A Day In The Life Of… A Professional MakeUp Artist


Zuzana Ritchie is a London-based make-up artist, voiceover artist and a blogger. Originally from Slovakia, she set her base in London some 17 years ago. She has always been captivated by make-up, “obsessively studying close-up photos of every fashion and beauty model in the magazines”. One day, when her company announced a restructure and her office job became redundant, without hesitation she took her payout money, signed up for a fashion photography make-up course and turned her passion into a new found profession. This was about 10 years ago. Since then she has become an established make-up artist. She has worked for many different brands – with prominent photographers and fashion designers, celebrities, actors and sports personalities (including some Olympic winners) to name but few.

Here she takes us through her typical day and shares some of her evergreen make-up tips:

To this day I’m trying to recall what invisible force possessed me to take the path of a make-up artist, but my inclinations became quite apparent after obsessively studying close-up photos of every fashion and beauty model in the magazines, taken aback by some truly breathtaking make-up artistry, making the bus journeys to my BBC World Service radio job at the time more fascinating.

After BBC World Service restructured and I found myself being made redundant, I decided to invest my entire payout into a fashion photography make-up course. I haven’t looked back since! Ten years down the line and my day mostly goes like this:

My waking up time on the day of the photo shoot or a film shoot is often dictated by the call sheet’s call time, which can be way before day break. The earliest starting times I’ve ever had were when the photographer wanted to capture summer sunrise, as a perfect backdrop scene for a fashion photo, so everything had to be done a long time before just so we were sure we were ready to catch the moment. However, the majority of my make-up work starts in the ‘normal’ morning hours – although there’s never a guarantee what time we’ll finish.

All my make-up kit prepping is done the day before the shoot at the latest. I make sure my makeup brushes are washed and thoroughly dry and go through my makeup kit with a ‘mood-board’ or a makeup brief in mind, usually sent to me few days before the shoot. Occasionally, I also get a link to view the portfolios of the models or the talent cast for the shoot, which is extremely helpful in terms of preparing the makeup kit accordingly.

Another factor in deciding how you prep and pack your makeup case is the location of the shoot. Is it a studio, is it outside, will we be moving from one spot to another during the shoot day, will it be hot etc. I like to be prepared for all eventualities, after learning the hard way as a newbie when I let my kohl pencils and lipsticks bake, semi-melt and snap in the hot sun on a balcony terrace!

At the shoot location, if it’s a studio, I seek out the makeup room and unpack my tools and set up all the makeup, usually next to the hair stylist. Sometimes, prior to the makeup and hair styling, we go over the brief or ideas/concept again, together with the art director, photographer or the film director and occasionally the client.

Once the models or the celebrity talent arrive I start on the model’s face, sometimes I wait until the hairstylist preps their hair or we alternate models etc. and afterwards it’s over to the stylist. The photographer is usually awaiting the models impatiently, so they head straight onto the set, once they’re wearing what’s been briefed. Whilst the photographer does few test shots, I keep glancing at the laptop screen and checking the model’s face- and body, if we’re shooting summer wear, for example, and more skin is showing – whether the make-up needs any tweaks done to it, the lipstick colour needs to be enhanced etc.

Depending on the brief, nature of the shoot, client or the brand or the magazine’s objective, we may be changing the looks on each model, with every new outfit or concept, so I might be in and out of makeup room several times during the shoot, creating new looks or making slight changes.

Then when the ‘serious snapping of the camera’ starts, I try to keep hopping on the set to powder the model’s face lightly or top up the lipstick, for example, to the minimum.

Every shoot brings a brilliant mixture of the creative flow and a little bit of unpredictability together, so no day is the same. The most enjoyable shoots for me are the ones combining fun characters and inspiring people, whose passion, talent and energy is contagious, which keeps you going, especially if the shoot goes on into the night.

Sometimes you find out things you’d normally wouldn’t, in this line of work, like one celebrity’s confession that the scar she has on her lips, is from a pet monkey that bit her once. Unfortunately I can name no names!

I love my job because of the variety, the people I meet, and the wonderful travel opportunities that are open to me. Being made redundant ten years ago changed my life forever, and it’s a life I would never change!

Zuz’s Essential Makeup Tips:

1. Always test the foundation shade you’re about to buy on the side of your neck, not your hand or the face. The neck’s skin tone is, in most cases, lighter than the face.

2. Don’t skip the eyelash curler, if you want bigger, fresh-looking eyes. Heat up your eyelash curler with a hairdryer for better curling results.

3. For a longer lasting lipstick power, blot well, than lightly powder the lips with a brush over 1-ply tissue with a translucent powder, after your lipstick application.

4. Take your lipstick colour to a whole new ‘editorial’ level by applying a powder eye shadow or a loose pigment over your lipstick, with a brush.

Zuzana Pagacova

Zuzana Pagacova

A native Slovakian, Zuzana has lived in London most of her adult life and calls London her second home. She loves the vibrant, yet somewhat unpredictable beauty this great city has to offer and the fact that it keeps her on her toes. Even after all these years, she keeps discovering new places and secret passages – London never fails to amaze her.
Zuzana is passionate about writing and has a degree in Journalism and Media. She loves yoga and meditation, open spaces, autumn leaves and exploring the world. As she believes in a balanced life, Zuzana is not impartial to a daily dose of celebrity gossip, a cup of strong coffee and cake, and the occasional glass of red wine.

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