Makeup Artist

Job Description:

Make-up artists apply make-up and style hair for people appearing on camera or in front of a live audience.

Job Category:
Art & Fashion

What you will do:

In this role you could:

  • research and design make-up and hairstyles
  • work to production designers’ notes and instructions
  • tidy and style hair
  • create special effects make-up
  • take notes and photos for reference (organisational skills)
  • be on set to redo make-up and hair
  • remove make-up and keep wigs and hairpieces in good condition


You’ll need:

  • design skills and knowledge
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • artistic and creative flair (creativity skills)
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptable)
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative (drive)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Makeup Artist, you don’t necessarily need specific subjects, but a combination of subjects and skills can be beneficial for your career. Makeup Artists use their skills to enhance the appearance of clients through makeup application. Here’s a list of relevant subjects and skills that can help you prepare for this profession:

  1. Art and Design: This subject can provide you with a foundation in artistic skills, including colour theory, composition, and creativity, which are important for makeup artistry.
  2. English: Effective communication is crucial when discussing clients’ preferences and needs, as well as for marketing your services.
  3. Mathematics: Basic math skills are helpful for tasks such as measuring and mixing makeup products and calculating pricing for your services.
  4. Science: A basic understanding of skin biology and chemistry can be valuable for selecting makeup products and assessing skin types.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • specialist courses run by private training providers

You can do a foundation degree, UK higher national diploma or a degree in specialist make-up techniques like:

  • make-up for media and performance
  • media make-up artistry
  • theatrical, media and special effects make-up

Subjects that show that you have creative flair and good communication skills can be useful for getting on to university make-up artistry courses. These could include:

  • art and design
  • performing arts
  • drama or theatre studies

You’ll also need creative talent and a print or online portfolio to demonstrate your skills.

You could study for a qualification in media make-up, like:

  • Certificate in Make-up (Level 2 in the UK)
  • Diploma in Theatrical and Media Make-up (Level 3 in the UK)
  • Diploma in Make-up Artistry (Level 3 in the UK)
  • Hair, Beauty and Aesthetics (T level in the UK)

You could get into this job through a beauty therapy or hairdressing intermediate apprenticeship.

With a qualification in hair or beauty and practical experience, you may be able to apply for assistant make-up artist jobs.

You could start out as a trainee or assistant to a make-up team, or find casual work doing make-up and hair for extras in crowd scenes.

You could also get experience in salon, wedding and events make-up, or through working in cosmetics sales, and build a professional portfolio to demonstrate your skills.

You could volunteer behind the scenes in theatres or amateur dramatic societies.

Other Routes
You can do specialist make-up and beauty courses through private beauty schools.

Career tips
It’s a good idea to get practical experience to put together a portfolio of work to show employers. You could:

  • get involved with amateur theatre
  • take part in student film, theatre and photography projects
  • work at charity or student fashion shows
  • work shadow an established make-up artist or photographer
  • work in a related area like a department store cosmetics counter, wedding and events make-up

Working Hours and Environment:

You could work at a TV studio, in a theatre, on a film set or at a film studio.

Career Path & Progression:

Many make-up artists work freelance and develop their career by building a network of contacts and getting recommendations from their clients.

With experience, you could progress to chief make-up artist or make-up designer. You could also develop specialist skills, for example applying body art or making facial or body moulds for creating and fitting prosthetics.

You could move into areas like fashion and photography, print and digital media or special effects.

You might also specialise in medical aesthetics, using make-up techniques to hide scars and skin conditions to improve a client’s psychological wellbeing and confidence.