6 Ways to Build Your Reputation as a Makeup Artist on Instagram (2018)

Image from Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

Published on Puck’n Khaos Blog

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We’ve seen, time and time again, the power of having a strong and engaged Instagram following, aka “Influencer” status.

It can mean:

  • Opportunities to collaborate with brands
  • More clients reaching out to you for private work
  • An increase in sales, if you’re selling a product alongside your service
  • And a plethora of other opportunities

I reached out to Vlada Haggerty (@VladaMUA)to talk about her brand as a MUA Influencer on Instagram.

Images of Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

Vlada’s credentials?

This L.A. based powerhouse is currently the Smashbox Cosmetics Lip Editor in Chief.

She has over 786K Instagram fans, received international recognition in competitive settings, and has been featured in such major publications like Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Refinery29, Bustle, and more.


And on top of learning from this ‘Well of Knowledge’, I’m going to point out some actionable tips you can use TODAY to help grow your Instagram following and build your personal brand as a makeup artist.


Image from Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

You have 6 seconds to answer 3 questions when someone stumbles onto your profile:

  1. What do you do?
  2. How does it help me?
  3. And why should I care?

6 seconds.

If you’re CLEAR and have images (or videos) that consistently back up the theme of your page— there’s a good chance they’ll “follow” you.

If not, they’re gone — most likely forever — and you missed an opportunity.

If you’re still trying to figure out what kind of makeup artist you are — TASTE.

Meaning, play around with multiple styles of makeup art to see which one you could stick with day in and day out.

Image from Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

So what kind of Makeup Artist are you?

Are you into body painting?
Anime looks?
Wedding makeup?
Lip art?
Eye art?
Creating makeup charts?

You’ll never know the answer to this until you experiment and play around with different styles.

Then once you figure that out, each post that you publish strengthens the narrative of your profile.


Image from Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

The Age of Bots has been a gift and a curse.

A curse because we can just about ALL spot them, littering up your feed.
A gift because, because we can see the difference between a bot and a real comment — a real comment matters even more.

Why does a comment matter more?

Because is shows effort.
You took time out of your day to think of something nice to say about THIS image or THIS person.

‘Likes’ are measured, but a ‘Nice Comment’ is remembered.

Know this.

Anyone can ‘like’ an image.
But if you want to stand out, leave a GOOD comment.

How do you leave a “good comment”?

Tell me which one is better:

“Nice! Can you please check out my profile.”


“Yo! Thanks so much for doing this video short on how to do a cat eye when you’re just starting out. I’ve been trying for the past 3 weeks and STILL can’t get them even!😩 This tape method has shaven off 30 minutes — yeah😅 — off my makeup routine. Who knows how many hours that is in a week, year, etc. So, thanks for saving me some extra time 😘 Keep those makeup hacks comin’!”

You’re welcome.



Image from Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

Many MUAs who start out posting on Instagram, do “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 person’s work and your inspired to do something similar OR you just get bored and you begin experimenting.

You’re an artist. Your style evolves.
That’s just the motion of it all.

For Vlada, it especially paid off when she was creating these “dripping liquid lip” looks.

Image from Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

That look became POP-U-LAR.

That look produced, for her:

  • International coverage
  • Features in magazines
  • Online publications
  • Collaborations with well recognized brands and clients
  • And has been featured on multiple Instagram feature accounts (which was how I found her).

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

Image from Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

You experiment every day.
You do the work and put it out into the market and let the market decide.

Remix someone else’s creation and add your own twist to it — and let happy accidents happen.

“[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

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 on Instagram and in the art world in general, WINS.


Image from Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

We all know that you have to use hashtags to get seen on Instagram.

snapshot of some of mine that I’ve used in the past

And the reason being is that a pair of those eyes could be for:
- A creative director for a magazine
- A local model
- A local photographer
- A makeup company
- A jewelry company 
- Or a person who will become a super fan of your work.

But how do you know which ones are good and which ones are donkeys?

Use Iconosquare.

It’s an analytics tool that works with Instagram so you can make informed decisions about your Instagram strategy — including which hashtags to keep using, and which ones to dump.



Image from Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

Have you ever heard the statement: “You’re only as good as your network”.

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, and more!

Remember, we all start with zero followers .

Image from Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

So, how do you build a better network?

  • Start making friends on the platform by consistently leaving nice comments on their profile (see #2 above)
  • Connect with someone locally who has a network slightly bigger than yours and shout each other out on your platform.
  • Do an online collaboration where you both do a themed look — different interpretations.

In the end — it’s all about adding value to that person who has a larger network than you.

Image from Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

How do you add value?

  • You leave a great comment on their profile.
  • You leave a great comment on a blog they wrote, or an interview they were in.
  • If they wrote a blog post or were in an interview, retweet it and tag them.
  • Repost that blog post or interview in a makeup group on Reddit.

You getting them more attention to something that matters to them is adding value.

And they’ll appreciate it.


Image from Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua)

I know of a BRILLIANT graphic artist named Alice X. Zhang whose sketches are shown in exhibitions internationally, has appeared in countless online publications, and leads the Dr. Who magazine cover series.

She is at 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 of that particular piece, at the time, and there was no indication on the image that she created it.

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

Same ordeal happened with Vlada.

One day she’s going through her Instagram feed and sees one of her designs on a high profile celebrities page (ahem! — a Kardashian), WITHOUT her watermark and with NO CREDIT that she created this piece.

The words ‘that’s that BULL-SH*T!’ comes to mind if you have the misfortune of this happening to you.

Your work 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.

So, make sure you watermark your work.

HINT: I have the tendency to watermark my work on the outer 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 on the outer corners, it is easy for someone to crop your name OUT. Therefore, strategically watermark INSIDE of your images so if someone DOES try to crop out your name, they can’t do so without hacking up the image. Get me?


Let’s do a quick overview.

#1 — Pick a theme
#2 — Comment on others work
#3 — Experiment and play with different styles that differentiate you from everyone else
#4 — Use tools to help you pick the best hashtags that get you the most engagement
#5 — Build up your network
#6 — Watermark your work

And above all else, have fun.

It’s makeup. 
It’s supposed to be fun.

Interested in learning more about how to transform yourself into an influencer brands want to work with? Listen to this interview HERE.