You Want to Break into Editorial Hair and Makeup, Huh?

Your Starter’s Guide to Editorial Hair & Makeup Career


So—you’re kind of an enigma, huh?

You love hair and makeup (or hair or makeup—you don’t have to love both), but sitting behind a stylist chair all day sounds, well, less than appealing. You love staying up to date on the latest trends and knowing exactly what’s hot and what’s not, but the idea of being trapped in one place doing the same thing over and over just isn’t your cup of tea.

You’re probably thinking, do I actually want a career in beauty or not?

You probably do. And if you’re anything like we just described, you’re probably the perfect fit for a career in editorial style.

There’s just one problem—you’re not entirely sure what editorial styling is all about.​

Sure, you’ve heard the term before. Maybe you have some long-lost relative who built a career in it. But when it comes to hard-hitting facts about what it is, what you’d do, and whether or not you’d be an ideal candidate for it—you’re lost.

That’s where we come in.

We’ve laid out some basic editorial stylist knowledge—consider it editorial styling 101—to give you a dash of insight on what a career in this field might look like.

And what’s better? It’ll likely give you some insight into whether or not this career is the right fit for you!


What Exactly Does a Career in Editorial Hair or Makeup Look Like?

Let’s get this out in the open right off the bat—we’re going to try to define editorial styling for you but know that it’s not always a black-and-white definition.

Editorial styling can take on a whole slew of different roles with different responsibilities. In other words, there’s really no right or wrong answer to the question what exactly does an editorial stylist do?

Editorial stylists, often called session stylistsare typically in charge of creating a look, mood, or vibe for a photoshoot, a red-carpet session, ad campaigns, and more. Typically, the common thread is that they’re prepping the models, celebrities, or everyday people for editorial material—think magazines, digital ads, album covers, and other visual creations.

While every editorial stylist position is different, you’ll basically be the go-to-girl-or-guy who works with directors, photographers, models, and artists to accomplish a certain look.

As an editorial stylist, you might prepare a creative strategy that you need to arrange with your team, you might assist the photographer in your editorial shoot to best capture the look you’ve strategized, you might design a model’s hair or makeup look as well as execute it.

There are endless responsibilities when it comes to being an editorial makeup or hairstylist.

But essentially, you’re the person that’s in charge of creating a vision of beauty that accomplishes a goal and then making it happen.


Is Editorial Beauty For You? Here's a Quick Test

If all of that sounds pretty dang appealing but you’re still on the fence about choosing that career path, ask yourself a few important questions

  • Do I enjoy keeping up with fashion, beauty, hair, and makeup trends?
  • Do I perform well in high-pressure situations?
  • Does the idea of creating and executing a visual with a purpose make me happy?
  • Do the job responsibilities listed line up with my skills and my passions?
  • Am I good at working with people—better yet, do I enjoy working with people?
  • Am I willing to invest time and effort into the licenses required to become an editorial stylist?
  • Does this career path fit into my overall desires for my lifestyle?
  • Do I enjoy the idea of being the point-person who’s in charge of executing a creative vision?

If you answered yes to most (or all!) of these questions, it sounds like being an editorial stylist might just be the perfect fit for you. 

Looking to get started ASAP? We’ve got some tips for that, too. Keep reading!


Some Start-Up Tips for Becoming a Hair or Makeup Editorial Stylist 

The idea of becoming an editorial stylist for a big-name magazine you’ve been reading for years, or working with red-carpet events for the glummest of celebrities are lofty career goals, but they can be attained.

We still all have to start somewhere. And oftentimes, that means taking baby steps to get your career off the ground.

If you’re looking for some quick tips for getting your editorial stylist career going, try a few of these tiny-but-impactful steps:

  • Make Sure You’re Appropriately Licensed—if you’re not licensed to do what you want to do, you’re holding yourself back.
  • Gain Some Experience—go to school, get your license, work with people for free, garner the experience you need to walk the walk and talk the talk.
  • Work with a Mentor—it’s always valuable to work with someone in the industry you want to be in—extra points if you deeply respect them and their work.
  • Take on Apprenticeships—you might not make the big bucks right away, but don’t be afraid to take on apprenticeships that will further your skills (and your career).
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Referrals—after you’ve successfully worked with someone, don’t be afraid to ask them to refer your services (bonus advice: offer discounts and incentives if you need to).
  • Get an Agent—working with an agent is a quick way to get your career going. 

Here’s the overall message here—every career in beauty looks different. We’re not all just running around doing the same thing as everyone else, guys—there are nuance, there are niches, there are endless opportunity to explore. 

If the editorial stylist gig sounds like your kind of party, then we hope we could help send you well on your merry way toward a career that brings you joy (and you know, the big bucks, too).

Like our style? We thought you might.

The EBS blog is all about reaching out and connecting with professionals in the beauty industry to provide open dialogues, fresh conversations, and plenty of tips, tricks, and insight needed within our industry.

If you’re into what we’re doing here, keep up with us—check back with our regularly updated blog for more hot gossip, trend scouting, and advice!