How to become a Makeup Artist - Career Advice
AN OVERVIEW OF THE JOB
The hair and makeup department is responsible for the design, application, continuity and care of hair and makeup during a production. It ensures that actors, performers, presenters, models and others have professional makeup and hairstyles done before they appear in front of the cameras or an audience (be it for television, film, theatre, catwalk or photographic)
Some productions have separate hair and make-up departments, but for many jobs you would be expected to have both hair and make-up skills. There are also specialist areas like body painting, wig making, prosthetics, making contact lenses and making teeth.
So what makes a good makeup artist?
Makeup skills including corrective, glamour, period and ageing;
Specialised techniques e.g. making and applying bald caps; applying and dressing facial hair; creating casualty effects (burns, skin diseases, cuts, scars etc.); tattoos and body art;
Hair and wig dressing;
Continuity hair cutting;
Good communication and diplomacy skills;
Good organisational and presentation skills;
Ability to work effectively as part of a team as well taking initiative when working unsupervised;
Ability to work under pressure to external and departmental deadlines;
The right attitude and work ethic;
Willingness to work long and often unsocial hours;
Knowledge of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures - and good working practices and hygiene.
SO YOU WANT TO BE A MAKEUP ARTIST?
Many people unfortunately assume that being a makeup artist will lead to a glamorous future. However, the hours and work conditions, in most cases, are long and hard - and even the most thorough training cannot ensure a successful career.
Competition for jobs is fierce and there are only so many industry jobs out there.
WHAT AREAS TO WORK IN?
There are different areas in the media a makeup artist can work: film, television, theatre, editorial, fashion and so on. There are various departments within the make up industry like for example special effects make up, hair & makeup, prosthetics make up, SFX make up, theatrical make up and so on.
MAKEUP TRAINING COURSES
To start down the road of becoming a media make-up artist, you could start applying for make up trainee jobs:
- completing a good foundation training course in media make-up is important;
- getting good on-the-job experience and training is vital.
- Hairdressing is also an important skill for most areas of make-up. Completing an NVQ in hairdressing is advisable.
HOW DO I FIND A COURSE?
There are lots of foundation courses out there. With a little persistence and research you should find the right one for you. Contact the organisations listed in the column on the right under "Find a Course" for further help and guidance.
WHO RUNS MAKEUP COURSES?
As an association we do not endorse or recommend any school or college. Many of our members run their own courses and private schools advertise courses in most women's and fashion magazines (and these courses are not subsidised). Many Local Authority colleges run media courses which often include both makeup and hairdressing.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A COURSE
Makeup artistry and hairdressing are hands-on professions and, therefore, have to be taught in a classroom environment:
Live models should be used (even if you just practice on each other) for as much of the course as possible.
Tutors should be ready on hand to offer guidance, assistance and criticism.
Important! Look at what the tutors have done within the industry itself. Many may be qualified to teach, but do they have proper and substantial industry experience?
Doing a course does not guarantee you a career in makeup! Some colleges do not emphasise how hard it often is to get (and keep getting) work and may even promise you a glittering career if you train with them. NO ONE can guarantee this.
Doing a make-up course does not make you a makeup artist! There is a career progression and it takes time to gain the right experience to progress.
After completing a foundation training course, you are a trainee. There is much for you to learn, not only about hair and makeup but about how a production works, set ettiquette, continuity and so on - things that a course can only teach in theory.
After being a trainee you progress to being an assistant and, after several years of solid experience, you may then be considered a make-up artist.
Being a film or television makeup designer takes many years of experience - simply doing a make-up course does not make you a designer!
You never stop learning and developing your skills and there are lots of "top up" short courses on a wide variety of subjects.