What should a make-up artist wear?

What should a make-up artist wear?

After a franticly busy winter of wearing clothes, purely on the basis that they are clean, many of us have decided that 2018 is the year to present our best self. Your image is not always a priority, but as a make-up artist, it really should be considered. What specifically should you wear? It is an important question to consider. Have you ever heard the saying:


“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”?


There is an art to presenting yourself in such a way that says to those around you:


“She must be very good at her job”.


As a make-up artist you need to consider your environment. Working on a film set will require different attire to backstage at London Fashion Week. The first thing to do is look at what the respected make-up artists around you are wearing. Look no further than the Delamar Academy tutors above! 




Film & TV:


Here is Delamar Graduate Rosie Sinfield, she has been working in some far-flung and remote locations for a huge upcoming film. You can read all about her journey here. 


  • Be comfortable because the hours are LONG.


  • Black is best, sometimes dark colours like grey, taupe, navy etc are fine too.


Our graduate and tutor, Brian Kinney showing how to wear his favourite colour standing in a field of mud. It’s a glamorous life on these film sets!



  • Don’t wear bright colours, patterns or textures that draw attention to you in a crowd room of 100 supporting actors. Red PVC is not going to do you any favours! Yes, it’s wipe clean, but you must be a vision of utility and comfort on set, not a sexy fashionista.


  • Showing skin? No. Don’t wear anything short or low cut because there is a lot of bending over to rummage through set bags and packing down. You don’t need anyone to see your cleavage, underwear or question your motives for displaying flesh. Even if YOU feel comfortable with your legs, chest, arms etc exposed, it is not going to impress your designer and may receive unwanted comments. Even in hot weather you can wear very light materials that remove the need for strappy tops or short shorts. The film set environment requires you to be discrete.


  • Tight? Use your judgement in line with the above advice. You can wear fitted clothes, which are not to be confused with bodycon clothes. There is a big difference.


  • Shoes? At Delamar, all the Film & TV tutors either wear boots or trainers. Catherine Scoble loves her Nike Airmax, Amanda Warburton is a fan of the Blundstone boots, and flat buckled ankle boots seem to be a favourite with tutors Wendy Topping and Laura Solari. These shoes will keep you comfy and supported all day long.


  • Jewellery? No jangly bangles or bit statement pieces. Save the statements for fashion week. Use your judgement on jewellery… is it discrete, safe and practical?


  • Colder location clothing? Jeans, thick tunic tops, draped fine-knit jumpers, dungarees, pinafore dresses with thick leggings, sweatshirts over flannel shirts, jumpers, puffer coats, fleeces, cowl neck jumpers, boots.


  • Warmer location clothing? Linen trousers, silky material jump suits, blouses, loose t-shirts, longer shorts, wide-leg trousers, culottes in a light material, light-weight shirts and trainers.


  • How to wear your own make-up? If you are main-team, a degree of looking “done” can certainly be a good thing. You are a professional so obviously keep it refined and beautifully applied. In the crowd room you can also wear make-up, but never full-on glamour make-up. Try not to look tired or withering. People can unravel on film jobs, as the hours are long. Use concealer and luminosity imparting base products to counteract the effects of fatigue. If you look at any of the top make-up designers like Tina Earnshaw and Naomi Doone, they are so well put together, their make-up is always on point without being overtly glamorous or fussy.


  • How to wear your own hair? Clean and out of the way. French plaits, ponytails and buns are all great styles for on set. Long hair should be tied back. This will elude to a much more “together” looking make-up artist, even if you are paddling frantically like a duck on still water.


  • Nails? Short, clean and polished if you like. Clean and short is the most important thing. Shellac is great for preventing chips.






  • It depends on whom you are working for here! A show like Jenny Packham, Burberry or Alice Temperly is very highbrow. A show like Ashish, Topshop or Shrimps is super fun and bold. You will notice that the make-up artists will reflect this vibe to a degree.


  • Still wear black. Backstage is all about wearing black, and you are automatically part of the backstage crew when you wear black.



  • Don’t show skin, just like in film & TV… again, too much bending over!


  • Express yourself a little more, you can dress up and play with eccentric jewellery, bright lipstick, fun shoes and bold glasses (think Val Garland). You will fit in well with the fashion pros if you style yourself with a little more expression. Maintain utility and comfort though!




  • It’s perfectly ok to be very comfy. Just don’t look scruffy. Pat McGrath has worn a similar uniform of black clothes with a headband… forever.

























Delamar graduate Krystal Buckley is here with her artist backstage at Kinky Boots The Musical. You can see that Krystal has a very relaxed dress code with a storage pouch worn around the middle. (Rather bum-bag esque). You can read all about Krystal’s career journey here.
  • Each Theatre is different! Some theatres are very relaxed but the rule is simply black clothes. This is because if you are standing by the stage, you can’t be seen!


  • Casual is ok, like film you must be comfy, but not sloppy!


  • You must wear sensible shoes, so boots or trainers are ok. These shoes need to enable you to run up and down stairs with ease.


  • There is a lot of rushing about for quick changes so think about anything that might get caught on the Velcro of your actors’ costumes.


  • Don’t wear jangly jewellery – same for film!


  • Follow the lead and advice of your department head and feel free to ask questions. Theatre is a more regular job for many hair and make-up artists who are contracted to work on specific shows. Your team will become a family. Theatre is an environment you should not find intimidating (for the most part!).


  • You might  need to wear a pouch around your middle, like a brush belt, but this is a place for your glue pot, pins and brushes. Krystal Buckley above shows us how this looks!


  • A head torch is sometimes worn backstage, so make sure your hair is out of the way for this!


Private Client


Hannah Martin, a top makeup artist who has clients such as Kate Middleton and Alexandra Shulman advises you adopt a make-up look that reflects the type of make-up your client wants. If your client is fearful of red lipstick, then don’t wear red lipstick. If your client loves a full face of glamor make-up, then tweak your makeup accordingly to reflect this. Your client will be reassured by your “shared” tastes. There is nothing scarier for a client, than a make-up artist who is wearing make-up that you don’t like!



Hannah martin has taught a Bridal masterclass here at Delamar Academy. read all about it here.


Alternatively it is perfectly acceptable to do a quick base, curl your eyelashes and a slick of lip-gloss. Our lead fashion tutor, Joanne Byrne is a wearer of this look and it does not discriminate or encourage judgement.


  • As ever, nails should be short and clean. Polish is optional!
  • Hair can be whatever you like with private clients.
  • Clothing is a lot freer with private client work. Wear something your client will think is smart enough without looking intimidating. 


One of our graduates Jo Frost is a regular with big name musicians. Jo’s personal style is rock star chic, with funky glasses, bandanas and statement fashion pieces. This is Jo’s personality and it works well for her clients, as they share a creative and expressive style.  


Following recent government announcements, we are pleased to have re-opened the Academy.
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