5 Traits Every Successful Makeup Artist Has

Friday, November 3, 2017

Breaking into the industry can be tough for aspiring hair and makeup artists. It takes time to build your reputation and network – so for newbies just starting out, there’s a lot of work to be done.

Don’t let that put you off though! Being a makeup artist is a fantastic career that gives you the chance to travel the world, meet some very interesting people, and make a living doing what you love.

At the Iver Makeup Academy, we think there are 5 traits that every makeup artist needs to have to be successful in their career. Let’s take a look:

1. Vocational Makeup Training

When you’re thinking of becoming a makeup artist, the first thing to do is get some vocational training. Every successful makeup artist is expected to have plenty of hands-on experience and technical knowledge. And that’s something you just can’t find in a lecture hall.

A vocational makeup course taught by experts is a great way to get the experience and qualifications you need to become a professional makeup artist. Not only can you get a taste of what it’s like to be in the industry, but your tutors become essential contacts that can help you in your future career.

2. A strong portfolio

The second thing all successful hair and makeup artists have is a portfolio that showcases all the amazing work they’ve done, and can do! This is where number 1 can also come in handy – all the projects and looks you complete on your vocational training are a great photo-op, and can be used to build up your portfolio.

Whether you publish your portfolio online or carry a print version, it’s crucial that it shows people just what you’re capable of. The most successful artists will have examples of their work, including everything from fashion and beauty makeup to prosthetics, and period looks to full-body makeup.

3. Great people skills

One of the most exciting aspects of a career as a makeup artist is the people you’ll meet. Depending on the job, you could be working with models, actors and celebrities, plus designers, stylists and crew members. That’s a lot of personalities in one place.

Any good makeup artist will tell you it’s important to get on with everyone on set, and that means having great people skills. Makeup and hair artist, and tutor at the Iver Makeup Academy, Christine Vidler says you should “treat everyone how you want to be treated.”

Imagine the high-pressure of a catwalk show or a film shoot – keep your cool, be kind to others, and people will thank you for your professionalism.

4. Plenty of stamina

Being a makeup artist can be tiring, so stamina is an essential trait for anyone in the industry. A normal day working on a film or TV production starts at around 5/5.30 am, and you’ll need to be first on set. When actors arrive, hair and makeup is their first stop, and it’s your job to get them ready for the big screen.

At the end of a long day of filming, makeup artists will often be some of the last people on set. You’ll need to help actors remove makeup, especially if it includes tricky pieces like prosthetics and wigs. When everyone else has gone home, makeup artists are hard at work preparing wigs, makeup, and tools for the next day’s look. So, stamina, (or loads of coffee), is key.

5. Enthusiasm

Finally, to be successful in your career as a makeup artist, you’re going to need tons of enthusiasm. Working in film and TV, theatre and fashion isn’t something that everyone can brag about. But it’s a fast-paced industry that promises loads of exciting experiences.

The techniques and tools that are used by makeup artists are constantly changing, so it can be a challenge to keep up, but that’s where your enthusiasm comes in. If you love all things hair and makeup, and thrive in a fun creative environment, then this could definitely be the career for you.

Check out some of our courses to get started.

Meet the Author
Liz Tagg


A highly talented and award-winning makeup artist, Liz has over 30 years of experience working in the film and television industry. A professionally trained makeup artist and hair designer, Liz’s career highlights include BAFTA and Emmy award nominations, as well as a recurring position as a member of the BAFTA jury.

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