Makeup Artist, Theatrical and Performance  What They Do

Just the Facts


Applies makeup to performers to reflect the period, setting, and situation of their role.

This career is part of the Arts, Audio-Video Technology and Communications cluster Performing Arts pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Confers with stage or motion picture officials and performers in order to determine desired effects.
  • Duplicates work precisely in order to replicate characters' appearances on a daily basis.
  • Applies makeup to enhance, and/or alter the appearance of people appearing in productions such as movies.
  • Establishes budgets, and works within budgetary limits.
  • Alters or maintains makeup during productions as necessary to compensate for lighting changes or to achieve continuity of effect.
  • Selects desired makeup shades from stock, or mix oil, grease, and coloring in order to achieve specific color effects.
  • Cleanses and tones the skin in order to prepare it for makeup application.
  • Assesses performers' skin-type in order to ensure that make-up will not cause break-outs or skin irritations.
  • Analyzes a script, noting events that affect each character's appearance, so that plans can be made for each scene.
  • Requisitions or acquires needed materials for special effects, including wigs, beards, and special cosmetics.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Special Effects Technician -- Creates various types of illusions for television commercials and shows, movies, theater productions and other special projects.
  • Body Makeup Artist --