Make-up artist

A make-up artist


Make-up artists assist and support artists before, during and after the performance and filming of movies or television programs to ensure the make-up is in line with the artistic vision of the director and the artistic team. They create images and characters through make-up and prosthetics. They maintain, check and repair prosthetics and assist with quick changes.

The duties of a make-up artist include, but are not limited to:

  • Enhancing facial aesthetics through makeup.
  • Consulting with clients and creating custom looks based on their specifications.
  • Removing makeup after usage on film sets.
  • Working with actors on movie sets.
  • Taking lighting and setting into account when applying makeup.
  • Determining which materials and colors are the most suitable.
  • Designing FX prosthetics according to special effects requirements.
  • Working with costume designers, set designers, and stylists to ensure consistency.
  • Having knowledge of different color palettes and design styles.
  • Maintaining an awareness of the latest trends in beauty.
  • Using models and fashion magazines as reference points.
  • Understanding what a film director wants a character to look like.
  • Having a diverse cosmetic toolkit.
  • Consulting clients on their skincare routines.
  • Operating within health and safety regulations.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to make-up artist:

prosthetics maker
special effects & make-up artist
special effects and make-up artist
theatre makeup artist
make up artist
special effects and make up artist
prosthetics make up artist
prosthetics and make up artist
special effects & make up artist
special effects make-up artist
prosthetics & make-up artist
prosthetics and make-up artist
prosthetics make-up artist
prosthetics & make up artist
make-up specialist
fashion makeup artist
makeup stylist
prosthetics builder
make up consultant
special effects make up artist
make up specialist
make-up consultant

Minimum qualifications

Make-up artists are typically listed in the same job category as cosmetologists, which need to be licensed after completing an approved training program. If you’re interested in theatrical and performance makeup, you might want to take a specialized cosmetology program in make-up and special effects. These programs generally require only a high school diploma for admission and involve courses in prosthetics, make-up effects, moulding and casting, airbrush illustration and cosmetic makeup.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Make-up artist is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Make-up artist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to make-up artist.

performance hairdresser
wig and hairpiece maker
hair stylist
costume maker
instrument technician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of make-up artist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of make-up artist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

set builder
costume attendant
followspot operator
prop maker

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of make-up artist.

  • Art history: The history of art and artists, the artistic trends throughout centuries and their contemporary evolutions.
  • Cosmetics: The various types of substances used to enhance the appearance of the human body.
  • Make-up techniques: The various techniques and tools for applying make-up.
  • Skin types: The different skin types, such as dry, normal, oily, and sensitive.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of make-up artist.

  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Understand artistic concepts: Interpret an artist’s explanation or demonstration of their artistic concepts, inceptions and processes and strive to share their vision.
  • Follow work schedule: Manage the sequence of activities in order to deliver completed work on agreed deadlines by following a work schedule.
  • Perform quick make-up changeovers: Quickly apply changes to a performer’s make-up during the performance.
  • Safeguard artistic quality of performance: Observe the show, anticipate and react to possible technical problems, ensuring optimal artistic quality.
  • Test make-up: Perform routine tests to determine if make-up products are adequate.
  • Make up performing artists: Use cosmetics on artists for stage performances.
  • Ensure continuity in the styling of artists: Ensure that artists are consistently styled during the production of a motion picture. Make sure that their look remains the same.
  • Adapt to artists’ creative demands: Work with artists, striving to understand the creative vision and adapting to it. Make full use of your talents and skills to reach the best possible result.
  • Prepare personal work environment: Correct settings or positions for your working instruments and adjust them before starting operations.
  • Finish project within budget: Make sure to stay within budget. Adapt work and materials to budget.
  • Translate artistic concepts to technical designs: Cooperate with the artistic team in order to facilitate the transition from the creative vision and its artistic concepts to a technical design.
  • Work safely with chemicals: Take the necessary precautions for storing, using and disposing chemical products.
  • Contextualise artistic work: Identify influences and situate your work within a specific trend which may be of an artistic, aesthetic, or philosophical natures. Analyse the evolution of artistic trends, consult experts in the field, attend events, etc.
  • Analyse the need for technical resources: Define and make a list of the required resources and equipment based on the technical needs of the production.
  • Analyse a script: Break down a script by analysing the dramaturgy, form, themes and structure of a script. Conduct relevant research if necessary.
  • Manage personal professional development: Take responsibility for lifelong learning and continuous professional development. Engage in learning to support and update professional competence. Identify priority areas for professional development based on reflection about own practice and through contact with peers and stakeholders.
  • Follow directions of the artistic director: Follow the instructions of the director while understanding his creative vision.
  • Work with respect for own safety: Apply the safety rules according to training and instruction and based on a solid understanding of the prevention measures and risks to your own personal health and safety.
  • Define artistic approach: Define your own artistic approach by analysing your previous work and your expertise, identifying the components of your creative signature, and starting from these explorations to describe your artistic vision.
  • Determine skin type: Determine what type of skin a person has in order to use the right make-up for that particular skin type.
  • Gather reference materials for artwork: Gather samples of the materials you expect to use in the creation process, especially if the desired piece of art necessitates the intervention of qualified workers or specific production processes.
  • Repair prostheses: Repair damage to prostheses for stage performances.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of make-up artist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Photography: Art and practice of creating aesthetically appealing images by recording light or electromagnetic radiation.
  • Lighting techniques: The characteristics of techniques used to create atmospheres and effects on camera or on stage; the equipment required and appropriate setup to use.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of make-up artist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Manage consumables stock: Manage and monitor consumables stock to ensure that the production demands and deadlines can be met at all times.
  • Decide on make-up process: Define the make-up materials and methods you willl use.
  • Work with the camera crew: Work with the crew responsible for the camera operation and movement to get directions from them on where to stand for an aesthetic result.
  • Repair wigs: Maintain and repair damaged wigs for use in stage performances.
  • Plan art educational activities: Plan and implement artistic facilities, performance, venues and museum-related educational activities and events.
  • Develop educational resources: Create and develop educational resources for visitors, school groups, families and special interest groups.
  • Attend rehearsals: Attend rehearsals in order to adapt sets, costumes, make-up, lighting, camera set up, etc.
  • Prevent fire in a performance environment: Take steps to prevent fire in a performance environment. Make sure the space complies with fire safety rules, with sprinklers and fire extinguishers installed where necessary. Make sure staff are aware of fire prevention measures.
  • Work with the director of photography: Work with the director of photography on the artistic and creative vision that needs to be followed during production of a movie or theatre production.
  • Advise client on technical possibilities: Recommend technical solutions, including systems, to the client within the framework of a project.
  • Develop artistic project budgets: Developing artistic project budgets for approval, estimating deadlines and material costs.
  • Develop educational activities: Develop speeches, activities and workshops in order to foster access and comprehension to the artistic creation processes. It can address a particular cultural and artistic event such as a show or an exhibition, or it can be related to a specific discipline (theatre, dance, drawing, music, photography etc.). Liaise with storytelles, craftspeople and artists.
  • Apply body paint: Apply special paint on parts of or on the whole body.
  • Maintain prostheses: Maintain performance prostheses to keep them in good condition for as long as possible.
  • Keep personal administration: File and organise personal administration documents comprehensively.
  • Draw make-up sketches: Sketch make-up designs to develop the concept and share with others.
  • Promote yourself: Market one’s own strengths in terms of skills and knowledge.
  • Create lifecasts: Use specialised products such as silicones to create moulds of a person’s hand, face, or other body parts in a process called lifecasting. Use moulds or other materials to create medical devices in the prosthetic and orthotic field.
  • Develop professional network: Reach out to and meet up with people in a professional context. Find common ground and use your contacts for mutual benefit. Keep track of the people in your personal professional network and stay up to date on their activities.
  • Present exhibition: Present an exhibition and give educational lectures in a comprehensible way that is attractive to the public.
  • Document your own practice: Documenting your own work practice for different purposes like assessment, time management, job application etc.
  • Draft styling schedule: Draft the schedule to indicate where, when, and how the actors should be styled.
  • Work with the lighting crew: Work with the crew responsible for the lighting setup and operation to get directions from them on where to stand for an aesthetic result.
  • Participate in artistic mediation activities: Participate in cultural and artistic mediation activities: announce the activity, give a presentation or talk related to a piece of art or an exhibition, teach a class or a group, lead artistic mediation activities, lead or participate in a public discussion.
  • Design make-up effects: Develop and apply special make-up including effects.

ISCO group and title

5142 – Beauticians and related workers

  1. Make-up artist – ESCO
  2. Makeup Artist Job Description – Betterteam
  3. Make-up Artist: Job Duties, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites –
  4. Featured image: By Fidelis ogunseri ocsfilms – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on November 22, 2022

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