Joy Adenuga is an award-winning freelance make-up artist and beauty brand owner based in the UK. She discovered her love for make-up while passing a stack of beauty magazines at the airport and was so inspired by the make-up artistry that she immediately resolved to get her name on the cover of a magazine one day. After a decade in the beauty industry, Joy finds herself living out her dream as she works with top names like Sarah-Jane Crawford and Ronald Cyler to create unbelievable make-up looks.

The journey from the airport lounge to being represented on red carpets wasn’t easy—it came with many setbacks and frustrations. So, how did Joy become a successful freelance makeup artist? This is what we’ve learned from her career:

Take it Slow

Many MUAs look to the internet for tips on making it as a self-employed makeup artist, but when you’re struggling to find your footing it can be daunting to be met with stories of celebrity artists sandwiched between snippets of practical advice. 

Joy encourages new makeup artists to take inspiration from fellow MUAs, but also recommends focusing only on what is actionable. For instance, if you don’t have the budget to build a fancy make-up kit, or the resources to pull off a studio shoot, that’s okay! Make the most of what you have by searching for freelance MUA tips that suit your situation, such as looking for drugstore makeup kit recommendations. 

Joy built her freelance career slowly over many years by enrolling in courses, attending masterclasses, and taking time to hone her craft. This allowed her to understand what she liked doing, and gave her the confidence to do her best work.

Despite such an insightful approach, Joy admits that things didn’t pan out right away. Messages, calls and efforts to find work would go unanswered, and she just couldn’t seem to get her foot in the door. What helped her was realizing that when one door closed it didn’t mean that others weren’t wide open!

Joy took a step back to explore freelancing options before finding her niche in bridal make-up. Since then, she hasn’t looked back.

How to become a successful makeup artist

No Regrets, Just Lessons

A big part of becoming an accomplished freelance make-up artist is about experimenting. Joy propelled her freelance business by being persistent, creative and learning from her mistakes. She put hours and hours into practicing make-up on different skin tones, textures and bone structures—learning and creating techniques to enrich her artistry. Joy attributes much of her success to being passionate about her craft and embracing challenges.

Having a can-do mindset is also important for staying on top of industry trends. It gets overwhelming to be responsible for every aspect of your brand from having an online presence to networking with other professionals. The key to being a successful freelance make-up artist is putting yourself out there, while giving yourself the space for missteps.


The beauty industry is highly competitive and dynamic, but as Joy tells it, the best way to navigate your career is by channeling your passion into positive energy. If you’ve read this far, you’re well on your way to becoming an amazing MUA!

Discover more of Joy's work here