Make-up Artist Kaitoi Whakapaipai Kanohi

Make-up artists apply make-up to enhance or alter people's appearances.

Make-up artists may do some or all of the following:

  • consult with clients about the look they want
  • read scripts and research the background to historic film or television productions
  • write make-up sheets explaining what make-up look should be applied
  • put make-up on clients and style their hair for special occasions and performances
  • clean and sanitise their brushes and equipment
  • make facial and body moulds (prosthetics) for actors to wear
  • sell cosmetics
  • create social media make-up demos, or give make-up lessons in person.

Physical Requirements

Make-up artists need:

  • clear speech and good hearing
  • normal colour vision 
  • good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses)
  • good hand-eye co-ordination
  • the ability to spend long hours on their feet.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for make-up artists includes:

  • work as a beauty therapist, beautician or hairdresser
  • work at a cosmetic counter, or other customer or retail work
  • paid or voluntary make-up work for theatre or film.

Personal Qualities

Make-up artists need to be:

  • able to relate to people from a range of cultures and backgrounds
  • adaptable and good at solving problems
  • good listeners
  • accurate, with good attention to detail
  • reliable and organised
  • able to work well in a team 
  • motivated, with initiative.


Make-up artists need to have:

  • knowledge of different types of skin and hair, and how to work with them
  • knowledge of hygiene and how to avoid spreading infections
  • an understanding of make-up, the latest styles and colours, and how to apply them
  • basic hairstyling skills 
  • an understanding of camera and lighting techniques
  • research skills, so they can make sure they use the correct make-up style for actors' needs
  • sales skills.

Make-up artists who are self-employed also need business, marketing and social media skills.


Make-up artists:

  • may work long or irregular hours, including early mornings, weekends and evenings if they are working in television or film, or normal retail hours if they work in a store
  • work in hair and beauty salons, stores, clients' homes, dressing rooms, film studios and on location
  • may work in stressful conditions with short deadlines, or outdoors in all weather conditions
  • may travel locally, nationally or internationally.

Subject Recommendations

No specific secondary education is required for this job. However, design and visual communication (graphics), media studies and drama are useful.

Make-up artists may progress to:

  • set up their own business
  • become make-up designers, who create the overall make-up look for films, television commercials, fashion shows or make-up collections.

Make-up artists who work in retail stores and hair and beauty salons may move into managerial or training roles. 

Make-up artists may specialise in:

  • hairdressing and wig application
  • prosthetics – casting facial and body moulds for costumes
  • video tutorials
  • body painting.

Years Of Training

<1 year of training usually required.

There are no specific requirements for becoming a make-up artist. However, you may find it useful to have:

  • a certificate or diploma from a polytechnic or make-up school
  • a portfolio showing your make-up ideas and style.
Make-up Artist