Pro Makeup Artists Vs. Beauty Influencers – What’s the Difference?

Makeup Artists vs. Beauty Influencers

Pro Makeup Artists Vs. Beauty Influencers

Thanks to the technology we have today, beauty lovers across the globe can find access to makeup tutorials and tips at the click of a button. Platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook offer amazing ways for beauty influencers and artists to showcase their work and teach audiences how to achieve any makeup look.

Because of the surplus of knowledge floating around it’s often difficult for the average person to differentiate between “beauty influencers” and “professional working makeup artists” – after all, these people are all very talented, right? While these two lines are often blurred, the truth is artists and influencers are indeed different.

What Are Beauty Influencers?

Beauty Influencers, often referred to as “beauty gurus”, are talented individuals who primarily specialize in trendy makeup application, such as the looks you see across Instagram and YouTube. They share their expertise across social media, usually garnering rather large followings. Although most influencers are talented people who come up with stunning looks, they’re usually not professional makeup artists.

Even though many gurus offer awesome makeup tips and tricks that you can incorporate in to your routine, you may have to take what they say with a grain of salt, as most are accustomed to working solely on their own skin type, complexion, face shape, eye shape and undertones.

Examples of Popular Beauty Influencers: Jaclyn Hill, Manny MUA, Laura Lee, Kathleen Lights, Jeffree Star, etc.

What Are Professional Makeup Artists?

Makeup Artists are professionals who are paid to apply makeup to others, including brides, models, actors, etc. They have either trained in school, or on their own time and have mastered advanced makeup application techniques, based around color theory. Artists are often required to carry a license (cosmetology or esthetician) due to liability and sanitation reasons, since they work on multiple people.

Examples of Professional Makeup Artists: Kevyn Aucoin, Lisa Eldridge, Bobbi Brown, Pat Mcgrath, etc.

The Influencer’s Role in The Industry

As the name suggests, influencers are “cheerleaders” for the makeup industry who encourage fans to try and buy popular consumer beauty products. They’re great at reviewing products and letting viewers know if they liked them or not, as well as demonstrating how they use them.

Influencers may be sponsored by a cosmetic company to talk about or endorse a certain product. It’s also likely that a good portion of the products they are talking about we’re sent to them for free, also known as “PR” – meaning the company sent them the product hoping they will talk about it on social media. Although most influencers are very honest and open about the products, the whole sponsorship/PR thing scares some people away.

The Artist’s Role in The Industry

Instead of focusing on social media, makeup artists are focused on building their clientele and portfolio. On an average day, they’re typically traveling (or on set) to apply makeup to other professionals, such as models, actors, celebrities, etc. Their work can be seen on TV, in movies & magazines, etc.

They usually don’t create as huge of a hype for certain beauty products as influencers do, however they typically have a better understanding of the product and how it should be applied.

How Their Application Techniques Differ

Most influencers tend to create looks that are considered “heavy”, using techniques that are typically inspired by drag makeup – such as baking, thick brows, warm/bright eye shadow, highlight, contour and fake eyelashes. Although the end result is often stunning most people aren’t comfortable wearing that much makeup on a daily basis.

Makeup Artists tend to create looks that are simple and enhance, not mask, natural features – unless it’s for SFX or a special occasion. When creating a professional look, the emphasis is usually on one bold item, while the rest of the features remain neutral (ie: red lip and neutral eye). Artists also have to consider the location/situation their client will be in and tailor the application accordingly (waterproof, HD camera, etc.).

Perhaps the largest difference is that artists understand color theory and know which colors, products, tools and application techniques look and work best for all skin types, complexions, face & eye shapes and undertones. Influencers are primarily used to working on their own complexion and features and may not be able to translate their techniques on to someone else.

The Great Divide

Unfortunately there’s sometimes rifts between the two beauty communities. Some makeup artists feel that the influencer way of makeup is just “too heavy” and goes against a majority of the lessons they learned in school, such as color theory, application techniques, etc. Some artists also feel that influencers have no right to be teaching others how to do their makeup (since most are not certified, have no experience working on multiple people and don’t have their work featured in print).

On the other hand, some influencers feel that makeup artist’s have an elitist way of looking at makeup application, and believe that just because they’re not a certified artist doesn’t mean they don’t have talent or the right to show people their skills and techniques. Some influencers also feel that pro artist’s looks are “too simple and plain” and enjoy having a more fun & unique take on makeup.

Of course, not all influencers and artists feel this way. Some are perfectly OK with the other party and even trade trips and tricks between the two. It’s all subjective, really.


Hopefully this helps you understand the difference between makeup artists and beauty influencers a little bit better. Whatever you believe, it’s fair to say that both parties have amazing talent, and the beauty community is that much more diverse because of their presence.

Feel free to let me know how you feel on the topic down below! Let’s keep it profesh, though – debates are fine, bullying is not.

Simply Stephanie Kay Signature Logo

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  • Reply Lesley March 9, 2018 at 9:52 PM

    Great post! I totally agree that the beauty community benefits from the diversity of both makeup artists and beauty influencers, and it’s so great when both work together!

    • Reply Stephanie Kay March 12, 2018 at 12:16 PM

      Absolutely! I believe there’s room for both. 😀

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