Friday, 28 August 2015

Becoming A Make Up Artist | School, What I've learnt, My Experience & Is it worth it?

I'm going to cut to the chase, this is going to be a long post with a few rants and possibly a few rude words so brace yo' self! This is all my opinion, now yours might be different and that's fine but these are my experiences and what I've learnt along the way. I'm semi breaking it down into sections so you can jump between them if you so wish!
Shopping trip to Illamasqua with my school

H I S T O R Y -

I like a billion other people love make up, it's what I think about 50% of the day, the rest is food or sleep.. I've been interested in make up since I can remember my aunt used to be a Beauty Therapist and I was always in awe of her make up and hair, I wanted to be just like her but honestly? I was naughty in school and wasn't allowed to take my work experience where I wanted so I gave up..
If you look back on my old Tumblr blog I used to post on about what was in my make up bag or spend hours on Youtube/Reddit/Make up Alley but never really knew I could be a make up artist without going to cosmetology school, I thought my poor choices in my secondary school led me away from the thing I want to do as an adult... Isn't it funny we're 16 told to make choices about our future when you have no idea what you want to do or even who your are as a person.
Anyway it now seems anyone can call themselves a MUA there's no 'rules' to it. 
This is a good and bad thing because it means anyone without putting in the graft and long hours some self made MUA's who've been in the industry for a long time have put in can say they're an artist despite not having any experience or knowledge but for those of us who live, breathe and dream make up we can finally do what we want to do without having to go back in time and go to college!  
If you want to delve into the world of make up you go the self taught route or go to school - Some self taught MUA's don't like school and some people think all self taught MUA's should go to school. It's just a matter of opinion. I don't care either way.
The last few years I just REALLY wanted to go to make up school to brush up my techniques, learn about proper hygiene, soak up knowledge from my teachers and earn myself a little certificate because clients and some counter roles ask for it.
getting ready is always messy huh!

Ok. Quick disclaimer break. This is my honest account of what happened, obviously everyone's experience is different but my time at school was pretty bad.
some of the girls in class

S C H O O L -

The school I went to is well known and if you follow me on Instagram you may know what one it is, It's in central London...I'm not giving the school any exposure. (If you'd like to know more you can email me) I wont be writing their name but I will say my two teachers were brilliant, I mean honestly great. I feel I learnt a lot just from being around them, especially Amanda. She was a sweetheart and even when I had an anxiety attack she was still cool as F.
I spent a long time looking for what school to go to, I found one that does an IMA certification and thought it looked great as I'd heard of the International Make-up Association so thought it would be great to go to a school that has more than just a school certificate. Not that certification means anything, bare that in mind.
Awesome, I booked in for a two week foundation course and it cost £1140 then I needed to live while I was in central London & my travel so I spent about £2000 to go. 
The first day I was so nervous but I got there fine and as soon as I got to the reception AKA a room at the top of the stairs packed with people someone shouted 'have you got £5 for the locker'  not  'hello welcome'  (I honestly can't tell you the name of anyone that worked there other than the assistant and my teachers because no one staff wise introduced themselves.) 
The girl with me just looked at me and we shuffled around awkwardly until someone told us where to go, eventually we were told to look for our name on a bit of paper stuck to a class room door. I found mine and the group of 9 other girls I was going to be in the class with. We got the short end of the stick and were in the back room. We all went round and introduced ourselves and the first few days we're great. 
The rest of the week and the last week however was horrible, I cried along with other girls and my teacher some of it was that bad.

bit of a smokey eye on Ieva (her brows are tattooed)

It all started going downhill when there was a NARS event that myself and another girl Jenna really wanted to go to, on the poster it said 'Wednesday 10th'  and no other info other than to ask L (The assistant), it didn't even state where it was so we asked and we were told to wait until L came round to the class, She never did. (This becomes an occurring theme) 
Myself and Jenna waited around on 10th to realise the poster said it was on a Wednesday and it was only a Tuesday .. the next day. Off we went home. So we got to class and sat down ready and in comes the most angry, red faced, arm flailing man you've ever seen shouting 'WHERE WERE YOU, HOW DARE YOU NOT COME TO THE NARS CLASS' He shoved his finger in my face (literally) and demanded to know where I was in front of the whole class and my teacher, he was clicking his fingers right around my head shouting 'YOU'RE A PROFESSIONAL MAKE UP ARTIST, START ACTING LIKE ONE, WHERE THE HELL WHERE YOU'  When I tried to explain myself he told me to 'shut up' and said 'I don't care' and he wouldn't accept we'd been given no information. 
He was adamant that L had told us when it was however NO ONE from my class turned up... Thus proving we didn't get told at all. 
I burst into tears because I felt so humiliated even though it was the whole class that didn't turn up not just myself.
He must have got out the bed the wrong side because he also screamed at my teacher and made her cry so she went home. I'm not even joking. After she left a different teacher stepped in and next thing I know I'm being offered Yonique products! I don't fancy being part of your pyramid selling scheme thanks pal.
After all this I just wanted to call home but had no signal, no one did. The school is in Central London and the place is a concrete jungle, so asked for the WIFI passcode that we were told we would be given at the start. I waited 4 days maybe? Katie (funniest girl ever) asked about 5 times that I heard along with the other girls asking yet it took 4 days for L to actually come to the class and give it to us.
Myself and a few other girls noticed how our class seemed to get the rubbish bits of make up, we had such a poor selection compared to the other class, it felt like because we were on a two week course not 8 weeks we got less of the luxury. I didn't feel we got the choice, we didn't even get told what to use primers for, luckily I know but what about people that don't? So I just started using them and eventually started telling the other girls about MAC paint pots as eye primers! It all felt a bit restricted on the product front and I wasn't the only person to think so. We had a small selection of MAC Face & Body, Some odd Bobbi Brown foundations and then 3/4 lines of high street brands, not that there's anything wrong with them but I just felt a bit like we we're going to be using some better brands.
The other thing that was incredibly irritating  was we ran out of cotton and cotton buds daily, the worst bit was on our exam day when I thought I was going to have an epic anxiety attack, it was rushed and very tense then we had run out of cotton buds again, cotton wool and mascara wands, basic things they should be stocked up on for an exam you'd think!
At the end of the week we we're told we were being taken to Illamasqua for a shopping session, yay! I love Illamasqua so I was super excited for this. L took charge of our little class trip and is it any surprise but this was also a disaster, we arrived and the manager had no idea what was going on and why we'd invaded, it was incredibly awkward standing around hoping for 20% discount like a bunch of vultures to be told we weren't getting it so we sort of just half pretended to look at products and after about an hour of chatting to L they finally agreed we could have 20% off but I felt really weird about it. Most of the girls by this time had chipped anyway.
liner, lashes and red lips 
After it all went smoothly and I got my grades we all packed up, handed back our locker keys and I'm being serious here not a single person said goodbye. Me and  the girls went and sat in the bar next door and just discussed it and they all agreed it was a terribly bad 'school'.
The beginning of the first week we were told we get support after but nothing, I've not heard a word from the school nor has any of the other girls I went with.
Along with a theory exam and practical exam there are projects to do at home like building a kit and luckily I know a lot of brands where as some of the girls didn't and they weren't given any help. Once I built my dream kit (Came to bloody £5000!!) I packed up all my course work including my business plan, screen shots of my social media and business cards I posted it to school it cost me £3 for recorded delivery. I awaited my certificate and to have it delivered they made me pay £10 ... £10.. TEN POUNDS. 
Some girls didn't even know about insurance, portfolios, about pro discounts or even setting sprays by the end of the two weeks and you'd think they'd be some things you'd be taught considering we were told we'd be taught EVERYTHING we should know. Maybe I'm asking too much?!
Anyway despite the shoddy experience I had my teachers were brilliant (Even if they did contradict each other a lot) I can't fault them, they we're very informative and helpful.
face charts and course work

W A S  I T  W O R T H  I T ? -

The experience of working on someone is valuable because you're taught proper techniques with regards to supporting brows, cleansing etc but working with 9 other girls who all needed as much attention as I did was very hard especially as there was so much to cram in for two weeks.
The only think I learnt properly that was handy was cut out techniques so I don't cross contaminate make up again the rest I had already learnt by reading and researching myself.
The school teaches a very basic European idea of beauty so if you're looking for a really awesome contouring, cut crease, colourful course this isn't the one, try a creative course. You'll see from any pics scattered through this post it's all very simple. No instagram eyebrows here, I'd have failed my exams if I even attempted to do that shit. (I love you strong brows)
Worth the money? I don't really know. I feel out of pocket and like I didn't get my monies worth to be honest! The other class seemed to get a much better learning experience. Now again this was just my personal view on it. If you know literally nothing about make up by all means go to a school but if you're not passionate about make up and don't know about it why would you want a career in it? If that makes sense.
To round it up... Going to school and getting a certificate doesn't actually mean shit.
Honestly, you can print one out yourself at home and it'll mean as much as some out there so be careful where you go and what you pay for.
 The famous certificate. 
(Wish my laptop had emojis for the unimpressed face) (Ok...I am proper proud of myself though so lets just take a moment to be proud here)

W H A T  N E X T ? -

The school basically made out I'd be ready to roll out onto the unsuspecting public and be a million pound a week earning MUA... when in actual fact I was very confused and has little to no info about what the reality is and I'm not sure if this is why so many people call themselves MUA's when they don't work or if it's just fashionable? 
Through researching and reading other peoples blogs who are in the industry I've found a lot of information and really helpful tips. For the most part getting into the industry is done either via working on a counter or test shoots, assisting then freelancing but some go straight to freelancing.
Making a professional portfolio is really important to everyone, even when applying for jobs at places like MAC they want a link to one. It shows your serious and not just an instagram 'MUA'
Now, counter work is way in but isn't usually a make up job unless it's an artists role. It's a sales job. 
I've had 4/5 friends who've worked for a make up company with glorious packaging (Begins with a B ;)) and said it was the worst job they've ever had, give it a quick google and you'll see what I mean. It's a good foot in the door so if you can do it, go for it just remember it looks good on your CV and you can learn along the way but it wont be 100% make up based it'll be sales based at first and all about getting people to buy. I can't speak for the level of artistry training they give you there so please feel free to look at peoples reviews of working on a counter! 

The whole training, test shoots, working for portfolio (TFP) and assisting is the way I'm hoping to keep going, I've worked in retail 12 years I don't know if I want to work another few on a counter just yet but we shall see. I currently have accounts on Purple Port, Model Mayhem etc where I talk to photographers and models who all want to work for the final image to put in our portfolios (I'm currently insanely busy with moving house twice and working 7 days a week so it's on hold until October) so that's free work and I'm hoping to go and assist someone if possible just to see how the other half do their thing.

 I am more than capable of doing what I do and I do get paid to work occasionally but I feel there's no harm in learning every single day even if it means working all hours for free. If you want something you work for it!
O D D S  &  S O D S -

There's a few things I never really knew about when I decided I really wanted to get in to make up the main one being the insurance side of it. I genuinely feel you should be insured if you're working on someone, not only that what if you lose your kit? Damage someone's wedding dress? Drop make up on a clients carpet? A client has an allergic reaction and tries to sue you.. That is genuinely a real possibility so find some proper insurance to protect yourself and your client.
Some people will be arse holes. Most of the girls I've met via make up are awesome, inspiring, helpful and sweet but there'll always be someone who's jealous, pissed off that you want to do the same thing as they do or generally dislike you. It's how the world is I guess. Don't let people piss on your parade. 
Things take time. You wont be incredible over night, practice makes perfect. Check out these eyebrows (and winged liner) from a few years ago in the top pic when I let a girl at a Benefit counter do them after asking her about a job now my eyebrows are in much better shape bottom left but they went through the very bold Instagram stage in the bottom right. It's all about growing yourself and taking time!

As I said earlier over and over getting a decent portfolio is a 100% necessary, even if it's just an online one for the time with everything you've done on it to showcase your work. The more professional your pictures are the better, hence why working with photographers is a brilliant way to build your portfolio.

Building your kit can be long and expensive, I think just buying a few things a month has been great for me, if you have the budget to splash out you're a lucky sausage. I have a mix of high and low end products and a range of thing to suit all skin types and colours. Not everyone is white with clear, perfect skin.

L - just the eyes on the last afternoon. R - full face on B.
F U T U R E  -

This is currently what I'm up to, I've got test shoots on their way to build my portfolio and I'm still kit building but I've got the basics it's just a case of last bits now. Here's a few faces I've painted :)

I'm still on my journey so some of what I have said you may think is wrong but the thing with make up is I don't really think there is wrong and right everyone's preferences are different!

 (Sorry if this post is messy or hard to follow it's been months of just writing things and jiggling it about into some form of order!)

If this post gets any interest I'd love to post more about it because it's my passion. If you'd like to see what's in my kit or anything like that please let me know and I'll post for you. I hope this was helpful or at least an insight to what its taken so far, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to comment or even email me. If you're a working MUA and wanna get involved and give your side that would be awesome. Let me know what you think!


  1. I'd love to see what is inside your kit as that sort of thing really interests me! Please and thank you. Ellie xx

  2. Love this post hun - it is SO good to share your experience because I think people get the impression it's all easy and fun!

    You are super dedicated and super talented I'm certain it'll work out for you :) xxxx