Job descriptions and industry overviews

Make-up artist

24 Feb 2023, 10:56

Creates the make-up and hairstyles of models, performers, presenters and others appearing in front of the camera or an audience.

Make up artist working on a client

Job description

Make-up artists create the make-up and hairstyles of models, performers, presenters and others appearing in front of the camera or an audience. They work in a variety of settings, including photographic shoots for magazines and newspapers, film, television, theatre and live music. They may work alone, as assistants to a more senior colleague or as part of a make-up design team.

They use make-up to ensure that programme presenters or guests look natural on the television screen, create special effects such as wounds and ageing and create the correct appearance for actors depending on the desired effect. A makeup artist can play important roles in the creative industries as well as get intimately involved in important and exciting events, from weddings to the Academy Awards.

Work activities

  • Researching the hair, make-up, and clothing styles of specific time periods, or to evoke a particular atmosphere.
  • Drawing sketches or collecting photos to show the designs they have in mind.
  • Making prosthetic devices used to change the appearance of performers.
  • Liaising with directors, technicians and actors about their ideas and designs at various stages of the process.

Work conditions

Travel: a regular feature of the working day.
Working hours: regular evening and weekend work, including overtime when necessary.
Location: throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: very possible.

Typical employers

  • Fashion shows
  • Modelling agencies
  • Magazines
  • Film/television
  • Theatre.


Salaries vary considerably depending on assignments but it can be very lucrative.

Specific degree subjects required

Open to non-graduates and graduates of any discipline. Creative and practical skills are more important than qualifications.

Other relevant degree subjects

  • Beauty therapy
  • Costume design
  • Drama/theatre studies
  • Fashion design
  • Film/TV studies
  • Hairdressing
  • Make-up and prosthetics
  • Photography
  • Textile design.

Postgraduate study

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not required.


Mainly on the job, under the guidance of experienced artists.

Tips for applications

A portfolio should cover a range of your assignments and should highlight the best of your skills. An excellent way to develop your portfolio is to work-shadow an experienced make-up artist. As well as providing evidence of your commitment it is a great way build a network of contacts.

Skills and qualities

  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Ability to improvise.
  • High level of organisation skills.
  • Excellent attention to detail and accuracy.
  • Resourcefulness and ability to manage several tasks and projects simultaneously.
  • Ability to work under pressure.

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