The Makeup School

With over 30 years experience combined, Gabrielle Jones and Dianne Ensor, two of New Zealand’s most respected make-up designers, founded The Makeup School – an Auckland-based make-up training facility.

The courses offered are designed to provide students with the skills, knowledge and confidence to succeed as professional make-up artists. There is an 18-week full-time course offering a diploma in Professional Makeup (Film, TV, Fashion and Special FX) or a shorter, eight-week evening course teaching basic make-up application.

What made you decide to open a make-up school in 2007?

It had become apparent to us that getting skilled make-up artists was a challenge in New Zealand. At the time we were both working on different TV shows as make-up designers (Outrageous Fortune and Power Rangers).

We were receiving copious amounts of CVs every year from hopeful make-up graduates wanting employment. We feel a strong responsibility to support people who have trained and who want to embark on a career in this industry, but were constantly disillusioned by the standard of training students were getting, or rather not getting. After a few years of development and while still working in the industry, we launched The Makeup School.

Compared to the other courses available in New Zealand, how is The Makeup School different?

We keep it small and personal. We only train 36 full-time artists a year. This way we can focus on students and help as much as possible to launch their careers after they leave The Makeup School.

We pride ourselves on providing ongoing support to graduates if they feel they need it. We only employ tutors who are experienced in their particular field of the industry and who are still working as freelancers.

We give the students as much work experience as possible which is a vital part of their training and we make sure it is varied. For example, a photo shoot, short film, fashion show or working on a film set.

And most importantly we train with products that are actually used out in the industry every day. This produces graduates who have an edge and a strong product knowledge and understanding of the industry. We believe it is a worthwhile investment using top of the range products, like M.A.C cosmetics, Dermalogica skincare and Sebastian hair care, along with all the specialised film products we import (mainly from the US).

Tell us about your teaching style.

We wanted to approach our teaching in a more relevant manner by treating the classroom as if it were a real job. We have various guests in the studio like high profile actors, directors and photographers who are generous enough to come in and talk with our students while passing on invaluable knowledge and advice.

Applying beautiful, polished make-up is half the job. Understanding how the industry works and how you fit into it as a make-up artist is just as important.

We cover all this in our industry standards module. If a student is falling behind in a certain area we will know about it and put extra time and energy into getting them up to speed with the rest of the class. Although we follow a structured curriculum this is a creative profession and our students need to feel inspired every day they walk into the studio.

What age group are the majority of your students?

They average between 18 and 35 with a few students recently being in their 40s. Maturity can be an advantage as a make-up artist as you are working with a variety of people in diverse creative environments.

Are most of them new to the world of make-up artistry?

Most of the students are new to the craft of professional make-up but many have a background or a passion for the creative fields such as fine arts, fashion, design or photography. We also get a lot of students who have previously trained but who are looking for general upskilling.

What makes a good make-up artist?

Obviously having a competent skill base is an important starting point along with confidence and good people skills. You are often working with a cross section of people of all ages and walks of life. A good eye for detail, being able to work under difficult time and creative pressures is vital.

Initiative and drive to work as a freelancer on your own but also to be able to collaborate with a creative team is hugely important. Coming up with ideas or following direction while providing a nurturing and positive environment takes a certain person.

What make-up trend are you currently loving?

This summer we are embracing the comeback of luscious coral and melon lip colours, which look beautiful on almost all skin tones. Always start with good skin preparation by using hydrating moisturisers and toners which are vital to achieving smooth hydrated flawless skin. We are loving the new sheer foundation ranges that have an SPF block protecting the face from harsh UV rays.

A wash of naturals over the eye, a well shaped brow and lashings of lengthening mascara complimented with an injection of peachy blush on apple cheeks and sexy melon lips will give you a youthful warm summer glow.

Do you also offer hair styling courses?

Hairstyling is included both in our full-time diploma and also as a stand alone course. We offer hair styling courses and workshops for make-up artists who are wanting to improve their hairstyling and wig application skills.

The workshops can be tailored to suit people’s personal requirements whether you are a make-up artist or not. There are a lot of women who want to learn to style their hair the same way a professional hairdresser does so a quick session with our fabulous hair tutors gives them the confidence to feel like they have just left the salon.

What does the part-time evening course involve?

The eight-week part-time make-up course is a great introduction to make-up application. M.A.C. cosmetics and Dermalogica skincare are used throughout the course.

It is designed for those people wanting a creative outlet through the medium of make-up. They may want to learn to apply make-up for themselves or as a part-time income for special occasions such as weddings.

The course covers everything from learning skin preparation, different face shapes, concealing, matching a foundation to a skin tone right through to applying a natural day and evening make-up. We also cover wedding and fashion make-up including the application of smoky eyes and false eyelashes.

This is a power packed three hours one night per week from 6-9pm where we have a lot of fun and encourage students to practice between lessons on anyone they can get their hands on. Each week we cover a new topic and start the evening with a full demonstration by a experienced tutor who is a working artist in the industry of fashion, film or TV.

It is also a great little taster course for those considering a career move and fulfilling their dreams of being a make-up artist.

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Tried & tested: Bronzing Powders


Faux Tan All-Over Face Colour, $79

This face colour gives the impression you have just been 
on an island holiday – without the damaging effects of the sun. Perfect as 
a cheek highlighter or for an all-over glow, this bronzer is easy to apply. Be sure to tap 
any excess off the brush first. With this product, less is definitely more.


Moonglow, $89

This quad-compact of golden bronze and copper-toned shades can be used on eyes and cheeks or as an all-over highlighter. The mineral powder (free of FD&C dyes and irritants) contains 24-carat gold flakes, giving skin a soft, golden shimmer that instantly brightens the complexion. For evening or special occasions, brush on your décolletage and shoulders as well your face.


Soleil Tan De Chanel, $79

For a natural, golden complexion, this velvety powder does not disappoint. Enriched with moisturising active ingredients, it glides on easily without caking or settling into fine lines. The brush is designed to be used for the whole face and décolletage, or for highlighting.


Minérale, $75

With SPF15, this pressed bronzer protects skin as well as giving it a lovely glow. The matte powder is light in weight and can be applied in layers to give the impression of tanned skin. The Kabuki brush ($80), which is sold separately, is incredibly soft and allows for an easy and even application. Being talc-free, oil-free, non-acnegenic and fragrance-free, this bronzer is great for all skin types.


Bronze Goddess 
Soft Shimmer 
Bronzer, $70

Perfect for the days when your skin is looking dull or sallow, this silky, streak-free powder gives skin a healthy, sun-kissed radiance and enhances skin tone. If you prefer a more understated bronzed finish (and less shimmer) try the Soft Matte Bronzer.


Cellular Treatment Bronzing 
Powder, $95

On first inspection, you would expect the colour of this bronzer to be very dark. However, it goes on the skin very lightly, which means that you can control the application and gradually build up the colour until you reach your desired shade. The silky texture glides on evenly and gives skin a radiant glow due to light-reflecting particles.

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