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My school gets numerous calls a day asking us one question. Do my programs allow you to be a licensed makeup artist. The confusion is overwhelming. This post is going to cover the basics introduction to the difference between each role in the beauty industry. However, I do recommend you doing your own research as majority of the rules differ from state to state. 



Makeup artists use cosmetics to enhance a clients beauty. There are different types of makeup artistry such as Special effects, editorial and high fashion. But majority of the changes are done intentionally using cosmetics which could be reversed back to the original look by using certain products. A makeup artist mostly influences the facial appearance, and very rarely would it be impacted on the appearance as a whole. 


Cosmetologists and Makeup Artists do share similarities. But they also offer services which require more than makeup. Such as skin care, nail care and even hairstyling. Cosmetologist influence a clients overall beauty in addition to their facial appearance. Such as facials, manicures and pedicures. Makeup artists are not allowed to offer these services without additional training. Cosmetologists don't always master all areas. Some specialize in one area alone. 


Estheticians provide more advance services. They provide skin treatment, hair removal, electrolysis, microdermabrasion, permanent makeup application, reflexology and more. Estheticians might be trained in makeup application and nail care, but many stick to other areas of expertise. 



Makeup artists work in different places. Majority are freelancers enabling them to work at weddings, fashion shows, photoshoots and personal client events. Some work with various media companies and even different makeup counters at stores working with customers in advising on products. Salons do hire makeup artists to do professional applications but not advances services. Seasoned makeup artists may even run their own businesses. Professional makeup artists do get paid well, however they do not make as much as a Cosmetologist or Estheticians. But if you are a seasoned professional there is a high chance you may make much more. 


You would see cosmetologist working mainly at spas, salons and health clubs. They can offer a full range of services or only specialize in offer such as a hair. Some even work at hotels, resorts, cruise ships and offer relaxing treatments. Most experienced cosmetologists do start their own businesses. Their rate of pay differs based upon what they offer and services. 


Estheticians work majority of the time at the same location cosmetologists do. But it is rate to see them in the hospitality industry. Estheticians are mostly paid the higher rates as their services require more specialized equipment and much more advanced training. 



There are no particular level of training requirement to start out as a makeup artist. Even in some states which require you to be licensed. However most makeup artists who do turn to professional training are held to a much higher regard by their clients. With the exception of some highly prestigious makeup schools, makeup artistry programs are quite affordable. Many schools will also offer payment plans to accommodate their students’ budgets. 

In some places, makeup artistry isn’t licensed as long as you are only performing basic makeup applications. In others, you may need to meet specific requirements set by your local licensing board. This may include a specific number of training hours in cosmetology, completing a test to ensure your training and experience meets standards of safety, hygiene, and technique, or more.


Cosmetology programs are often more expensive than makeup artistry programs because they require more training hours and additional supplies.Cosmetologists are required to complete training that meets a regulated standard. You won’t be permitted to take licensing tests until you complete professional training in an accredited program. 

Cosmetologists are required to become licensed in most areas, because their services influence the skin, hair, and nails and require more than just cosmetics. Once you’ve received your certificate you’ll complete a locally regulated written test and a practical demonstration of your skill.


The most expensive, professional esthetician training covers the widest range of skills requiring the most specialized equipment. Estheticians must be formally trained and licensed according to the requirements of their local licensing board. Accredited programs will meet the standards of your local board, and you’ll demonstrate your training in a written and practical test.

Majority starting out begin with makeup artistry training. This way it prepares them to increase their skill set and allows them to have an introduction to the beauty community.

Nina Mua