How To Become A Makeup Artist In The UK?

So, you have decided on your future career and you want to be a make up artist? Congratulations! It’s a fun and exciting world, and it can lead you to great new levels of personal satisfaction, new learning and techniques – and a decent wage, too. But how to become a makeup artist in the UK?

Whether you are just out of school and are embarking on your dream, or whether you have been in the rat race for a while and decided on a change, there are many things you can do to make this process easier and more rewarding.

Why be a make up artist?

The obvious answer to this is that you like make up! To delve a little deeper, a make up artist is usually someone with a flair for creativity.

Make up is a form of artwork, there is no doubt about that – from simply enhancing someone’s natural looks, to hiding scars and blemishes, all the way through to make up that totally transforms a person and makes them look like someone or something completely different.

Make up artists generally, like the majority of us, like making people happy – what better accolade is there than making a bride look and feel her absolute best on her wedding day? Or making someone feel comfortable in their skin?

You will have your own reasons for wanting to be a make up artist, I’m sure, and whatever those reasons are they are good enough!

How much do makeup artists make?

how much do makeup artists make

As the vast majority of make up artists are self employed, this varies from case to case. If you are a self employed make up artist you will have to work out your own fees – these will need to be high enough that you can live on, but not too high that nobody hires you!

If you go down the self employed route you will also have to factor in your taxes – if you make a lot then you will have to pay the tax man a portion. Another factor to consider are your cost, of course – makeup brushes, sponges, rent, cleaning products, etc.

If you don’t make a lot then you just have to make sure that you have enough to live on, as well as save a bit for rainy days. As an employed make up artist, you would have to work out terms of payment with your individual employer.

Based on this data from, an average hourly rate for a makeup artist in the UK is just above £10; however, it can go as high as £30 per hour, driven by your experience, location and industry. That will make you around £20,000-30,000 a year (possibly more), depending on how many hours you want to work.

What qualifications do you need to be a make up artist

what qualifications do you need to be a makeup artist

You don’t actually need qualifications to become a make up artist. If you are artistic, creative and have flair with a brush, you can get into the scene with a good portfolio and build up your clients by word of mouth – but you will find getting started in this career easier if you do have qualifications.

Some of those offered are:

  • City & Guilds Diploma
  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma
  • VTCT Level 3 Diploma
  • ITEC Level 3 Diploma
  • Make Up Standards Authority (MASA) Diploma

You can find these courses offered at a great number of colleges and beauty schools across the UK, and you can further specialise your techniques at beauty schools – for example, specialising in bridal make up. To get onto these courses you will need either certain GSCE grades, or a very strong portfolio of work.

You can also go for a degree:

  1. Hair and Make Up For Fashion BA
  2. Make Up For Media And Performance BA

To go down the undergraduate path you will need certain A Levels or a Foundation qualification, as well as a good portfolio. It’s always best to check on the specific course you have chosen for their entry requirements.

Jobs you can do as a make up artist

This role goes far beyond making yourself and your friends look beautiful for a night out; it can really take you down artistic paths you never even dreamed of!

  • Wedding make up. Every bride wants to look her shining best on her special day, so you should find a lot of work if you decide to go down this route. It involves listening very closely to your client’s needs, and making sure you follow them to the letter, to avoid a “Bridezilla” moment!
  • Plays and theatre productions. These are great to get into as not only will you have a lot of fun and find a lot of scope for your talent, you can build up a large portfolio very quickly.
  • Film and TV work. As well as the potential to meet a star or two, this sort of work may allow you to expand your techniques and use special make up – for example, to make someone look incredibly old, or as if they have been in an accident.

Working as a self employed make up artist in the UK can be a tough market to get into – but once you have a portfolio and a few good clients, word will spread and you will find yourself in higher demand.

If you prefer more job security then going for a job at a beauty salon where you are employed is also a great way to go about it. Whichever route you take, follow your dreams – and good luck!

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