How to Become a Make-Up Artist

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Being a successful make up artist is certainly never boring, in fact it can be very exciting!  Although you do not need any qualifications to begin, a creative eye is a must.

Be prepared for some long hours.  It’s rarely a 9-5 job.  You will also need good communication skills as you will be dealing with lots of different people and personalities.

Make sure you do your research.  Choosing to become a make up artist is a big decision for anyone.  Look for a reputable training school that offers first-class teaching from expert tutors still working in the field. They then keep up to date with all new techniques or products and are your contact for future work.

Arrange to visit any school to look around and see the set up provided and ask as many questions as possible.

Check out location and accommodation.  Make sure it’s accessible for you.

Another thing which is good to know is what the aftercare is like once you have graduated. Find out if there is help with work experience once the course is completed.

There are various areas in which a makeup artist can work: film, television, theatre, editorial, fashion, prosthetics.  Some areas are similar, and some are quite different and require different training.


Fashion – Editorial portraits and advertising

Fashion shows

Music videos

Catalogue photography

You will be working with models, photographers and stylists to produce a ‘final look’.


Theatre –    Wigs play a big part in theatre so ensure any course covers all wig work if this is the area in which you would like to work.  Because in large theatres stage actors are seen from farther away than actors on screen, it is crucial that their makeup is more dramatic and professionally done although over the years the make up has become more natural looking.


Film/TV –    For film and TV you need to be able to create and maintain a look for continuity throughout the production, however long it takes, and in any location. You are often working with teams of MUAs and hairdressers so team working skills are essential.  You could be working long hours so need stamina.


Prosthetics/SFX –  Designing, making and maintaining specialist prosthetic make up. Prosthetics Artists may also work with animatronics, special effects makeup, creature creation, or model making


Practice: This is very important as makeup artistry is a skill to be improved upon.  Just turning up to your classes will not ensure you get work afterwards but your skills and determination will.  Practice on as many different types of skin tones, ages and hair types as you can.  Visual references – Keep photos of looks you have produced for reference. And character faces that you meet in daily life.  You never know when you might need to recreate a look. Makeup in real life looks very different from makeup in photographs.

Getting into the industry may require you to work unpaid at first, by assisting experienced, established makeup artists. This is the best way to pick up skills, build contacts and gain real-life work experience that you can add to your CV.


If you are passionate about what you do and work hard at it, you can be very successful

Meet the Author
Liz Tagg


A highly talented and award-winning makeup artist, Liz has over 30 years of experience working in the film and television industry. A professionally trained makeup artist and hair designer, Liz’s career highlights include BAFTA and Emmy award nominations, as well as a recurring position as a member of the BAFTA jury.

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