A day as a makeup artist

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Sarah Jones ensures actors, TV presenters and stars look the part. As a makeup artist she can make someone look older or younger; transform them into someone else or just keep them looking good for longer.

What does a makeup artist actually do?

I do everything from basic grooming – tidying someone's hair and removing the shine from their face – to creating a whole fashion or character look.

I have to make sure the makeup always looks good – even when a shoot can last as long as 12 hours. With actors, I have to use ageing techniques sometimes to make them look older or younger, depending on the scene.

Who do you work with?

Most people. They can be actors, musicians, models, celebrities and the general public to make sure they look right. I work in TV, film, fashion, the music industry and on magazines.

I do a weekly chart show at MTV. I work with the presenter and stylist to come up with a makeup look for each show. I have also worked on a programme for Japanese television about Princess Diana and her sons.

How did you decide on makeup as a career?

Initially, I studied business and engineering at university but really wanted to be my own boss and have more freedom.

A friend of mine worked for a magazine and asked me to be in a reader feature. A makeup artist was on the shoot and I asked her lots of questions. I decided to give it a go and enrolled on a part-time course.

What is your working environment like?

I usually work out of a purpose built makeup room or trailer, but sometimes it has to be a makeshift room created in whatever spare space there is. Actors, presenters or models often escape to the make-up room when they want five minutes peace and quiet, so it has to be a very calm environment.

Do you need special equipment?

I have a full kit of make-up and beauty products and a decent set of make-up brushes. You also need hair styling equipment.

What is the hardest part of your work?

I have to find the work for myself, negotiate pay, send invoices and chase payments. Even when you are established, you have to keep knocking on doors. As a freelancer, your salary can vary from month to month so you have to be good at managing your finances.

What skills do you need to be a makeup artist?

Apart from professional makeup training, you need to be personable, friendly, independent, confident and motivated. You have to keep up-to-date with all the products on offer from the various make-up companies and all the current trends.

Sarah's route to becoming a makeup artist

  • Part-time course at the London College of Fashion.
  • Built up experience and contacts with part-time work.

Sarah's makeup artist tips

  • Makeup your friends and take before and after pictures.
  • Start building your photographic records (portfolio) – some courses will also want to see your potential before they accept you.

Makeup artist related jobs

Makeup artist salary

  • Many makeup artists are freelance – so how much you earn depends on how often you work and on what sort of jobs.
  • If you are employed, you might earn between £12,000 and £15,000 – more if you have specialist skills.

A career as a makeup artist

  • There are NVQs/SVQs, BTEC National Diplomas, HNCs/HNDs and degrees in makeup or beauty therapy at colleges and training centres around the country.
  • There are also some specialist training courses for TV and film work.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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