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The Realities of Being a Commercial Makeup Artist

Updated: Jan 31

Have you ever wondered what it's really like to work on set as a commercial makeup artist? Maybe you're sick of glam makeup and you're thinking this might be the next career path for you, but you're unsure of what it actually entails. Well, you're in the right place! While I might not be officially crowned the "commercial queen" in my area, I have earned a reputation for my work in the world of commercial productions.

When I started my makeup business back in 2018, I had no idea I would eventually dive headfirst into this niche. My journey began with smaller indie film shoots, but I soon discovered my passion for working on set with creative and talented individuals. Fast forward to today, and I've had the privilege of working with major brands like ESPN, NBC Universal, TBS, Showtime, Lifetime, and many more!

Now, let's get this out of the way now – commercials may not always be as exciting as the glitz and glamour of the film or TV industry. Of course it's more fun to create special effects makeup for a horror film than to focus on male grooming for a pharmaceutical shoot. But there's more to this niche than meets the eye.

1. Commercial Work: A Financial Win, But Be Ready for Long Hours

Commercial makeup artists can expect awesome compensation, often ranging from $300 to $700 per day, depending on experience and location. Personally, I tend to land bookings at the $600 rate for approximately 10 hours of work. However, some smaller production companies may expect you to work for 12 hours at the same rate. Ultimately, your rate will depend on your negotiation skills and the company's budget.

Comparatively, consider a wedding gig where you might make $600 in just a few hours. While you'll be doing more makeup work, there's a trade-off between quick income and the potentially longer hours in commercial settings. BUT in production shoots you do get free food and that's always a plus! (at least for me 😝)

2. Competitive Yet Rewarding: Building Your Brand Matters

Competition in the commercial makeup industry can be fierce, but your quality of work, portfolio, and unique brand can set you apart. A distinct brand identity can be your secret weapon. To help you stand out, I recommend watching this free training!

The good news is that once you establish yourself with a production company, you often secure long-term relationships. If you consistently deliver great work and leave a positive impression, they'll prefer to work with you for future shoots due to familiarity and reliability.

3. Mastering Male Grooming is Essential

If you're not comfortable doing makeup for men, this niche may not be your cup of tea. Sometimes, you'll be hired to work exclusively on male actors, so knowing the nuances of male grooming is superrrr important.

Simple things like not over applying foundation and properly grooming a beard can make all the difference on-camera. If actors feel that the makeup is too heavy, they might ask you to remove it, potentially leading to discomfort and a not so pro reputation. It's a whole different world learning how to do the no-makeup makeup look, but when done right it makes a huge difference!

And that's all I have for today! If you liked this blog, let me know in the comments, and I will write more truths about working in commercial makeup.

The last thing I'll leave you with is that production work is something you truly have to have a passion for. It's not something you should do only for the money as it is very competitive and not as predictable as say, wedding makeup.

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