The New Wave Trend of the MUA???

What is an MUA….I hear you ask? I asked this question a few years ago after seeing endless names ending in MUA on social media.
At first, I thought, maybe it’s a new age name for vegetarians, using Internet chat/ abbreviation to play on the noise a cow makes……moooo errr!!! No?  Just me then!

How we laughed when we found out it stands for Make-up Artist. Imagine that, me a Make-up Artist of almost 24 years, and I don’t even know what my job title is? I have never, and will never refer to myself as a “professional” or an “MUA” and also advise all of my students never to do so. The mere presence of the reference “Professional MUA” is one I and many others avoid at all costs. This shortened slang for an age-old profession is, in itself lessened both in letters and in authenticity.  My take on it says inexperienced, expectant, under trained / skilled, not serious, ill-advised, following the masses and not in it for the long haul.
I and my fellow Make-up Artists are looking on in complete bewilderment and thinking these harsh and awful truths!

I know the directness of my rant could be perceived as harsh, but here comes the irony……. I and all my fellow Make-up Artist peers are your friends! In fact, we’re probably the most valuable friend you’ll have if you want to progress in this industry. I say value our experience; we have the power to help you if you’re smart and impartial enough to let us?

You have been mislead and ill-advised if you’re out there using the self-entitled term “Professional MUA”.

At best this will attract the attention of a handful or young girls / women who want their make-up doing for a night out. You’ll earn at most £15-25 for each face done! Let’s break that down; that’s £15 for at least one whole hour of your skilled time, use of products and expenses. My darling you are selling yourself short and completely devaluing your abilities! At worst, fellow Make-up Artists will be observing your actions with eye rolling despair! The irony here is that it is us that can, and should help you on the ladder to your dreams of being a professional Make-up Artist. It is us you need to impress and respect. It has been this way for many generations and will continue to be so always. Established professionals use and need fledgelings constantly! Show us your quality and respect, and we will help! You help us, we help you! It’s a two-way street, always was, always will be.

But here’s what we want to see. Get rid of the self-proclaimed “Professional MUA” title….you’ve shortened, cheapened and misrepresent your job and put yourself alongside the countless other ill-advised wannabes. Your title is Make-up Artist, not professional, not accredited, not pro, just plain and simple, does what it says on the tin; Make-up Artist. You can’t self-entitle yourself a professional; it’s not your call. A professional is how others see you after a loooong time working, not something you start out being! You earn the term by doing years and years of hard graft and varied job experiences. Even professionals don’t refer to themselves in this manner! Your reputation proceeds you, and if you need to put the word in front of your job title, chances are you ain’t no seasoned pro! Be humble and respect the career you’re trying to establish yourself in. I absolutely LOVE to hear or see a newbie Make-up Artist refer to themselves as “Trainee Make-up Artist” or “Aspiring Make-up Artist” such sweet, gentle, unassuming, respectful terms that delight and fill the soul with joy of any Make-up Artist. You’re saying “I know I can’t just become a professional, I have to earn/learn it and that takes time. I honour this profession, and I am aspiring to one day be like those above me” RESPECT! You give it… get it! Simples!

Becoming good at something takes TIME, lots and lots of time, commitment and dedication. There is no such thing as “FAST TRACK” to any skilled profession. You simply have to throw yourself into it heart and soul and get it wrong many, many times. When you have achieved a vast and varied level of experience, and you are being rebooked by other professionals, only then are you becoming a seasoned Make-up Artist.

Generally speaking, most Make-up Artists are expected to spend the first three years of their career in a trainee role. This is pretty standard in the industry and a fantastic way to establish respect and future work. A trainee can earn anything up to £1000 per week depending on the budget of the specific job. Not a bad way to learn, gain confidence, network, develop and establish yourself.


Ok… do I express my feelings here……NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO and NO! It just isn’t possible!!! This seems to be a trend explosion right now. Every makeover salon, shop and studio are slapping the word “Academy” onto their name and offering these “fast track” or 1 or 2-day courses!!! Aaarrrrgggghhhh!!!!! No, no, no, no no, no, no, dear god no! Words like “accredited” and “professional” often accompany these types of courses, seducing and misleading the buyer into believing their authenticity. These courses are NOT, let me repeat that NOT suitable for anyone seriously considering becoming a legitimate, authentic industry Make-up Artist. They’re only purpose, to line the pockets of the businesses offering them. Often even the people offering them have no idea that these short quick fix courses are unhelpful or useless to those wanting to work as make-up artists as these people often haven’t ever worked in the industry themselves.

Now, don’t get me wrong here; I’m not trying to discredit or publicly shame these types of courses, but I do have a huge objection to how utterly misleading and incorrect their course title claims are. These places at most can teach/train you to do someone’s make-up for a night out or maybe even a wedding. This is the only area you can work in……not fashion, not TV & film, not advertising or any other media Industry.

This isn’t meant to be insulting or demeaning in anyway; It’s simply a fact, and I have a huge responsibility to inform you of the truth.
Some places offering these fast track and short course “claim” to train you to become a “professional”, “accredited”, “Media”, “TV & Film” or “Fashion” Make-up Artist. An accredited Professional Make-up Artist in a few weeks or even more frightening, two days. Sounds amazing, so cheap too, “incredible!” you say to yourself “I can’t believe that I can do the exact same course here in one week for £300 and not have to do that other one at that really expensive school for 6 months for £8000, incredible, it’s exactly the same course…….yet much much cheaper and quicker, unreal???? Well….sadly yes; it’s completely unreal. You can and will learn to do make-up for nights out and weddings, which is fabulous if this is the only area you want to work in. However, you will not be sufficiently trained to work in fashion, TV and film as the course title may have claimed. Working in these areas means being multi-skilled in many mediums, not just doing pretty make-ups on young skins. This type of misleading is what REALLY gets many, many other Make-up Artists and me! I don’t have any issue with people offering short courses, but I do have a HUGE issue with claiming it’s something that it ain’t!!!!

What a Media Make-up Artist REALLY needs to know

The number of varied skills needed for Make-up Artists working in fashion, TV and film is HUGE! It’s physically impossible to fit this level of training into such a short time frame; no can do! A Make-up Artist working in fashion is expected to be fully proficient in all aspects of cosmetic make-up including a varied knowledge and understanding of all skin types, tones and ethnicity, camouflage, corrective, all types and uses of foundations, fixing, setting and maintaining work on set/ location, all eyebrow shapes/ techniques, contouring natural and strong versions, a full understanding of different lighting effects and counterbalancing effects from beauty dishes, ring lights, umbrellas, diffused, lighting positioning, flash, and soft box lights (which all present different challenges to make-up) all eye shapes and correction, lip shapes and correction, creative make-up and body art, hand and body make-up/ body contouring, high end fashion/ editorial looks, working in High Definition, working with on set, shooting schedules/ running orders, scripts, call sheets, breaking down scripts and continuity, designing looks from bridal, commercial, editorial, Avant Garde, sportswear, corporate, catwalk, beauty and trends, period make-up and hair, airbrushing.

3 Make-up Artists on the set of ‘Happy Valley’. Very glamorous!

In addition to all these make-up areas/skills it is also essential to have full and proficient hair styling skills which include being able to dress any type of hair from fine, thick, short, long, young, mature, male, Afro, curly, alopecia and wigs. Roller sets, wand/ tong and ceramic iron sets, blow drying, hot stick sets, wet/ dry sets, hair pieces and extensions, plaits/ pleats – scalp, fishtail, five strand, inverted, roped. Bridal styles, hair ups, fashion styles, pads, buns, chignons, quiffs. It’s also highly beneficial to have women’s hairdressing, barbering/ facial grooming and all period hair styling.

A Make-up Artist working in TV and film is expected to be fully proficient in all of the above areas but MUST also have special FX/ prosthetic skills, full wig knowledge/ skills, period hair styling and men’s grooming. That’s a hell of a lot of skills to learn in a short/ fast track course!!!

It appears that in our culture of multiple choices and quick fix solutions, we have lost the ability to commit. Cheaper and quicker appear more desirable than investment and commitment.

So if you think I’ve gone the long way about explaining my point then GREAT! Because it is a long long road to becoming a respected industry Make-up Artist.

Don’t cut corners be true to yourself; because when you finally arrive, you’ll know it was worth the hard journey.