What is an MUA?

What is an MUA? Discover the role of a MUA and get a glimpse into the magical world of makeup artistry.

Darlings, if you’re a makeup lover then you’ve most likely seen or heard someone call themselves an MUA. If this term is new to you, you might be wondering what is an MUA? I’ll give you a clue, darling - I am one of the best in the world! 

Discover what MUA means, the role of an MUA, and how to take your first steps to becoming a magical makeup artist!

What is an MUA?

Darlings, an MUA is a Make Up Artist!

MUA is an acronym for Make Up Artist, so when you see accounts on social media that refer to themselves as an MUA, this probably means that they either work as a make up artist or create makeup content online. 

Make up artists have been around for decades working in theatre and entertainment to create every beauty look you could imagine. As makeup artists, we use the power of makeup and our artistic skills to beautify every face that lands in our makeup chair! I believe that it’s our job to help everyone to look and feel like the most beautiful version of themselves.

Charlotte Tilbury and Michaela Jae Rodriguez

What Does it Mean to be an MUA?

The role of an MUA has become much more varied over time, darlings. Beauty is one of the most disruptive industries of all, so it’s only natural that new opportunities for MUAs continue to arise. 

Traditionally, makeup artists were backstage working on television and film sets, photoshoots, and red-carpet events, often working with high-profile clients and celebrities to help them look their best on camera or in photographs. 

As beauty became more accessible, more makeup artists began working in salons and department stores to bring makeup artistry to the masses, with many becoming freelance to work in industries like bridal and prom makeup. 

Since the rise of social media, educational makeup resources are readily available so everyone, everywhere can learn how to apply makeup. The beauty industry has also been turned on its head with the emergence of influencers, creating opportunities for self-taught make up artists to build an online following for their makeup artistry. 

Technology has also advanced which has unlocked the world of special effects makeup artistry where MUAs create makeup artistry using specialist techniques like prosthetics, liquid latex, or airbrushing.

Whether you’re a make up artist to the stars like me or you’re applying makeup at a beauty counter, for weddings and events, or in your bedroom to post on your social media channels, we are all MUAs, darlings.

Charlotte Tilbury MUA: A Magic Story

Charlotte Tilbury MUA

I have always been surrounded by creatives – my father Lance was a talented painter and my mother Patsy worked as a fashion producer. They both encouraged my creativity from a young age and having this creative energy around me is what inspired me to become a make up artist!

There were two magic moments that helped me to realise the power of makeup. The first was meeting legendary make up artist Mary Greenwell when I was 11 years old, which opened my eyes to the world of makeup. The second was the first time I wore mascara at age 13 – I remember looking in the mirror and feeling instant confidence. I had unlocked the secret to how makeup could change how you feel about yourself and the world, and I knew then that it was my calling to become an MUA.

My makeup career started in the 90s when I began assisting Mary Greenwell – she was an incredible mentor and taught me tips and tricks that I still use today! I worked backstage at fashion weeks, editorials and red carpets, going on to become a make up artist to the stars! 

In my 30-year career as an MUA, I’ve had the honour of doing makeup for countless magazine covers from Vogue to Vanity Fair; working up to 40 fashion shows a season from New York to Milan; being Creative Product Developer for iconic brands such as Helena Rubenstein, MAC, Armani, Burberry and Tom Ford; and doing makeup for everyone from Amal Clooney to Kate Moss! All of this and more led to the magical moment I received an MBE in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to makeup and fashion – an honour that I will always treasure.

Darlings, it’s my career as an MUA that enabled me to create Charlotte Tilbury Beauty! This brand is built on years of experience in makeup artistry – and now, my magical makeup and skincare innovations belong in every professional makeup artist's kit!

How To Become an MUA

The best way to become an MUA is practice, darlings. Practice on yourself, practice on your friends, and learn how to perfect your makeup artistry. I suggest working on perfecting classic makeup looks like my Feline Flick winged liner; a Hollywood red lip; and a natural-looking foundation finish, then developing your skills from there.

My YouTube channel is full of how-to videos to brush along with, and my Charlotte Tilbury blog contains a magical world of tips and tricks that help to decode makeup, making it easy to use and easy to choose for everyone, everywhere! Once you’ve created a magical makeup look, share it on social media, darlings - your socials are your portfolio and your platform, so make sure they’re filled with your best work as an MUA.

What Makeup Products Does an MUA Need?

Darlings, I carry entire suitcases of makeup to work with me! This isn’t necessary when you’re first starting your career as a makeup artist, though - all you need are the basics:

  1. An open foundation wand in gold packaging with a pump dispenser and a medium-brown-coloured body to show the shade of the foundation inside.


    The secret to flawless-looking skin is a high-performance foundation in your perfect shade. Start by purchasing one or two shades and mix them together to experiment with different tones, then as you build up your client base, purchase a wider variety of shades and mixing mediums to make sure you’re equipped for any skin tone or skin type.

    Charlotte’s Choice: Charlotte’s Beautiful Skin Foundation

  2. An open, mirrored-lid duo contour palette for light to medium skin tones in sleek rose-gold-coloured packaging.

    Face Palette

    Having a face palette in your kit saves you from having to carry around multiple products. A palette containing a flattering bronzer and a mesmerising highlighter will allow you to add light and shade to your makeup looks and save the complexion you’ve created from looking flat and one-dimensional.

    Charlotte’s Choice: Filmstar Bronze & Glow

  3. Mascara in a pink-coloured tube with its gold-coloured lid with a black applicator next to it.

    Eyeliner + Mascara

    Enhancing the look of your eyes is one of the most magical parts of makeup for me. I become a new person when I’m wearing mascara and I’ve created my Feline Flick winged eyeliner look. Add liquid eyeliner and lashings of mascara to any look and it will pop!

    Charlotte’s Choice: The Feline Flick in Panther + Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes! Mascara in Super Black

  4. Matte Revolution Lipstick and Lip Cheat in Charlotte's signature nude-pink shade, Pillow Talk

    Lip Liner + Lipstick

    Finding the perfect lipstick to complement your look can be challenging for makeup beginners. I recommend investing in one red lipstick for more dramatic looks; one nude lipstick for more dressed-down looks; and one pink lipstick that goes with everything. Whichever shade you choose, be sure to use a lip liner for a well-defined, fuller-looking lip shape.

    Charlotte’s Choice: Matte Revolution Lipstick and Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk Original

  5. Thick and luscious pearly-white moisturiser in an open glass jar with its gold-coloured lid placed behind it.


    Darlings, skincare is the secret to a flawless makeup application. I never do makeup without applying my award-winning face cream, Charlotte’s Magic Cream. This formula was born backstage and is designed to give skin an immediate revival. Instantly, skin looks smoother and plumper and has a gorgeous glow, and in turn, makeup will never look better!

    Charlotte’s Choice: Charlotte’s Magic Cream 50ml

    Discover more about the #1 Face Cream 50ml in the UK Prestige Skincare Market*

Professional MUA Virtual Consultations & Masterclasses

When creating my brand, I was looking for MUAs with raw talent and a passion for makeup artistry. It’s important to me that each and every one of my Team Tilbury Pro Artists is trained by me, learning my tips and tricks and then sharing them with the world!

On CharlotteTilbury.com, discover our virtual consultation service to speak directly to one of my professional make up artists and receive one-on-one personalised tips, tricks and product recommendations to help you on your makeup journey. There are also masterclasses every week where one of my resident Pro Artists talk everything from how to get the perfect Pillow Talk look to how to perform at-home facials. Sign up to the next class on CharlotteTilbury.com and join the community or watch back the magic in my MUA masterclass archive.