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Behind the Scenes: The Role of a Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist in Media Jobs

Updated: Feb 4

If you're interested in pursuing a media career as a makeup artist and hair stylist for TV and Film, you're in the right place. This article will give you some advice and guidance on the skills, qualities, and responsibilities you'll need to succeed in this exciting and competitive industry.

Hair and Makeup Artist Media Jobs

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This week, we are exploring the skills, qualities and training that are needed for careers in television and media production as a hair and make-up artist.


This article is only for guidance and is not an exhaustive list, but it should set you on the right track and point you towards websites that can help you explore this career role further.



1. TV and Film Makeup Artist


In the fast-paced world of media, the role of a makeup artist and hair stylist is crucial. These talented professionals go beyond just enhancing the physical appearance of actors, models, and presenters. They play a key role in bringing characters to life and creating a captivating visual experience for the audience.


From television shows and films to photoshoots and fashion shows, the makeup artist and hair stylist collaborate with the creative team to develop the desired look for each project. They have the power to transform an actor into a historical figure or create fantastical creatures for a sci-fi film. Their expertise lies not only in traditional makeup techniques but also in special effects, prosthetics, and wig styling.


The demanding nature of media jobs requires makeup artists and hair stylists to be flexible, adaptable, and creative problem solvers. They must stay up-to-date with the latest trends, products, and techniques to ensure they can deliver the desired look. Additionally, they need excellent communication skills to understand the vision of the director or designer and translate it into reality.


A hair and makeup artist is responsible for creating and maintaining actors' appearances on camera, working closely with the director and costume designer to ensure a cohesive look. Hair makeup artists play a crucial role in bringing the characters to life on screen.


2. Starting Out Tips


As with the majority of film work, you will find that the work is freelance, self-employed, and a mix of short and long-term contracts. You will need to establish yourself as a business and become familiar with self-employment guidelines, taxes, marketing, and networking, including establishing a portfolio of work to show prospective clients.


Gain practical experience by working on independent or student film projects.


Network: Attend industry events and join professional organisations that can help you find work and advance your career.


Workshops: Consider taking courses or workshops to improve your film hair and makeup skills.


Scripts: Get used to reading scripts and understanding the characters.


Portfolio: When starting out, work collaboratively with photographers, models, and actors who are also just starting their careers. Working together, you can start to build a work portfolio and expand your networks.


3. Makeup Artist Salary


How much does a makeup artist get paid?


The average UK salary is variable and differs in terms of your experience level, the size and type of production you work on, and the company you work for.

Most of the work in this field is freelance and self-employed and involves a mix of short and long-term contracts. The added bonus is that you may get to travel the world for work and work with some of your favourite celebrities. Every day will be different, making it an exciting and dynamic career choice.


Hair stylist

4. Media Jobs: Skills and Qualities


Still interested but unsure if you have the right skills of a makeup artist?


Makeup Artists should have the skills and qualities of:

  • Attention to detail, self-motivation, and resourcefulness.

  • Good dexterity.

  • Having good stamina, resilience, and adaptability.

  • Ability to design and research.

  • Creative and innovative thinking.

  • Good at networking, self-promotion, and communicating.

  • Understanding the different aspects of the film and television industry.



5. Useful Subjects


Below are some of the subjects that could be helpful in journeying towards a career as a MUA.


  • Art and Design

  • Beauty Therapy

  • Business Studies

  • Cosmetology

  • Drama

  • English

  • Hairdressing

  • Maths

  • Science Subjects


The National Association of Screen Make-up and Hair (NASMAH) is a free resource offering information and guidance to professional and educational organisations and is worth exploring as it offers advice and practical makeup tips.



MUA media jobs

6. Makeup Artist Responsibilities


A typical day-to-day working on set as a MUA may involve:

  • Research and design hairstyles and makeup, considering budget and the production setting.

  • Takes photos to ensure continuity and liaises with production to ensure the look is consistent and coherent.

  • Create and demonstrate special effects/makeup processes on the skin.

  • Work onset and add touchups to actors' makeup and hair.

  • Keep up-to-date on health and safety.


7. Where to Find More Information


Still interested in working as a Hair and Makeup Artist? Here are some places to find more details about the role.


8. Related Careers


Curious about other TV production and Media job roles? Have you considered any of the below?


Beauty Therapist: A beauty therapist is a trained professional who specialises in providing various beauty treatments to clients. They offer a range of services, such as facials, massages, waxing, nail care, and makeup application. They also provide advice on skincare and beauty products, as well as guidance on how to maintain healthy skin. They work in a variety of settings, including spas, salons, and hotels.


Body Makeup Artist: A body makeup artist is a professional who is skilled in applying makeup to the body, typically for special events such as weddings or photoshoots. They use a variety of techniques and products to create a flawless and even skin tone, cover up blemishes, scars, or tattoos, and enhance the overall appearance of the skin. Body makeup artists are also adept at creating the illusion of muscle definition, and contouring the body.


Makeup Designer: A makeup designer is a professional who is responsible for creating makeup looks for various productions, such as films, TV shows, theatre performances, fashion shows, and photo shoots. They work closely with directors, producers, and costume designers to ensure that the makeup complements the overall vision of the project and helps to bring the characters to life.


Photographic Stylist: A Photographic Stylist is a professional who is responsible for creating a specific look and feel for a photoshoot. They work closely with the photographer and the client to understand the desired outcome of the shoot and then use their expertise in fashion, makeup, and hair styling to create the desired look. They select the wardrobe, accessories, props, and colour palette to complement the overall aesthetic of the shoot.


Wig and Hair Specialist: A wig and hair specialist specialises in styling, cutting, and colouring wigs and hairpieces. They also provide advice on hair care and maintenance to their clients. In addition, they may work with individuals who suffer from hair loss due to medical conditions, helping them to find a wig or hairpiece that suits their needs. They may also be responsible for repairing or altering wigs and hairpieces to fit the client's head size and shape.


Hopefully, by now, you will better understand what it takes to become a makeup artist for film and TV. If you need further advice and guidance, why not book a FREE discovery call to explore further how I can help you take your first step towards your dream career?

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