Head of Hair & Make‑Up

Get insights from Head of Hair & Make-Up Gemma Flaherty

“I look after all the wigs, hair pieces, facials and go round and do the make‑up for all the cast on the Michael Grandage Company.”

Gemma Flaherty


On larger productions these related jobs may be separated, but usually the two roles are combined. Working initially with the designer, the Hair and Make-Up Departments are responsible for the design, application and care of hair/wigs and make-up during a production. 


  • Ensuring that actors’ hair and make-up fits within the overall production design, with particular attention to historical detail on period dramas
  • Supervising adjustments and repairs to wigs, maintaining them during long runs, making sure wigs are collected at the end of each performance and prepared for the following one

Key Skills

  • Hair/wig dressing
  • Specific make-up skills, including period and ageing
  • Specialist areas, including wig making, body painting, prosthetics, making contact lenses and teeth
  • Good communication and diplomacy skills
  • Knowledge of relevant Health and Safety guidelines, including good working practices and hygiene


To become a hair and/or make-up artist it’s important to do a good foundation course – completing an NVQ in hairdressing is also advisable. It’s vital to gain practical on-the-job experience, starting with work placements at local theatres. Many Heads of Wigs start as Wig Assistants, gaining invaluable experience in hair, wigs, make-up and special effects by working closely with senior colleagues.


Other courses are available. Those above represent a sample from various drama schools and universities.