Hair and Make-up Artist

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What does a hair and make-up artist do?

The hair and make-up artist is the person you’ll want to know if you are going to appear on TV; they are responsible for making sure you look your very best.

On big productions, especially in entertainment, which often has more people appearing on screen, there may be several hair and make-up artists working together. They often work in pairs, with one a specialist in hair, the other in make-up. On small productions, they may do both jobs and work alone, or with an assistant. They test looks with performers, checking for allergies or sensitivities before filming begins.

Hair and make-up artists need to work with the costume department to ensure they create a cohesive look. They also work with the lighting department to consider how lights will impact on the appearance of skin and hair, as well as with the sound department if microphones are to be placed in hair.

They ensure all hair and make-up is done on time, and once filming starts they are often on set to touch up hair and make-up. They may also take notes and photos for continuity. When filming is over, they oversee the removal of any wigs, make-up or products.

Many hair and make-up artists form very close relationships with presenters, celebrities and production teams and work with them on all their productions and other commercial work they may undertake. They are usually freelance, unless attached to large in-house art departments.

What’s a hair and make-up artist good at?

  • Styling hair: work with every type of hair, including wigs, extensions and facial hair and use hair accessories, products and equipment, have an eye for detail and an ability to work fast
  • Make-up: understand colour, shading, skin tone and texture, use make-up both for dramatic effect and simply to enhance features, hide blemishes and address skin problems; ensure make-up looks good under lights and doesn’t run, consider entire appearances, including hands, nails and any visible skin
  • Knowledge of products: be up-to-date and able to use the latest products and equipment safely and effectively, understand allergies, how to test and what to do should a client react adversely
  • Communication: work well with others, listen and respond to presenters’ or contributors’ needs, be trustworthy, have good relationships with PR and brands who may supply products
  • Organisation: ability to work on a number of different projects at the same time, all with tight schedules and deadlines

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