Makeup Department Head

Decide how to transform Actors into characters through makeup.
picture of Makeup Department Head

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$18,000 – $102,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Makeup Department Heads do?

In a movie, costumes grab most of the attention, but makeup also plays a big part in setting the scene. A black eye, glossy red lips, or blue-tinted skin can give viewers insight into a character’s economic status, intentions, or recent activities.

As a Makeup Department Head, you make sure every Actor, from bit player to lead, looks their best when the camera starts rolling. To accomplish that, you do a lot of collaborating and testing before shooting even starts as a Makeup Department Head. You read the script to get a feel for what the characters will be like, and then as the Makeup Department Head, you then talk with the Director and anyone else on the creative team, like the Producer or Costume Designer.

You come up with an idea of how things should look, and then get to work designing and testing possible looks. For some jobs, this takes a short time, but for others — like when you’re in charge of making an alien army — this can take a while.

One of the coolest things about this job is that no two projects are the same. You might work on a romantic comedy where the makeup is fairly basic and your only job is to keep the Actors looking naturally beautiful. Or you might get a really complex project, like The Lord of the Rings, where you create a creature that only exists in a fantasy world. For these types of movies, you’re like an Artist, and you need to use lots of creativity to apply makeup that not only looks unique but also stays intact during long shoots.

Should I be a Makeup Department Head?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.

  • Also known as: Art Department Head, Prosthetic Makeup Designer

    How to become a Makeup Department Head

    Most Makeup Department Heads have a Certificate or no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Bachelor's degree to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:93agaa&chl=no+college+%2850%25%29|certificate+%2845%25%29||bachelor%27s+%285%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,50,50
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