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So you want to be a... Make-up artist.

MAKE-UP artists working in the TV 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 in order to prepare and work on make-up required for each individual production.

Some 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 and horror films or using materials to change the shape of a face or create scars and wounds.

Make-up artists liaise closely with producers, directors, costume designers, hairdressers and the performers themselves.

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

Hours and environment

Make-up artists are likely to work long and often irregular hours, depending on the project they are working on.

Those working in the TV and film industry often have to begin work long before filming commences each day.

Full-time or contract workers in TV often work shifts which 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.

The job involves long periods of concentration.

Make-up artists usually work indoors in a make-up salon or room, except when working on location for TV and films, which may mean long periods outdoors in all weathers.

The job can involve travel.

Skills and interests

To be a make-up artist you should: have a creative imagination; have a strong visual sense; be able to communicate well at all levels; 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; and be able to work well as part of a team of often diverse colleagues.


To become a make-up artist you need to have completed a full-time course in beauty therapy or make-up. Entry requirements for courses vary, so you should check with individual course providers.

Beauty therapy and make-up courses are offered by a variety of colleges and training centres and vary in length, content and type of equipment provided as part of the course. Some courses lead to the Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA) NVQ/SVQ in Beauty Therapy Levels 2, 3 and 4. For additional advice on careers within the hair and beauty industry, see the Hairdressing And Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA) website.

Details provided in the further information section of this profile.

You need to be 21 years of age to be considered for training for TV and film work. This training will take you a further year. FT2, however, trains junior freelance make-up artists for TV and film work from the age of 18 as long as they already have NVQ Level 2 in both Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy.

The maximum age for entry into a make-up artist career is usually between the ages of 30 and 40. Mature entrants may be accepted on some beauty therapy or make-up courses without full entry requirements, especially if they can demonstrate appropriate skills.


Skill set offers professional qualifications (NVQs) in Hair and Make-up at Levels 2, 3 and 4. These qualifications are available only for people who are working in the film and television industry.

Other specialist beauty therapy skills training courses are available for career development, including a range of qualifications developed by HABIA with City & Guilds. NVQ/SVQ Level 4 is available as a management qualification.

Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeships (MAPPs) may be available for people aged 16-24.

For details see: MAPPs (England); Skillseekers MAPPs (Scotland); National Traineeships MAPPs (Wales); and MAPPs (Northern Ireland).


Make-up artists work for TV and film companies, video production companies, major stage productions and in the fashion industry. Others work in beauty salons, possibly in a large hotel or on a cruise liner, or as part of the medical profession.

Some make-up artists are employed by TV companies, on full-time or long-term contracts. The majority are freelance and engaged for each film production, TV series, fashion season or one-off project. Competition for jobs is fierce.

With experience or specialist skills, there is the possibility of higher fees and appointment as chief make-up artist or make-up designer for a production. The amount of work available in the TV and film industry is reliant on the overall state of the industry and amount of feature films and TV productions being made.


CREATIVE VISION: A make-up artist at work
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Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 5, 2008
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