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6 Things No One Tells You About Being A Makeup Artist


Malia2When makeup artistry is your career choice, it is easy to think that it will be glamorous. We make people pretty and turn them into characters and turn their bodies into art! WE ARE GODS!!!  Ok….maybe that’s taking it too far. The reality however is usually more grueling and a lot less glamorous in actuality. Is it rewarding? Yes. A blast? At times, hell yes. Is it hard? Harder than anyone who doesn’t actually do it will ever understand (and don’t expect them to-see below.) Allow me to shed some light on some of the lesser known but all too true realities of being a makeup artist. Below are just some of the things that no one tells you …. until now.

1. The endless duel between trained and untrained makeup artists. 

Even though we all play for the same team and ideally are a COMMUNITY of artists, it often feels as though there are two teams, team trained and team self-taught.  If I had a nickel for how many times I’ve seen one judge the other because one paid money to learn the craft vs. someone who spent countless hours self-teaching, I would be a hell of a lot richer than I am now. Here are some of the biggest hot topics and misnomers;

–        Trained artists are pretentious

–        Self-taughts aren’t as hygienic

–        Trained artists think they are better / wasted money / don’t love it as much

–        Self-taughts can’t be as good because they don’t properly know “how”

Honestly the list goes on and it’s all bull. In my experience there are just as many good trained artists as there are self-taught and the same goes for bad ones. It all comes down to personal choice. You do not NEED to pay thousands to learn how to do makeup but if you do better in a school environment then that’s probably a good choice for you. If you do better on your own, research and practice. My advice?   Stop judging each other. It makes us all look bad and weakens our community.

2. Half the time you will have no idea what is going on.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been denied a script, a shoot schedule or basically anything that I NEED so I know how to do my job. If my actor is getting out of the shower in the next scene she is probably not going to have a full face of makeup on (personal experience…..don’t ask.)  If you are having a nose break in the next scene YOU WILL PROBABLY NEED BLOOD (again, personal experience and they were LUCKY that my blood had somehow found its way into my beauty kit.) I have found that a lot of people do not appreciate or understand how important our job as MUAs is. The makeup has to make sense for the scene, the character, the time of day, the year and the circumstance. We should NEVER have to ask our actor what the scene is and yet I find myself in that scenario constantly. My advice? Keep asking for what you need. You may seem like a pest at the time but you shouldn’t be denied the tools to do your job right and in the end the whole project will only be more complete because of it.

3. You have to be telepathic.

To be a great MUA you have to learn how to read people, their moods, their energies, their likes and dislikes and basically everything about them. The second someone sits in your chair you need to know how to treat them, in order to do this you have to read them. If they look terrified, try talking to them, make them feel calmer, compliment them, get them to laugh. If they have their script in their hands and keep glancing at it they probably want to spend this time to go over their lines so it’s better to leave them alone. If they keep glancing at your makeup they may be nervous of what’s in it or may just be curious on why you’re using what, these are the people that it’s best to talk them through every step of the application. Same goes for being on set. If you can read people it is pretty easy to tell if the crew you are working with wants you on stand- by on set or would rather call for you to come back to set whenever they need you. My advice? Trust your instincts. We tend to be a better read on people than we give ourselves credit for.

4. The crew thinks you are a gossipy diva.

Ok so there is some truth here. It is widely known that the makeup trailer (or corner…or basement….or treehouse…or where ever you are shoved) is the most fun place to be on set and it’s usually more fun for the rest of the crew than it is for us. All the actors come to us to vent or to gossip so yes, we do have dirt on everyone on set, we are probably the people you want to mess with the least BUT it’s usually not us doing the gossiping…it’s everyone else!!! Also, there is no denying that there are a lot of MUAs/hair stylists / and wardrobe dept. that truly are demanding divas. My advice? Stay out of the gossipy drama and understand you are a part of a TEAM and egos will only get in the way.

5. You will either have too much to do or nothing at all.

In my entire career as a MUA there has never been one time when things went at a comfortable pace. Get used to being uncomfortable. Working in the indie world you usually have too many talent to do in an incredibly small amount of time OR you have one actor every 6 hours and spend the entire day trying to get past those horrifyingly delicious Candy Crush levels. My advice? Bring your phone charger, keep hydrated, learn to love caffeine or join a book club and for God’s sake stay away from the 5 lb. bucket of Red Vines.

6. Being a makeup artist is one of the most fun and rewarding jobs out there.

No explanation needed. This is a stone cold fact.

Have any insider tips/facts of your own? Comment below!

Malia Miglino

About Malia Miglino

Known to most as an actor and make-up artist - Malia Miglino considers herself a creative above all else. Her passion to create and chase her dreams brought her to LA at 18 where she attended the Makeup Designory and received her Journeyman Certificate. After years of both acting and doing make-up for web series and indie film; she was inspired to open her own freelance beauty and consult service, Beauty and the Brush in 2011. In 2014 Malia decided to start taking her career into her own hands and created her first web series “Macabre Mondays.” Whether it’s illustrating a children's book, filming an old haunted location, delving into a character or making up an actor on set; happiness comes from living the life of your choosing. For Malia that means creating something everyday and inspiring other women to do the same.