How To: Prep Like A Pro Makeup Artist

by Sarah

I know there are so many of you out there who love makeup. And with that comes the need to create and share your passion with others.

Doing makeup on friends and family is always fun, as well as being paid for your work if you choose to profit from what you enjoy doing.

If you fit into these categories, there are some key factors you should keep in mind, so you can present yourself and your talent in the most professional manner possible.

So in today’s post, we’ll cover how to prep like a pro makeup artist and the do’s and don’ts of doing makeup on others…

Prep Like A Pro Makeup Artist


Let me start by saying, makeup is definitely art. It goes as far as your creativity and the personal spin you put on it.

I’m not one of those “you have to have a degree or a certificate to do makeup” kind of people, BUT….

I also need to stress that there’s so much more to being a professional makeup artist than just doing beauty makeup on yourself or others – (which is predominantly what we see on social media today).

Makeup as a whole is divided into many categories: beauty, editorial, TV, theatre/stage, special FX and so on. So, if you’re considering working as a professional makeup artist, attending a course which covers all aspects of makeup can help you decide which category you’re more drawn to.

This also enables you to have the knowledge and practical experience behind you – if and when you’re booked by brands and agencies. Every part of makeup category adds to your skill set and hence opens doors for you to expand your creative vision.

And you’ll never know, maybe your calling is in Special FX makeup and being exposed to it in a course could lead you down the path where you end up working on major blockbusters or your favorite TV show :)


Naturally, makeup application is done in people’s personal space. You’re in their face, touching their skin, talking to them throughout and so it’s imperative that you’re at your absolute prime in terms of personal hygiene.

Here are the key areas to pay attention to…

Personal Hygiene

YOUR MAKEUP: There are no rules that a professional makeup artist has to wear a full face of makeup at all times. That said, your personal style and the care you put into your presentation is an important factor when it comes to first impressions.

It reflects your own style of makeup which can be an inspiration to your clients and they could also be weighing up your abilities of what you can do for them based on your own style. So, always make sure your face reflects your personal style and care when it comes to makeup.

YOUR BREATH: I know…it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when prepping for makeup but working so close to people’s faces, it’s important to make sure your dental hygiene is on point. Carry a travel size toothbrush/toothpaste and mints with you, so you can be fresh and ready for your clients at all times.

YOUR HANDS: Needless to say, when doing makeup, hands/fingers become an extension of the tools we use. So it’s extremely important to thoroughly wash your hands and keep antibacterial wipes/gel in your kit.

Never go from one client to next without properly washing your hands first; and always cleanse in between applications going from one product to another too.

YOUR NAILS: Many people love the long glamorous nails, decorated in all sorts of colors and finishes but there’s nothing scarier than having your makeup done by someone who comes at your face with talons.

Although we use brushes and makeup tools, sometimes our fingers do a better job in blending products, wiping excess residues, applying false lashes etc, so keep your nails short, clean and well manicured.


Bacteria loves transferring from person to person ready to take residence wherever it can. Makeup products and tools can become a breeding ground for bacteria if you don’t take care of their hygiene.

The most important reminder for products is: NEVER apply products onto your clients’ skin directly from the tube/container.
I know this can be challenging when it comes to powder products but read on to find out how you can work around this.

The only time product(s) can be used directly on the client’s skin is: if the product is new and you’re gifting it to them; or if you purchased it on their behalf – which again means the product is theirs and only used on them for the first time.

Product Hygiene 

ALCOHOL: No, unfortunately not what you’re thinking :) I’m referring to Rubbing Alcohol which usually contains a potent 70% alcohol rate and it’s designed to kill bacteria.

You should always have a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol in your kit – to not only clean your brushes in between applications, but to also spray over your powder products such as blushes and eyeshadows (where dipping brushes straight into the pan may be inevitable in some instances).

BRUSHES, TOOLS, SPONGES: If you apply makeup on multiple clients on the same day, invest in multiple sets of brushes and tools so you can dedicate a clean set of items to each individual client. Always wash your brushes and tools once you get home so they’re clean and ready for your next job.

I’ve been using Dr Bronner’s Tea Tree Castille Soap for years as it melts the products off brushes and the tea tree oil is anti-bacterial which helps clean them further. I also always spray a light veil of rubbing alcohol over my makeup brushes and tools after I wash them – again for an extra boost of clean.

While on the topic of brushes, never blow on your brushes to get rid of excess powder/product; always tap away the excess.

PLATE & SPATULA: These 2 items are a must if you’re doing makeup on others. This is where you can scoop lipsticks, lip glosses, liquid and cream products from their containers with the spatula, apply it to the plate first and then onto your client.

This will ensure your products never come into contact with your client’s skin – which prevents bacteria; and hence being passed around from person to person.

The plate and spatula are also great in custom mixing products for your clients. You can purchase metal plate/spatulas from Amazon and eBay.

DISPOSABLE MASCARA WANDS: Mascara is another product that should NEVER be applied directly from the tube. Eye infections are terrible and very persistent too, so you need to ensure your clients are well taken care of when it comes to eye products.

This is where disposable mascara wands come in handy.  Every mascara wand should only be used once and be disposed of after each application. And never dip the same wand into the tube twice.

e.g.: Use one wand for upper lashes, and another wand for bottom lashes. If you need to build volume, use a fresh wand again.

You can purchase disposable mascara wands in packs of 100 at a very reasonable price off Amazon or eBay.

EYELINERS/LIPLINERS: Wooden pencils should always be freshly sharpened. Yes it can seem a waste of product to be sharpening pencils which may already be sharp enough, but again, it’s best to be safe than to be blamed for giving someone an eye infection or a cold sore.

For retractable pencils, take a paper towel and rub the pencil into the towel until the first layer completely comes off. Then spray it with rubbing alcohol, wait for it to dry and proceed with application.

EXPIRY DATE: I admit I tend to stretch out my personal products past their expiry dates but they should always be within their expiry dates when it comes to clients.

Keep a log of when you purchase products for your kit so you can do interval checks and replace those that have expired or nearing their expiry dates. You can also put stickers on the products with the purchase date for easy reference.

Products will usually have a picture of a small container with 6M, 12M etc next to it, indicating expiration period in months.


SKINCARE PRODUCTS: Not every client you do makeup on is going to come to you with a clean canvas or moisturized skin; and not every client will have the same skin type.

So, make sure to have basic skincare products in your kit, designed for Sensitive Skin. This includes Micellar Water or wipes, which are gentle and great for removing makeup, especially eye makeup. And also a sensitive skin moisturizer with basic ingredients – organic if possible.

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on skincare. Drusgtores stock really good affordable organic skincare brands.

SKIN CONCERNS: Some people are really sensitive to ingredients used in makeup, specifically oils, talc and silicone. When you’re making your appointments, be sure to ask your clients if they have any skin sensitivities so you can alter the base products you use on them.

e.g.: someone who’s allergic to dimethicone which is a silicone derivative would react to primers and foundations which contain these ingredients. This is when you would use a water based primer/foundation on them.

PAPER TOWELS, Q-TIPS & COTTON PADS: When you start practicing healthy, hygienic makeup application, you’ll find you’ll be reaching for these ‘side helpers’ every step of the way. Cleaning products and tools, along with any mistakes in application is so much easier when you have these products readily at your disposal.

HAND HELD MIRROR: Last but not least is the trusty old mirror. Have a good size mirror in your kit to hand over to your client and watch their faces light up when they see your amazing work.

Isn’t that one of the most rewarding parts of doing makeup on others afterall? :)

And that, my beauties, is a basic list of key factors to consider when you’re doing makeup on others. I always say: “treat your clients exactly as you would like to be treated if you were sitting in the makeup chair”.

Whether you do makeup for fun, or as a job, the impression you leave, your professionalism and how much care you put into your craft is just as important as your talent.

Let me know in the comments if you do makeup on others; and what you think of these pro-prep tips?

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Catrina October 13, 2017 - 2:16 am

From one fellow pro MUA to another, thank you for educating people! I’m glad you included the part about qualifications. Thanks to social media, I don’t think people realise what it takes to work as a pro artist. I had pro MUA friends advertise for assistant positions and some people showed up with their Instagram photos as a portfolio. That’s the part that frustrates me. At least with posts like these, they might be more careful about health and hygiene matters. Have a good weekend! :)

Sarah October 13, 2017 - 4:24 am

Thanks Catrina! I really appreciate your feedback and I totally hear your point of view too. Health and safety is paramount when dealing with clients which is why I wanted to get this post out there :) Hope you have a great weekend too!!

Stacy Bowmans October 12, 2017 - 4:53 am

I started doing makeup on family and friends and last 6 months I’ve been doing paid work. Only special occasion. I’m always careful about cleaning my brushes but your post opened my eyes to so much more. This was really helpful and I’m going to put it all into practice for my future work. thank you so so so much :)

Sarah October 13, 2017 - 4:25 am

It’s my pleasure Stacy! I’m happy to hear the post was helpful :)

Janine October 12, 2017 - 2:43 am

Your posts are always so informative. Some professionals artists are hesitant revealing what they know but you’re always sharing your knowledge. I really appreciate that, thank you!

Sarah October 13, 2017 - 4:30 am

Thank you so much Janine! I enjoy the interaction with those who share the same passion for makeup as me; it’s just as rewarding as doing makeup ;)

Carolina October 11, 2017 - 3:30 pm

Amazing post for sure, you talked about everything we needed to know! xx

Carolina’s Makeup Life

Sarah October 13, 2017 - 4:31 am

Thank you so much Carolina!! :) xox

Kelly October 11, 2017 - 1:11 pm

Hi Sarah, I’m a pro mua and I’d like to thank you for this post. I’m not the biggest fan of what social media did to our industry. It’s refreshing to see someone shed some light on the professional end of things. You covered some great tips. I’m sure so many will appreciate this information. Have a great day! xx

Sarah October 13, 2017 - 4:32 am

Hi Kelly, Thank you for your kind words, means a lot coming from another pro artist :)

Belinda October 11, 2017 - 8:18 am

Seriously the best post I read in a long time. There’s a lot goes on behind the scenes and this post is a perfect example.

Sarah October 13, 2017 - 4:32 am

Thank you Belinda! I’m glad you enjoyed the post :)

Melly October 10, 2017 - 11:45 pm

Amazing post! I knew of basic hygiene like keeping the brushes clean but your list is an eye opener. Thank you for sharing Sarah!

Sarah October 13, 2017 - 4:33 am

Thanks Melly! Glad to be of help :)


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