6 Ways to Build Your Reputation as a Makeup Artist on Instagram

3 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

I don't see it as a waste of time, but me doing research for advancing my own makeup artistry. 
You're thinking, 'you're doing "RE-SEARCH" (said with air quotes - dork). You're looking to steal someone's idea'. 

And you're right! Said without air quotes or snark. Pfft! 
Steal like an artist. Learn by copying. Study from many. Remix their idea. Give them credit. 

And one Makeup Artist I stumbled across was Vlada Haggerty (@VladaMUA) who I have lovingly nicknamed, "The Leprechaun Queen", seeing that she can manipulate gold applications like no other. 

Vlada has over 100K Instagram fans and with credit to her work in major magazines, makeup competitions, and online publications internationally. 
Have you seen these dripping gold lips? 


If you're an aspiring MUA it's pretty much guaranteed you have. If not, get to your research and study!

Having a large Instagram following as an MUA can mean more opportunities to collaborate with larger brands, more traffic to your blog, clients reaching out to YOU, more consultations and sales for your business, and a whole other plethora of opportunities. 

I'm going to talk about a few things. 
I caught up with Vlada to talk about her brand as a MUA on Instagram. On top of that, I'm going to point out some actionable tips you can use TODAY to help grow your Instagram following. 

Everyone say "JEFFREE STARR"! Weeeeeee!!!


Just yesterday, I was looking at a MUAs profile and saw that she had posted a picture of her coffee that had a thick foam head and a dollop of brown sugar in the middle. Her coffee looked like it had a belly button. So I left a comment, saying that her coffee has a belly button. She replied back, lol-ing and agreeing with me, and then went on to like  6-7 of my images on my profile. 
Think about it. When someone 'likes' your image, that's nice. But when someone leaves a 'nice comment' on one of your pieces, you get that shot of serotonin (the chemical responsible for pride and status).

Don't worry, we all get our fix from time to time. 

Anyone can 'like' an image. But if you want to stand out, 'leave a comment'. Engage with the profile owner! You can leave a single word comment like, "Cool", "Dope", or "Nooice!" (Anyone watch Key & Peele for that last one?), BUT whenever possible, be a little more thoughtful.
Dig a little deeper into your verbal repertoire and leave a "belly button" comment. Engage with this person and/or other people who have commented on that person's profile. This is your Wolf Pack - it's okay to start a dialogue. You may even make a new online friend.  
'Likes' are measured, but a 'Nice Comment' is remembered. 


I think a lot of MUAs who start out posting on Instagram, did "common" looks at first, even Vlada. 

“...I moved to LA. We moved in December and it was a very slow time for me as a makeup artist, so I started doing makeup on myself and taking pictures of my lips... After a while I started doing eye makeup and full face makeup... expanding the range of makeup looks I post on my page. ”

— Vlada Haggerty

Then either you see another's work and are inspired or you just get bored, you are an artist and your style DOES evolve over time, so you experiment because...why not? 


For Vlada, it especially paid off when she was creating these dripping liquid lip looks because they have gotten her international coverage, features in magazines and online publications, work with major clients, and featured on multiple Instagram feature accounts (which was how I found her). 

Did she know it was going to be such a big hit? Hell no! No one does! 

You experiment every day! You see if you like it, tweak it if you don't, post it on your profile when you do and wait for your serotonin fix! Be consistent, be other, be an artist!

“[Surrounding yourself with] creative minds definitely lets you be more free and let go of the fear of what other people may say or think. [Don’t get] too comfortable and not [develop your] skill. ”

— Vlada Haggerty

And when in doubt, learn from the masters and do your research. 

“We have to stay on top of all the trends, of all new techniques, products, etc...I’m learning every day from multiple people, to name a few: Pat McGrath (@patmcgrathreal), Tamana (@dressyourface), Darya Kholodnykh (@darya_kholodnykh), Mia Connor (@miaconnor) and many more! I love learning personal tips and tricks people have gathered over the years of working in the industry.”

— Vlada Haggerty

All and all, don't be afraid to get WAY OUT of your comfort zone, make a mess, and create something different. It may take a LOT of trial and effort, but different here wins. 


I am a hashtag fiend. I am CONSTANTLY finding new hashtags and feature accounts to try to connect with my Wolf Pack.  If you don't know about proper hashtagging beyond 'style', 'beautiful', 'mua', and 'pretty'...pfft! I'm going to need you to get your head in the game. 
Let me give you some of the uncommon tags:

#fiercesociety, #wakeupandmakeup, #liptrends, #naildecorvideos, #makeupaholic, #beautyinspiration,  #addpepper, #allmodernmakeup, #blendwithtrend, #trendsandco, #calledtobecreative, #nothingisordinary, #postitforaesthetic, #amazingmakeupart

Some of these, like 'AMAZINGMAKEUPART' is a feature account that showcases people's work from body painting to makeup artistry. They have over 70K followers. If featured, that's 70K eyes on your work. A pair of those eyes could be for a magazine, or another feature account, a local model, a local photographer, a makeup company, jewelry company, etc.

You get 30 hashtags for each post. Make use of the space and think bigger. 


I've heard the statement used, "You're only as good as your network". Let me explain via a story completely unrelated to Instagram or MUA. 
There's a YouTube movie out called "Kung Fury". It is, by far, the greatest B movie, 80s throwback action flick, I have ever seen. And it was filmed this year. 
The director used Kickstarter to fund the film. He had a sweet trailer he put together and asked everyone who participated in the film to post it on their social media. In the first 5 hours there was barely a blip of traction to his Kickstarter page, but one of the actors who plays Thor (not the Hemsworth brother) had a huge following on Facebook. One of his fans saw it, posted it on Reddit, and he reached his $200K goal in less than 24 hrs.

He ended up raising a little less than $650K, Hollywood agents and managers started calling him, and now there are talks of a full feature film. 

As an MUA, you will have the opportunity to work with a lot of people, if you so desire. Models, makeup companies, photographers, jewelry companies, online publications, etc. 

But we all start off small. Use your resources at hand. 

“I used to use Model Mayhem a lot, I met a lot of great people through that web site.”

— Vlada Haggerty


There is a technique called 'cross pollenation'. Your model/client posts your work (and tags you) to her followers and you do the same for her. You're both leveraging each others audience which can result in new opportunities, new likes, and/or an increased following. As you have seen, I'm sure, this works for when you're collaborating with another company or brand as well. 

Want to try something closer to home? Recruit your friends. They, are usually, EAGER to jump in the seat and be made over. Plus it will give you GREAT practice in working with, a 'client', so that maybe one day, they'll pay you. 

“[The biggest mistake MUAs make in building their reputation] are the simple things like not sanitizing the products, being late to shoots and appointments, not being nice to everyone on set. Being a nice person in general is a must, your personality is what will keep bringing you gigs. You can be the most talented person out there, but if you rub people the wrong way, you won’t get hired again...having a personal connection with people you work with is very important, [a] good relationship is what will help you keep the gig.”

— Vlada Haggerty


So in other words: 
If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late. 
Your tools shouldn't be goopy - nasty. 
Come in with a great attitude and don't be a dick. 

You got this champ.


This is where I messed up in the beginning of my Instagram ventures. I was ALL OVER the place in MULTIPLE genres outside of Makeup Art. 
Woody Woodpecker high on caffeine had more direction than me.
(That's an old reference some of you might have to look up). 

Then one day, I just started focusing on one craft (instead of 5). If people come to my profile now, they'll see the rows of consistency and have a feeling of my style AND what I do:

Pop art and urban art makeup artistry, that plays with the eye (or at least I hope that's what they're getting from it - but I'm pretty sure).

That is the question you will be answering on your page, with each post, daily - "What do you do"?
They should be able to figure it out, within the first 3 seconds, WITHOUT reading your bio. If they can't, and you're all over the place, they'll leave. 
(I have a cautionary tale about this, but I'll talk about that on another post). 

So what kind of Makeup  Artist are you? Are you into body painting? Anime looks? Wedding makeup looks? Lip art? Eye art?


Play around and pick your poison. 


I said above to steal like an artist, but credit the work. Repost images, credit the work - EVEN re-watermark it if you find it helpful. 

I know of a BRILLIANT graphic artist named Alice X. Zhang whose sketches are credited internationally for magazines, ads, etc. She is in the top of her game in her community. 
She went inside a local coffee shop one day and saw one of her images framed. She wasn't selling prints at the time of that particular piece and there was no indication on the piece that she created it. 

So either they removed her watermark signature (most likely) or she didn't put it on there (extremely doubtful). 

Same ordeal with Vlada. One day she's going through her Instagram feed and sees one of her designs on a high profile celebrities page, without her watermark and with no credit that she created this piece. 
The words 'the audacity' comes to mind if you have the misfortune of this happening to you. Utter shock and awe that your work is dangling in your face and NO ONE - except you, the shop owner, and the Instabootlegger - knowing who created it!  

Not crediting other artists work, continuously, is a sure fire way to become a pariah in the community quickly. 
Karma will come and hit them in the face with a crowbar eventually, but until then, watermark your work. 

HINT: I have the tendency to watermark my work in the corners of the image, because I don't want it to disrupt the image - or at least that's my excuse. If you leave it in the corner, it is easy for someone to crop OUT. Ergo, strategically watermark INSIDE of your images so if someone DOES try to crop out your name, they can't do so without hacking it up or ruining the image altogether. Get me?

Now it's your Turn. Here's what to do next:

  1. Pick your page's theme. Any images that are on the sight that don't support that them has got to go!
  2. Leave a comment telling me of some of your biggest Instagram wins this week. 
  3. Feeling stuck? Leave a comment and we'll hopefully figure it out together. 

Peace, love, and liquid lipstick lover


Gigi Rodgers

Artistic & Martketing Manager, Puck'n Khaos
e: pucknkhaos@gmail.com


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