How Much Do Professional Makeup Artists Charge?

Becoming a makeup artist means more than just practicing your art—it may also mean running your own business. Professional makeup artists are often responsible for defining their own prices, regardless of whether they’re freelancing, working from their home, or working in a salon. There are several economic factors to consider when creating a price list. These include types of services you offer, experience, your brand, the market you’re working in, overhead costs, and education costs. It’s important to have a sustainable pricing structure so that you can continue to grow your business. 

Consider Your Location, Competition, and Market

The salary or average rates of makeup professionals can vary widely depending on your location and the market you’re working in. When you’re setting your prices, do some research about the average salary of makeup artists in your area. You can use these figures to generate ideas about your own pricing, and what sort of pricing model will be sustainable for you. Competitive pricing based on your area’s market will also be extremely important to your ability to generate and retain clients, as well as to be profitable. Competitive pricing isn’t just about offering lower prices than the other artists in your area, it’s about balancing your pricing with your overhead costs and the value of your experience. For example, having more than one makeup degree, diploma, or certification would warrant an increase in prices, as your increased training makes you a better artist which will also give you a competitive edge. 

Create a List of Services

How much makeup artists charge is often directly influenced by the types of services they are qualified or willing to provide. Some services require more overhead costs than others, so you may need to set your pricing higher. Additionally, services that require specialized experience may also be more expensive. When creating your service list, it’s important to take a look at the demand in your area. This can help you understand what services are popular and worth offering, as well as help you identify underserved niches that you may be able to fill. 

List of Services Example

Here are examples of some services that makeup artists may offer and an idea of their average pricing:

  • Special effects — Special effects makeup is a specialty makeup field that uses specialty products, including but not limited to grease paint, liquid latex, and prosthetics. Because of this, the pricing is likely to be higher, and artists need specialized training to produce the desired effects. According to payscale, special effects makeup artists can charge an hourly rate that averages of $23 an hour or even a flat rate or day rate that can be $500 – $1,000 depending on the complexity of the piece or length of the project. Charging an hourly rate is the norm in this field because, depending on the desired look, special effects makeup could take several hours to several days to complete. 
  • Makeup lessons — Makeup lessons may be a service you offer based on the demand in your area and your experience as an artist. Price variation is huge for this service, as what you’re going to be teaching, your teaching qualifications, and how much time, effort, and the products you’re using all affect lesson prices. Supplying your students with products or having them bring their own will also influence how much you end up charging. Because there is so much variation in this field, you’ll want to research other lessons by artists at your same experience level to get a feel for average pricing.  
  • Microblading — Microblading is a type of semi-permanent brow tattoo, where fine-point needles deposit pigment underneath the skin. The microblade does not penetrate as deeply as a tattoo gun, which is why they are semi-permanent. Microblading is a specialty service that can cost between $500 to $2000, according to Cosmopolitan. You need a makeup artist certification and license to offer microblading in many states, which is one of the reasons it is a more expensive service. 

Pricing Structures

You may find that different pricing structures suit different types of services, due to time commitments or consumer demand. Here are a few basic structures:

  • Flat rate — This is when you charge one price for every client who purchases this service. This structure works well for more uniform services. For example, eyelash extensions, makeup application, or makeup lesson work well on a flat rate because there is a specific process to follow. 
  • Half or full-day rate — This is when you charge a flat rate based on an amount of time, rather than the specific service. Half-day rates work well for more involved projects, such as bridal makeup, where you may be working on several people, or you’re needed over an extended period, like on a photoshoot. 
  • Hourly — This is when you charge a fee by the hour. This structure is very flexible and well-suited for specialized jobs like special effects, which can take hours depending on the desired look. 

Additional Costs to Consider

Besides overhead product costs, there are other costs to consider when you’re creating your prices. Some of these costs include:

  • Storage costs — As a makeup artist, you will likely have a lot of products, some of which you likely won’t need every single day. Depending on the services you offer and the products you use, some of these products may be temperature-sensitive or require special storage. You should factor in storage costs when making your business budget. 
  • Cost of living in your area — To be a sustainable full-time makeup artist, your income has to be able to cover your product costs as well as your living expenses. This may be easier in some areas than others, and it may push you to expand your service list or seek further education. 
  • Further education — Pursuing further education can increase the value of your experience, and widen the range of services you’re able to provide. You can take a specialized class, or even go back for additional licensure or even a degree. If this is something you plan to do, you should factor in the cost of the program as a whole, as well as axillary costs related to admissions, class supplies and textbooks, and licensing exam fees. 
  • Sanitizing products — It is crucial to keep your tools and workspace clean, especially when working around sensitive areas like eyes. Any product costs associated with sanitizing your makeup and tools should be a recurring part of your business’s budget, in order to keep your clients and yourself healthy and safe. 
  • Permits — If you’re operating your business out of your home or have purchased your own business space, your city or state will likely require you to have one, or many, different permits. The average cost of a general business permit can range between $50 to a few hundred dollars, and some even have renewals fees. Make sure you do your research ahead of time on your state’s specific requirements. 


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