Dealing with prejudice and sneery attitudes towards your make-up or hair career

Dealing with prejudice and sneery attitudes towards your make-up or hair career

According to the sneery collective, the only jobs worthy of respect are in industries such as finance, law or medicine. Everyone knows the level of training required and pay commanded by such professionals. After all, creative jobs belong to the whimsical, permanently broke, and not very clever people.  Make-up artists don’t make much money? They mostly work in a shop, and probably failed their GCSE’s right? Oh the misconception.  

How many of you out there have told someone you are a make-up artist, or a trainee make-up artist, only to be met with a drippy smile that says “oh bless’ or “I didn’t expect a make-up artist to be SO intelligent!” (Based on real-life experiences.)

When faced with these sneery attitudes, possibly from academic family members, or even dates, it is crucially important for your own preservation and the industry overall, to conquer such mis-informed prejudices with key insider information. Be prepared to blow some minds with your knowledge.

The professional industries of film, TV, theatre and fashion are a very cloak-and-dagger world. They are closed industries teaming with many creatively satisfied, clever and for the most-part, surprisingly well-paid professionals.

The Industries are not what you see on beauty counters or on Instagram. Although both have their place, these are not the make-up artists we train at Delamar. Professional make-up artists and hair stylists work in a huge variety of exciting environments, with expertly curated, painfully expensive kits of brushes and products, to transform their clients into everything from Lord Of The Rings Orcs to eighteenth century characters with the most elaborate hairstyles. Of course, this is a domain for the stupid – Orcs are easy and these hairstyles can totally be re-created from YouTube. *Note the sarcasm here*. From catwalk models to advertising shoots, this industry is highly varied and requires a huge amount of skill to succeed.

I write this as the marketing manager at Delamar, who completed a Law Degree at Exeter University. I worked in law before training as a make-up artist, which I did just for the sheer joy of applying make-up. I did not know this obsession would see me working in the commercial beauty world of brands and advertising, resulting in me coming to Delamar.

I will say what many academic graduates have remarked whilst wiping away tears of frustration (or elation!) on the Advanced Hair course…

“This is harder than my degree.”

Could this possibly be because the course is 5 days a week, 10am – 4pm, and these hours are spent watching and working? That is it! The teaching of a practical skill, much like a sport; testing things like hand-eye coordination, stamina to stay on your feet all day, physical techniques and the ability to judge your efforts critically. What’s more, make-up artists  have to exert themselves physically each and every day.  

We experience the whole range of emotions from our students, as our courses are highly enjoyable but they are not easy. Never think being a make-up artist or hair stylist is an easy option. Delamar Graduates are so popular in these industries; we burst with pride every time they get hired on top productions (which is all the time FYI). This is a testament to our training and agency.


The awkward topic: Money


So your parents are worried you will always be broke… it’s definitely worth letting them know that the money isn’t bad

  • Film and TV 
    • Make-up artists on film sets take home from approx. £120 per day for a trainee (fresh out of make-up school), approx. £250+ as a daily artist and between £350 to £the sky’s-the-limit-a day, as a make-up designer. Most films shoot 5-6 days a week, for months and months. From dailies to designers, once you are working on a film, your bank account will thank you.
  • Commercial 
    • The average daily pay for a make-up artist on an advertising/ecommerce shoot is £300-£350. If you are working for a beauty brand, this is always higher.   
  • Bridal
    • Bridal artists can charge whatever they like, with £400 a day being the norm for a whole bridal party make-up job. Some Delamar Graduates have reached the pinnacle and can command over £1000 for a wedding day, which is often less than 4 hours work. All travel costs covered too, trial charged separately. Not bad, eh?
  • Fashion 
    • Fashion make-up artists, unless they are designers or celebrity artists, are the lowest-paid, with jobs like Fashion Week and editorial being often done for the kudos, but not much money. Being paid £60 for a show at Fashion Week is quite normal. All that said – many fashion make-up artists recover this with commercial work on e-commerce shoots, adverts and private client work. There is a lovely mix of passion projects and high-paid work for the average fashion make-up artist.
  • Theatre 
    • This is usually paid PAYE, so a salaried position. For someone with a few years experience you will be paid £37,660 per annum as a make-up and hair technician (source – The Royal Opera House recruitment). An untrained apprentice will be on £13,000 – this salary is for someone who has not taken a course with us and is merely interested in the profession. 


Although this work seems well paid, anyone who is motivated by money alone would not be right in this profession. 


With the uncomfortable subject of pay out the way, lets move onto:


Professional respect


Everything you see at the cinema, on TV, in magazines and in advertising is the work of a creative team, which includes the make-up artist.

You can’t watch Lord Of The Rings or Star Wars, and not think that’s pretty clever, how do they make such terrifying monsters?

Oscar winning make-up artist, Peter King, recently told us at IMATS how CGI is being used less and less, in favour of prosthetics make-up.

Rarely can you look at actresses on the red carpet without thinking, whoever got her ready is a genius.

With each year that goes by, the bar is always being raised by new products and better cameras.

Being entrusted to alter the appearance of anyone on camera is scary, as there’s no room for error, especially on close-ups. The photographer has to trust you, because you can easily ruin the shots, the director of an ad/film/TV series has to trust you for exactly the same reason, the model or client has to trust you. Everyone has to trust you, because make-up artists can make or break the final product. We are super important people on set (never let a cameraman tell you otherwise!).

Imagine the choice of make-up talent that actors and celebrities have to select from. Merely being trained does not grant you access to Brad Pitt’s face or Nicole Scherzinger’s hair… being experienced and highly respected does give you a chance though. Just consider the pressure of being paid to change the appearance of an A-list female actresses face. These trained and experienced artists are comparable to QC barristers and surgeons, with the time it has taken to reach this point in their career and skills learnt along the way… they also earn similar money.

Any make-up artist will tell you how it is a privilege to use creative skills to change someone’s face and hair. With private client work, this job satisfaction comes from making a woman not only look, but feel beautiful. You are the confidence enabler, therapist, artist and smile-maker. To be a consistently able and well-paid make-up artist, there is an unbelievable amount of experience and mastery that goes into this profession.

The next time someone is sneery about your career, educate him or her with a few facts and numbers. We challenge you to change perceptions of make-up artists and hair stylists. This is not a profession to be sniffed at.

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