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Makeup College Looms, it is just around the corner. Summer has begun and it is only a few short months until the time comes to pack up the makeup kits and get together the hair tools. You are about to embark on an exciting adventure for two or three years. Learning the craft of wig making, hair styling and makeup. This is the beginning of a journey at makeup college into a future career in  theatre, film and media makeup.


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Exciting, Dynamic And Fast Paced


Working in the makeup industry is exciting, dynamic and fast paced. It can also be incredibly competitive. Let’s take a look at some tips and top advice to gain the best possible experience while attending makeup college. Develop a top notch C.V. and gain the best head start when graduating. Follow these tips and you will rise to the top of the pile and get noticed by industry professionals in wig making, hair styling and makeup fields. Secure real career prospects when leaving your chosen makeup college.


A Small Fish In A Very Big Pond


Think just how many makeup colleges are out there. There are many indeed and they all deliver very similar curriculums. Now think how many students are enrolled at these makeup colleges. All of them on the same makeup courses stretching the length and breath of the UK. When the two years are up every single last one of these students, your peers, will crash through the college doors. All flooding into the big wide world. All fighting for the same jobs you will be seeking out.  It is a dog eat dog affair and can be incredibly stressful.


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An Amazing Industry


Not to put anybody off for one single second. It is truly the last thing I want to do. This industry is rewarding and incredible. Every day at work feels like a hobby and completely enjoyable. Never a dull moment and filled with vast talent of passionate and fantastic people.


Don’t Rest On Your Laurels


During the time at makeup college ensure you don’t rest on your laurels. Students all convince themselves that the work load is too much and everything is SO hard. I can say this with absolute conviction ‘what a load of twaddle’.  There is so much spare time while at college it is practically part time compared to when you get your first industry job.


Make use of this spare time. Do as much collaborative work as you can. If your college has a performing arts department, offer your makeup, hair and wig services. The same for the drama departments.  Photography at the college? Double bonus. Fantastic pictures for your portfolio and great experience to include on the C.V.


Collaboration Is Key


While you are wasting your hours at college. Get yourself on websites such as and and  Student directors, camera people, producers, script writers, HAIR, WIG AND MAKEUP ARTISTS all collaborate and produce amazing student films. It’s a film credit for your C.V. and fun to boot.


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Local amateur dramatic societies will always welcome a free hair and makeup artist. A theatre credit for your C.V.  as a hair and makeup designer.


You can see where this is all going right?


Spend Your Time At College Wisely


When the time is up you will be  leaving college with the same skills as hundreds and hundreds of students. All fighting for all the same jobs. By spending your time wisely at makeup college and obtaining as much possible experience as you can, you give yourself the competitive edge. Become the CREAM of the crop.


You’ll rise to the top of the milk.


You will stand out from the crowd.




Think About ‘Add On’ Courses


Another sage piece of advise when the big wide world hits you. Gain extra skills from training while embarking on your makeup degree or other full time qualification. Get a couple of short courses under your belt to show off on your ever expanding C.V.


When I left West Thames College the skills I was  lacking were basic men’s barbering and wig knotting. When I started working in theatre, guess what two skills I needed for certain  jobs? The bigger and better jobs!


Barbering and wig knotting!


A true story and very frustrating. The wig knotting was picked up on the job, although it took me an extra couple of years to get to that point. Had I gained knotting skills whilst at makeup college then that job would have been mine two years earlier.


When it comes to the barbering that took me 8 years to find a suitable course that worked around theatre hours. I found it eventually and any man that sits still long enough will find a clipper up their back nape. Important to keep the skills practice alive.


The Point


When I was studying at college they had a part time barbering course on a Wednesday evening. I very easily could have taken that course and completed it without any impact on the rest of the HND full time course. Still wish I had taken that damn class. I lost a lot of work in the early days because I couldn’t clipper.


Whilst attending all the various makeup colleges, all over the country,  stuff in those extra courses.


If the makeup college doesn’t offer it, at The Wigs And Makeup Studio a short one day course can teach you to knot hair into a wig. Another one day course can teach facial hair making. Two extra skills to add to a C.V. and two more than the standard student.  Include that one evening a week barbering course and you are up up and away. CREAMY.


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Makeup College Graduation


It may be that luck is wth you when graduating and a job will be waiting as soon as the college books have been put on the shelf. It may also take some time to get to where you need to be.


Speaking from first hand experience, a two year time scale was my history. Working on beauty counters and the odd job until I finally got my break into theatre. That first job happened and BOOM! The career took off like a rocket.


I floundered around when I first hit the job market. Moving between specialities and disciplines . A jack of all trades and master of none so to speak.


DO NOT worry if it happens to you.


It is all perfectly normal and there is absolutely nothing to fear. Hopefully luck will be on side. If not spend the floundering years gaining as much experience as possible. Any experience relevant to industry is a great asset.


Work Experience In The early Years


If you find yourself working part time on beauty counters (which in itself is great experience) spend all your available time collaborating with photographers, hair stylists, session stylists. You will probably be doing the work for free but think of the professionals photos you will gain for a kick arse portfolio. Photos that will show off your skills and get you notice for paid work.


Offer your evenings for work experience in theatres. Theatres don’t usually advertise but by finding the name of the head of wigs and calling or personalising an email you could be in with a great chance. Something else to included in your C.V.


Once the proverbial foot has been shoved in the door, offers come in very quickly. This business is a business of people. People like working with people they know. Purely and simply!  It’s a hard fact but it is the true. On the bright side my lovely people. You’ll get that first job and you will always get a call back.


Stay confident, passionate and focussed. Gain as much experience in hair, wig making and makeup while you are at makeup college. Practice to and inch of your life. Collaborate. Take extra courses to give you the competitive edge. Construct that amazing portfolio. Build that curriculum vitae. SHINE and keep the reward of a career in the fantastic world of the wig, hair and makeup industry.



Philip Carson-Sheard

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