My A-Z of useful information for working in the make-up industry.
These pointers have been gained from my personal experience and some are from the experiences of my work colleagues.
A. Assist: I believe assisting successful make-up artists has helped me progress in the industry. Assist for free, assist for low pay, assist who you can and when you can, at the beginning and throughout! You never know who you’ll meet and it can lead to some fantastic jobs. I’ve worked with some amazing, talented, successful artists who have really helped me get further into the industry by giving me opportunities. Thank you so much.
At the same time, know your worth and don’t get taken advantage of. The job has to be beneficial to you.
B. Believe in yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other artists. Push yourself to keep in line with your personal goals.
C. Confidence: Something that takes time to build and continues to build. Like the above, never compare yourself to others, just do the best you can do. Be committed to the process. You may not be successful straight away or in the field you want to be in straight away but it can take time, so be patient.
Condense your kit as much as possible, to help you physically. Kit can be extremely heavy. A smaller kit is also easier to work with if you don’t know the size of your station or how many other artists you may be working with.
D. Diversity: Practice makeup on all ages, all races, all genders. A valuable mantra I learnt from working at Mac Cosmetics. Be comfortable and get confident working on a diverse range of people. Also have a diverse kit, to suit all skin types and all skin colours. Working on make-up counters really helped me build my kit.
E. Engage and listen to your clients. Listen to understand and not just to hear.
Experience: Get as much as you can, it’s so valuable and necessary if you want to be successful.
F. Fitness. I’m 28 and have at times felt 88! After hip surgery and other physical complications, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be physically fit in this job. Get strong and practice standing, lifting and holding your posture well as you’ll be standing in awkward positions and standing on your feet for long periods of time. Balancing the weight of your kit evenly on your body is also important. If you get strong, you’ll reduce/avoid pain and injuries. We also work in close proximity with a lot of people so it’s important to keep as well as possible. Purchase some supplements to boost your immune system. No one wants to be unwell, especially when you’re self employed.
G. Grow and learn together. If you can, try and work on a make-up counter or as part of a make-up team. You will learn from each other and you will continue to grow.
Graft: To be successful, it takes some grafting. You’ll experience long days, waiting and standing for long periods but it will be worth it.
H. Hair!! If you want to work in TV/Film. Make sure you’re able to do hair! No matter if your passion is make-up or if you prefer doing make-up. Hair skills are key in the industry and will lead to more opportunities.
Health and safety: practice good hygiene! To protect yourself and others. Learn how to clean your brushes correctly, how to sanitise your products, tools and work stations correctly. Personal hygiene is also important. Carry a toothbrush/tooth paste, mints, deodorant etc. Those long days are ahead!
I. Insurance: Make sure you get insurance to protect yourself and others. Including public liability and kit cover.
J. Juggle: Make sure you juggle your work/home/life balance as best as you can. Work hard but also look after yourself or you’ll burn out and make mistakes from being tired, such as messing up your schedule or appointments. We’ve all done it and everyone makes mistakes but if you become your own boss then you want to avoid as many mistakes as you can. Your reputation is everything!
K. Knowledge is power. Read/listen and learn as much as you can about the industry. Read books/blogs, watch videos/vlogs, listen to podcasts. Be aware of new trends and new products/tools.
L. Learn as much as you can from who you can. Develop your skills throughout your career, book courses to advance your skills. Gain all the knowledge you can.
M. Money: Do your research into industry pricing and what to charge. If you start low, it’s really hard to increase your prices. It’s also polite not to undercut other artists. If everyone is a similar price, it’s beneficial all round.
Mental health: Do what you need to do to wind down at the end of each day. As make-up artists, we give a lot of energy and take a lot of energies on board. We can work with a mixture of personalities. Try to wind down at the end of each day so you’re the best you can be the following day. BECTU (click here) are a great company to ask for advice. Also Mind charity (click here) can help support your mental health.
N. Network: Contact others in the industry for advice or offer to help, assist, shadow etc. Put some time into a website and business cards. Networking helps guide you to the next stepping stone. You won’t always receive a reply but don’t let it stop you, someone always will.
O. Observe: Keep observing other artists, you will always continue to learn and grow.
Original eras. If you are self taught, take some time to look into the past and where many make-up trends originate from. Don’t just focus on the Instagram/social media/beauty influencer world. I would recommend taking a make-up course.
P. Practice, Practice, Practice. It’s so important to practice the artistry you love and the artistry you dislike. Start building a portfolio (outside of social media) Practice on all races, all ages, all genders, all skin types. Remember to take photos to see how far you will come.
Personality. Your level of skill is just a small percentage of your success. Be professional, be personable, be polite and be presentable. Look the part and be the part. You’re your own advert and you’re giving people an experience. Be punctual and plan ahead. Be on time so you’re holding no one up and learn to work fast and efficiently as you have tight schedules to adhere to. Leave enough time to get to each job. Google maps is a blessing and a curse! A few more of my favourite p’s which are important in this industry, patience, persistence, perseverance, positivity, passion.
Q. Questions. Ask questions, it’s the best way to learn. Also don’t be afraid to ask questions such as the fee of the job, where the job is, what the brief is, how many people etc. Answer questions honestly and tactfully. If the look you’ve been asked to re-create or what you’ve been asked to do is unreasonable, speak up.
R. Respect your colleagues. For example. If your colleague passes on a job to you and that client wants to book you again, it’s polite to go back to your colleague and ask them for their approval. If you’re on a team, it’s also respectful to ask the main artist if you can hand out your business card, if you were asked for one. Remember to credit photos if you assist on a job and equally if it’s your job. Credit the make-up artist, photographer model, everyone involved. Don’t tread on toes or it will effect your reputation. Be reliable when you’re a key artist and assistant.
S. Social media: Take some time to share photos and information on social media as it’s such a big and useful promotional platform to help your business grow. Avoid filters and editing, it’s not realistic for your clients. Especially if you’re then asked to recreate something that isn’t real, you won’t meet your clients expectations.
T. Trust. Working with celebrities, high profile people or any client, you need to be trustworthy. People often open up to you when you do their Make-up and conversations should remain confidential.
Terms and conditions. Have T’s and C’s in place to protect yourself and others. Always send them before any private booking is made or any money is paid.
U. Underestimate. Don’t underestimate yourself! We all get nervous or anxious about a big job coming up. See it as a positive! Because we care and because we’re passionate. Don’t let those ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) crawl in and tell you it’s because you’re not good enough, you are. You might need to work on your confidence but doesn’t everyone? Also, don’t underestimate the job. Schedules change, locations change, weather changes. Take some snacks with you, water, some extra clothing layers, multiple ways of payment etc.
Understand what your client wants; listen, ask questions, investigate and answer questions.
V. Vulnerable: Stay safe. Share your journey with a friend or loved one. Don’t have your phone out on the streets. Be aware of your personal belongings and on public transport. Invest in a portable phone charger. If a job enquiry seems odd, follow your gut instinct and do more research into it. Tell someone where you’re going.
W. Word of mouth. Reputation means a lot in this industry. It’s a lot to do with who remembers you, who asks you back, who recommends you, being likeable, friendly, helpful and kind.
X. X-Factor! (because X is the hardest letter to think of) but working on the X-factor was a dream of mine! I was lucky enough to assist the team. It was my first big TV job and I was over the moon. I remember it so well! I realised why my dream is TV. I love live entertainment, the buzz of it all, meeting lots of people. My next dream was to work on a TV show and in October 2019 I started at Good Morning Britain, I love it so much. Always set your goals and work towards them. I’d been qualified 4 years when I worked on X factor and 9 years when I started at GMB, it does take time but it’s worth it! And more importantly, try out all areas of makeup and find your x-factor, your special talent, your special quality, your real love in the industry. Then you can really focus on what you want.
Y. Yearly review. Every year I reflect and review my business. I review my pricing, I review any negative things that have happened and how I want to change those things going forward. I reflect on my successes and what my new goals are for the year ahead.
Z. Zero f***s given.
Know your worth! Don’t let people try to reduce your price, no matter the sob story (sorry not sorry) it’s your business, your passion, your graft and you have to live your life and pay your bills.
Mates rates is fine for those select few but no, you can’t keep doing discounts for your best friend’s, Mum’s, dog sitter’s, neighbour’s, Aunty! You have spent a lot of time and effort dedicated to your job.
It’s great to do some charity work but set a limit. Don’t let people use ‘charity opportunities’ to guilt trip you and exploit your good nature. ‘Charity work’ is not an excuse for unpaid work. Do your research into the charity and what’s expected of you.
I hope this has been helpful. I’m sure I’ll learn lots more along the way and I’ll continue to share so I can help others. Best of luck on your journey! I’m always here to answer any questions you may have. If you think of anything additional that would be useful to others, please contact me.
Alexia Jade X