When your profession revolves around being in close proximity to people’s faces, it’s no surprise it would be heavily impacted by a highly contagious illness. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has put countless makeup artists out of work as studios, retail stores, and various other projects shut down.

People are on high-alert and the close contact associated with applying makeup, styling hair, and doing nails means these tasks are at a stand-still.

What’s a makeup artist whose job is at a pause to do?

Keep your skills polished

Right now, it’s uncertain when most people will be returning to work. That doesn’t mean you need to sit at home and twiddle your thumbs. We’ve all been there: when it’s been weeks since you did makeup, and suddenly you’ve lost touch with your eyeliner wing technique.

The key is to keep your makeup and hair skills honed. Practice on yourself and close family members, but don’t stop the practice entirely. So much of cosmetology revolves around motor memory — allowing us to recall general movement techniques — but keeping your agility is something that should be regularly practiced.

While you’re at it, why not attempt some new looks you haven’t been able to nail before? New to the smoky eye? Take this period to master it before you bring it back to your clients.

Consider a future in freelancing

If you’ve been furloughed or placed on indefinite leave by the establishment you work for, it might be time to consider taking matters into your own hands. This time at home provides the perfect opportunity to lay the groundwork for a freelance business.

Create a website, set up a portfolio, research pricing guidelines, and look around for cosmetic brands that offer discounts to makeup artists so you can start thinking about your inventory.

Take to social media

Maybe being an influencer isn’t your cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean maintaining your personal brand isn’t mission critical. Set up an Instagram page to document your quarantine makeup looks. This builds credibility and recognition for when you return to work (who knows how many new clients you’ll earn!) and could make you a nice supplemental income if you get picked up to partner with some brands.

If you already have a solid social media following, it wouldn’t hurt to conduct some outreach to small-scale cosmetic brands yourself, offering them a feature for a small fee. This might just help you through any financial setbacks while also allowing you to build your reputation for post-isolation life.

Sanitize & organize

Now’s the time to prep your makeup kit for the newfound awareness surrounding sanitation practices. Spritz powders and palettes with a little bit of rubbing alcohol from a spray bottle and allow them to air dry. Give foundation bottles and lipstick tubes a solid cleaning. Soak sharpeners in warm soap and water.

Also, while you should already be doing this between each client, don’t be afraid to give your makeup brushes an extra cleaning.

Consider creating a new compartment for cleaning supplies in your makeup kit to show clients that you’re aware of these newfound concerns when you return to work. Having a little spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol in your case will go a long way toward giving them a sense of security — and seeing your freshly cleaned products will help too. Nothing makes a bad impression on clients quite like a dirty, messy, powder-coated makeup kit — especially in light of a pandemic.

Offer virtual sessions

Maybe clients aren’t attending events or cashing in on in-person makeup sessions, but some of them might still be looking to hone their makeup abilities. This goes especially for people whose careers are online anyways (i.e. influencers).

Consider hosting virtual makeup sessions, where you walk clients through how to do their own makeup with their own products, much like an online tutorial — except that you can provide personally relevant advice that most beauty gurus can’t in a YouTube video. This is another side gig that could earn you some extra income while also allowing you to explore your options for your future as a makeup artist.