Make-up Artist Training – The First Day

Imagine it’s your first day as a trainee make-up artist. What a fabulous opportunity. You’ve been dreaming of this day and now it’s finally arrived. Naturally, you’re going to be nervous as well as excited. Will you know what to do? Will people be friendly? How will you cope?

model with flowers in hair

Makeup Artist Training

At Brushstroke, we train our students so they’re behind-the-scenes-ready as make-up artists, right from when they start out as trainees.

We want our students to enjoy the experience so being prepared for the world of work as a make-up artist, is one of the key aspects of our training. We help you understand how to make a good impression while learning as much as you can on the job.


Trainee Make-up Opportunities at Brushstroke

There’s every chance you’ll get offered trainee jobs while you study at Brushstroke so you can put our training into immediate use. Obviously, we can’t guarantee these trainee jobs because they are simply opportunities that arise either through our contacts in the industry or from our tutors.

Sometimes, the trainee jobs don’t work out as planned but even this is good training for you. As a self-employed, freelance make-up artist you need to be prepared to change your plans and move on, taking advantage of the next opportunity that comes your way.

Our tutors often select Brushstroke students as trainees to assist them with their own film, TV, fashion, and stage work. Take, for example, award-winner Marella Shearer. Much in demand as a make-up artist, particularly for TV drama, she’s selected 1-2 trainees annually solely from Brushstroke in the last 7-8 years.

Our tutors like to help the next generation at Brushstroke because they can be confident that our students are being trained well and have the right attitude.


What can you expect on your first day as a trainee make-up artist?

In reality, it isn’t until you are actually on set that you’ll have any idea what to expect on your first day as a trainee make-up artist. For a start, you need to understand what the cast is going to look like. Even though you’ll be supervised and given instruction, you’ll need to pay attention so you know what’s going on. (Cue a good night’s sleep and decent breakfast to help you stay agile and quick off the mark.)

Every trainee admits to being nervous on their first day but as a current 2 Year Make-Up & Hair Course student, Lucy Buckley (dailies trainee on ITV’s Clean Break) acknowledged: “Once I knew what was expected of me, I could concentrate and do my best.”.

So be clear about your duties and if you aren’t – ask!

One of Lucy’s main tasks on Clean Break was to check the cast members (playing city brokers) and fixing anything out of place. For example, reapplying lipstick and adjusting hair as many of the cast were wearing hats. This was an ongoing task throughout the day which involved her taking pictures to help ensure continuity and monitoring the cast on-camera.

Our students always report back that everyone on set is very friendly and helpful despite being madly busy themselves. Never forget that, even at the trainee level, you are a valuable member of a team with a single purpose of getting production off the ground. So on your first day as a make-up artist trainee be willing to take on any task. Make coffee – no one is ever too important to do that!

Make-up is 40% technique, 60% personality 

We’ve heard it said that being successful as a make-up artist is 40% technique, 60% personality because how you apply your skills is the key to your success. How you behave with everyone is how you’ll be remembered.

Keeping the performers happy is very much part of your job description. Actors, singers, dancers, models – they all need to be kept calm, particularly if they’re nervous or tired. Even if you are panicking don’t let it show because it’s catching and stress is the last thing a performer needs. Be nice, be helpful and hold a good conversation. If you think about it, the make-up artist spends the longest time with the performers – you see them first thing, throughout the day and, sometimes at the end helping them remove their make-up.

Apart from an obvious flair for make-up, our talent-spotting tutors ask 5 things of their trainees:

  1. Be open to learning so you become flexible and quick to adapt. If you assume there’s always something to learn, your own skills will always broaden and sharpen.
  2. Follow instruction – listen and take notice. Ask if you aren’t sure because getting it wrong can be costly.
  3. Be clean and tidy work – both personally and with your work.
  4. Be welcoming – this is the performers’ area of calm so they can prepare in peace.
  5. Make the right impression. Don’t party the night before. Be reliable, be confident (but not arrogant).

Brushstroke prepares you for your first day as a trainee make-up artist. There’s a good chance that we can help you find the role in the first place too.


7 Month
Makeup & Hair Course

ITEC Level 3 Diploma

This course can be taken as a full 7 Month Module, or as seperate short courses in makeup.


2 Year
Makeup & Hair Course

BTEC, Level 3 Diploma

Our most thorough training to prepare you for a career as an artist in TV, film, stage and fashion.


Makeup Artist Roles

Makeup artist roles differ depending on the industry – which one fits you?