What is the average Freelance Makeup Artist Salary in the UK?

Around £20,000 per year, however, this depends on the type of work you do as a Makeup Artist and your experience. A freelance makeup artist salary varies from person to person, whereas the makeup artist salary of a counter worker is more predictable. Let's take a look at the rates and how much you can expect to earn this year.

Freelance Makeup Artist Salary

What's a Makeup Artist salary in the UK?

So, let's take a closer look at a makeup artist's salary in the uk. A freelance makeup artist can earn anything from £80 - £300 per day. New freelance Makeup Artists charge around £80 - £100 per day, whereas established Makeup Artists command closer to £200 - £300 per day. The average freelance makeup artist works 3 billable days per week which results in an annual salary of £12,000 - £45,000 with a couple of weeks off for holiday.

Which Sector Pays the Most?

Freelance makeup artists will often work in fashion, beauty, film, TV or the private sector (providing makeup for personal clients). A lot of the time, makeup artists will work in a combination of sectors and rarely is one day ever the same. A makeup artist salary in the UK will depend on a number of factors primarily determined by the amount of work they are getting over the course of a year. A freelance makeup artist salary can often exceed that of a counter working makeup artist as there is no cap to the amount they can earn. Also, a makeup artist salary should increase year on year as they adjust their prices based on their experience, ability and skill.

For example, a runway makeup artist salary in the uk (a freelance makeup artist who works at fashion shows) can earn up to £350 per day and will often work 10 - 20 shows per year once they become established. 

What about other sectors? How much does a makeup artists earn if they work in TV or film?

TV and film are lucrative sectors as the work is often contracted and can provide a makeup artist with a few weeks or months of consistent work which is rare in the makeup industry. Fashion and beauty (which includes bridal makeup) are more difficult industries to earn the big bucks. A makeup artist salary for a top makeup artist in fashion is often less than £40,000. Typically, this is due to the lack of consistent work and the low rates paid in the fashion industry. However, makeup artist salaries can be topped up with teaching roles. With a wide selection of makeup academies and institutions, there is always a high turnover of makeup artists teaching the next generation. 


To become a successful freelance makeup artist you'll need to be self-taught to a high standard, have attended a makeup artist course or have assisted a senior makeup artist for a period of time. Being creative is not enough. Your ability to work with clients and teams is also essential. Once you've got the skills, you'll also benefit from 'on-set experience' and a strong portfolio of work to show clients.

Fashion makeup artists require a portfolio of work that shows off commercial and editorial work as well as some beauty shots. Makeup artists working in film and TV will often require a portfolio with special effects (SFX) showcasing their skillset. 

It's not just your skills that you require. Like all freelancers, self-employed makeup artists need to understand how to run a business. Freelance makeup artists are responsible for their brand, marketing, sales, invoicing, tax... A successful freelance makeup artist knows a little about a lot.  

What is the Average Salary for a Freelance Makeup Artist in the UK?

The average yearly salary for a Freelance Makeup artist ranges from £11,973 to £35,893. Remember, a freelancer must also pay for expenses including kit, insurance, travel etc... and must deduct this amount from the amount earned throughout the year. 

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makeup artist working behind the scenes

Counter Makeup Artist Salary

How much does a makeup artist earn if they work behind a makeup counter?

Makeup artists who work behind a counter, selling and showcasing makeup brands can make a solid, if not spectacular, living. An annual makeup artist salary is around £20,000 and a combination of a basic rate and commission. Stronger salespeople will earn upwards of £30,000. Counter work requires an excellent understanding of makeup product and application as well as exceptional customer services skills and the ability to sell.

Although a makeup artist salary is restricted when working behind a counter, it's a lot more structured than freelance work. Counter makeup artists work either set hours throughout the year or shift work. It also comes with paid sick days, holiday and all the benefits that come when working for a company. 


A counter makeup artist must be very comfortable talking and selling to the general public. It's essential that the makeup artist understands the products inside out including their contents, allergies and skin tone suitability. An ability to apply makeup quickly and professionally also plays a big part in the role and a high level of professionalism will ensure a healthy makeup artist salary.  


Makeup artist salary range: £19,000 - £25,000

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makeup artist working on a character for a project

Hannah Sorcha, a professional makeup artist was one of the first freelancers to join the Freelancer Club website. She has been a member ever since and is on page one of the Freelancer page. Hannah has also picked up a lot of paid work from the site and receives a lot of attention through the site. We caught up with her at our last ClubHouse Masterclass event to find out about her experience, finding work and making it as a freelance makeup artist.


Freelance Makeup Jobs UK

Did you find this piece about makeup artist salaries helpful? Why not check out our articles on modelling rates and photography rates.