A Week in the Life of a Hair and Make-Up Artist!

So being a hair and make-up artist is a glamorous job right? It’s more like fun than work! And getting paid to do it!!

Well a lot of people only see the glamour that the professional portrays. In reality it’s not always the ‘walk in the park’ that we think it is.

We caught up with Tracy Whalen, who is a freelance hair and make-up artist. Tracy agreed to share her busy week with us.tracy whalen

This is what a busy week can be like.

As a hair and make-up artist, I can be called upon any day and time. Unsociable hours, 7days per week. This is a job you have to be passionate about to survive.

Day 1 – A day in the office

Up early with the boys, breakfast and school run done. Back home to the never-ending paperwork, which includes raising and chasing up invoices, looking for more work, the dreaded accounts and sorting kit out for the next days work. Oh no, look at the time, time to pick up the boys from school.

Mummy hat back on, pick up boys, 25 minutes later we leave the school playground after they have climbed on everything in sight. Tea for the boys, changed into gym gear and off to free running and gymnastics for the boys. A cuppa and some time to check for jobs, post/ advertise on social media and get completely distracted by other peoples posts. Home, bath boys, supper, board games and reading. Boys to bed. At last make my own and hubbies tea and relax!

Day 2 – Creating Wedding and Halloween

Up early with boys, breakfast, school run then a 50 mile journey to Alnwick Gardens, 10am call time.

We are shooting part of The Alnwick Garden Commercial today. The cast are Victoria and Fergus playing a couple. Their timeline is from proposal to wedding, requiring a slightly younger fresher look for the proposal and a slightly mature look for the wedding to represent a passage of time – 5 years. For this, I restyled Victoria’s hair and applied a different make-up look. for Fergus, I made his beard appear thicker and restyled his hair. Tricks of the trade.

Then onto a completely different scene which actually represents them as teenagers at Halloween, in the Gardens, many years before. I maybe good but not magic, so actual teenagers are used for this and I get to create Halloween looks. We wrap at 10pm to travel 50 miles home.

Day 3 – Mummy

Up, breakfast, school run, a text to ask if  can work day after tomorrow, I reply, yes. I frantically try to sort out childcare to cover my husband’s shifts. Housework, paper work, prep tea. Whoops, time for boys again, run out for school pick up. 25mins later, we’re out of the school yard. Home, cook tea, eat tea, boys get changed and off to tennis, which is either a lovely hour of me watching while sat on a park bench or torture if it’s inside (something to tell you another time). Home, boys baths, stories, supper bed.

I now try to find out where and what time I start work the day after tomorrow and what kit I need to take with me, whilst sorting my kit for a photoshoot for the next day.


Day 4 – Bridal/headshot Photoshoot

A creative collaboration, I design hair and make-up for a lovely photo shoot with TV presenter Hazel Pude as the model and Essena Photographer, Jo Paisley. Hair and make-up done indoors and a location shoot in South Marine Park, South Shields. Back indoors for a quick change of hair, make-up and clothes for headshots. A lovely days work with 2 lovely ladies, whom I used to work on Byker Grove with.

Now to pack and sort kit for the next days work in Rotherham. This kit list isn’t much make-up, it’s a period drama, so concealers, bases, cream blush, lips, the basic kit. A little blood and mud, (not real, make-up). Hair however is all rollers, tongs, hairdryer, products, a mountain of pins & grips, wig stuff including more pins and grips, glues etc… Also pack 6 layers of clothes. I have shot in Wentworth House, stately home before, it is very cold

I drive to Rotherham, nearly 3 hours, find hotel. Arrive 9.30pm, must stay awake ‘til callsheet/time comes in.

It arrives… Ahhh, must be asleep now!!


Day 5 – Victoria in Rotherham

Awake most of the night, in case I sleep in. Up, shower and leaving by 4.15am. I am always 5 minutes late leaving. Panicking in case I get lost or road closures (there are many). Even though I have allowed myself 10 mins to get lost and added 30 mins on to get to make-up room and set up my boot full of kit.

I make it in time, I feel better because I know a few of the other make-up artists here and have filmed at WentworthHouse before. Last time I was here my rollers blew up and were on fire!!!

Freezing, thermals, 4 other layers and 1 or 2 coats later, sweating now and can’t move my arms very high, which is unfortunate when you are trying re-glue a wig on someone.

I see Queen Victoria, Jenna Coleman, I used to make her up when we both worked at Emmerdale.

Wrap at 7pm, de-rig everyone, hairstyles out, wigs off, men’s facial hair taken off all accounted for. Pack down, load car and start the long drive home at 8.30pm.

Day 6 – Mummy and Make-Up

Hoping for a lie in but no, I feel guilty because I’ve not seen much of the boys, so get up to be with them  and try not snap at them when I am so tired. Several cups of tea later, I look at my kit to sort out as when you finish a long day like yesterday, you can never fit everything back into the cases the way it went in, so you have to take it all out and start again.I clean the brushes and shove the rest back to deal with another time.

Luckily I do manage to keep a mostly separate kit for private clients. This afternoon, I am making up and doing a cut 1940’s hairstyle for a lovely client’s graduation. Another lovely days work. Great satisfaction in delivering a client what they want.

Day 7 – Ahhh!

Lie in !! family time.

Not every week is this manic but if I am not working, I am Mummy, doing school runs, kids activities and the dreaded homework.

Either way I am a lucky lady.


Still think it’s a doddle? Not as easy as you think then!

As you can see from the limited amount of photos we’ve been able to share, Tracy is definitely good at what she does. You’ll be able to see more of her work on her website and Facebook page. If you’ve got a special occasion coming up that she could help with, just give her a call on 0797 1675 098 or 0191 4555 798, or you can drop her an email at tracywhalen@outlook.com

We’d love to see more pictures of Tracy’s work, so if you book her for your special day, send us some photos, we’d by happy to post them.

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