Hair and Make-up Designer Unscripted TV)

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What does a hair and make-up designer do?

The hair and make-up designer is a celebrity’s secret weapon. They ensure presenters, and all the other contributors appearing on camera, look their very best on the show.

Hair and make-up designers collaborate with production designers and work alongside the costume department to create an overall style and look that’s appropriate for the programme they are making. They research, sketch and may create mood boards to communicate suggested colours, textures and styles. On some entertainment shows, they may have a big cast for which to create a variety of looks.

They also work with the lighting department to find out how they intend to light a studio set or location and how those lights will impact on the appearance of skin and hair. Sometimes a contributor may be doing something very active under hot studio lights; other times they might be contending with the weather. Hair and make-up designers have to devise the best hair and make-up for the situation.

On big budget shows, hair and make-up designers recruit teams of hair stylists and make-up artists to ensure all hair and make-up is done on time. On smaller productions, they may work alone and do both jobs themselves, or with an assistant. Once shooting starts, they are often on set to touch up hair and make-up.

Many hair and make-up designers 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 designer good at?

  • Styling hair: work with every type of hair, including wigs, extensions and facial hair and be able to 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: hire and manage multiple teams, schedules and budgets, often working on a number of different projects at the same time, work to tight deadlines and ensure the department works efficiently and to the best of their ability

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