How To Be A Movie Makeup Artist: Career & Schools – #Aspiring2ActWriteDirect Guides

The #Aspiring2ActWriteDirect Series: Aspiring Cinematic Movie Makeup Artist Career & Schools Guide

Lestat Makeup By Michele Burke

Lestat Makeup By Michele Burke

TeamTC want to help you make your dreams of working in Hollywood become a reality!

We have created guides for the most in-demand professions in the entertainment industry, including for aspiring actor, director and filmmaker, film editor, producer, screenwriter, stuntman or visual effects artist.

This time, we are pleased to announce our Aspiring Cinematic/Movie Makeup Artist Guide as the newest edition to our ongoing series!


From the time the legendary Max Factor released the first cosmetic products made specifically for motion picture actors in 1914 to recognition by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, cinematic film makeup artistry has come a long way over the past century.

“I remember my mom’s makeup artist, this wonderful, old-time sort of legend in the movie industry, Tom Case, who had one little box he’d carry with him. He’d pull out just four items, and make the most incredible face with those four things.” - Kate Hudson, People 

Many years ago, film and television studios employed makeup artists as part of their permanent staff but these days most entertainment industry makeup artists work on a freelance basis. However, if a makeup artist can establish a good working relationship with a high-profile performer, directors, producers or other cinematic makeup artists, you can carve out a career working with the same people  for several years.

For example, two-time Academy Award winner Michèle Burke (Best Makeup, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Quest for Fire) has worked with Tom Cruise on more than 10 films and counting, including Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, Jerry Maguire, Vanilla Sky, Minority Report, Mission: Impossible III, Tropic Thunder, Knight and Day, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Rock of Ages. While makeup artist Linda DeVetta has worked with several different celebrity clients during multiple projects, including Angelina Jolie (Wanted, Alexander and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow), Jeremy Irons (The House of the Spirits, Die Hard: With a Vengeance and Fitzgerald) and Sigourney Weaver (Alien: Resurrection, Holes and Avatar).

Movie Makeup Artist J Roy Helland

Movie Makeup Artist J Roy Helland

In fact, three-time Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep made a special point to thank makeup artist J. Roy Helland during her 2012 Oscar acceptance speech, saying “thirty-seven years ago, my first play in New York City, I met the great hairstylist and makeup artist Roy Helland. And we worked together pretty continuously since the day we clapped eyes on each other. His first film with me was Sophie’s Choice, and all the way up to tonight when he won [an Oscar] for his beautiful work in The Iron Lady thirty years later. Every single movie in between.” (Link)

While the aforementioned cinematic makeup artists are at the height of their careers, it can be difficult to become established in the industry at the beginning of your career. When aspiring cinematic makeup artists are trying to break into the business you must master the most in-demand skills for the industry, create a portfolio and/or demo reel that demonstrates your best work, have a flexible schedule that will allow you to take meetings or jobs on short notice and be willing to work for little or no pay while you further develop your skills and establish a network of contacts.

The Guide for Aspiring Makeup Artists includes:

The team has compiled information into several sections.

  • A description of what a makeup artist does, including typical skills, glossary of common terms, professional titles, types of equipment and useful apps
  • A selection of instructional videos
  • Books written by industry experts with useful advice, tips and techniques
  • Publications available online and/or in print to learn more about working as a MUA in the entertainment industry, including insider information about the evolving technology and tools available to professional makeup arts
  • Colleges and universities offering classes, certification or training specifically for aspiring entertainment industry makeup artists
  • Training programs or vocational schools led by experienced professionals
  • Unions, groups and associations for professional makeup artists

 As always, the team welcomes your comments, feedback and suggestions. If you have experience in this field and can direct us to any additional information or resources, we’d love to hear it so we can add them to our next update. Please use the hashtag #aspiring2actwritedirect in all your social media responses about these guides.


Beyond the responsibility of applying makeup to actors and actresses, cinematic makeup artists play an integral role in the overall look of the film, working closely with the director and production team to create the desired appearance. Skilled makeup artists know how to use shadows and lighting to accentuate features, make a performer look older, younger, injured or alter their features with makeup, prosthetics, masks or partial masks.

In the video below, Brad Pitt and director David Fincher discuss how the age-progression makeup was a key factor in telling the story in the Oscar-winning film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Keep in mind, a makeup artist may work with glamorous people but the job itself often involves long hours, often more than 12 hours a day while filming, and sometimes difficult conditions. You must be committed your art and your profession to create a successful career as a cinematic makeup artist.


Whether you are shooting an independent film or a big-budget period piece, a professional cinematic makeup artist will need a variety of skills to successfully complete your project. The smaller the budget of the production, the more likely you will need to wear many hats both in front of and behind the camera.

 Administration and Management – An overwhelming majority of makeup artists, especially cinematic makeup artists, are self-employed and must learn or know how to manage their business. Key skills include time management, computer skills, hiring and managing staff, creating and managing budgets, organization and logistics, such as obtaining equipment, tools, facilities and materials required for each project.

Communication – The ability to listen, interpret information and express ideas clearly. Cinematic makeup artists should also be able to read, understand and correctly convey information about key work-related materials, including scripts, call-sheets and makeup designs.

Fine Arts - The ability to create imaginative or aesthetic visual art as well as a working knowledge of the methods and concepts required to create or perform works of art. A cinematic makeup artist may need to know how movement, lights, sculpture and color can affect the “look” of a project when developing and applying a makeup design.

Interpersonal Skills – The ability to work with a variety of people and temperaments, largely on a one- to-one basis. May include self-confidence, an ability to listen and understand others as well as problem solving, decision making and personal stress management skills. It is also important to be aware of others’ moods or personalities and be able to change your behavior in relation to them.

Research – The ability to seek out, study and interpret information, materials and sources in order to gain information, establish facts and reach a conclusion. For example, a cinematic makeup artist may develop the makeup design for a project and or/individual actor by researching several elements, such as the time period of the film, lighting effects, an actor’s coloring, the script and weather conditions. The key makeup artist may also need to determine the tools and equipment needed for a specific project as well as discover the cause and find a solution of any equipment or makeup problems.

Motor Skills (Hand-Eye Coordination) - The ability to control the precise movement of muscles with the intent to perform a specific act. A cinematic makeup artist must be able to use numerous tools and equipment as well as apply a variety of makeup materials so smoothly as to appear flawless even when viewed in high-definition.

Perception and Visualization – The ability to imagine how something will look if new elements are applied or parts are rearranged. A cinematic makeup artist should be able to determine how the use of various colors, textures and occasionally, prosthetics, could alter the appearance of an actor. Although a MUA could try out numerous makeup designs by using a computer program, such as Photoshop, an ability to visualize various looks without the assistance of software is one of the primary skills of a makeup artist.


Although cosmetic products and their high-profile spokesmodels have become a part of our pop culture, there are still many tools and jargon that may be unfamiliar to anyone outside of the professional makeup artist industry. While some of the terms below may be already familiar, the team has complied a list with definitions of some of the most common words and phrases used by cinematic makeup artists.

Henry Winkler in aging make-up

Henry Winkler in aging make-up

Aging Makeup – A art of applying makeup to cause an actor to look realistically older. Using highlights and shadows, non-dimensional makeup, a MUA subtly accentuates the shadows and details of the existing wrinkle pattern of the actor’s face.

Airbrushing – With the use of a compressor and airbrush gun, the process involves applying a micronized makeup so finely that the coverage is virtually invisible.

Airbrush makeup – With the evolution of high-definition (HD) television and film, the skilled application of airbrush makeup has become an entertainment industry-standard technique. The most common type of airbrush makeup is a foundation applied to the face or the body and may be water, silicone or alcohol based. A water base foundation gives a face a natural, dewy look but it may rub off on clothing. However, the same type of dewy look can be achieved with a non-transferable silicone base. Silicone and alcohol base airbrush makeup are often used for the body as well as to cover tattoos, scars and birthmarks.

Bald Caps – A contoured piece of thin rubber or plastic shaped to fit tightly over an actor’s head to conceal their hair and/or change the shape of their head. The illusion is completed with the skilled application of makeup to blend the edges of the bald cap along the actor’s skin as well as the application of any additional hair pieces, prosthetics and special effects makeup.

Beauty and Glamour Makeup

Beauty and Glamour Makeup

Beauty & Glamour Makeup – Beyond everyday makeup application, beauty and glamour makeup is designed to define a character for a film or fashion production. It may include basic corrective techniques, “period” makeup that was popular during a specific time in history, avant-garde fashion looks or stylized runway designs.

Character Makeup – Used to change an actor’s appearance to adhere to the character requirements in a script. May involve creating a variety of ages, distinctive features, facial hair application, cuts, scars, bruises, burns, tattoos or disfigurations.

Construction Makeup – A precursor to modern prosthetic makeup, the process of ‘scratch-built’ fantastical body parts is still commonly used in theatre and independent film productions. Using sculpting materials, such as nose putty, derma wax and latex, a MUA can create 3D makeup features, including horns, pointy ears or dramatic facial features to transform an actor’s appearance.

Demo Reel – A video collection of images showcasing your work to be shown to potential clients or advertise your skills. With your clients’ approval, you may want to include a copy of the reel on your professional website or on your social media channels, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook or individual images from the reel on Pinterest.

Digital Makeup Design – The latest tool in a makeup artist’s kit involves using computer software to develop a variety of looks for the actors during the pre-production stages of a film or project. Instead of using a sketchpad and paint to create conceptual pre-visualizations for a character, a makeup artist can use a design program, such as Photoshop, to digitally alter an actor’s photograph and create a realistic virtual makeup. The makeup design may involve adjusting eye, skin or hair color, testing out different hairstyles or even developing complex fantasy and horror creature elements.

Full Head Masks – Most frequently used by special effects makeup specialists, a mask that completely covers an actor’s head is created by casting and molding latex or foam latex. Although may character effects are now created through computer generated imagery (CGI), low-budget films, particularly in the horror or science fiction genre, may still use full head masks.

Hair Laying/Wigs – One of the most detail-oriented assignments a makeup artist may face is to create, and apply facial hair or wigs while also making the hair look natural. Wool crepe, yak hair or human hair are frequently used to hand-lay a beard or mustache. Facial hair can also be weaved as a whole piece before applying it to a performer.

Kit (link to tools/equipment section)– A term commonly used by professional makeup artists when referring to their makeup kit. Generally consists of a large makeup case with wheeled caddy containing a brush set, sponges, a variety of professional quality makeup products, makeup removers and skin care products.

Local 706 (link to listing in Union section) – A labor union for professional makeup artists and hairstylists working in the entertainment industry.

MUA – An acronym for a makeup artist.

Out-of-Kit/Out-of-Kit Effects – Refers to simple effects that can be created quickly on set but involve products, tools and materials beyond the common requirements of a makeup artist, such as bruises, dirt, sweat, cuts, burns, scars, tattoos, bullet holes and blood.

PAX – An acrylic adhesive based makeup that is a mixture of Pros-Aide and Liquitex artist’s paint which was originally developed by Oscar-winning effects artist, Dick Smith. Often used as a generic term for any mixture of skin-safe acrylic adhesive and nontoxic acrylic paint.

Portfolio (aka Book ) – An organized collection of photographs or tear sheets (pages from a magazine) showcasing your work. Generally used to land a new client or during a job interview. May be used to compliment or instead of a demo reel.

Professional makeup artist, Lee Pycroft, offers great advice about putting together your professional portfolio in the video below.

Ventilating - The process of hand-tying strands of hair onto a netting to make a mustache, beard, sideburns or eyebrows.

3D Appliance Makeup (aka Prosthetic Makeup) – An advanced makeup technique involving molding, sculpting and painting an augmented body part. First a cast is made of the actor’s body part that will be altered, and then a detailed sculpting of the new features is done before molding the sculpture. Originally created with foam latex or gelatin, makeup artists often use silicone to create 3D makeup effects these days. After the prosthetic is attached, the MUA seamlessly blends the 3D feature into the actor’s skin.


While a makeup artist may also be responsible for hair styling on small budget or non-union projects, hair designers are usually a separate department. Even when there are separate departments, the hair, costume and makeup departments work closely with the director, screenwriter and producers to create the film’s look.

 Remember, if lead actors or actresses have existing relationships with a hairdresser or makeup artist, they may request the artists be hired for the production.

 Key Makeup Artist (aka Makeup Designer) – The individual who is in charge of the makeup department for a film, including pre-production involvement and working with the key hair designer, costume designer, set designer and lighting director throughout the production. Prior to the start of filming, the key makeup artist reads the script and meets with the director to discuss ideas and the “look” of the project. Once the style and time period have been determined, the key makeup artist researches and designs the makeup for the film as well as ensuring the continuity of the makeup and style is maintained throughout shooting. In addition, the key makeup artist is responsible for developing and meeting a budget for the department, including salaries, supplies, tools, prosthetics and hair pieces as well as the storage and inventory when the materials are not in use. The key makeup artist hires and supervises any additional makeup artists, including MUAs specializing in advanced special effects and prosthetics, if necessary, as well as working with optometrists and dentists if special contacts or dental effects are required for any of the actors. Once prosthetics, hairpieces and other make-up elements are finalized, they all must be inventoried and stored when they are not in use.

Senior Makeup Artist – The second in command of the makeup department, after the key makeup artist, generally oversees the work of other makeup artists on the set. In addition, the senior makeup artist may be responsible for many of the continuity elements, such as ensuring the actors’ makeup is applied in accordance to the scene sequence, regardless of the shooting schedule. For example, scars or blood may need to be applied to an actor after an action sequence that is shot early in the production but must not be applied for scenes that will appear prior to the action sequence, even if those scenes were filmed later in the production.

Makeup Artist - Apply and touch up the actors’ makeup during filming while making sure the application adheres to the key makeup artists’ design requirements, shooting schedule notes and the “look” of the film.

Assistant Makeup Artist – Shadow and assist the makeup artists while also responsible for any tasks assigned, including stocking the makeup artists’ kits, running errands and storing the makeup materials after shooting has wrapped for the day.

Makeup Effects Artist: Makeup artists who specialize in designing and creating special makeup effects using prosthetics, latex and animatronics.


Makeup Kit

Like any artist, there are standard tools of the trade but it is the application of the products that define the difference between an amateur and a professional. In order to meet the high standards of the film and television industries, it may cost you thousands of dollars to compile your professional kit and as it will require frequent updating, it will be an ongoing expense throughout your career as a professional makeup artist.

Unlike drug store, or even expensive department store cosmetics, makeup used for film and television productions usually feature a high concentration of pigment, are longer wearing and adhere to technical specifications designed to work with advanced lens-based technologies, such as high-definition.

Professional MUAs will be responsible for keeping their kits stocked with products that meet current industry standards and will likely develop relationships with specific suppliers or personalize their kit based on their client’s product preferences. However, students enrolled in training programs usually receive a stocked personal makeup kit featuring an array of tools and products, such as a makeup case with wheeled caddy; a comprehensive brush set; an array of moisturizers; makeup removers and skin care products; airbrush equipment and accessories, a variety of foundations, blushes, eyeshadows, lip sticks and glosses; cake and creme makeup palettes; eye, lip and brow pencils; powders; adhesives and removers; hair scissors, steel palette, tweezers and stainless steel spatula. In addition, the kit may include gelatin, blood simulation products; plastic and latex bald caps; crepe and human hair; prosthetic and Spirit gum adhesives; special effects (FX) color wheels and creme colors; rubber mask grease (RMG) palette; sculpting wax; skin illustrator palettes; green marble sealer; and PAX paints.


Just like actors, cinematic makeup artists need to maintain a competitive edge and be ready to go anywhere at a moment’s notice. And like anyone who runs their own business, MUAs need to also stay organized. To that end, the has complied a list of some of the most useful apps currently on the market to help keep you at the top of your game.

Evernote  – iPhone/iPad (Link) The free app is perfect for taking notes wherever you are, including written or voice notes, screenshots, photos and links. You can also sync everything to the Internet and your home computer. Especially helpful for makeup artists who need to record makeup designs and applications that may need to be replicated later in the film production.

Face Charts by Kurtz Consulting Services iTunes/iPad (Link) Designed specifically for professional makeup artists, the app allows you to record all of the images and notes you need without the hassle of keeping track of loose papers. You can take photos of your work to help ensure continuity, organize events alphabetically or chronologically. Create individual face charts for each client as well as detailed notes on techniques and shades. Share your face charts and photos on your social media sites, sync with iCal or wireless print to AirPrint compatible printers.

Face Chart Pro by Koren Zander – iPhone (Link) | iPad (Link) Customized specifically for iPhones or iPads, the digital tool provides an advanced paint engine design to allow you to create a variety of makeup looks with the use of your fingers or a stylus. Select from any of the built-in brushes, color palettes, customized colors or effects to design colorful or neutral makeup looks or eyes, skin or lips.

IMDb – iPhone/iPad (Link) | Android (Link) Arguable the most comprehensive film databases available, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is the go-to research tool for anyone in the entertainment industry. Cinematic makeup artists can not only create and maintain their own professional profile on the site but they can  access an extensive collection of information about movies and film credits through the app.

INRIX Traffic by INRIX, Inc.- iPhone/iPad (Link) | Android (Link) Makeup artists are often among the first to arrive on set. So, when being late is not an option, you might what to give this app a try – especially the forecast function to select the route with best drive time to your destination. Based on Google Maps, the app also uses traffic data from INRIX’s massive database. The Comparative Traffic option provides a color-coded comparison of current road conditions vs. normal flow, while the Incidents screen offers information about traffic congestion and accidents.

MakeUp by ModiFace – iPhone/iPad (Link) | Android (Link) Practice your makeup artistry skills without Internet access with this virtual makeover app. Simply upload or snap a photo and then choose from thousands of lipstick, blush, foundation, mascara or eyeshadow colors and shades. Once you have completed the look you can even email or Facebook the result.


Aside from performing a technique yourself, one of the best ways to learn a new skill is to watch a professional perform it. In the world of makeup artistry, there are a plethora of instructional videos by professional makeup artists as well as by amateurs. The team has complied a list of some of the more informative instructional videos distributed by respected cosmetics companies but let us know your favorites by sending us a link in the comments section below or in a social media post with the hashtag #aspiring2actwritedirect.


There is no question a successful cinematic makeup artist is able to create unique makeup designs for each film and customize a look for each actor. However, aspiring cinematic makeup artists as well as experienced professionals are always seeking to improve their skills and find new sources of inspiration. While there are numerous books about makeup, the team has complied a list of books written by experts to provide you with a general overview of the industry.

 Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual: For Everyone from Beginner to Pro by Bobbi Brown CEO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Today show beauty editor and renowned makeup artist, Bobbi Brown applied her years of professional experience into a comprehensive guide. Each chapter provides step-by-step directions as well as instructional images and the 2011 book also features a special section about how to break into business, advice on how to work with celebrities and photographers, essential tools and equipment as well as insider beauty secrets. Aspiring makeup artists will learn about skincare, facial makeup, foundations for any skin tone and of course, how to successfully apply makeup.

Makeup is Art: Professional Techniques for Creating Original Looks  by Academy of Freelance Makeup

Written by Jana Ririnui, former hairdresser and model as well as the founder of the Academy of Freelance Makeup (AOFM), and Lan Nguyen, a makeup artist and creative director of AOFM, the 2011 coffee-table book offers a stylish overview of the professional makeup industry. In addition to stunning photographs of colorful makeup designs and body art, the book features an informative section about breaking into the field and behind-the-scenes peak at fashion shows as well as advice about working with celebrities, print publications and advertising clients.

Makeup: The Ultimate Guide by Rae Morris The L’Oréal Paris Makeup Director and four time Australian Makeup Artist of the Year, Rae Morris has worked with numerous celebrity clients, including Cate Blanchett, Jessica Biel, Pink, Hugh Jackman and Miranda Kerr. The 2008 book also features images by fashion photographer Stephen Chee, who specializes in faces and makeup. Along with stunning photographs, the book offers step-by-step guides, tricks, techniques and insider trade secrets, such as the best eye-shadow colors for various eye colors, eyebrow shaping and applying fake eyelashes. In addition, Morris covers keys information for building your own makeup kit, including essential tools and how to find the right products at a decent price. Morris and Chee also teamed up for two other makeup books, Beautiful Eyes: The Ultimate Eye Makeup Guide published in 2010 and Express Makeup published in 2011.

The Complete Makeup Artist: Working in Film, Television and Theatre by Penny Delamar With 10 years experience working at the BBC as well as the personal makeup artist for Dudley Moore on Santa Claus – The Movie and Nastassja Kinski on Revolution, Delamar first published this book in 1995. The founder of the Delamar Academy (insert jump link to Delamar Academy in Education section), the author has trained award-winning makeup artists and provides a wealth of information for aspiring makeup artists in both the original guide and the second edition, published in 2002. In addition to student profiles with examples of their work and information about how they got started, the book covers the basic principals of makeup. Special sections feature step-by-step instructions with color illustrations, a workbook to test your knowledge, illustrations by two Oscar-winning former students, case studies on the role of professional makeup artists and insider information about the film, television and theatre industries.

The Makeup Artist Handbook, Second Edition: Techniques for Film, Television, Photography, and Theatre by Gretchen Davis and Mindy Hall

Published in January 2012, professional makeup artists, Gretchen Davis and Mindy Hall, offer illustrated tips and demonstrate a variety of techniques essential in the industry. With successful careers in the film and television industries, including an Academy Award for Hall’s work on J.J. Abram’s Star Trek, the MUA’s also provide insider advice about set etiquette and working with Hollywood actors. Beyond covering modern skills, such as air brush makeup for computer-generated imagery (CGI) movies, application techniques for high-definition (HD) films, the full-color book also covers black-and-white films, makeup for difference time periods and even features a reference section with industry websites, businesses and resources.


Artisan Magazine – A quarterly publication produced by the Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild, Local 706 covering industry and union news, cutting-edge techniques and profiles of makeup artists.

Make-up Artist Magazine – Created in 1996 by Emmy Award-winning make-up artist Michael Key, the publication evolved from a two-sided newsletter into a bi-monthly magazine, featuring articles on the top makeup artists in the entertainment industry, makeup techniques, product news and insider information.


There are several career paths the might lead to a career as a cinematic makeup artist, although no university degree is required. Most makeup artists have completed a formal training or certification program and many professional-technical schools as well as two-year colleges offer a degree in cosmetology. Aspiring cinematic makeup artists may benefit from attending a professional training programs designed specifically for the film industry or earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in theater, art, digital arts and design or film history. Any training or classes in makeup, drawing, painting, drama, anatomy, chemistry and photography would provide useful knowledge and skills for a makeup artist.

Although there are numerous schools and training centers around the world to help you master the necessary skills to become a professional makeup artist, there is no school or training program that can guarantee employment in the field, especially in the extremely competitive film industry.

Joe Blasco, a professional makeup artist and the founder of the Joe Blasco Professional Make-up Artist Training Centers (insert jump link to the listing in the eduction section), has put together an insightful list of 41 questions you should ask prior to selecting a makeup school such as…

  • What credentials do your instructors have? Are they recent graduates or veteran working professionals?
  • Are you affiliated with a television studio or real media facility that can provide students with real world experience?
  • Do you prepare your students to be set ready (i.e. on-set etiquette, assisting etiquette)?
  • Does the school have one or two professional, overhead lighting grided sound stages where the intricacies of motion picture and television lighting can be taught detailing light and its relevancy to makeup artistry?
  • How many Academy Award and Emmy Award winning makeup artists do the students meet and learn from during their scheduled time in class?
  • To what extent does your school instruct concerning CGI and its impact on the media makeup profession?

The team has provided information and links to several of the most well-known academies and training programs but remember, there are many other programs available that may be better suited to your location, educational goals and financial situation.

JuilliardProfessional Intern Program  The renowned NYC theatre arts school offers several opportunities to gain hand-on experience during Juilliard’s Professional Intern Program in technical theater and arts administration. Although there is no degree awarded for completing the program, interns may be able to receive academic credit for their participation through their sponsoring institution. International applicants are also welcome to apply. The Wigs & Makeup internship is for those individuals pursuing a career as a professional theatrical hair and makeup artist. Applicants must have previous experience in theater, cosmetology or hair and makeup. During the full-time, nine month program, interns will be expected to commit to working at least 40 hours per week but the schedules will vary depending upon their duties and the production schedule. Although a modest stipend is offered, living in New York is very expensive and interns may want to secure housing prior to beginning the program. In addition to developing theatrical makeup skills as well as hair and wig styling and construction, interns will be able to participate in the design process, work with designers and attend seminars about technical theater or the arts administration fields.

The Academy of Art University For anyone seeking professional makeup artist training along with an AA, BFA or MFA degree in the film industry, the Academy of Art University in San Francisco may be the ideal educational setting for you. With a makeup program designed by professional makeup artist Gretchen Davis, (insert jump link to The Makeup Artist Handbook in the book section) film students and aspiring makeup artists can learn about makeup techniques during classes such as Makeup: Street & Special Effects; Makeup 2: Character and FX; Fashion Make Up: Artistry & Business and Editorial Make-up & Hair Styling and Production Design: Short Form Entertainment. The School of Motion Pictures & Television focuses on “filmmaking as an art with an emphasis on the practical aspects of filmmaking as a business” including gaining experience in a variety of disciplines. Through hands-on activities and projects, Students will have the opportunity to specialize in one or more areas, creating demo reels or building portfolios with in-class photo shoots.


Academy of Freelance Makeup, New York, London and Paris  Founded by makeup artist and model Jana Ririnui and owned by freelance hair and makeup artists, the international academy has bases in the hottest fashion industry cities in the world. Specializing in fashion, editorial, runway and bridal makeup, the Academy of Freelance Makeup (AOFM) offers a full spectrum of essential makeup skills. Different tutors are featured each day, providing students the opportunity to learn from professional makeup artists who have worked with high-profile clients, such as Vogue, Dior, Versace and Hollywood celebrities. Courses range from one month to a few days and include airbrushing, body painting, bridal, business/marketing, cosmetic retailing, fashion and hairstyling in all locations and features Total Pro Makeup and Hair Creative Specialist Certification, Freelance Certificate in Creative Airbrushing and MAC Cosmetics Pro Student Master Class at the NYC academy. U.S. students are also offered the opportunity to participate in all-expenses-paid trips to London to work backstage at London Fashion Week as well as the chance to be one of four graduates chosen annually from the NYC and London courses to be awarded a place in the Paris scholarship program with an all-expenses-paid stay in Paris to work on their portfolios. Graduates of the program may attend aftercare classes and master classes in London and NYC, including celebrity makeup master classes, brand master classes and industry classes, such as building a portfolio, invoicing/taxes and set etiquette. Graduates also have the opportunity to assist during London, Paris and New York Fashion Week shows, editorial shoots and backstage jobs with designers.

Christine Blundell Make-up Academy for Film and Television (CB*MA)  – Founded by Academy and BAFTA Award winning makeup artist and hair designer Christine Blundell (Topsy-Turvy), the London academy offers several training programs throughout the year, including three month, four month and five month programs. Class size is limited to 14 and all the tutors are professional make-up artists currently working in television, theatre and film, ensuring students receive personal attention as well as technical instruction and the latest techniques. As professional makeup artists, the tutors provide hands-on advice about working in the entertainment industry, such as customizing your kit, to managing a budget and preparing a script breakdown as well as makeup techniques, hair styling and wig skills and applying bruises, cuts and scars.

Cinema Makeup School Located in Los Angeles, the makeup school specializes in special makeup effects, beauty, body painting, airbrush makeup, hairstyling, fashion, film and television. Aspiring cinematic makeup artists will be particularly interested in the Film and Television Make-up Course teaches students all the makeup techniques that will be required for the membership in Local 706, the Makeup Artist Union. The 14-week course includes high fashion photographic makeup, character makeup and prosthetic makeup as well as a photo session for artists to build their portfolio. Assistance with international I-20 form for student visas is also available.

Delamar Academy The London school has trained

several Academy Award, BAFTA, International Indian Film Academy Award, Emmy Awards and a Fashion Finest Award makeup artists and are accredited by the British Accreditation Council, the only independent training academy in Britain to have makeup courses validated by a University. Founded by professional makeup artist and author, Penny Delamar,  (insert jump link to The Complete Make-Up Artist in the book section) and based in the heart of Ealing Studios, the filming location for many Downton Abbey scenes, the academy offers a wide range of makeup artist programs, including short courses of one or two weeks, a six-week advanced prosthetics course, a 22-week advanced complete makeup artist course and a one-year higher education certificate in professional makeup design. With small class size, aspiring makeup artists will have individual attention as they learn the latest techniques from professional makeup artists, hairdressers and special effects who are working experts in their fields.

 Joe Blasco Makeup Schools  The vocational trade school provides technical training for aspiring entertainment industry makeup artists and has facilities based in Hollywood and Orlando. Founded by professional makeup artist Joe Blasco, the school offers diplomas in Professional Makeup Artistry, Professional Makeup Artistry Masters I and Professional Makeup Artistry Masters II. Depending upon the course, students must commit between 440 to 800 class hours to successfully complete the diploma program. In addition, advanced training is available through the Joe Blasco Broadband Make-up Studio. During the live, interactive HDTV broadcasts, students are able to view extreme close-ups of makeup demonstrations as well as ask the instructor questions. Students’ best work is recorded as a video portfolio and job placement assistance is available after graduation.

Vancouver Film School

Led by professional cinematic makeup artist, Stan Edmonds, the Vancouver Film School (VFS) offers a one-year Makeup Design program specializing in the art of light and color in storytelling. Edmonds brings more than 25 years of hands-on film industry experience to the program, including working as Head of Department the films I, Robot, Scary Movie and Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award-winning film Unforgiven. In addition, all of the makeup instructors have at least five years experience as entertainment industry professionals and apply that knowledge to a well-defined curriculum to provide students with a practical understanding of the industry. During the immersive one-year study, students will learn all facets of makeup, including stage makeup, fashion makeup, film and television makeup, and makeup effects as well as script breakdown, on-set protocol and digital character design. Students Upon enrollment, students will receive a personal makeup kit and makeup lab supplies. Graduates receive a diploma in Makeup Design for Film and Television, a comprehensive portfolio and access to the VFS alumni directory and job board.


Like many artistic and technical fields in the entertainment industry, professional makeup artists may be eligible to join a labor union. In a field dominated by freelancers, membership in a union can provide assistance negotiating employment contracts, health and pension benefits as well as ensure safe working conditions.

Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild, I.A.T.S.E. LOCAL 706  A part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artist and Allied Crafts of the United States and Canada (I.A.T.S.E), the Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Local 706 is comprised of professional artists who work in the production of film, television, network broadcasting television, commercial, legitimate theater and any other entertainment venue where Local 706 has a contract. Makeup artists and hair stylists seeking work in the film and television industry have two options to qualify for union membership. Both membership options involve working as a makeup artist or hair stylist with producers or on a network television, video or non-union film or television production within Los Angeles Country as well as require all hair stylists to have proof of their current Cosmetologist License and all makeup artists must be able to pass a color blindness examination   Full details about the membership application process, membership benefits and additional information about the Local 706 are available on their website.

Perhaps professional makeup artist Michèle Burke summed it up best when she offered the following advice to aspiring makeup artists in an interview with HS Magazine,  “Learn everything you can, practice all the time. Do every job you are offered no matter the pay. Always keep your skills up and continue to learn. Be hard working, gracious and attentive to your actor or models needs, and really scrutinize your work. Pay attention to the job you are meant to be doing and make sure your clients or director is getting what you were hired to do.”

If you are an aspiring cinematic makeup artist or if you are already working in the field, the team would love to hear from you. Please share your story in the comments section below or use the hashtag #aspiring2actwritedirect in your social media response. We might even add your contribution to the post!

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