Make-up Artist

A make-up artist applies cosmetics, powder, paint or grease paint to the faces of actors before they appear on stage or in front of the cameras. This work also requires the artist to carry out research on design, creation of character, period make-up and hairstyles for studio dramas, live theatre and film shoots.

Make-up artists consider the shape of the face, the bone structure, the form of the eyes and the complexion before applying the make-up. Special effects are created by tinting and bleaching the hair, making up and applying beards, moustaches and wigs, etc. They also use colouring materials, padding and prosthetic pieces to simulate wounds, cuts, scars and bruises or to create monstrous faces and hands.

The make-up artist is required to remain on duty during productions to touch up actors’ make-up. A specialist in special effects and prosthetics may become a make-up designer. Other areas of specialisation include: model make-up; ageing effects; fancy make-up; and wig making.

This is a field connected to being a beauty therapist, without having to work as a traditional therapist. Some additional courses and training could be required to be really competitive in the job market. If you are a creative and an artistic person, this field opens up lot of possibilities. It is a highly competitive field and jobs are limited. It is possible to work in this field full-time or part-time. You must have a thorough knowledge of different make-up techniques and special effects. You can do make-up for television productions, work in the movie industry, assist photographers with bridal make-up or fashion model make-up and do theatrical make-up.

It is a very interesting and fulfilling field. You must be able to work strange hours and it can involve spending quite some time away from home. A lot of patience is required and sometimes you will work under very difficult conditions. You will work with a lot of different people with different temperaments and must be able to tolerate that.

You will have to know techniques like ageing, creating of wounds, different cultural make-ups, ultra fashionable make-up and fantasy make-up. You will also have to practise your techniques constantly to be able to use them really well. This can be one of the most satisfying careers anyone can follow.

Colour Consultants advise clients on the colours they should choose for clothing that will complement their appearance.

Personal Requirements

  • socially inclined and enjoy working with people
  • patience and tact
  • healthy, cheerful, adaptable and dedicated
  • artistic flair
  • eager to learn and to experiment with creative ideas
  • great skill and hand and finger dexterity
  • able to use the specialised make-up tools
  • courteous, pleasant and friendly

How to Enter


Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: No compulsory subjects although Visual Art is highly recommended. 
Recommended subjects: Art, Engineering Design (EGD) or Design, Dance Studies, Dramatic Arts.

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

What to Study

Drama studies are available at RU, US, UP, UCT, UFS, UKZN, Wits.

Diploma: Drama - TUT, Drama Studies - DUT, Entertainment Technology - DUT, TUT.

Cosmetology can be taken at TVET Colleges, e.g. KZN Coastal, Port Elizabeth, SW Gauteng, Tshwane South and Northlink.

A number of private make-up schools offer training lasting from 3 to 6 months. However, it is only through practice and experience that deftness, artistic qualities and skill can be improved sufficiently to ensure final success.


  • film production companies
  • theatre companies
  • television companies
  • model agencies
  • self-employment, doing freelance work

Further Information

Theatre and film production companies and organisations in large centres

CityVarsity Film & Television and Multimedia School
18 Roeland St, Gardens
Cape Town, 8000
Tel: (021) 466-6800

Department Entertainment Technology
The Head
Arts Faculty
Tshwane University of Technology
Private Bag X680
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: 086 110 2421

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work in a film studio or theatre
  • arrange to speak to a make-up artist about this type of career.

Programmes by Study Institutions

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