I work as a freelance makeup artist in the state of Georgia. According to state laws, I am free to practice my makeup and special effects skills on a person, as long as I have a good contract that protects me and my client from any mis-haps. I am not required to have a cosmetology degree to practice. The only real “restraints” I have is that I can not work for what is deemed a “professional company” (such as a makeup brand, movie company, etc.).
I have spoken to numerous makeup artists with cosmetology degrees, both in person and online. Whenever I have asked them “do you feel that your cosmetology degree has benefitted you at all?” majority, if not almost all of them have told me “No”. Why? Because a general cosmetology degree is generally catered towards hair (90–95% of it) and the last few percentage of that goes towards everything else (nails, makeup, etc.). Most, if not almost all of the makeup artists I have spoken to have told me “it really is telling you how to clean a brush, that is about it, in regards to the makeup part of a cosmetology degree.”
However, clients or potential clients don’t understand this.
Of all the websites I have posted my own portfolio on, honestly 90–95% of the time the very first question I get asked is “Are you certified?” which makes me want to roll my eyes out of my skull. When taking into consideration the previous paragraph (with how cosmetology degrees are practically useless to those primarily interested in makeup artistry), there’s also the fact that those rare degrees that are focused primarily on makeup are incredibly hard to find and where they do exist, they come from private schools and/or other very expensive schools. These degrees typically focus on “monster movie makeup” (or other forms of special effects, like realistic blood and gore effects) as well, so if a person is more interested in say Red Carpet, “Glamour”, or “Wedding” makeup look, they are up a creek without a paddle.
There are many makeup artists out there now-a-days who are primarily self taught, but have fantastic portfolios. For myself, I have mentored formally for about six months as well as having taken two college classes dedicated to stage makeup. This is the only “formal” training I have, despite having been practicing in this field since 2010.
My portfolio speaks for itself. Judge me based on my portfolio. Do not judge me based on a piece of paper that tells people I know how to clean a brush.