The Best Makeup Schools in California

Pretty women in a makeup class

If you’re looking for the best makeup school in California, it’s important that you stop to consider a few important things before making such a substantial investment. After defining your goals, learn which specific programs and classes are offered, the location, cost, and the school’s accreditation. With these in mind I summarized below the best California-based makeup schools.

California is central to the world of style and fashion. With the film industry largely based in LA and Hollywood, it’s no surprise that California is home to a huge number of makeup schools. From Los Angeles to Burbank and beyond, you’ve got your pick of excellent options.

While there is a lot of competition, if you’re looking to make a name for yourself in the beauty or fashion industry, California is a major hotspot for aspiring professional makeup artists to hone their skills. There is a ton of demand for makeup artists, so many aim to start their own business or jump on the chance to work with the biggest names in the industry.

Obviously, I’m not the only one who thinks this way – as the many, many makeup schools in California prove this to be true. If you’re going to invest in school, you want to make sure it’s worth the investment in terms of the skills you’ll learn, the connections you will make, and your earnings potential after completing the program. Based on a ton of online research, student reviews, and some tips from a few people I trust, here are my top recommendations.

Our Top Picks for the Best Makeup Schools in California

School ImageSchool NameWebsite
Our PickMake-Up Designory Makeup SchoolMake-Up DesignoryVisit Website
Best Special Effects Makeup SchoolCinema Makeup SchoolCinema Makeup SchoolVisit Website
Best Post-Graduate AssistanceBellus Academy Makeup SchoolBellus AcademyVisit Website
American Beauty College Makeup SchoolAmerican Beauty CollegeVisit Website
California Beauty College Makeup SchoolCalifornia Beauty CollegeVisit Website

The Best Makeup School in California

1. Make-Up Designory – Our Pick!

Make-Up Designory Makeup School

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Location: 129 S. San Fernando Blvd. Burbank, CA 91502

Our pick for the best California-based makeup school is Make-Up Designory! It was established in 1997 by a group of professional makeup artists who wanted to provide aspiring makeup artists with an opportunity for higher education in the field of makeup. Since then, MUD has since expanded and currently has two campuses, one located in Los Angeles and another one in New York – with both campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), a recognized accrediting agency by the US Department of Education.

The school offers comprehensive makeup programs for professional makeup for film, television, fashion, theater, and retail. The classes offered are a blend of lectures and demonstrations that take students from classroom to actual experiences as future professional makeup artists.

Make-Up Designory also prides itself in having instructors with at least five years of hands-on experience in a diverse range of different fields of makeup. This is especially important so students and graduates are not only taught the theoretical aspect of makeup, rather the real experience and world they will be part of.

MUD offers four (4) programs:

1) Fashion Makeup Artistry which provides students with a strong foundation on makeup artistry – that takes a total of 392 hours over 12 weeks;

2) Film and Television Makeup Artistry that teaches students basic corrective makeup to applied special makeup effects to prepare actors to bring characters to life – that takes a total of 420 hours over 12 weeks;

3) Multimedia Makeup Artistry which provides students with instructions in makeup for fashion and editorial settings in combination with that for film and television – that takes 602 hours over 18 weeks; and

4) Master Makeup Artistry teaches students necessary instructions to prepare them to work in the worlds of fashion, film, television, and special make-up effects – that takes a total of 812 hours over 24 weeks.

2. Cinema Makeup School – Best Special Effects Makeup School!

Cinema Makeup School

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Location: Wiltern Theater Building at 3780 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 202, Los Angeles, CA 90010

Specializing in teaching future and aspiring professional makeup artists the art of special effects makeup, our pick for the best special effects makeup school in California is the Cinema Makeup School! Founded in 1993 by a professional makeup artist who only wanted to create a more comprehensive makeup artist school that offered education for aspiring makeup and special effects artists, it has continued to provide lessons and instructions over the past 25 years.

CMS prides itself in having a pool of faculty members with multiple Emmy winners and nominees – making sure students enrolled in their classes not only learn theories of makeup and special effects but get hands-on experiences from the best in the industry. CMS also has an impressive roster of successful graduates and alumni that have found their own places and success in the industry.

The school operates the Cinema Makeup Store to provide students access to all materials and cosmetics they would need for classes and activities. International students are also most welcome to come and study at CMS and are provided the same services as domestic students. And because they understand how difficult it is to move to a city where you don’t know anyone, they also provide housing assistance and options.

CMS offers three (3) programs:

1) Master Makeup Program which is CMS’s most popular program and provides students with a foundation on beauty and ending with special makeup effects to ensure graduates are prepared for almost any career in the industry;

2) High Fashion Photographic Makeup Program provides students with essential skills in the fashion and beauty industries as well as for film, television, and theater without the use of sculptures, molds, and other prosthetics; and

3) Creature Concept Design Program which teaches students essential skills to work in the field of character development and creation.

See our full list of special effects makeup schools.

3. Bellus Academy – Best Post-Graduate Assistance!

Bellus Academy Makeup School

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Location: 13266 Poway Rd Poway, CA 92064/970 Broadway, Chula Vista, CA 91911/1073 E. Main St El Cajon, CA 92021

Bellus Academy is our pick for the best California-based makeup school that provides the best post-graduate assistance! Recognized as the #1 Job Placement in the Nation, Bellus make sure that as a graduate in one of their programs, time and resources are dedicated to assist you in finding the job that you’ve always wanted. The school’s Career Services Department provides you with resume assistance to interview prep to help get you where you want to be.

A student mobile application is also available and allows you to view job openings and to easily apply directly on the app. Bellus also conducts career fairs throughout the year to provide students with even more job opportunities. And being enrolled in their programs, they also provide students with a mock state board test to prepare them for the state license exam.

Bellus Academy’s Makeup Artistry Program provides its students with the basics of makeup and transitions to more advanced techniques throughout the program. The program covers the basics and theories such as the history of makeup to more complicated techniques such as makeup for different settings and makeup on both men and women and those with mature skin.

Aside from makeup classes, business classes are also taught to students. Students will be trained on how to market themselves as makeup artists and strengthen their entrepreneurial skills. Other Bellus programs offered include: Barbering, Cosmetology, Barber/Cosmetology, Esthetics, Massage, and Spa Nails.

Bellus also prides itself in offering combined courses that allow students to enroll in one program and graduate with multiple credentials to allow for more growth and career opportunities.

4. American Beauty College

American Beauty College Makeup School

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Location: 646 South Sunset Ave, West Covina, Los Angeles County, CA 91790/641 W. Palmdale Blvd. Suite A-C. Palmdale CA 93551

With over 40 years of experience in the beauty industry, the family-owned American Beauty College also made it into our list of the best makeup schools in California! What started to be a small beauty school in 2013, ABC has since grown and expanded into two locations over the past five years. ABC’s goal is simple: to provide its students with essential skills to have a thriving career in cosmetology and barbering, and they have been doing an amazing job since.

ABC has proudly met the national standards of education performance and is a NACCAS (National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences) accredited, a recognized accrediting institution by the US Department of Education. They also offer financial aid for students who need it and for those who qualify.

Their Cosmetology Program covers a total of 1,600 hours over 12 months and students are expected to learn head to toe beauty that include facials, nails, men’s and women’s cuts, hair design and color, waxing, makeup, sanitation, perms, chemical services, and even includes business, marketing, and client retention classes.The programs aims to provide students with a strong foundation in cosmetology by teaching them the key fundamentals.

Other programs ABC offers include a Barber Program, Manicuring Program, and Teacher Trainee Program. ABC also provides their students with support even after they complete their programs and graduate, offering career services to help make the transition from school to career much easier. Employers are also welcome to post job openings ABC graduates can easily and readily apply to.

5. California Beauty College

California Beauty College Makeup School

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Location: 1115 15th Street Modesto, CA 95354

The last item on our list of the best California-based makeup schools is the California Beauty College! Founded in 1961 with the vision of being the best educational institution in beauty, CBC still stands today with its commitment to offer learning opportunities with real life hands-on experiences, classroom instruction, technical and practical training, and communication and business classes. Thanks to its long-standing history of expertise, CBC holds a strong reputation in the beauty industry.

CBC is accredited by NACCAS and has met the national standards of educational performance. Their Cosmetology Program covers a total of 1,600 hours over the course of 48 weeks. The program aims to provide students with instructions and fundamentals on the different levels of the arts and sciences of cosmetology. Students are expected to gain knowledge of techniques and technical skills to perform in the beauty industry.

The program trains students in hair design, cutting and coloring, thermal services, chemical texturing, nail care, skincare, makeup, and even includes classes on salesmanship, marketing, and business that will prepare them to work in the beauty industry. CBC also offers Technology and Esthetics Programs, aside from Cosmetology. Financial aids are also available for students who qualify.

How Do I Become a Professional Makeup Artist?

If you love makeup and the artist you become when you do it, making a career out of your passion is nothing out of your reach. We tell you below how to become a professional makeup artist.

Enroll in a Makeup School

Sure, you have basic knowledge on makeup, but if you’re planning on making a career out of it that thrives, it’s important that you enroll yourself in a makeup school to better hone your skills and learn more advanced techniques you will likely need in a professional setting.

Licensing and certification

Licensing and certification requirements vary from state to state. California doesn’t require you to have a license to work as a professional makeup artist. There are, however, cosmetology and esthetician licenses you may also consider getting for yourself. And a license to either is always an advantage for your career.

If you plan to work as a freelance MUA, you don’t need to worry about licensing, but there are salons and establishments that require employees to have some sort of beauty license. Enrolling and finishing a makeup program in a recognized and accredited makeup school will also grant you a certificate of completion or diploma you can readily present to your employer.

Make sure you do your research on different requirements that you may need in your professional makeup career.

Keep learning

The world of makeup is ever changing and trends keep popping up here and there. Even though you’ve learned the basics and the more advanced techniques either on your own or through a makeup school, once you’re in the industry, you should keep learning new techniques and trends to keep up with the industry’s ever-changing demands.

Makeup Artist Careers

The fields and careers you can venture to when you want to be a professional makeup artist is endless!

Film and television

California, specifically Los Angeles, is obviously the top choice for aspiring film and television makeup artists. With the right training and skills, you can break through and be a well-known MUA in the industry. A reminder though, that it is not easy as competition in this field can be fierce.

If you’re more interested in special effects makeup, film and television is also a good path to venture into as shows and movies that require this never seem to thin out for the past years.

Theater and stage

Makeup artists are also in demand in stage and theater performances to get their actors ready to perform every show. Theater and stage makeup require a specialized set of skills as light and setting are different from that of in film and television.

Fashion and editorial

Services of professional makeup artists are also in demand in the world of high-end fashion and editorial work. Aspiring makeup artists like you can find fulfilling work by getting models ready to pose for editorial pisces or on the catwalk.


Professional makeup artists are also sought after for events like weddings to get people ready for the big events of their lives. When you also accept work for events, you’re sure to be booked and busy all year round.

How to Choose the Best Makeup School

Being at the center and forefront of glitz and glamor, it’s no secret California is home to a high number of makeup schools you can enroll yourself in. With so many options, sure, it can get overwhelming, and especially so if you have no idea what to look for in one.

Programs and classes

Before deciding on enrolling in a certain makeup school, make sure the school meets your educational needs and you will finish the programs having learned what you want and what you need. Different makeup schools offer different programs and classes. Make sure you enroll in one that meets your desired program and classes.


You should also consider the school’s location – and it should be convenient to you. Your schedule as a makeup school student will be no joke. There are days that your entire day can be packed with classes and activities. Your school should be close to where you live for easy transportation or at least has available housing options you can consider.


Makeup schools and the programs they offer also have varying price ranges. Make sure that the school and program you decide on is within the price range you’re willing to pay for and is worth it for every penny you pay.


Also make sure to check out whether the school’s been accredited or not. This adds more credibility in not only the school, but also the instructors and implemented curriculum.


Enrolling yourself in a makeup school with a great reputation in the industry will take you one step closer to becoming a professional makeup artist and launching your career!

Make-Up Designory is our pick for the best makeup school in California for its diverse comprehensive makeup programs that get students ready to work in professional makeup for film, television, fashion, theater, and retail. Our choice for the best California-based special effects makeup school is Cinema Makeup School thanks to its specially designed special effects makeup program and classes that give students hands-on experiences with the best in the industry. And Bellus Academy is our choice for the best makeup school with the best post-graduate assistance for their efforts to assist and help students land their dream jobs after completing the program.

Choosing to enroll in a makeup school, even if you already have the basic foundation of makeup, will help you jumpstart your career as a makeup artist and will provide you with the necessary skills to thrive in the business. I hope that by reading this, you’ve found the perfect makeup school you’re looking for!