Theatrical Makeup Artists

Theatrical makeup artists have the skills to provide actors and others the "desired look" by using makeup, wigs and other items. Many in the profession work in the theater and different types of performance settings. Some work in movies and television. High definition, special effects and airbrushing are some areas of expertise.

Makeup artists working in show business often apply makeup to reflect the setting, time period and situation of an actor's role. For example, they may apply makeup to make an actor look younger or older. Sometimes their objective is to make the performer appear as attractive as possible or to hide blemishes. Makeup artists may also need to provide unusual physical characteristics which sometimes includes making rubber or plastic prostheses.

Those that work in show business must be aware of the effects stage lighting has on a performer's appearance. A theatrical makeup artist also needs to analyze the performance venue including the distance between the stage and the audience and the lighting. They also need to evaluate the script and make sure their makeup applications provide the appearance required by the script.

Some cosmetic companies hire makeup artists as consultants. Makeup artists are also sometimes hired for one-time events, including fashion shows. Some makeup artists are hired to work in departments stores and apply makeup to consumers in order to help increase the sales of makeup products.

Some of the common job titles include hair and makeup designer, makeup artist, prosthetic makeup designer, special effects makeup artist and commercial makeup artist.

Theatrical makeup artists should also be skin care experts. They must be aware of potential allergic reactions and other negative effects caused by makeup.


  • Apply makeup to performers to enhance or alter their appearance
  • Prepare the skin for makeup applications
  • Confer with directors to determine the desired effects from makeup
  • Evaluate a performers skin type to make sure makeup won't cause skin irritations
  • Analyze scripts in order to prepare plans for each scene
  • Requisition or acquire needed materials
  • Establish budgets
  • Collect historical images
  • Gather visual material from different countries and cultures

Job Characteristics

Creativity is a vital aspect for theatrical makeup artists. They also need to be technically skilled in makeup application. They need to be able to work as part of a team. Sometimes makeup artists are required to work overtime. They sometimes have to deal with high pressure situations. Theatrical makeup artists often collaborate with actors, directors and costume designers.

Employment Outlook

The employment of makeup artists is projected to grow from 10 to 20 percent through 2014. It's difficult for many makeup artists to make a living in the occupation. Many makeup artists also have other jobs to supplement their income. The median annual earnings in 2008 for theatrical and performance makeup artists was $26,270. The motion picture and video industries are the highest paying sectors for the occupation.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

The theatrical makeup field does not have a standard certification. Volunteering makeup services to small organizations gives a makeup artist an opportunity to gain experience and build a portfolio of photographs of their makeup work. Volunteering can be beneficial for finding a job as a theatrical makeup artist. Internships with theatrical companies, television stations and fashion designers are highly beneficial. Attending a school of cosmetology is also very useful for the profession.


Major Employers

The major employers are performing arts companies, the television industry; independent artists, writers and performers; the motion picture industry, video industry and promoters of performing arts.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Theatrical Makeup Artists

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Theatrical Makeup Artists jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 1,630 $78,700
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 110 $47,340
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 90 $62,590
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 60 $41,080
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 60 $45,320
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 50 $57,670
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise 40 $44,070

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to theatrical makeup artists

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Theatrical Makeup Artists

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Personal Services 1,020 85% $20,770
Professional And Technical Services 110 9% $15,420
Media And Broadcasting 60 5% $37,740
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