Makeup For Beauty Or Film, Which Is For Me?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

For school leavers considering a career in the makeup industry, there’s plenty of things to think about. But where should you start? A great way to assess your options and work out which is the right path for you would be to think about which part of the industry you want to work in. As a makeup artist you can train for a variety of different sectors, and the most popular of these tend to be the beauty industry and the film industry. Is the fast-paced atmosphere of beauty makeup or the thrill of TV and film where you’re destined to be?

We asked our very own expert tutor Liz Tagg-Wooster for her advice to anyone looking to begin a career as a makeup artist.

Firstly, you need to understand the differences between both types of work. For TV and film, makeup is essential to storytelling and helps to create the characters in a programme or movie. Beauty however, focuses on creating more natural looks whether it’s for an editorial photoshoot, glamorous event.

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between these two disciplines, from the skills they require to the types of techniques that might be used.

What is the difference between beauty and film makeup?

Film: The main difference between creating makeup looks for beauty or film, is where they’re intended to be seen. TV and film makeup is always intended to be seen on camera. Whether it’s a blockbuster film or long-running TV series, the makeup artist will need to think about studio lighting and high definition cameras.

If you’re doing a look for film you’ll always need to think carefully about the types of products used and whether they’ll look right on the big screen (or a smaller one!).

Beauty: Beauty makeup on the other hand, could be for an event where the model will be seen up-close and in person.

It could also be for a catwalk show where the model is seen at a distance, or an editorial photoshoot where the look will be photographed. All of these situations require slightly different skills and techniques to achieve a beauty look.

How are the makeup looks created?

Film: When it comes to creating the makeup look for a TV or film production, makeup artists work closely with the director and actors to get the right look for a specific character. As a film or TV makeup artist, you’ll usually be required to do some research to nail the look and feel of the character. For example if you were working on a period film you might need to research looks of the time for historical accuracy.

Makeup artists then work very closely with costume and production designers to co-ordinate colours and style. When the production has a highly-styled aesthetic, your hair and makeup look will all need to fit in.

Beauty: Makeup looks for beauty are often the choice of the person wearing the makeup or hair style. It might be their wedding or an awards ceremony, and the look you create needs to convey these personal preferences so requires a lot of versatility. For fashion shows the look is decided in advance by the designer.

The artist can recommend ideas and may have more freedom than in TV and film, when designing the look. Typically, beauty looks are more natural, and certainly won’t require prosthetic injuries!

What skills will I need?

Film: A film or television production requires the artist to be able to breakdown a script to analyse the characters and what happens to them over the course of the story. Seeing as something in the story line might change the appearance of a character, several looks need to be created.

As well as changing look in line with the story or script, film or television makeup artist needs to be able to recreate each look precisely as it appeared in a previous shoot for consistency. This is crucial when filming schedules require scenes to be shot out-of-sequence as it’s the artist’s job to make sure there aren’t noticeable differences between scenes. Attention to detail is vital!

Beauty: Working in the fashion industry means working quickly. A makeup artist working on a catwalk show might be part of a larger team whose job it is to get several models catwalk-ready for a show. This fast-paced atmosphere means artists need to work accurately and quickly to keep up.

Compared to makeup for film and TV, the beauty industry may mean artists re-create trends and even work on new trends, so often there’s an opportunity to get a bit creative. Creating looks with certain textures and finishes, for example a catwalk high ponytail, might not work so well on screen, but it looks stunning at a fashion show or editorial front cover.

Which techniques are practiced in film and beauty?

Film: Depending on the type of production the artist is working on, makeup for TV and film involves a wide range of different techniques. Makeup, wigs and prosthetics can all be used to enhance or alter the appearance of actors and actresses.

You could even be required to use all of these over the course of shooting. Creating authentic aging makeup is another important skill. If an actor is playing a character that’s older than them, the artist will need to use specialist techniques to age them. Prosthetics might be used to mimic injuries or totally alter the appearance of the actor. Sometimes, prosthetics and wigs even need to be specially made when working on period dramas or horror films.

Beauty: Some of the techniques used in makeup for film can cross over to beauty. Makeup artists will aim for a flawless look by perfecting complexions and mastering correcting, concealing and base techniques to accentuate the model’s natural beauty.

Beauty makeup can also cross over into catwalk designs or front cover looks where the artist is required to use techniques for more striking looks. This could include modern and vintage makeup and hair styles that work well for an editorial piece.

What about careers?

There’s a lot of choice for people who train to become a makeup artist. No matter which role you’re thinking of specializing in, you’ll find plenty of exciting career opportunities. After training in TV and film artistry, you could go on to work on multiple film productions, or TV programmes.

With training in makeup for beauty, you could go into the world of fashion to work with models on fashion shoots or artists in music videos and events.

Whichever part of the industry you decide is right for you, they all require one thing in common. Plenty of enthusiasm and dedication to learning is a trait of all successful makeup artists. Find out more about the courses offered at the Iver Makeup Academy by taking a look at the courses page.

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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