Job type

Make-up artist

£20k - £35k

Typical salary

38 – 40

Hours per week

Make-up artists apply make-up and style hair for people appearing on camera or in front of a live audience.

More info

  • Spend your days applying make-up to actors, models, and other clients
  • You'll need creativity, great people skills and high levels of concentration
  • Exciting opportunities for travel and meet interesting people

As a make-up artist, you'll work closely with production designers, costume designers, camera and lighting crew, and performers.


  • Research and design make-up and hairstyles
  • Work to production designers' notes and instructions
  • Tidy and style hair
  • Use special effects make-up
  • Take notes and photos for reference
  • Be on set to redo make-up and hair
  • Remove make-up and keep wigs and hairpieces in good condition


You'll usually work on a freelance basis and be paid a fee for each contract. Rates will depend on the type of production you're working on and what you can negotiate.

You could work at a TV studio, in a theatre, on a film set, or at a film studio.

You may need to travel and stay away from home regularly, sometimes for long periods. You'll need to build up your own make-up kit and take it to each job.

You'll need

To be a make-up artist, you'll need design skills and knowledge, the ability to work well with your hands, thoroughness and attention to detail, flexibility and openness to change, excellent verbal communication skills, good initiative, and patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations.

You can do a foundation degree, higher national diploma, or degree in a specialist make-up technique like make-up for media and performance; media make-up artistry; or theatrical, media and special effect make-up.

You can study for a college qualification in media make-up, such as Level 2 Certificate in Make-up, Level 3 Diploma in Theatrical and Media Make-up, or Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Make-up Techniques.

You could also get this job through a beauty therapy intermediate apprenticeship.

You could start out as a trainee or assistant to a make-up team, or find casual work doing make-up and hair for extras in crowd scenes.

Alternatively, you can do specialist make-up and beauty courses through private beauty schools.

Practical experience can help build a portfolio of work to show employers, through amateur theatre; student film, theatre and photography projects; charity or student fashion shows; or working with established make-up artists and photographers. You can join the National Association of Screen Make-up and Hair for professional development.


With experience or specialist skills, you could progress to chief make-up artist or make-up designer. You could also develop specialist skills, like applying body art or making facial or body moulds for creating and fitting prosthetics. 

You could move into areas like fashion and photography, print and digital media or special effects. You might also specialise in medical aesthetics, using make-up techniques to hide scars and skin conditions to improve a client's psychological wellbeing and confidence.