1438604332© Ray Roberts

Hair and Make-up Trainee

Film | High End TV | TV
Personality type:
Make-Up and Hair

The lowdown

  • Setting up and maintaining make-up and hair workstations
  • Observing Make up artists and team  to learn on the job
  • Working on crowd scenes and sometimes having responsibility for the hair and make-up of minor characters

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have an understanding of script, schedule, continuity and set etiquette
  • have a passion for hair and make up, be interested in current trends and period fashions and styles
  • have good practical skills in make up application and hair dressing
  • have excellent communication skills, including diplomacy and sensitivity in working with actors 
  • be highly organised
  • have good presentation skills
  • be able to work effectively as part of a team
  • be able to work calmly and efficiently under pressure to meet deadlines
  • have stamina to cope with the physical demands of the role
  • understand the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures
  • have experience in or willingness to embrace new technology used to record continuity
  • have a general enthusiasm to research different periods and film-makers to strengthen your core industry knowledge

What does a Make-up and Hair Trainee do?

Make-up and Hair Trainees are involved in the basic set-up and maintenance of make-up and hair workstations. They keep workstations clean and tidy, clean and lay out brushes and products for the day ahead, and ensure that product levels are maintained. They assist with the purchase of supplies and move make-up and hair kit between locations.

They will have different responsibilities depending on the production. On some productions they set up workstations and observe more experienced staff, learning on the job. On others, they may take care of basic make-up and hair for crowd scenes, and may be given responsibility for some minor characters and stunt doubles, working under supervision.

They assist Make-up and Hair Artists in their work, handing them brushes or products, helping to affix prosthetics, running errands, and making sure that performers are well looked after. They help to prepare facilities, check with the Make-up and Hair Artist that all make-up and hair products (including wigs, hair pieces, facial hair), are properly set out, and that all reference materials are available for Dailies who are booked on a daily basis to look after supporting artists or crowds.

They are responsible for the continuity of their characters during production and must ensure that notes are updated, using photographs for visual references. They must be confident in their make-up application and hairdressing skills, and must work quickly and efficiently under pressure.

They have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with how make-up and hair departments work, including the different chains of responsibility. They work with different Designers and Make-up and Hair Artists, building a network of useful contacts which may help them to get work in the future.

They usually work on a freelance basis. The hours are long and the job can involve long periods working away from home.

Will I need a qualification?

You will need to achieve at least a level 2 vocational qualification or equivalent in media make-up or prosthetics and a level 2-3 NVQ in hairdressing, barbering or the equivalent of two years’ experience.

You will need to keep up to date with new methods and materials, so further qualifications and additional skills may be acquired by attending specialist short courses such a prosthetics, barbering, wig fitting and period hair styling courses.

If you have any experience of working in a hair salon, theatre or wig making, this would be to your advantage and many people come into the department in this way who have had successful careers in other related industries.

What’s the best route in?

Many Make up trainees come into the industry through a Media make up course and following this , or alongside this work in theatre, on low budget productions, assisting on student films or work as a Make up Artist in corporates, commercials or on Music videos. A good way to build up your skills, speed and confidence and build your kit up is to work on a Make up concession.   Many trainees also work part-time in barbershops to learn on the job or in hair salons.

You could apply to be a Film or TV Make-up and Hair trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:

More information about Trainee Finder

Where might the role take me?

Your progress will be determined by your skills and experience, which you’ll develop through on-the-job training, assisting established Make-up and Hair Artists. You should maintain a portfolio of your work and ensure you set up an IMDB profile and one on Linked in.

You could progress to become a Make-up and Hair Assistant. After several years in this role, you could become a Make-up and Hair Artist working on larger and more complex productions.

Interested? Find out more...


  • BECTU - the UK's media and entertainment trade union, covering broadcasting, film, independent production, theatre and the arts, leisure and digital media
  • BBC College of Production - practical advice on all aspects of working in television, radio and online broadcast
  • NASMAH - the National Association of Screen Make-up Artists and Hairdressers 


  • Broadcast - the weekly newspaper for the UK TV and radio industries
  • Televisual - the business magazine for the broadcast and production industry
  • The Make-up Artist Magazine - features articles on the entertainment industry’s top make-up artists, the most innovative make-up techniques, current product news
  • Screen Daily - the leading film industry resource covering the international film markets
  • The Hairdressers Journal


  • The Technique of the Professional Make-up Artist - Vincent J.R. Kehoe ISBN: 0240802179
  • Special Make-up effects - Vincent Kehoe ISBN: 0240800990
  • The Complete Make-up Artist - Penny Delemar ISBN: 1861528906
  • Fashions in Hair - Richard Corson ISBN: 0720610931
  • Fashions in Make-up - Richard Corson. ISBN: 0720611954
  • A Colour Atlas of Diagnosis after Recent Injury, P.D. London. ISBN: 0801662958
  • Illustrated Dictionary of Hairdressing and Wig Making: James Stevens Cox ASIN: B0000CNAES


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