Whether you’re an esthetician, cosmetologist or makeup artist, there are a wide variety of career paths in the beauty industry—it’s all a matter of deciding where you fit and then getting your foot in the door.
For example, I am a state-licensed Esthetician and I work in the skin care industry—from behind a computer screen.
Allow me to explain.
I had been working as an editor for a magazine and then as a freelance writer before deciding to switch gears and go for my license in esthetics. I loved the idea of working really closely with people and helping to make their lives better. (And yes, I truly believe that better skin care can change lives.)
What’s funny, though, is that I never actually ended up working in a spa environment. Not for long, anyway. Today, I am the Social Media Manager for Mario Badescu Skin Care.
Those of us with beauty jobs get questions all the time from people trying to get their break in the industry. With this in mind, we thought we’d create the ultimate guide to landing the beauty industry job of your dreams!
SIX Tips for Finding The Perfect Beauty Industry Job
- Figure out Where You Belong: Ask yourself: What am I really good at? Do you love the hands-on aspect of working closely with people? Are you great at marketing yourself and building relationships? You’re probably the right type of person for the spa environment. Or you could be a good fit for a sales position. Others might consider working in public relations for a beauty brand or as a buyer for department stores, salons and other businesses. These jobs require that you remain on top of the latest trends and products on the market.
- Your Cover Letter and Resume: It’s critical that you take the time to learn how to put together an effective resume and cover letter. If you’re not confident in your writing skills, seek out a helpful and knowledgeable friend or go to a professional for help. And follow the rules—send out thank-you notes after interviews no matter what.
- Networking: Many of us got our start because we met someone at the right time. I landed my first job as an esthetician by introducing myself to a spa owner at a social function. Go to conventions and seminars and talk with as many people as possible—you never know who will be there. Many beauty jobs offer internships as well; there are few ways better than interning to break into any field. It’s never too soon to start networking.
- Your Personal Brand: The internet is an amazing tool for branding yourself. The best part is that it’s open to everyone! If no one else is talking about you, start talking about yourself! Create a blog or start a website that demonstrates your knowledge of the field that most interests you. We can promise you that this will be impressive to prospective employers.
- Appearance Matters: It’s always important to look your best at a job interview, but beauty jobs are a whole different animal—how you look can literally make or break you in many cases. The importance of appearance varies—your ‘look’ is less important in an office than when you are interacting with customers and clients—but it’s crucial no matter where you’re interviewing.
- Not sure how to dress? Check out these articles! How to Dress for an Interview (The Confessions of a PR Gal) What Should You Wear on a Fashion Industry Interview? (Fashionista)
- Manage Your Reputation: No one cares what you like to do in your free time as long as you keep it private. Be sure that the privacy settings on your personal social media accounts (facebook, twitter, etc.) are managed correctly. If you’re hoping to use your persona as a catalyst for your career, be sure that your social media accounts reflect the correct image.
- Keep Your Job Search Organized: When it comes to finding a job, it’s all about being organized. It can be difficult to keep track of which companies you’ve applied to, who you’ve made contact with and how much time has transpired since your follow up. Remember to stay on top of these important aspects during your search. Being organized is a quality that is admired across the board.
Jobs in the Beauty Industry
Beauty blogging is one of the newest professions in the world of beauty. By maintaining blogs related to the various fields of beauty—hair, nails, makeup, fashion, and skin care—beauty bloggers not only report on the trends, they are often at the forefront of starting trends throughout the larger world outside of the beauty industry.
Felicia Walker Benson is the Publisher and Editor in Chief for ThisThatBeauty, a popular blog that regularly features fashion, beauty news, product reviews, trend spotting, industry interviews and more. We caught up with her to discuss what it’s like to be a beauty blogger.
Please tell us about what you do:
I’m basically a professional Beauty Babbler…or Beauty Editor, or Beauty Blogger, or Online Influencer – or whatever we’re calling it these days! I started out writing my own blog, ThisThatBeauty…but that has grown into writing for numerous print and online publications, TV appearances, commercials, and brand ambassadorship opportunities. I love that I am able to do what I love for a living. And I love that the possibilities are limitless. My ThisThatBeauty brand continues to grow at a steady clip and that’s fine by me!
How did you get started beauty blogging?
I had the good fortune of getting laid off from my six-figure corporate girl job. By that time, my blog already had a bit of a following and I had started garnering a little press buzz here and there – so I was fairly confident in my ability (and passion) to pull a Tim Gunn and “Make it work!” So when the door opened to pursue my passion full time, I eagerly walked through it and never looked back.
What would you tell someone trying to start a beauty blog?
Firstly, you have to have the passion for it. Blogging (well) takes untold hours and laser sharp focus. If the passion for beauty isn’t there, it’s honestly just not worth it. Secondly, the blogosphere is heavily saturated right now…break through the clutter by utilizing your unique access to bring something new to your readers. For example, when I first started blogging I was also a moonlighting makeup artist…and as a result, I had incredible access to phenomenal celebrity makeup artists…artists that most people would give anything to have access to (and they were my good friends and colleagues). So I used that access to interview them and feature them on my blog. I was offering my readers unique access to something really special. So in a nut shell, my advice is to be passionate and work your access….oh, and work your butt off!
Beauty brand founders are dynamic individuals who are able to grasp an unfulfilled need within the industry and offer a fresh solution. Mario Badescu, for example, began his skin care line to respond to the needs of men and women in search of a way to attain beautiful skin through the use of soothing botanicals, fruit extracts, seaweed, aloe vera, high quality vitamin oils, and chamomile.
Jennifer Walsh is the CEO of Behind The Brand Media, a consulting firm for beauty brands. She is formerly the CEO of The Beauty Bar Industries, founding one of the very first beauty boutique chains. Here’s what she had to say about the beauty industry
Tell us a little about your career nowadays:
I now consult for established brands and up and coming brands. Since I started my own chain of stores over a decade ago, many of the companies that hire me are looking to roll out stores or gain access into the market. Right now my biggest client is an international beauty brand that will be launching in the US next June. I am building their US infrastructure which means I am helping set up their IT department, marketing, human resources, training, pr, warehousing, finance, etc. It’s an incredibly detailed and very strategic project on a global level. I also work with a few other clients in a much more creative role helping the look and feel of what their brand will look like at launch. I also still do TV anywhere from 2-6 times a month and am about to celebrate my 15th YEAR on air as a beauty expert.
What do you love about your job?
I love everything about what I do. I’ve been in the beauty business for more than 15 years but I continue to learn and step out of my comfort zone so I can continue to be challenged. I feel like the more I am challenged, the more I am growing.
How did you get started in the beauty industry?
I opened what became one of the first beauty boutique chains in the US in 1998. It did become the very first beauty business in the US that was multiplatform at that time ~ meaning it was a retail store, a website, and I had a weekly TV segment showcasing beauty brands. Looking back at those earlier days, it is hard to wrap my head around how difficult it was for me to tell brands that I was going to open a store and yes, I wanted to take selling beauty outside of a department store setting – brands and people in general thought I was crazy but I knew in my heart it would be unique and it could be something bigger.
What advice would you give someone looking to be a beauty entrepreneur:
My biggest piece of advice for those looking to create something in the beauty world [is] don’t try and be like everyone else. What is it that you do or that you have created that sets you apart from everyone and everything else out there. I never wanted to follow a trend, I wanted to create the trend. Also, you can’t be everything to everybody – be true to what you love and what you are passionate about, the pieces will come together
The main task of beauty editors is to write and edit copy pertaining to various aspects of the beauty industry. Most beauty editors are writers and editors first and foremost and have a secondary background in the beauty industry.
Dani Stahl is the Style Editor-at Large for Nylon Magazine. She is also a brand and image consultant and the designer of the jewelry line Lia Sophia.
Here’s what she had to say about her career:
I love everything about my job – truly. I love that I am always doing different creative things and meeting all sorts of interesting creative people. And well – fashion is fun so… I try to have as much fun with it as possible!
Her advice for those trying to break into the beauty industry:
Internships! I can’t stress it enough – it is the gateway to the fashion industry for sure, or at least in my experience. I was at NYU and started interning at Elle – and so it began… It’s kinda like that ‘Devil Wears Prada’ movie – it’s not always so glam, especially at the start. But the glam part will come if you just stick with it!
A spa director oversees the entire operation of a spa, including (but certainly not limited to) the hiring of staff, scheduling appointments, responding to complaints and/or inquiries, selling products and services; and performing accounting duties. Spa directors must have excellent communication and organizational skills and have a deep knowledge of accounting and sales. Most states require that spa managers and directors hold specific state licenses.
We sat down with Elena Arboleda, Spa Director at the Mario Badescu Skin Care Salon, to ask her a few questions:
Tell us about your job:
I started working at Mario Badescu over 25 years ago and in that time I’ve worn many hats. One of my main responsibilities is to manage the day to day operations of the Mario Badescu Skin Care Salon. I make sure that the salon is adequately staffed and supplied with everything that it needs to run- from tissues to massage tables. I also oversee customer service of both our salon and mail order clients and coordinate appointments for many of our celebrity and VIP guests. Regardless of how busy I am at my desk I always make sure to give face time to our clients. I believe that when you become out of touch with the clients you become out of touch with the business.
What do you love about your job?
The diversity. I love that no two days are the same.
How did you break into the beauty industry?
The love of art, I find that the beauty industry is a form of expressing one’s artistic abilities.
Best piece of career advice for someone aspiring to be a Spa Director:
As a Spa Director the best advice is to treat everyone like you would like to be treated in return, in the most professional manner.
Makeup artists use cosmetics and specific techniques to enhance or alter a person’s physical appearance. At its most basic, makeup artistry involves improving a person’s appearance. However, the term ‘makeup artist’ encompasses a whole realm of creativity; some makeup artists assist on films in creating characters or special effects while others work closely with fashion designers to design and implement a specific look for runway shows and advertisements. To a large degree, makeup artistry depends on the talents of the artist. However, it also requires dedication, training and the ability to stay updated on the latest trends.
We got the chance to speak with Emmy® Award winning makeup artist Kevin James Bennett.
I’ve reached a point in my career where I’ve become known as the MacGyver of Makeup. I can access 25+ years of experience to guide me through any project related to the cosmetic industry or professional makeup artistry. I spend equal time as a Cosmetic Developer/Marketer/Brand Builder, a Lecturer/Educator and as a Beauty Expert/Journalist. I also have 2 Emmy® Awards in my back pocket if people are worried about my credibility (wink, nudge).
What do you love about your job?
That’s hard to pinpoint. I LOVE everything about this industry and experience a great job immersed in every aspect of it. I don’t think there is any part of this industry that doesn’t excite and challenge me. I’m slightly obsessed with formulation at the moment and I’m working on developing complexion products (primer, foundation, concealer) for a few major brands. It’s VERY exciting.
How did you break into the beauty industry?
I realized the beauty industry was my destiny while painting mannequins at Bloomingdale’s NYC. It was art, it was makeup… it was everything I wanted to do! Like many of my contemporaries, I began my makeup career working as a retail makeup artist. NYC’s finest department stores (Bergdorf, Bendel’s, Sak’s, Barney’s) were the bootcamp where I learned how to enhance the features (and self-esteem) of regular people like you and me (not 15-year-old models). The training was invaluable and taught me a work ethic I carry with me to this day.
What’s your best piece of career advice for someone looking to be a makeup artist?
1) Practice, practice, practice. I know that sounds trite, but it’s the absolute truth. You need to hone your technical skills so you’ll feel confident when you want to cut loose and get really creative. Without solid technique, you will never become a truly versatile artist.
2) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you never make mistakes, you’re playing it safe and your abilities are not evolving and growing. Some of my favorite techniques are the result of work-arounds I discovered while fixing a mistake.
3) Assist senior artists whose work you admire as often as you can. They will give you amazing on-set experience. And if you win their trust, they will recommend you for jobs that will help get you to the next level.
Hairstylists are responsible for transforming the appearance of the hair with services such as cut, color, blow-dry, relaxer, permanent, styling and extensions. Clients rely on hairstylists to recommend helpful techniques, appropriate products and services to beautify the hair. Hairstylists must be talented with good communication skills to recreate desirable end results for their clients. To become a hairstylist, one must complete training and pass a State Board examination for licensure.
Other jobs in the beauty industry include:
- Social Media Expert
- Nail Technician
- Cosmetic Chemist
- Product Developer
Tell us: Where do you fit into the beauty industry?