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How to become a Make-up Artist

make-up artist careers

What does a Make-up Artist do?

Make-up artists working in the television and film industry apply make-up and arrange hair for presenters, performers and members of the public appearing on screen. They have a thorough knowledge of make-up and hair techniques (including basic cutting and barbering) in order to prepare and work on the make-up and hair design required for each individual production.

Make-up designers and chief make-up artists research and design the make-up required for a production. This may mean using elaborate make-up and wigs for costume dramas, using materials to change the shape of a face, or creating scars and wounds for horror films. Make-up artists liaise closely with producers, directors, costume designers, hairdressers and the performers themselves.

They are expected to own an extensive kit of make-up to take to each job, although larger productions like films and ongoing TV series usually provide a make-up budget.

Make-up artists also work in beauty salons, in retail stores, in large hotels and on cruise liners, in stage shows, for fashion shows or in the medical profession, where they provide camouflage and techniques to help clients following injury or surgery.

What's the working environment like working as a Make-up Artist?

Make-up artists in film and TV are likely to work long and often irregular hours, depending on the project they are working on. They often have to begin work long before filming commences each day. Full-time or contract workers in TV often work shifts which can include evening and weekend hours.

Make-up artists in salons and the medical profession usually work more regular hours, but may be required to work evenings and weekends at times.

Make-up artists in film and TV work indoors in studios, or in temporary rooms when working on location, although they may have to improvise in more makeshift settings if conditions demand. Beautician make-up artists usually work in salons or retail stores.

The job involves long periods of concentration, and can involve travel.

What does it take to become a Make-up Artist?

To be a make-up artist you should:

  • enjoy working with people
  • have a strong visual sense and a creative imagination
  • be able to communicate well at all levels, listen and empathise
  • have the confidence and tact to suggest changes to benefit an individual’s appearance
  • have stamina
  • be able to work under pressure
  • be methodical and pay attention to detail
  • be able to work well as part of a team of often diverse colleagues.

Make-up Artist Career Opportunities

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Make-up Artist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Skillset Careers
Tel: 08080 300 900 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Tel: 0808 100 8094 for Scotland

Prospect House
80-110 New Oxford Street

FT2 Film and Television Freelance Training
4th Floor, Warwick House
9 Warwick Street

Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU)
373-377 Clapham Road

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444

Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA)
Oxford House
Sixth Avenue
Sky Business Park
Robin Hood Airport
Tel: 0845 2306 080

International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC)
4 Heathfield Terrace
W4 4JE
Tel: 020 8994 4141

Vocational Training Charitable Trust (VTCT)
3rd Floor
Eastleigh House
Upper Market Street
SO50 9FD
Tel: 023 8068 4500