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Make-up artist: Job description

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A make-up artist ensures that models, performers and presenters have suitable make-up and hairstyles before they appear in front of cameras or an audience.

This may be in a variety of settings, including:

  • film;
  • television;
  • theatre;
  • live music;
  • photographic shoots.

Make-up artists interpret the make-up requirements of clients to produce both a creative and technically accurate visual representation. This may involve very basic make-up for a TV presenter through to more complex period make-up or special effects.

The work involves creating images and characters through the medium of make-up, hairstyles and prosthetics according to a brief.

Typical work activities

Depending on the nature of the job, make-up artists work alone, as assistants to a more senior colleague or as part of a make-up design team.

Typical work activities include:

  • communicating with clients to clarify visual requirements;
  • production study, reading scripts to ascertain the materials and the look required, budget implications and identifying areas where research is required;
  • producing and sketching design ideas for hairstyles and make-up;
  • ensuring continuity in hair and make-up and liaising with other members of the design team to ensure the overall look/effect is consistent and coherent;
  • demonstrating and implementing a practical understanding of lighting, the photographic process, colours and the impact of special effects/make-up processes on the skin;
  • ensuring that appropriate action is taken to minimise unpleasant side effects from the use of specialist make-up/hairdressing techniques;
  • maintaining awareness of health and safety issues and legislation;
  • casting facial and body moulds and sculpting latex foam, known as prosthetics;
  • fitting and maintaining wigs, hairpieces and prosthetics;
  • hairdressing;
  • maintaining an up-to-date knowledge of available make-up and beauty products;
  • sourcing, budgeting and ordering materials and equipment from specialist suppliers;
  • time management, knowing how long a subject will take to be made-up;
  • working quickly and accurately in time-pressured conditions;
  • taking detailed notes and photographs of work, maintaining an up-to-date portfolio of work.

Further information


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Written by AGCAS editors
May 2014

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