How to Make it as a Make-Up Artist
Rebecca Cathcart, lead make-up artist for HD Brows, reveals how to bag the head MUA role for a pro beauty brand.
Say yes to every opportunity
“I’ve always had a passion for make-up. In 2008, I qualified in make-up and beauty therapy at the Yorkshire College of Beauty and then worked in salons before gaining my teaching qualification. In September 2010, I moved to the Middle East to work at the Qatar International Beauty Academy, teaching students fashion, photographic, airbrush and special effect make-up skills. After a couple of years, I switched careers and took on the role of make-up artist for Al Jazeera TV and CBS. I also did some freelance work in between, including shoots for Grazia, Dior and Fendi. I even applied the King of Qatar’s make-up for an interview with PBS America. However, after seven years, I was ready to come back to the UK and that’s when I started working as head MUA for HD Brows.”
Be prepared to work hard
“My main responsibility at HD Brows is running the make-up courses, which includes designing lesson plans, choosing the learning resources and hosting classes. I also work on shoots for new campaign imagery and travel overseas to represent the brand – in June I flew to Moscow to host masterclasses at two of the country’s top make-up schools. The job is varied, which is why I love it. However, to be successful in this role you must be passionate, driven and prepared to put the hours in – on shoots you’re often the first to arrive and last to leave. You also lug around a heavy kit, so invest in a case with wheels.”
Find what works for you
“It’s hard deciding whether to work for a company or be a self-employed MUA. Being associated with a leading brand means you automatically have that company status, are part of a team and can bounce ideas off other people. It also gives you a sense of financial security because when you’re working freelance you’re not always guaranteed a set income. However, it’s inevitable that every make-up artist will work freelance at some point and it really is a good experience. You get to be your own boss and become better at what you do because you take jobs outside of your comfort zone. You learn to adapt to the environment you’re in, whether that be TV, editorial or fashion.”
Shadow other make-up artists
“TV and magazine work is a hard route to go down but the easiest way to get noticed is to assist other make-up artists. This means you may have to do some unpaid work but it will help you make contacts and build your portfolio with professional images. The key thing is to make yourself memorable – go above and beyond to help out because people remember this and will want to work with you because of it.”
Use Instagram to your advantage
“Instagram is massive but having thousands of followers doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the best in the business. There are plenty of famous MUAs who have got far without being number one on the platform, so don’t get too hung up on the numbers. However, you should use it to showcase your work because it’s such as good marketing tool. When you apply for jobs, people will now ask to see your Instagram account, so get one set up sooner rather than later and post on it regularly. Also, be true to the looks you create – don’t fake it. Sometimes the styles you see on Instagram by influencers are heavily lit and digitally edited.”
This feature previously appeared in Professional Beauty, the market-leading magazine for the beauty and spa industry.