This post is geared primarily towards makeup artists, those who generate income by providing makeup services to others. If you’re an aspiring artist or entrepreneur, or if you just love animated gifs, you might like it too. As a beauty blogger and freelance makeup artist who has also worked in retail, I sometimes feel like I straddle this weird space. First and foremost, I love doing makeup. I don’t love selling makeup necessarily, despite previously working for Sephora and occasional freelance work for Laura Mercier. What I realized when I started this blog and while working at Sephora was that I loved talking about makeup with others.
I’m not a natural-born salesperson. I have a very guilty conscience and I’m honest to a fault. Example: this past weekend I was working at an event where they main goal was selling and I straight up told the client: “honestly, you don’t really need this. You can use what you have.” Oops. But I’m not sorry. I don’t want anyone to buy anything they don’t need!
On the subject of cash monies. Being a freelance makeup artist is the best job I’ve ever had and I throw my whole self into it, but let’s be real; I’m not making vacation home money over here. It’s feast or famine with wedding season being feast. I recently heard this quote and it really puts all of this into perspective for me:
“You can only make as much money as you can do faces in a day.”
So essentially, there is a cap on your income. Until I become a makeup octopus with 8 brush-wielding appendages, there is a limit to the money I can generate. As a blogger, I do have access to affiliate links, but even so, the income I make from those is very small. If you don’t have a blog or YouTube channel, you don’t even have those so now you’re just giving Sephora/Ulta/MAC money when you refer clients there. I’m sure they appreciate it! Above all, as my fellow makeup artist, I want you to know what your options are and I want you to make money. Money doesn’t buy happiness. Money buys financial security which buys peace. I’m breaking down the options into 3 categories: wholesale, direct sales and private label.
This is an option if you have a decent amount of money upfront. You will essentially buy products at wholesale price and resell them to clients for more. This is a good option for those with brick and mortar spaces as you can display product and send clients away with it that day.
There are minimums for ordering wholesale product and these might be higher than you need/can afford as a solo artist.
You’ll need to start tracking what you have and how much of it. This way, you’ll know when to reorder and you won’t go to sell a shade to a client, only to find it sold out.
Storage & Display
With a large amount of product, you’ll need space to not only store it in an organized fashion but display it for clients.
Shipping & Handling
If you don’t sell in person to clients, you’ll need to account for shipping costs and the customer service that goes along with tracking #’s, exchanges and returns and general customer complaints.
TheBalm I absolutely love this line and they offer wholesale options. Here’s what I consider to be their best products. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for wholesale pricing.
Frankie Rose I haven’t used this line personally but I hear their gel eyeliner is second to none. For more information, contact email@example.com.
Cozzette I not only adore the founder, Roque, but his products are gorgeous and high quality. I’ve reviewed them here. If you love shimmer shadows, look no further. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for wholesale info.
AJ Crimson Not only is AJ adorable, but his foundations are beautiful and buttery and come in an excellent range of shades. Contact Michael@blackboardgroup.com for wholesale inquiries.
There’s a reason I’m including direct sales companies so hear me out. If you don’t want to keep inventory and do not have the funds to support large minimum wholesale orders, this may be a good option for you. Plus, I really do believe it’s not always the product that sucks but the approach and if anyone knows how to retail beauty products in an informed, non-creepy way, it’s you. I’m only including direct sales companies that I feel are legitimate and respectable, with quality products and non-agressive approaches. These are also ones that I’ve seen other makeup artists have success with. And because I know it’s going to come up, pyramid schemes are illegal because there is no actual product involved.
You can choose whether or not you’ll sell via Facebook, Instagram, etc. but I know many have found success in selling “socially.” You can also choose to do parties or not. You can choose to create tutorial videos, blogs or do Facebook lives. I do think that you can carve your own path if you have clientele that trusts your expertise.
Depending on the company, some require you to sell or purchase a minimum amount of product per month to remain a rep.
Most companies have a “starter kit” that you purchase first. This will give you familiarity with the product but you may end up wanting to still purchase additional items outside the starter kit, depending on what products you think your clients will want to see and try. This chart actually breaks down various direct sales company start up costs. There are often monthly website fees as well.
LimeLife by Alcone is a line that I’ve reviewed extensively here. I like it because their foundation is the RCMA foundation I’ve used exclusively in my kit for 4+ years, original MAC formula eyeshadows, the industry’s most high coverage concealer and safe skincare. They are pro products from a New York makeup artist institution, Alcone Company. The company was created because of and for artists and over half of the LimeLife Beauty Guides are working makeup artists.
EVER is a makeup and skincare line that I’ve tried and been impressed with. I especially love their palettes because they could really simplify things for your clients. The skincare is clean, but not so clean that it doesn’t have proven anti-agers. See my review here.
Beautycounter has become very popular and I’m sure you know someone that sells it. I listened to an interview with the founder, Gregg Renfrow, and I really liked her. I consider this line to be a bit more skincare focused, but the branding is really clean and the products are safe. The pigment isn’t powerful so this will definitely be on the more natural side.
Private labeling is branding a product with a name and logo of your choosing. The product itself is not a unique formula or color you’ve developed yourself. This can be a good option for those who want to eventually formulate a line, but want to test the waters first. It’s a great intro to brand development and allows you to choose how you want to represent yourself. All points of consideration are the same as wholesaling with a few additional factors.
Since this brand is of your own creation, all marketing materials including your logo, product photography and website must be created independently, incurring costs to a graphic designer, web designer, photographer, models etc.
Since you are creating a brand that did not exist previously, you’ll be starting from scratch with brand recognition. It may take time to build up a following and brand loyalty.
Your Name Pro I’ve detailed the entire private label process with Your Name Pro in this series of posts. Regular readers may recall that I branded a lip-focused line with the but they have an entire cosmetics and skincare line you can private label.
Qosmedix This is a cosmetic supply retailer that also does private labeling. For example, you can retail their brushes, branded or not. There is more information here.
Crown Brush Crown is another resource for private label brushes. You’ll just need to upload your logo here to get started.
Now you could ignore all of that above and work directly with a laboratory and cosmetic chemist to create something that’s never been done before. This method will entail a great deal of research, most of the considerations above and perhaps the most financial commitment. Lab samples are not cheap but with great risk, comes great reward, right?
You could also get crafty and make your own cosmetic and skincare products. Many started this way but I think there a few important things to consider here. Even if your products are “natural”, not all essential oils are safe for the skin, coconut oil can be comedogenic for some and without preservatives, the products will have a short shelf life.
This post was long, but hopefully helpful to my MUA sisters and brothers. As always, thanks so much for reading and let me know if you have have questions. Now, go out there and make it rain.