10 tips to be a great makeup artist assistant

Here is a break down of my top 10 tips to be a great makeup assistant. I have been lucky enough to work on many different jobs with a whole range of makeup artists from Alex Box, Andrew Gallimore to James Molloy and Val Garland.

So much more can be learnt from assisting than a youtube video or makeup course could ever teach you. Each artist has a different way, a preference of how they work and what they want or need from you.

1. Communication. Introduce your self to the team on set and be happy to help not only the makeup artist but others too, whether it's doing a coffee run, being the wind machine or holding hair for the hair stylist. Gestures of kindness go a longway! Establish with the makeup artist and check what they would like you to do, or how they like things done as you are there to make their life easier, not harder. Ask if you aren't sure before you rearrange things. Listen to what they say to you and act on that.

The ‘glamour’ of a location shoot for Elle UK assisting makeup artist Fredrik Stambro with hair stylist Anna Cofone

The ‘glamour’ of a location shoot for Elle UK assisting makeup artist Fredrik Stambro with hair stylist Anna Cofone


2. Your job. As an assistant will be to support the makeup artist in keeping their station organised, anticipating that they may need product wise, buying more product, prepping models and touching up. Also supporting them if they need any help with decisions if they want it.

3. Be early. Try to be 10-15 minutes early to all jobs. It is displaying a professional etiquette and shows your dedication. A lot of studios can be tricky to find and not on city mapper or google maps so give yourself time so you can arrive relaxed and focused. I will wait outside or by the entrance ready to greet and help the makeup artist I am assisting.

On location backstage at London Fashion Week

On location backstage at London Fashion Week

4. Kit. Most of the time when assisting you will only require your brushes, set bag, hygiene and brush cleaner. Always DOUBLE check the notes on the call sheet or email the agency or makeup artist as on rare occasion you will be asked to bring a basic kit or other specific items.

5. Social media. This is not your gig, a lot of the time it is not OK to post anything about what you are doing. If anything, be vague 'I'm on a fun job today bts with my coffee' do not give any details. Again ask if you aren't sure. This isn't your gig, also avoid being on your phone the whole time, be alert and ready with whats going on.

6. Ego. Keep your ego in check, this is about you being an invaluable extra pair of hands to someone. Whatever your previous experience may be, you are there to help them. Nothing about this job is about you! Mistakes happen and also remember you aren't always someone's cup of tea and that ok too!

7. Flexible. Many jobs are last minute, so be prepared to cancel your plans you may have. Always have your kit and brushes clean at the ready. A lot of the time you get one chance to prove yourself with the potential to be asked back. Be ready for some feedback, it might not be what you want to hear but keep your chin up and take what is said on board and move on!

8. Research. Ensure you are clued up with the makeup artist that you are assisting work. It's also worth having a look on the call sheet and googling who the photographer, model, the hairstylist are to give you an idea of their work.

9. Be ready. Onset be ready and use your initiative! Know the breakdowns of timings, ie what time the model is needed and ask what will be needed for a set bag. Keep pots with names and key products if you are working with multiple models.

10. Pay. Assisting work tends to be free. Think of it as exchanging your time to learn about the industry rather than paying money to learn from a makeup artist course. Once you have built a relationship with the artist you will more than likely to be doing paid jobs even potentially become their first assistant.

That is assisting in a nutshell. There is so much to it and its the best place to learn such a wealth of knowledge. It is a segway into your career as a makeup artist and so valuable to you. Let me know how you find assisting and good luck in your career!


Lisa x