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Do You Need a License to Be a Makeup Artist? – Detailed Answer

Written by Elizabeth Kessler • Updated on: 11/02/23

When you’ve decided to take the path of a professional make-up artist, there will be some questions that bother you, like “Do you need a license to be a makeup artist?”

You won’t get a definite answer as states have different regulations. You must do some state-specific research. Your goal is to observe the requirements mandated by the state where you live. Since it’s not set in stone if you need a license for being a makeup artist, this article will provide you information to weigh things regarding your concerns.

Do You Need a License to Be a Makeup Artist

A Comparison That You Have to Look at – Pursuing a Career

Pursuing a career as a makeup artist will prompt you to know more about a makeup artistry license. To fuel some realizations, makeup certification will be compared to the license of cosmetologists and estheticians.

Certified makeup artist

How to become a certified makeup artist? It’s done through enrolling yourself in face-to-face or online classes. Once you finish all the classes, you’re a certified makeup artist who masters professional makeup applications.

These classes are usually led by professional make-up artists from the metropolis area. They have hefty knowledge and rich experience with private clients and celebrities. So, you’ll learn a lot from them.

become a certified makeup artist


Before becoming a cosmetologist, you have to accomplish formal educational training that is beyond the expertise of makeup. Cosmetology programs are offered everywhere in the US so it won’t be hard to find one.

Cosmetology doesn’t only focus on the skin but hair and nails as well. If you’re interested in these, you can be a cosmetologist. You’ll know about skin treatment, care, and cosmetics. Haircut, styling, and color will also be a specialization of a cosmetologist. Correct methods of manicure and pedicure will be part of the learning.

The curriculum of cosmetology only touches lightly on makeup. Thus, cosmetologists who want to gain more knowledge on makeup take classes from schools that offer makeup artist certification. They can learn the technical skills of makeup application.

Related Article: How to Become a Certified Spray Tan Artist?


Estheticians are the experts when it comes to the maintenance of skincare, appearance, and treatment. Just like the cosmetology program, formal educational training is demonstrated in face-to-face classes. There’s time allotted for classes and the working period after schooling.

If you want to be a skincare specialist, you should become an esthetician. The program includes makeup that is integrated into salon services like facial, micro-dermabrasion, and more.

Only a minimal coverage of makeup will be discussed in esthetician classes. Those who wish to have more knowledge about makeup applications will need to have makeup certifications. By doing so, one becomes a well-rounded professional.

Is It a Must to Have a License as a Makeup Artist

As you try to get into the beauty industry, whether you need a license when establishing your name as a makeup artist can be ambiguous. Be aware that implementations of the Board of Cosmetology vary in every state.

For example, Louisiana and Nevada offer makeup artist licenses. Some states would require a license of cosmetologists and estheticians to be a professional makeup artist. There’s no exact rule regarding this matter so you can freely practice the profession as you wish. If you want it this way, you have to be in Texas.

It’s the same in Virginia as you would only need to join the Virginia State Beauticians Association. However, it’s confusing to be based in states that don’t have clear and concise regulations. So, check this website to know the exact rules where you live.

If you’re in California, you can work as a makeup artist even without a license but there are some requirements. You need to be at least 17 years old and have completed tenth grade.

You have to complete 600 hours of training about makeup application and two exams. Nonetheless, you can ignore these if you work as a freelancer. This means providing your service in the entertainment, film, and TV industries.

Some salons choose to hire those with a license for the safety of their customers and the reputation of their business. They may require it despite having no regulations from the state. In this case, a cosmetologist or esthetician license is good and acceptable.

The answer to the question, ‘Is it illegal to do makeup without a license?’ depends on the regulations of the state where you reside. So, some research will help you comply with the requirements and become a great makeup artist!

Related Article: Becoming a Certified Lash Technician?

What You Need to Do in Case You Need a License as a Makeup Artist

makeup artist certification

You can get the license of a cosmetologist or an esthetician to play it safe. Then, you can get certified as a makeup artist by joining training or a program.

  1. As mentioned, researching can help you with your career as a makeup artist. First, you have to find out if the Board of Cosmetology in your area requires a license. Specifically check if you need a makeup artist, esthetician, or cosmetologist license.

  2. Once you’ve confirmed whether you need a license, find a reputable school or institution that offers the necessary training.

  3. Be dedicated to finishing the required number of hours and training. The average requirement by some states is 650 hours. Florida, for instance, approves 250 hours. On the other hand, Kentucky expects you to dedicate 1,000 hours.

  4. Fulfill the required apprenticeship and practicum. This will lead you to joining spas, salons, and other professional working environments. You have to work under the supervision of a mentor through the cosmetology or esthetician programs.

    Some states are lenient with this matter as you can convert training hours into the apprenticeship but you have to spend more hours on it. Most states that require apprenticeship will double the required time.

    Nonetheless, you can find one on your own. What you’ll earn will be lesser than the regular employee but you’ll gain the experience that hone your skills. Anyway, you won’t be able to learn them from training schools as it’s different when you’re involved with real situations.

    As an aspiring makeup artist, you have to get an excellent makeup set like SHANY All in One Makeup Kit, Mauve Carry All Trunk Train Case with Makeup, and Pure Vie 190 Color Holiday All-in-one Makeup Gift Set.

  5. Take the tests and pass them. You’ll likely go through one or two exams for the license. They are administered by the National Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology. Some states have their own exam versions but they won’t be too different.

    Theoretically, written exams determine your knowledge while the practical section checks your skills. These exams will be for estheticians, cosmetologists, and makeup artists if required by the Board in a certain state. To prepare for these tests, you can purchase review materials and instructional DVDs.

  6. After passing the tests, go through the procedures in getting the license.

  7. Put your license to good use by continuously practicing your profession. If needed, make sure you timely process the renewal of your license.

Points to Take Note of

Do you need a license to be a makeup artist? There’s no exact answer for this as it will depend on the mandate of the state where you practice your profession. It can be tricky but you can get a license as a cosmetologist or esthetician as they are offered in all states. Since there’s always room to grow, you can join training about makeup applications and gain certificates from them.

Do You Need a License to Be a Makeup Artist