Make-up artist

Role info

You would apply make-up and style hair for people appearing in films, television programmes or photo shoots, or live events like concerts, plays or fashion shows.

Your job would be to create the look that the person needs for the type of production or event.

For example, you could create a natural look for a TV appearance or use wigs and hairpieces for an actor in a period drama. You might also apply special effects or prosthetics such as false noses or bald caps.

Depending on the production or event, you would:

  • Research and design make-up and hairstyles
  • Work to production designers' notes and instructions
  • Tidy and style hair
  • Use special effects make-up to completely change a person's look
  • Take notes and photos you can use to keep the look consistent throughout filming
  • Wait on set to re-do make-up and hair
  • Keep work areas and equipment clean and tidy
  • Remove make-up
  • Keep wigs and hairpieces in good condition

You could either work by yourself, as an assistant to a senior colleague, or as part of a larger hair and make-up design team.

You would work closely with production designers, costume designers, camera and lighting crew, and performers.

Personal Qualities

  • Stamina, patience and concentration
  • An interest in current and historical fashions

Working conditions


You would often work long and irregular hours, depending on the needs of the job. You may begin work in the early morning long before filming begins, or work in the evenings for live TV, theatre or concerts.


You could work in TV or film studios, theatres, or in temporary buildings and vehicles on location. You would be on your feet for several hours a day.


Location work could be anywhere in the UK or overseas, so you may need to travel and stay away from home regularly, sometimes for long periods. You would be expected to build up your own make-up kit and take it to each job.

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


Most make-up artists enter the job either through a college course or an apprenticeship.

You would need:

  • a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8)
  • or relevant work-based experience and qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Beauty Therapy: Make-up (SVQ level 2/3).

You can enter some Beauty or Make-Up National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF 2-6) with no formal qualifications but some courses ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.  

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show understanding of the industry, helping customers and an eye for visual detail such as Skills for Work Beauty (SCQF level 6) or Hairdressing (SCQF level 4/5).

A portfolio showing your work on make-up / hairstyling can also be helpful.

Experience in make-up work for amateur dramatics.

People doing this kind of job in the UK have these types of qualifications

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