Career in Special Effects (SFX) Makeup


After completing education, it’s a huge challenge to choose a career option. Nowadays, besides the stereotypical mainstream, various options are coming up. Now career options are not bound to Engineering or Medical streams only.

Talking about new career options, the fashion industry is not behind. In the fashion segment, makeup plays an important role. Likewise, in the entertainment industry, people are eager to look beautiful in any which way. The entertainment or fashion industry is growing fast, so a career in makeup artistry is competitive and successful in the current scenario. A makeup artist can grow gracefully if he or she gets the proper guidance. Simply put, makeup improves your impression, brings out the inner colour and hides flaws.

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A true makeup artist uses cosmetic skills to beautify the human body. Makeup can make you look beautiful as well as appear like a ghost. The ghosts, the zombies, we see in movies, are all created using Special Effects (SFX) Makeup. SFX Makeup Artistry is a recognised profession in India, and an increasingly sought-after career option, since Beauty Makeup professionals are already present in umpteen numbers.

Special Effects Makeup is also called Prosthetic Makeup. A makeup artist that does SFX Makeup should have a wide perception in general. These artists use their skills to make extraordinary effects on the human body.

SFX Products & Application

Special Effects Makeup makes use of certain products, called SFX or Prosthetic products, like wax, latex, artex, bald cap, etc. The look of a certain creature or character that requires creation of texture and dimension is what could be achieved by the use of SFX products and could be termed as Special Effects Makeup.

SFX products are very much unlike beauty products and their application requires specific skills, and understanding of the products and ingredients. SFX products are generally made up of wax, latex and silicon of different grades and quality.


There are numerous openings in the Special Effects Makeup industry. Nowadays, SFX Makeup can be extremely impressive and realistic. This profession, not only provides you a specialised career option, but also an opportunity to display your ultimate artistic entrepreneurial spirit. It offers a large scope in theatre, television, film & fashion industry, concept shoots with photographers, themed shows for designers, ramp makeup, and character events like Halloween to name a few.

Skills Required Special Effects Makeup artists should be able to think out-of-the-box. If you can improvise well, you can create your own phenomena. Specific skills required to specialise in SFX Makeup are as follows:

  • Keen real-life observation
  • Immense patience
  • Ingenuity in using the products in various combinations
  • Artistic excellence in replicating a real-life or virtual effect

A prospective SFX Makeup artist must maintain a high-level of professionalism and be able to work in a   high-pressure situation. Excellent knowledge of the beauty industry and keeping up-to-date with the trends are must-have skills for this sector. Another mandatory factor is the acceptance to work flexible hours.

Course Content

Some basic topics covered under Special Effects Makeup are:

  • Cuts
  • Wounds
  • Burn Effects
  • Casualty Effects
  • Old Age
  • Bald Cap
  • Blood Tubing

Job Responsibilities & Challenges

A SFX Makeup artist is the individual behind a character you see on screen. The character is brought to life through the makeup. Hence, a makeup artist is greatly responsible for the look. Exhaustive pre-preparation time to create molds and sculpts, long working hours, monotonous in-the-process job, and tedious detailing requirement are some of the job characteristics of a SFX Makeup artist. These could be considered challenges or could make an interesting story for an artist who loves his/her job.

Other job responsibilities would include studying the script thoroughly to understand the requirements of the look, and sketching different options for a look to figure out the best one. Additionally, removing the makeup after the performance/event constitutes an important part of the job. Giving advice to clients about hygiene before/after applying makeup is also a part of the job.


Art needs no eligibility, but needs that particular bent of mind. However, anybody who possesses a basic understanding of sketching or contouring, definitely has an upper hand. A candidate must have a Diploma or Certificate in Professional Makeup and/or Cosmetology. Completing a specialised course in Special Effects (SFX) Makeup is a must to portray employability. Analytical, decision-making and verbal communication skills are the core capabilities that SFX Makeup artists are expected to master.


Remuneration is highly subjective to an individual’s skills and extensiveness of a certain project. There aren’t many artists working in this specific genre of makeup, hence, creative individuals with a good skills set are paid handsomely. The job of makeup artists in this field is highly dependent on the weight of projects they are allotted. Remuneration also depends on the workplace they choose. Sectors such as motion pictures and video industries offer the best salaries to SFX Makeup artists. At the start of the career, makeup artists may not get a very good salary. But, they earn more with increasing experience. The starting salary is between Rs. 12,000 and Rs. 15,000 per month. Those who are hired for a particular advertising campaign can make Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 3,000 per day. Artists having 3 to 5 years of experience in this field, may earn a salary of up to Rs. 40,000 per month.

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Frequently Asked Questions

It is seen that a career in Special Effects (SFX) Makeup Artistry is quite fulfilling for candidates who have an imaginative urge. They interpret the makeup requirements of clients to produce a creative and technically precise visual portrayal.

Nalin Verma

Co-Founder & Director, Euro Chroma Institute of Cosmetology (ECIC), the only institute in India supported by Kryolan Professional Makeup.

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