Hair and Make-up Designer

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What does a hair and make-up designer do?

In film and TV drama, hair and make-up designers help actors portray their characters by using hair and make-up to create a look.

In pre-production, they work closely with the director to understand the style of the story. They break down the script, noting the hair and make-up requirements at each point and working out who they need to recruit to the team.  

They make appointments for actors' wig fittings, prosthetic and dental appointments. They draw up notes about actors, detailing each scene’s hair and make-up changes (these notes are vital for maintaining continuity throughout the production) and work with the camera department on test shots to see how the hair and make-up looks under different lighting conditions.

During production, they are one of the first to the set in the mornings, leading the team, keeping everyone to schedule and managing the budget.

On larger features and in the USA, hair and make-up designers are two separate roles.  On smaller productions, they are combined.

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

  • Hair and make-up: be adept in the craft of cutting and colouring, wigs, extensions and beards, glamour make-up, corrective make-up, ageing face, hands and neck
  • Hair and make-up history: know the story of hair and make-up throughout the ages, be able to research
  • Styling: understand the director’s vision, know what that means for hair and make-up, have a good eye for the look
  • Communication: share the vision of the style with team members, be the liaison between the director and the rest of the team, put actors at ease
  • Organisation: break down a script into hair and make-up requirements, schedule the hair and make-up needs, manage the team, budget and daily call sheet

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