Don’t get me wrong.

MAC is an amazing company to work for, and I learned an astonishing amount during my time there. It took no time for me to feel at home as soon as I started because of the welcoming atmosphere. All of the artists were super-friendly and took me in right away.

Also, the fact that as artists we are given the freedom to express ourselves through what we wear, our makeup, hair color, piercings, tattoos, and even music, made work a breeze.

I can honestly say I had a great time at work for the most part.

My makeup skills became significantly better because I was able to learn from all the talented artists around me who constantly challenged me to improve my artistry by stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying things I normally wouldn’t. This allowed me to explore different trends and looks instead of sticking to just one, which many makeup lines require of their artists.

Some days, I would come in with a grunge look, while other days I would come to work with a clean, girly look.

I definitely do not take for granted the fact that MAC encouraged, and even challenged, me to try different looks because, for many other brands, that is not the case.

Aside from all the perks mentioned above, there are some downsides to the job that prove it may not be the dream job people make it out to be. The sales goals can be quite aggressive, making the job stressful.

Many go into the job thinking they will be doing strictly makeup all day when in reality, that is not the case.

Aggressive sales goals mixed with customers that give you a hard time result in constant stress on the job (requiring a development of thick skin while on the job). As much as I love doing makeup, the retail aspect of the job would make it extremely difficult to enjoy at times.

The clientele at MAC is different in the sense that they can be extremely needy (at least at the location I worked at).

I firmly believe in many stores they can be self-sufficient, but at MAC they are not. “I need a burgundy lipstick that’s not dark” or “I need a shimmery bronzer that doesn’t have any sparkle” are a few instances that would test my patience because they are questions that can be answered themselves or are things that simply counteract the purpose of the product.

Although my job is to assist, in certain situations, I have to take a step back and help those that actually know what they want, because time is money, and I have a sales goal to make.

When working in retail, one quickly realizes that some people who have no regard for others and their time simply have too much time on their hands.

However, that is only the tip of the iceberg.

One of the worst things that happens quite often for many makeup artists is freeloading clients. Women – and sometimes men – come to get their makeup done but aren’t willing to pay the price or will pay the bare minimum they have to spend in order to receive a full face makeover. It’s a huge inconvenience to makeup artists when they are not reimbursed for the services being provided.

Just like one wouldn’t expect to get a free haircut or manicure, the same applies to makeup.

On top of this, the majority of my clients felt entitled because of their wealth, which made the whole experience worse. It’s also important to note that getting a makeover – especially for a special event where the makeup will be more intricate and time-consuming – is inconvenient for both parties at the mall. The MUA only has a specific amount of time for each appointment among the already hectic environment, and the client may walk away underwhelmed due to these constraints.

Unfortunately, this will always occur working at a retail location.

This is why I chose to walk away from MAC and become a freelance makeup artist instead. This way, I can choose who I want to work with and take as much time as I need to execute a look.

While I will miss the job and the team I worked with, I will not miss having to deal with intolerable people on a daily basis and the constant anxiety of meeting a sales goal. That being said, I will continue to do makeup on my time and with clients that I choose to work with.

In the end, I will not let a job make me feel anxious or disrespected.

More importantly, I will not let a job take away from my passion.

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  • Maha Shah

    Maha Shah is a makeup artist, located in Northern Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University with a bachelor's degree in global affairs and a minor in business management. While she holds a vested interest in these areas, she decided to stick to pursuing her passion in the field of beauty and fashion. Besides living and breathing new trends, Maha enjoys exploring Washington DC, binging on Starbucks, and Kanye West.