When I tell people that I am a professional makeup artist, they often comment on how glamorous a job that must be.  Well, sometimes it is but more often than not it really isn’t. So, what does a day in the life of a makeup artist really look like?

The night before a shoot I will receive a call sheet, usually by email from my agent with all the details for the next day. I already know I am shooting and for what but I may not have the details on the times or locations. Based on that I have to prepare my makeup kit according to what I will be shooting and I may need to restock my kit or purchase something that I don’t already have (requests such as hair accessories or false lashes etc.) This may sound like fun, a trip to Sephora or the drugstore, but it can be a headache. I may not find what I need, it may be out of stock and I’ll need to go to several stores. Clients often tell you too late they need something. For example, one client asked me a couple of hours before a shoot to bring long, grey hair extensions for an older model who would be wearing them while riding a roller coaster!  (Grey hair extensions need to be ordered in advance or custom dyed and are very difficult to find in stores.) The idea that they needed to be very secure to her head also made me a little nervous!

IMG_3079(Repacking my kit. Looks like someone wants to come with me to work!)

Next, I set my alarm! Call times are often very early like 5 am! Photographers love the sunrise light and I am the first one to come to work to get everyone ready. I have a deadline. There is no time to delve into the delicious catering everyone else is eating. The model may arrive late, it may still be dark and I don’t have enough light etc. (one morning I did makeup using the headlights from my car to illuminate the model!) Mornings are usually the most stressful part of the day.

FullSizeRender-3(Sunrises really are gorgeous, sometimes worth waking up that early!)

Hurry hurry hurry and then….wait! Yes, there is a lot of waiting time. The light may not be quite right or the set isn’t ready etc. Then during the actual shooting, I am expected to make sure the hair and makeup continue to hold up under the hot sun, lights, wind etc. Retouching is expected and hairspray a must. This is not a time that I can sit around and play on my phone, alas I won’t be booked again if I did that. No, I must stand around for hours of shooting, looking interested and retouching as necessary. If I am filming a video I must be silent and my phone too. Yes, I may be in a beautiful location but it may be very hot and mosquitos could be attacking my feet. I am not glamorous, the model is. I am wearing something comfortable, a hat and sunscreen or I’m in a studio frozen wearing jeans and a sweater. I will have to get down on my knees and rub moisturizer on dry legs, blow runny noses of children and mop up sweaty brows.

FullSizeRender-2 FullSizeRender-1

cocorocha2(Retouch, refresh, spray…fun day with Coco Rocha)

IMG_3361 IMG_2061(Glamorous locations like the beach!)

IMG_0139(Studio locations, fake snow!)


But it is still glamorous, in its own way. I break for lunch. It is catered and delicious and I am on the beach with my feet in the sand. No, I am not in an office eating a sandwich at my desk. I meet new people every day and learn about new cultures or locations. I may have flown to a location on an island and the evening is mine to enjoy. Or I may have flown to Milwaukee, where many studios are now located, and well the scenery isn’t quite the same thing.

Even if I have had a tough day at then end of it I can say to myself phew it’s over! I may never have to shoot with these people again or, I had a great time and can’t wait to be booked again. Some days are relaxing and some are very stressful but at then end of the day it’s just makeup and everyone always feels better when they look pretty.

IMG_3497(End of the day! All packed and ready to go, but first a little toast with the client.)

If you still think this is glamorous and may be a career for you, stay tuned for next week when I explain how to become a professional makeup artist.


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3 comments on “A day in the life of a makeup artist”

  1. A very informative and enjoyable read! Your photos also show the reality of life as a make-up artist… glamorous and otherwise. A “thumbs up” review!

  2. Thanks Colleen for sharing! Boy does this take me back to my modeling days. Exciting, glamorous, fun, stressful, exhausting, awkward-all in a days work! I worked with many make-up artist when I modeled and you were by far my favorite. Not only did you do the most beautiful makeup and amazing hair (to this day you were the only one able to make my flat hair curly), but you were always sweet, fun, and professional. It’s lovely seeing you here.
    XOXO, Amy

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