How to Become a Professional Makeup Artist in Toronto - Lumina Pro

How to Become a Professional Makeup Artist in Toronto

Do you love helping people express their personality? Are you gifted in enhancing people’s natural beauty? Can you look at someone and instantly know what color eyeshadow would be perfect for their skin tone?

You just might be a makeup artist!

If you’re a highly visual person with a knack for beauty, you can make money doing what you love.

Professional makeup artists (MUAs) blend highly skilled techniques with a strong eye for aesthetics to transform their clients’ faces and bodies. Whether you’re getting actors camera-ready, helping a bride feel beautiful on her special day, or designing high-fashion looks, being a professional MUA is rewarding and exciting.

Live in Toronto? Even better. This vibrant city’s rich entertainment scene and importance in the film industry make it the perfect place for an aspiring makeup artist.

If you’d like to learn how to become a professional makeup artist in Canada and beautiful Toronto, read on.

What Certificates and Licenses Do You Need To Be Considered A Qualified MUA?

Professional MUAs typically have specialized training from a cosmetology school or a makeup design program. In most provinces, qualified makeup artists are required to attend a beauty program to be considered “qualified.” Some provinces are laxer; for example, in British Columbia, sufficient work experience can substitute for a diploma.

In certain provinces, many makeup artists must have a license to operate. Thankfully, this is not the case in Toronto. Anyone who has graduated from a cosmetology school or professional makeup artist training program can get a job as an MUA.

They may also be certified through the Beauty Council, which gives them more credibility that attracts business. All independent MUAs should register as a sole proprietorship and collect GST/HST if they earn more than $30,000 per year.

What Courses and Training Do You Need To Become A Professional Makeup Artist?

To become a professional makeup artist in Canada, you’ll need to become an expert in esthetics, makeup application techniques, and design principles. For the greatest versatility and credibility, aspiring MUAs should enroll in a makeup artistry program. Different schools have different niches, so which one you pick depends on what type of makeup you want to do (bridal, special effects, fantasy and fashion, basic beauty, etc.)

Here are a few of the top colleges and academies for your consideration…

  1.         Glow College of Artistic Design is an all-around, M.A.C.-preferred beauty college based in Toronto. Students can earn diplomas in makeup, esthetics, and nail technology, as well as certificates in makeup artistry, makeup special f/x, hair design, and lash art. This academy is focused on advanced, transformative makeup design such as airbrushing, fantasy styles, and prosthetics. GLOW graduates often get jobs in salons or cosmetics stores, at pageants and weddings, or in the film industry.
  2.         CMU College of Makeup Art and Design, also based in Toronto, focuses on cosmetic design and special makeup f/x for film & television, theatre, and fashion. This school offers heavily technical courses combined with practical experience. Students can choose from several programs emphasizing cinematic, fashion, and comprehensive makeup design.
  3.         Canadian Beauty College is a general cosmetology school that offers a comprehensive makeup art diploma on its Toronto campus. The program is focused on practical experience and application techniques. It is a single-track curriculum meant to prepare aspiring MUAs for the workforce, covering everything from theatre design to bridal styles to self-marketing. Students can also get certificates in lash design, airbrushing, and special effects.
  4.         Paramita Academy of Makeup Inc. is based in Toronto but currently offering an online program that emphasizes customizability and convenience for aspiring MUAs. The curriculum covers the foundations of makeup, such as color theory, application techniques, and design principles. Students also learn how to develop their makeup business. This academy focuses on bridal makeup, fantasy designs, and basic beauty.
  5.         The School of Makeup and Esthetics at George Brown College in Toronto offers practical education in esthetics, hairstyling, and makeup for both commercial and personal clients. All students purchase their own makeup kit for use in each course. You can also take an online business class geared toward estheticians and makeup artists.
  6.         JCI Institute’s Makeup Artistry Diploma Program is a 49-week, full-time program in which students gain a comprehensive education in makeup design. This is a highly intensive curriculum with small class sizes and a heavy focus on practical techniques. There is a strong emphasis on makeup special effects and prosthetics. Note: this school is in Vancouver, but is a good choice if you’d like to get into special makeup f/x in Toronto’s film industry.

What Are The Benefits Of Working As A Makeup Artist In Canada?

Canada, and Toronto in particular, has a thriving entertainment industry. Many film and television productions take place in the area, and there is also a vibrant live music and theatre scene. Plus, Toronto’s ample shopping centers, high-end boutiques, and special event venues all need qualified MUAs to make their clients look good.

In addition to these fun opportunities, being an MUA is an enjoyable, creative profession that can be quite lucrative as well. Here are some other benefits of being a makeup artist in Canada.

Flexibility in terms of hours and schedule

Some MUAs work shifts at cosmetics stores such as M.A.C, while others join esthetics studios or salons, or provide gig services at corporate events, weddings, etc. In any case, you generally get to enjoy flexibility in your schedule.

The choice to work independently or in a salon

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit or want the option to choose your own clients, you can become an independent makeup artist for weddings, film & television, theatre, or fashion shows. You’ll need to register as a sole proprietor business, but once all the paperwork is done, you’ll enjoy the freedom to set your own rates and work with your ideal clients. Plus, you have more opportunities to take on unusual projects and express your creativity.

You can also join a salon as a regular employee or independent contractor. This avenue can provide a bit more job security, although you may sacrifice a bit of creative freedom and schedule flexibility. Salon-based MUAs typically do basic beauty, “glow-ups,” and special occasion makeup.

Expressing your creativity

No matter which type of MUA you become, you’ll have the amazing opportunity to put your creativity into action every day. Once you’ve mastered the basic principles and foundational skills, the sky’s the limit. You can design beautiful looks as unique as each of your clients.

Chance to travel a lot

Independent makeup artists in Toronto are often on-the-road. If you love traveling, consider marketing your skills toward the film and television industry. You’ll often be on-location, seeing new places throughout the production.

Bridal and special-event makeup artists also get to leave the salon and spend time in luxurious venues. You could also market yourself as an on-site MUA for fashion shoots, which gives you a chance to see some unique locations. Tip: Invest in high-quality makeup storage!

What Is The Average Salary In Canada For Makeup Artists? How much Can I Charge for Makeup Design?

On average, Toronto makeup artists earn $34,060 CAD. However, your earning potential will depend heavily on your industry niche and whether or not you’re running your own enterprise.

Makeup professionals who serve high-end clients or work at weddings and special events tend to earn more. Special effects MUAs are among the highest earners, with an average annual salary of $91,58 CAD. Both groups tend to operate as freelancers and can set their own rates.

Toronto makeup artists who work at chain beauty stores such as M.A.C. or Sephora have lower hourly pay (around $17 CAD/hour) but can gain experience to move up into better-paying gigs.

Of course, there is always the option to diversify your income, such as by working part-time at a salon while offering higher-priced freelance gigs.

Top Canadian Makeup Artists Who Will Inspire Your MUA Career

Stephanie Valentine: A true makeup chameleon, Stephanie is a master of color theory and total face transformation. She was even featured on Kim Kardashian’s show “Glam Masters.” Check out her Instagram (@glamzilla) for hundreds of unique looks that prove how simple changes in lipstick or eyeshadow hues can change everything.

Sooni Sherzy Sadat: Love eye makeup? Then you’ll love Sooni’s gorgeous looks. She definitely has a strong lash game and can completely transform her eyes with the perfect shadow and liner. Follow her on Instagram at @makeupbysooni.

Leigh Dickson: If you’re into provocative, unusual, and fantasy makeup design, check out Leigh Dickson (@leighdickson on Instagram). From crazy hair color to stunning full-body makeup, Leigh will get your creative juices flowing.

Kimberley Margarita: If you want to see the full potential of what fantasy and special effects makeup can do, look no further than this amazing MUA. She can make herself look like an alien, a fairy, a robot, a cartoon — you name it! Get inspired at @kimberleymargarita_ on Instagram.


So, is becoming a professional makeup artist your dream career? In Toronto, anything is impossible! There are some wonderful schools in Toronto (and across Canada), and the beauty of this industry (pun intended) is that you can customize your education and truly express your creativity.

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