classes on other types of make-up application in case you want to branch out later. Special effects and media make-up are two other options available to aspiring artists.
Complete cosmetology courses. With a cosmetology license, you can apply make-up in beauty salons. During training, you can also learn beauty services involving nail, hair and skin care if you want to offer more than just make-up artistry.
Get a sales job at a make-up counter to both increase your income and to gain valuable experience. Look for a company that trains its employees in make-up application rather than focuses solely on sales. You also will stay updated on trends and popular products in the beauty industry, which gives you an advantage with clients.
Become an apprentice or assistant to a top make-up artist. You don't have to move to Hollywood or New York. You can start with well-respected local make-up artists whose work you admire. Even if you start at the bottom, you can work your way to the top.
Read style books and magazines, and watch videos where professional artists give tutorials on make-up application techniques. Practice on friends and family. Volunteer your services to anyone in need of a make-up artist, from brides to prom attendees to local theatre productions. You may have to work for free or offer steep discounts when you first start out, but the experience you get at this stage will sharpen your skills and build your reputation. Satisfied customers will get the word out about your services, so your efforts will not go to waste.
Always follow sanitary procedures with your make-up and tools to avoid spreading bacteria from one client to the next and causing infections (see Resources for details).