MUA – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Do you know someone with a career as a makeup artist? You could call them an 'MUA.' This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The acronym 'MUA' stands for 'makeup artist.' A makeup artist is a career professional that works on a movie, TV show, or commercial set. They are makeup experts and can create visual effects on screen with their skills. Makeup artists are in high demand in Hollywood, and the top-rated MUAs make a good living doing their work.

The term 'MUA' typically applies to professional makeup artists, not amateurs or hobbyists. They may produce tutorials online on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. The beauty influencer, Manny Gutierrez, also known as 'Manny MUA' on social media, gets the credit for introducing the term to the mainstream media.

Example Usage

"Hi. My name is Janice, and I'm a Makeup artist. Throughout my career as an MUA, I've had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood."

"As an MUA, your job is to make the person look great in front of the camera. You have to consider the theme of their outfit, the lighting on set, and the duration they'll be wearing the makeup."

"There a many moving parts to planning the right makeup for a scene. A talented MUA has the skills, experience, and knowledge to present the person the right way on stage."

"I took the kids to that MUA down the street for their Halloween makeup. She did an amazing job, and the kids were thrilled."

"As a career MUA, I remember what it was like starting out in the industry. It takes a lot of time and commitment to your passion to make it in this industry."

"An MUA is responsible for bringing the character to life on screen. Imagine 'the Walking Dead' without the skills of a talented MUA. It just wouldn't be the same show if the zombie makeup wasn't so realistic."


The expression ‘MUA’ originates from the makeup industry in the 1990s. It was a niche term used by people in the film and production industry until around 2017. After a Maybelline New York marketing campaign, the acronym entered consumer lingo in makeup.

The term MUA also refers to an established makeup brand, ‘MakeupAlley,’ founded in 1999. MakeupAlley is trademarked under  ‘MUA Inc.’

Phrases Similar to MUA

  • Makeup specialist.
  • Makeup professional.

Phrases Opposite to MUA

  • N/A.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • MUA.
  • Makeup Artist.

Ways People May Say MUA Incorrectly

Some people may confuse 'MOA' and 'MUA.' An 'MOA,' or 'Memorandum of Understanding' is a business contract laying out terms and conditions referring to entities engaging with each other.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase MUA

You can use the phrase 'MUA' when referring to a 'makeup artist.' It's a common term in production planning, and most show business people will understand the acronym's meaning. However, if you're an MUA chatting with someone who's not in the industry, they might not understand the acronym's meaning.

Most people using the term will be production assistants and stage managers that prep the talent for the stage. You could also use the term to describe your course of study, profession, or hobby. You can call yourself an MUA without studying for a career, and you don't need a degree to hold the title.

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