THE TRUE COST OF BEING A MAKE-UP ARTIST

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This blog post is primarily  aimed at all  make-up artists offering services to the general public.  It is also for the general public to understand the cost implications of having your make-up done professionally.

 

I decided to write this blog post for a couple of reasons;

 

I am coming across more and more freelance make-up artists working in bridal, makeovers, prom etc charging just £35 for a full make over (sometimes less) due to trying to meet the demand of people who just don’t want to pay more to have their make-up done.

 

I often hear / read people who are looking for a make-up artist for £25 and feel it would be good to open their eyes

 

So that other creatives know the true cost of a make-up artist who has offered up time to collaborate and will hopefully bear this in mind the next time a make-up artist offers to work for free.

 

It is worth remembering that we love our job and feel very privileged to be doing such an amazing job that sometimes we find it hard to charge a professional daily rate.  Also, we are make-up artists – not necessarily business people… learning the business side of things is an entire different ball game so I hope this helps towards some people attitudes.

make-up kit
Amy Prifti
Make-up Kit
Make-up Brushes

KIT COST

Above is a photo of my make over kit – The one that I use for make-up on the general public, whether this is brides, make overs, party make up, hen do’s and the like.

Here is a run down of the cost of that kit;

Liquid foundation (light to heavy coverage) – £34 (a minimum of three colours are required for my kit so that I can match up any skin tone

Cream foundation (medium to heavy coverage) – £32 (as above, a minimum of three colours)

Tinted moisturiser (light natural coverage) – £25 (light and medium required)

Fixing powder £15

Fixing Spray £12

Primer £13 (one mattifying and one hydrating required)

Concealer palette – £16

Corrector wheel – £13

Brush set – £300

Sponges / powder puffs / beauty blenders – £10 (disposable)

Matte eyeshadow palette – £50

Shimmer eyeshadow palette – £50

extra eyeshadows including pigments, glitters, extra colours required – £50

Blusher palette – £40

Cream blushers – £20

Lip pencils – £20

Lipstick palette – £30

Extra lipsticks (matte, long lasting, sheer, gloss etc) – £50

Concealer pencils – £15

Eraser pencil – £5

Eye pencils – £15

Liquid eyeliner – £8

Mascaras (black, black/brown, brown, clear) – £25

Eyebrow palette – £30

Cotton buds – £1

Disposable mascara wands – £5

Pencil sharpener £5

Eyelashes (strip and individual) – £12

Eyelash glue (daily and semi permanent) – £10

Highlighter – £6

Shade – £10

Heated eyelash curler – £8

Tissues – £2

Makeup Box – £100

Please note that this is a mid price range for products – some are a lot more expensive and of course, you can pick up much cheaper products – Although, people who are paying for your service don’t expect you to have cheap high street brands in your kit and are put off by your skills as a make-up artist if your kit only has these products in them therefore you really aren’t going to find a much cheaper kit than this.

The total amount of these products comes to just  £1,500.00

Amy Prifti
Eyeshadow palette
Concealer palette
Blusher palette

Please keep in mind that this does not include ALL of the make-up I have- this is my daily make-up kit that I use on the general public.  I have even more products for photoshoots, TV, Theatre etc.

 

It is also worth baring in mind that ALL make-up needs replacing so this is not a one off cost.  This is just a starter cost of what is required for us make-up artists to carry out our jobs to a high standard.

And yes, not all of this make-up is required to make over just one face – some products will last up to five years (powders), some products will be changed on a monthly basis (mascara , liquid eyeliner etc) and some will be replaced every four months due to either being used up on clients faces or the longevity of the product (liquid foundation, lipsticks etc)

EDUCATION COSTS

Even if you trained for free (three year college course aged 16 – 19), most make-up artists will have paid for private courses / tuition / classes to stay updated with current techniques. Expect your make-up artist to have paid a minimum of £1000 to stay updated.

 

Most make-up artists I know trained when they were older than 19 meaning they had to pay the full cost of a private make-up course. Back in 2000, I paid £4,500.00 to do my four month course – That same course today costs £8,500.00.  Therefore, your make-up artist would have paid between £1000.00 and £26,000.00 for their training.

 

For the sake of this blog post, and to discuss money I will take a mid way amount of £13,000.00

Make-up Kit

THE COST OF SETTING UP BUSINESS

Ok, so we have trained and we have the kit, surely the jobs just pour in and land on our laps, yes?

NO

Just like any business we need to set ourselves up and market ourselves.  This can include;

Insurance – £100

Website – £600

Marketing materials (business cards / banner  / stand) – £200

Advertising (magazines / websites / directories) – £600

Premises (If people work from a salon, they tend to pay to hire a chair for the day.  If people work from their own studio there are more costs to cover) – Because of these reasons and to keep this post as simple as possible, I have decided not to include these costs.

 

TIME

People forget to charge for the time it takes to set up a business, run a business, do admin etc.  This adds up and although most make-up artists don’t pay themselves for this time, they can spend between 30 and 60 hours a week doing all of this work.  Let’s divide this into wages at the minimum wage of £7.20 per hour – £216 – £432 per week – Yes, we don’t all work full time on our business so if we take the minimum amount of £216 and times this by 40 weeks, I would say that was realistic.  This equals £8,640.00 of free time that we are putting into running our businesses.

 

I haven’t  mentioned car costs – If we have a wedding business, we are expected to be mobile and will be driving to locations in the middle of nowhere. Now, try to factor in the cost of owning and running a car and bare in mind that these costs haven’t been factored into this post rundown.

 

so, as you can see, we can not pinpoint EXACTLY the cost of being a make-up artist but if we take the minimum amounts from everything I have mentioned, this comes to £24,140.00 before we have even taken our first paid job.

Amy Prifti

Nothing we do is a one off spend  – Our make-up needs replacing, we need to update our training, we need to update our websites to remain current, we need to carry on marketing ourselves…. All of this costs money.

 

If we was to charge just £35 to do someone’s makeup, I would have to do 690 people’s make-ups just to break even.  That means I wouldn’t be making any money until my 691st client.

 

Realistically, having a full time Bridal make-up business, equals 45 weddings a year with up to 5 people per wedding = 225 faces overall.  One of these will be a full paying bride (@ £100 plus 4 bridesmaids @ £35 each) This only equals  £10,800 for the year.

 

Baring in mind that as adults, we have mortgages to pay, bills to pay, children’s mouths to feed and the same outgoings as everyone else, I’m hoping that you can start to see why £35 per makeover is an unrealistic expectation.

 

I’m also hoping that make-up artists charging £35 or less can start valuing themselves more.  If we don’t all work together to charge prices that are realistic for us to have a living wage then I’m not sure how long we can all make a career out of being a make-up artist.

Bridal make-up & hair
part time evening make-up course
hairstyling
beauty make-up

I haven’t written this post to put off people from becoming make-up artists due to the scary costs involved.  I have written it for people to know their worth.  Even if you are just starting out as a make-up artist, the minimum you should be charging for a full face of make-up is £50.  This is not expensive.  This is the cheaper end of the going rate.

 

It is up to you to run your business successfully but that can only be done based on your costs so I urge you to sit down and look at exactly what costs you have entailed so far – It didn’t take long, just cost up your kit plus everything else you need to factor in before setting your prices.

 

Too many times I am told by make-up artists that ‘I’m new so my prices need to be low’, or ‘people won’t pay more’ – I feel it is time to educate those people so that they can see for themselves that we are not actually expensive or over charging.  I’m all for being transparent with my prices and hope that people will understand and respect the costs that go into this profession.

 

I would love to have your comments on this post – please share them with me.

 

All the best

Amy

SMA
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Showing 10 comments
  • Kim Stewart
    Reply

    Great post Amy, so many people expect something for nothing these days. This includes my own stationery business – I see people advertising really cheap products and I know that the quality is going to be low. Additionally for such a low price, as you point out, they won’t be paying themselves properly.

    • SMA
      Reply

      Thank you for your comments. It feels really good to find support in people coming from the same industry. I really hope that people start taking in to account all of their costs and value themselves and their business more.
      Good luck with your stationary business

  • Cate
    Reply

    Amy this is a fantastic article, I hope as many makeup artists as possible both starting out & professional who maybe undercharging read this post to the end, the info is informatitive an thought provoking in terms of reminding us all that we are running a business an have to charge accordingly to cover both costs & earn a basic living. I would add on a couple grand to fx kits & endless replenishing & to cover the cost of living, average household with two kids, running a car gas/electric/house/contents insurance/tv licence/food/swimming lessons/kids clubs/clothing for a family of four, outgoings approx 2/2.5k per month with mortgage in London. Gas & electric set to rise to 1k per year Sainsbury’s energy (family of 3).

    • SMA
      Reply

      Thank you so much for commenting Cate, it really means a lot.
      I have kept costs extremely conservative due to wanting people who read it to find it realistic. I agree with your comments that a couple of extra grand should definitely be added on top and as you point out, these are replenish-able products that we keep having to pay out for xx

  • Clare
    Reply

    Amy this is a fantastic piece and something that I’m always trying to educate new comers to the industry on, as well as my Brides.

    • SMA
      Reply

      Thank you so much for your comments, the support means a lot

  • Lisa
    Reply

    This is a fantastic article which if you don’t mind I will share?
    It’s so hard where I live as pretty much the going rate for occasion makeup it’s £25 a face.
    There seems to be an mua on every corner! Clients are often surprised when I turn up with my kit & professional lights as sometimes they have had makeup done by someone who has just a small clear bag with them.
    These are the people setting the prices so low as they haven’t invested thousands of pounds in training, and kit etc.
    It’s frustrating but ultimately job satisfaction keeps you going – it sure is getting harder to pay the bills!

    • SMA
      Reply

      Thanks for your comments, please feel free to share.
      Yes, it is getting more difficult to make a living, but my advice is to not try and compete – use your website and social media to show you and your kit / lights so people can see the difference for themselves. Find your unique selling point, believe in it and promote yourself. Good luck with everything

  • Helen Bolland
    Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am on a course right now and excited at the prospect of working for myself and being creative but daunted by the business side of things, espescially setup costs just to get myself jobs, and then can I generate enough income to live off etc etc etc. I hope you don’t mind but I’ve saved your article, its full of great advice that I will be referring to for some time in the future.

    • SMA
      Reply

      Thank you for commenting. The intention isn’t to put people off, it is to know their worth and not to feel so bad about charging once you are working as a make-up artist. Good luck with your course, I hope you enjoy it

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