How Much Money Does a Makeup Artist Make a Year?

By Jacqueline DeMarco · September 11, 2023 · 6 minute read

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How Much Money Does a Makeup Artist Make a Year?

If you dream about spending your days creating beautiful looks with your favorite beauty products, then becoming a professional makeup artist may be a good career to pursue.

But just how much money does a makeup artist make? Unlike some other creative fields, this profession can be lucrative. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for a makeup artist is $134,750.

Keep reading for more insight into makeup artist earnings, how salaries vary by state, and what this job entails.

What Is a Makeup Artist?

A makeup artist is a skilled professional responsible for applying cosmetics and beautifying an individual’s appearance for various purposes. They use their expertise to enhance facial features, create desired looks, and achieve specific artistic visions. Makeup artists work across various industries, including fashion, film, television, theater, special effects, weddings, and events. In addition to traditional makeup applications, some makeup artists specialize in special effects makeup, enabling them to create realistic wounds or fantastical characters for films or theater productions.

Personality plays a big role in whether or not someone will enjoy being a makeup artist. A job as a makeup artist can be suitable for introverts, as it allows them to work in a more controlled and focused environment with clients one on one. However, working in certain settings, such as movie sets or high-profile events, may be a better fit for extroverts.

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How Much Is a Makeup Artist’s Starting Salary?

How much does a professional makeup artist make when they first begin their career? Like anyone embarking on a new career path, makeup artists tend to earn less when they’re just starting out. According to the latest BLS data, the lowest 10 percent of earners in the makeup artist field earn a median salary of $38,070. However, as artists gain more experience and exposure, they have the potential to earn much more than that entry-level salary.

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What Is the Average Salary for a Makeup Artist?

Makeup artistry is a type of trade job that has the potential to earn a lot of money. Let’s take a closer look at the average salary for a makeup artist.

•   How much does a makeup artist make a year? The median annual salary for a makeup artist is $134,750.

•   How much does a makeup artist make per hour? When it comes to hourly pay, makeup artists earn a median of $64.78

Where someone lives can play a major role in how much they earn as a makeup artist. Because the cost of living varies so much by state, salaries can vary a lot, too. While the BLS has limited data collected on how much makeup artists earn in different states, the information it does have makes it clear how much salaries can vary.

For example, in Nevada, the median annual salary for a makeup artist is $30,760, whereas in New York it is $125,000. Alongside cost of living factors, there may be more job opportunities for makeup artists in some states. New York City is a major fashion and entertainment hub that likely has a high demand for makeup artists, which can lead to more competitive pay rates.

Median Makeup Artist Salary by State for 2022


Median Annual Salary

California $97,220
District of Columbia $93,810
Florida $38,820
Illinois $31,570
Nevada $30,760
New York $125,000
Source: BLS

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Makeup Artist Benefits & Job Considerations

While makeup artists have the potential to earn a six-figure salary, the biggest downside of this job is that it is not common to earn benefits like health insurance or to have access to a 401(k). This is because most makeup artists are self-employed and are responsible for securing and paying for any traditional employee benefits they desire.

Pros and Cons of Makeup Artist Salary

Like all jobs, working as a makeup artist comes with a unique set of pros and cons to consider before pursuing this career path.


•   Creative opportunities: Makeup artists have the freedom to express their creativity by creating unique looks for their clients, whether it’s for a photo shoot, movie, or special event.

•   Interesting workdays: The profession offers a diverse range of opportunities, from working on movie sets to collaborating with cosmetic retailers.

•   No formal education required: Unlike many other careers, becoming a makeup artist doesn’t demand a college degree.


•   Restricted earning potential: The industry’s salary standards may limit the earning potential of makeup artists, with only a few able to negotiate higher pay. What’s more, self-employed artists may not always receive consistent income or benefits.

•   Geographic limitations: Makeup artists may need to relocate to major cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, or Las Vegas to find steady work, and they may also have to travel with clients for various projects.

•   Irregular work schedule: Makeup artists often have to adapt to erratic work hours, including weekends, holidays, and long periods of uncertainty between gigs. Maintaining a stable work-life balance could be a challenge.

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The Takeaway

Makeup artistry can be a rewarding career — and potentially lucrative. How much money does a makeup artist make a year? The median annual salary for a makeup artist is $134,750. While the work can be creative and glamorous, it also lacks a traditional work schedule. Plus, most makeup artists have to foot the bill for their own employee benefits. Those considering a career in this industry need to carefully consider if the advantages of this role (like a high median salary) outweigh the disadvantages.

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Can you make good money doing makeup?

If someone is asking, how much does a makeup artist make in a year, they’ll probably like the answer. The median annual salary for a makeup artist is $134,750, so yes, it is possible to make good money doing makeup. However, some states, like New York, have much more lucrative job opportunities than other states.

Can you make six figures as a makeup artist?

Yes, it is possible to make six figures as a makeup artist. The median annual salary for makeup artists nationwide is $134,750, according to the latest BLS data. However, where they live plays a major role in how likely they are to earn a $100,000 salary as a makeup artist.

How much profit does a makeup artist get?

The profit a makeup artist receives varies greatly depending on their employment status and the specific makeup services they offer. Self-employed makeup artists have the potential to earn the full profit after deducting operating costs, while those working for cosmetic retailers or salons may receive a fixed salary or commission-based earnings. Factors such as location, experience, clientele, and demand for their services can also impact overall profit.

Photo credit: iStock/anatoliy_gleb

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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