Tips for Makeup Artists : How to work Backstage at Fashion Week.

With LFW AW17 looming upon us, I wanted to share with you some tips & tricks on how, as a makeup artist, you can get working on shows and assisting some top makeup artists. I have worked around 12 seasons of fashion week and have been fortunate enough to assist some of my most-loved makeup artists including Kirstin Piggot, Alex Box, Sharon Dowsett & Charlotte Tilbury. I am asked often about HOW to get working alongside these amazing artists, and here is a a few hints to get you on your way.


Like a particular makeup artist’s work? It just takes a quick google search or social media stalk to find out who represents them. Drop the agency an e-mail, which will be on the Agency’s homepage and say who you would like to assist, a makeup work CV and a few of your strongest images OR a link to your website. (a Facebook page or Instagram isn’t professional when dealing with leadin agencies, so if you have no proper website, just attach images)

You can create a free & basic website with WIX or even WordPress.

It will be the ‘fashion agencies’ who will be looking after the MUA’s heading up the fashion shows (makes sense) so make sure you are getting in touch with the correct agencies. Noteable ones include Streeters, CLM, Art Partner, Tim Howard Management, Premier, Jed Root & Julian Watson.

Don’t be put out if you don’t hear back , agencies will receive a huge amount of e-mails from similar-minded and determined MUA’s wanting to assist. Leave it a month, and drop another e-mail. There is a fine line between being keen and being a pain in the ar*e so just be polite, professional and to the point. They don’t want a 3-page life story, just your name/ contact & keep your work experience really concise. Pick out just your best jobs /assisting – agencies will have like 30 seconds to glance over your CV. Also, keep it relevant ; this is FASHUN so they won’t be interested that you once did a celeb from Strictly Come Dancing back in 2010.


Don’t e-mail the agencies 2 weeks before the shows with the above. They will already have their longlists and or shortlists for their show teams for particular artists. They will also be so busy that your e-mail will probably never even see the light of day! It’s highly unlikely that they will put you onto a team if you have never assisted with that agency before. You have to do the graft and just ‘get in there’ over the year ; take any assisting offers you may get, more work will come and they will start to know you and use you more frequently. Initially it will likely be unpaid assisting, but once you prove your worth, the good jobs will come in and hopefully…..the shows.

PS. You pretty much need to be in or near London for regular assisting. 


You will get contacted by e-mail usually around 2-3 weeks before fashion week and asked if you are available for *INSERT ARTIST* on *DATE/S* & possibly *DESIGNER*  . If you are, you will then be put on ‘option’ for this. Option means basically you are longlisted with a bunch of other MUA’s. Once they have had all their replies about availibility, the agent will go through their option list, shortlist it and confirm with the MUA’s that they want on the show. Obviously they will opt to go with the ones who are more familiar with or have worked with the artist before. If you don’t make the cut, you will then be ‘released’ from the option which means you are not needed. If you are ‘confirmed’ then that is 100% you are on the show and committed to the date and time.

Unfortunately, if you confirm and option, then get offered another option, you cannot/ should not take it. If you are then confirmed on both, you will royally piss off one of the agencies who will drop you off their books like a sack of sh*t. Often you will get optioned on all days, and get dropped on all/some ; it’s just the way it works, as annoying as it is.

£££ PAY £££

In general terms it will increase with your experience. The bigger the shows and artists you assist, the bigger the budget . I have worked on probably the same amount of unpaid VS paid shows. You need to get experience under your belt to progress. In general, paid shows can range from £150 – £300. If you get optioned on a show, it’s best practice not to immediately ask what the fee is. Once you get confirmed you will be told what the fee is etc. Tough but true. More often that not, you will also get a nice bundle of makeup and/or skincare from whoever is sponsoring the show also.

It can take a while to receive payment from shows also, so just ahem, grin & bear it. I’ve waited up to 3 months. Probably more.


What happens on a show? You turn up around 5 hours before the showtime and preen and prep the models into whatever look the lead makeup has designed (this would have been tested and approved with the designer before the show). Often a brand will sponsor a show and provide the key makeup items/ colours that are needed for the look. Still take along a full, yet concise kit as you will always need other products and sometimes need to ahem, improvise.

The lead makeup artist will demo the look onto one of the models (take notes & a photo of the final look for reference) which is what you need to re-create on your models. There will usually be between 16-25 models who need to have makeup applied so you will be expected to do 2-3 models depending on how many makeup assistants on the team and the structure of the show team. Top teams such as Pat McGrath will have around 4 divisions within the team so some MUA’s are just doing body concealing/lotion..nothing else.

Once you have applied the look to your model then you need to get it checked and approved by the lead artist. Tick your model’s name of on ‘The List’..Then onto the next. Be prepared for working very quickly, under pressure, at the same time the model is having both hair and nails done and literally sometimes on your hands and knees! 


Haven’t worked @ Fashion week before? Here are some tips to keep you on the straight & narrow:

– Don’t be late (I have seen assistants been kicked off the show when they arrive for being late)

– Don’t use your phone unless necessary. Avoid taking BTS (behind-the-scenes) etc

– Don’t post anything from BTS on social media unless approved by the lead artist. 

– Keep your section tidy and hygenic. Backstage photographers are swarming like bee’s and you are representing the lead artist , their agency and the sponsoring brand.

– Stick to black or dark clothing to be on the safe side ; The makeup artist’s uniform!

– Keep makeup minimal ; it sounds bizarre, but it’s just the norm.

– I always have short nails, it’s just more hygenic & safe.

– Wear trainers/ comfy shoes. Just…yes.

– Don’t take *it* personally ; I have been shouted at, I’ve seen screaming matches & dramas, it just happens as the pressure it pretty intense until showtime. 


– Full set of makeup brushes & alcohol spray for spot cleaning

– Foundation for ALL skintones

– MAC Face & Body for ALL skintones

– Basic skincare (Embroylisse / Bioderma micellar/ Lucas PawPaw / pump dispenser body lotion)

– Hygiene (tissues/wipes/cotton pads/ Q-tips/ disposible wands etc)

– Mixing Palette (handy for when you need to borrow product/don’t have something, I like this one from Crownbrush)

– Straws (yes straws) in case the look has a bold lip and the model wants to drink.

– Nappy bags for rubbish

– Deodorant / mints / tampons. Just because.

I hope this was helpful! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions. 

SEE ALSO: My London Fashion Week Kit Essentials (full edit)
Fashion Week Survival Kit