Careers in Makeup: Unlocking the Potential of a Makeup Artist

Careers in Makeup

The beauty and entertainment industries have always captivated individuals with a passion for makeup and creativity. Becoming a makeup artist offers the opportunity to express artistic talent while helping others look and feel their best.

From enhancing natural features to creating dramatic and transformative looks, makeup artists play a vital role in various sectors such as film, television, fashion, and theatre. However, the path to success in the makeup industry is not without its challenges. To establish a thriving career as a makeup artist, it is crucial to have the right foundation of professional training and experience.

In this article, we delve into the world of makeup artists, exploring the diverse roles available and the significance of having professional training. We will also examine the UK entertainment industry, highlighting the numerous opportunities it presents for aspiring makeup artists. Finally, we will discuss the importance of gaining practical experience through work placements and contract opportunities, which can be invaluable in building a solid career in the makeup industry.

Whether you are a school leaver or considering a career change, this article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to the exciting and rewarding profession of makeup artistry. By understanding the various roles, responsibilities, and expectations within the industry, you can make informed decisions about the type of training and experience you will need to achieve your goals.

The path to becoming a successful makeup artist may be challenging, but with dedication, perseverance, and the right training, you can unlock your full potential and thrive in this creative field. With a myriad of opportunities available across different sectors, the world of makeup artistry can be a fulfilling and exciting career choice for those who are passionate about beauty and artistic expression.

Fashion Model Makeup with white and red nail polish

The UK Entertainment Industry and Makeup Artist Opportunities

The UK entertainment industry is a thriving hub of creativity and innovation, providing a wealth of opportunities for talented makeup artists. This diverse sector encompasses film, television, theatre, fashion, and advertising, offering a variety of roles and specialisation options for makeup professionals. With an ever-growing demand for skilled makeup artists in various fields, it’s essential to understand the scope of opportunities available in the UK entertainment industry.

Careers in Film and Television

Makeup artists play an indispensable role in the film and television industry, bringing characters to life through makeup, prosthetics, and hairstyling. From blockbuster movies to popular television series, makeup artists work closely with actors, directors, and costume designers to create captivating visual narratives. In this sector, makeup artists can specialise in areas such as special effects, character makeup, or period makeup, allowing them to hone their skills in specific niches.

Careers in Theatre

The theatre industry offers another exciting avenue for makeup artists to showcase their talents. From West End productions to regional plays, makeup artists work tirelessly to transform actors into their stage personas. In this setting, makeup artists often need to create looks that can withstand the rigours of live performances and adapt to different lighting conditions.

Careers in Fashion and Editorial

Makeup artists in the fashion industry collaborate with designers, photographers, and models to create stunning visual stories for editorial spreads, runway shows, and advertising campaigns. This fast-paced and creative environment requires makeup artists to stay abreast of the latest trends and techniques, as well as possess the ability to work under pressure and adapt to various styles.

Freelance Makeup Artistry

Many makeup artists choose to work as freelancers, providing makeup services for events such as weddings, photoshoots, and special occasions. This path allows for greater flexibility and the opportunity to build a diverse portfolio, but it may also require more networking and self-promotion to secure clients and projects.

With the vast array of opportunities available in the UK entertainment industry, it’s crucial for aspiring makeup artists to receive professional training that equips them with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed. Professional training programmes, such as those offered by Brushstroke, provide comprehensive instruction in modern and contemporary makeup, period makeup, prosthetics, and hairdressing. These courses ensure that graduates are well-prepared to enter the competitive job market and excel in their chosen fields.

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Makeup Artist in Training at Wimbledon

Trainee Makeup Artist Jobs

Embarking on a career as a makeup artist often begins with an entry-level position as a trainee. This crucial first step allows you to gain hands-on experience, learn from seasoned professionals, and develop the skills necessary for progression in the industry. Whether you’ve recently completed your education or are transitioning to a new career, trainee makeup artist positions provide invaluable learning opportunities.

As a trainee makeup artist, you can expect to work under the guidance and supervision of more experienced artists, often those who have served as your tutors during your professional training. Some typical responsibilities include setting up and maintaining makeup workstations, observing and assisting senior artists in their tasks, and managing administrative duties such as inventory management and supply purchasing.

Trainees working on film or stage sets may find themselves applying makeup to extras in crowd scenes, rather than main cast members. This experience allows you to develop practical skills while also becoming familiar with the dynamic environment of a film or theater production.

To excel as a trainee makeup artist and progress in the industry, it’s essential to have a solid foundation of training and education. We highly recommend enrolling in a comprehensive course, such as Brushstroke’s 2 Year Hair and Makeup Course, which equips you with the skills, knowledge, and expertise required to thrive in the competitive world of makeup artistry.

Throughout your trainee makeup artist journey, it’s important to adopt a proactive approach to learning and professional development. Observe and absorb as much information as possible from the experienced artists you work with, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek guidance when needed. Take every opportunity to practice and refine your skills, and maintain a positive attitude to foster strong relationships with your colleagues.

Film and TV Makeup Artist Jobs

The film and television industries offer a wealth of opportunities for makeup artists to showcase their skills and creativity. As an aspiring makeup artist, understanding the different roles and responsibilities within this sector can help you navigate your career path and set your sights on the jobs that align with your passions and interests.

Film and TV makeup artist jobs can be found in various contexts, including news broadcasts, soap operas, reality TV shows, talk shows, and feature films. In each of these settings, makeup artists are responsible for creating looks that align with the production’s vision, enhance storytelling, and withstand the demands of shooting schedules.


Girl with makeup light

Key Areas of Expertise

Some key areas of expertise for film and TV makeup artists include:

1. Special Effects Makeup

This specialisation involves creating realistic scars, wounds, and other effects to support the narrative and bring characters to life. Special effects makeup artists often work closely with prosthetics teams to achieve stunning and convincing results.

2. Hairdressing and Period Makeup

Makeup artists working on historical dramas or period pieces must master the techniques and styles of various eras. This often includes creating elaborate hairstyles, as well as applying makeup that accurately reflects the time period being portrayed.

2. Character Makeup

In film and TV productions, makeup artists are responsible for designing and applying makeup that enhances or transforms the appearance of actors to embody their characters fully. This can involve anything from subtle changes to dramatic makeovers, depending on the requirements of the production.

To pursue a career in film and TV makeup, it’s essential to receive professional training that equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge. Conversations with experienced makeup artists, such as Brushstroke tutors, can provide valuable insights and guidance as you explore the various job opportunities available in this sector.

By honing your skills, pursuing specialised training, and gaining hands-on experience in different production settings, you can develop a competitive edge and build a fulfilling career in the world of film and television makeup. Whether you choose to focus on special effects, period makeup, character makeup, or other areas of expertise, the possibilities for growth and success are endless in this dynamic and captivating industry.

Makeup Artist Job Descriptions and Roles

As a makeup artist, your career can encompass various roles and responsibilities, depending on the specific job and the production’s needs. Generally, there are three main makeup artist roles: Trainee/Assistant, Artist/Senior Artist, and Designer/Chief. Each role serves a distinct purpose and requires different levels of experience and expertise. Understanding these positions can help you navigate your career path and set goals for professional growth.


In some cases, trainee makeup artists may be assigned to specific roles such as “crowd trainee,” where they work on extras in crowd scenes. The trainee period is an excellent opportunity to observe, learn, and develop your skills while working alongside seasoned professionals.

Artist/Senior Artist:

After gaining at least 18 months of experience, you may advance to the role of an artist or senior artist. At this level, you will be responsible for creating makeup and hairstyles to meet specific production requirements. You will oversee continuity during filming and work throughout the pre-production and production stages.

In film and TV settings, the makeup designer typically directs your work. They may provide you with detailed notes and reference materials or just a rough idea of what is required. As an artist or senior artist, you may work with principal and supporting performers, often looking after several at a time throughout a shoot.

On smaller productions, the role of the on-set makeup artist carries more responsibility, including managing suppliers and producers, discussing colour palettes with production and costume designers, and scheduling appointments for wig fittings or prosthetic castings.

Designer/Chief (also known as Key Makeup Artist):

The makeup and hair designer is responsible for the overall design, application, continuity, and care throughout the pre-production and production of a TV program or film. They work closely with key personnel from other departments, such as directors, performers, costume, production, and location teams, to ensure a consistent overall design.

Designers assess makeup and hair requirements, set up the department, recruit staff, and prepare budgets and schedules. They also break down the script scene-by-scene to identify specific makeup and hair requirements, taking into account factors such as character ageing or extreme weather conditions on location.

No matter the role, a strong foundation in professional training is essential for career progression and success in the makeup industry. Comprehensive courses, such as those offered by Brushstroke, can provide the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in various makeup artist roles.

How Can Brushstroke Help Your Career in Makeup?

A career in makeup artistry offers a wealth of opportunities for those who are passionate about this creative field. With the UK entertainment industry being vibrant and varied, aspiring makeup artists can find roles in diverse sectors, including film, television, theatre, and fashion. From trainee positions to chief designer roles, the makeup artist career path presents an array of exciting possibilities for both school leavers and career changers.

Investing in professional training is a crucial step towards success in the makeup industry. Programs such as Brushstroke’s 2-Year Hair and Makeup Course provide students with the comprehensive knowledge and skills necessary to excel in various makeup artist roles. A strong foundation in modern and period makeup, prosthetics, and hairdressing can open doors to work opportunities across the industry.

As you progress through your career, it’s essential to understand the different makeup artist job descriptions and roles. Starting as a trainee or assistant, you can gain valuable experience and learn from seasoned professionals. As your skills and expertise grow, you may advance to more senior roles or even become a chief makeup artist, responsible for the overall design and application of makeup and hair in productions.

Brushstroke’s commitment to offering work experience and contract opportunities further enriches students’ learning experience. Gaining hands-on experience, networking with industry professionals, and building a strong portfolio are all crucial aspects of developing a successful career in the makeup industry.

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General Questions About Our Makeup Courses


What qualifications do I need to become a makeup artist?

While there are no specific qualifications required to work as a makeup artist, professional training from a reputable makeup school, such as Brushstroke, can provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the industry. Completing courses in makeup, hair, and prosthetics will give you a competitive edge and prepare you for various makeup artist roles.

Is it necessary to specialise in a specific area of makeup artistry?

While there are no specific qualifications required to work as a makeup artist, professional training from a reputable makeup school, such as Brushstroke, can provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the industry. Completing courses in makeup, hair, and prosthetics will give you a competitive edge and prepare you for various makeup artist roles.

How do I gain experience in the makeup industry?

Start by seeking trainee or assistant positions to learn from experienced professionals. Brushstroke also offers work experience and contract opportunities for students, which can provide valuable hands-on experience in real productions.

How important is networking in the makeup industry?

Networking is crucial in the makeup industry, as it can lead to new job opportunities, collaborations, and connections with other professionals. Building relationships with industry contacts can significantly impact your career growth.

How can I build a strong makeup career portfolio?
A: To build a strong portfolio, showcase your work from various productions, including film, TV, stage, and fashion. Include high-quality images, and ensure your portfolio is diverse, demonstrating your skills and versatility as a makeup artist.
How long does it take to become a senior makeup artist or chief makeup artist?
The time it takes to advance in your career can vary, depending on your experience, skills, and networking efforts. Typically, you will need at least 18 months of experience to become a senior makeup artist, while chief makeup artists often have several years of experience in the industry.
Are there any specific skills I need to develop to become a successful makeup artist?
In addition to makeup and hairdressing skills, you should develop strong communication, time management, and organizational abilities. These skills can help you collaborate effectively with other professionals and manage various tasks in a fast-paced work environment.
What are the potential earnings for a makeup artist?

As a guideline, the salary for a Makeup Artist is around £1220 per hour in the United Kingdom and the national average salary for a makeup artist is £20,800 – £39,000 per year per year.

However, earnings for makeup artists can vary greatly depending on experience, location, and the type of work. As you gain experience and establish yourself in the industry, your earnings are likely to increase.

Can I transition from one makeup artist role to another?
Yes, it’s possible to transition between different makeup artist roles as you gain experience and develop new skills. Continuously learning and adapting to industry trends will allow you to explore new opportunities and expand your career possibilities.