Miss World Competition Offering Exposure as Payment to Make Up Artists

Miss World Competition Offering Exposure as Payment to Make Up Artists

"Looking for professional makeup artists to work on set for ASOS. This is unpaid, but will create opportunities for exposure and portfolio development" - it took no more than two minutes to locate a commercial casting call for an unpaid makeup artist online. Money will be made from product sales, so why isn’t the team also being financially compensated?  

The internet is littered with adverts looking for hardworking creatives to shoot. But not just 'creatives' in general, creatives who are willing to work for free, with no more than the promise of exposure, a cheese sandwich and a packet of own brand crisps for their time. Why is it that professionally trained men and women are having to beg to work by selling their soul to the devil, working for nothing and pleading for their bus fare home?

This week it has come to light that the Miss World 2014 event, to be held in London next month, has been imploring for makeup artists to work on the event by Artdeco, with the following letter of invitation:



I am just writing to you because we have a big project coming up for Miss World 2014 which is being held in London. It culminates in a live broadcast on the weekend of the 13th December to 2.2billion viewers worldwide.

There are a 130 contestants all with equal billing! They all need star quality hair and makeup with quick changes during the programme.

So we are needing a team of 100 people.  There are also some build up events that require cover but in much smaller numbers. Everything is being filmed or photographed.

Can you please let me know if this is something you would be interested in? Please email me. :-)

Everything is credits only, we are NOT receiving any fees for this. We are organizing it for the credits. There will be goody bags.

Kind regards,

Colin Laphan


A outpour of enraged makeup artists took to social media to defend the industry stating that, just like anyone else, they can only make a living with cash payments. Credits, free food and a good bag of cosmetics are worthless to them for paying bills. A deeper underlying sense of disrespect obviously ran true with many, as they posted on Twitter to inform the media and entertainment union, BECTU for support.

Furthermore, the feeling that students should not be encouraged to work for free for commercial companies became even more prominent;

"Why are student MUA's being targeted? Because they're new and don't know any better yet! #missworld" one tweeted.

BECTU began to back up the public disapproval posting a statement on their website written by their communications officer, Sharon Elliott;

From BECTU's point of view, a view clearly shared by many hair/make-up artists, this invitation communicates an intention to break the law on the National Minimum Wage. In the UK, the law provides for all work to be paid, at least in line with the minimum rates. Not surprisingly, goody bags and credits don't count as pay. This legal provision applies as much to students as to those who are not students. Work experience, as an accepted part of a course of study can be done unpaid within limitations, however, it's plain that the invitation to work on the Miss World contest is just that, work.

When given the opportunity to respond to the backlash of MUA's approached to work on the event for free, Colin Laphan replied by posting on social media;

The chance to take students & graduates under the tutelage of world class makeup artists to a worldwide live TV broadcast comes along once in a lifetime. Makeup & media education has changed, public colleges and people like AOFM Makeup teach excellent courses of real-world makeup. The educators are real world experienced people, the products have moved on tremendously.

In my past I took new nail technicians and shop nail technicians to LFW Paris and Milan. We did it first and we proved that under the right guidance the teams produced world class results for people like Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Versace. The achievement of doing an event like this changes your whole persona and approach to the business, I speak from experience having brought many talented creatives through.

The venom and jealousy from a number of small-minded protectionist "makeup" artists has truly shocked me. Sad, lonely bitter people who need to wake up to change. The industry is growing exponentially at the moment, new highly trained MUAs are coming into the marketplace and competition has arrived on a new level.


He also adds;

All of the top makeup artists worked for credits when gaining the necessary work experience, which allowed the networking and the jobs opportunities to open up. I actually know this because I was there at London Fashion Week in the late 1990's with the now top MUAs. I salute Melanie and her college, plus the other lecturers at the other forward thinking colleges who go the extra mile for their students. It would be a lot easier to do 9 till 5 and go home..... supporting and encouraging takes personal time and effort. 

So the question arises - is it a tutors responsibility to teach student makeup artists about morals and integrity regarding commercial work, as well as standing strong as an industry union (and indeed the law regarding minimum wage)? Or will those who continue to work for free until (if it happens) they are noticed, be encouraged and applauded for their dedication to succeed.

Copyright Vicki Head

Every photographer, model and makeup artist needs to build a portfolio and will have to work for free to begin. However a promise of equal payment in terms of image use are their compensation, where no sales are made and the shoot in effect is not profitable. It’s fair to suggest that all creatives are equal and where one person is making money, the rest should be too.

BECTU conclude their statement with the following;

BECTU will be reporting the issues to the HMRC, whose Pay and Work Rights Unit monitors the conduct of employers who act illegally in respect of the National Minimum Wage. We'll also be seeking the views of Creative Skillset, the training body for the creative sectors, covering film, TV production, fashion and more. Creative Skillset liaises with universities and colleges on their approach to student work experience.

For now, we congratulate the make-up artists prepared to make a stand against exploitation and we invite many more in the creative sectors to stand with them.


[Lead Image by Lorna Preston - Used With Permission]

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Miss World and other contests are slowly dying, and grasping for straws. How come a small photographer can pay for makeup and hair stylist, but the worlds most prestigious beuty pageant scams, offering exposure... I do not know 1 makeup artist that was in Miss World, if I look into it I will find out, but that is not exposure. You can get this kind of under the radar exposure and get payed at the same time!!!!!!! + I think beauty is found in women that do not enter these kind of contests... There is a fudamental flaw in this system and it is that you choose Miss World, but only from a hand full of girls that actually go with it. Just look up the Miss World contestant for Bulgaria for 2015 OMG. Today I saw at least 100 women more beautifull than her on the street and in the Mall.... So don't Cred your self with something like that, it is slowly going towards bad Rep.

Ok... So someone so very kindly pointed out, I misread something which is why my post is edited. However, I do wish to comment that this situation is a bad trend as no one can sustain themselves working for free. We have to be careful of that. There are still systems in this world like migrant farm workers in the USA that are forced by proximity and low wages to go to their "employer" for all of their needs. Coal miners and factory workers, mill towns, all in the late industrial era in the US were similar. We need to be careful that the "big shots" aren't assigned undue importance to the point we are reliant on them for our bread!

There will be goody bags.

that is my new motto for life

i think the response is "Fuck You Pay Me"

It's a shame because there have could been an opportunity to offer student MUAs real work experience by employing fully paid professionals then asking if students wanted to shadow and learn about the pressures of working in this kind of environment. Instead all that seems to have happened is yet another devaluing of an aspect of the creative industries.

Cyanide & Happiness covers the matter of exposure in todays comic strip: http://explosm.net/comics/3751/

In the words of Harlan Ellison.

This isn't something new for the cosmetics industry as a whole. I worked for M.A.C cosmetics in the 90s when Estee Lauder took the rains from Frank Toscan the makeup artist who created the brand. In Australia and the UK Hair salons and Cosmetic houses bid on shows and will usually spend money to secure their branding behind the scenes. I know an old boss of mine paid 20K to get her team on a show which hooked her up with a cosmetic house. As a PR exercise it worked for her and they formed a good alliance for both their business. The staff didn't win or get paid, but they did get some cool experience out of working backstage. I don't think it got anyone a ticket to work behind the scenes in NYC or Paris.

In Australia GHD hair straightening irons get salons and apprentices to man the shows backstage and help for free and to gain experience. I don't know how many people actually get called after the shows to be booked for any jobs ever. The cosmetic houses get approached by PR teams, who will book years ahead and stay with one designer and have their head makeup artist work on the looks with the designer. This gives the head makeup artist some good PR but it doesn't pay their rent.

There are salon owners and stylist, makeup artist who pay for themselves to work backstage and foot the pill for their own PR. I guess you have to decide if the exposure is worth it in the end or maybe it gives you bragging rights for your social media.

My opinion strongly supports work experience before pay in all industries...however, this means shadowing professionals and not just working alone for free.

The media are getting a hold of this story here in the UK and seem to be making an example of the Miss World event, so it'll be interesting to see what happens next month at the event itself.

Despite it being quite common practice in the cosmetics industry as a whole, it doesn't make it acceptable.

Jen it sucks but its been going on for the last 20 years in the cosmetic industry. I worked enough back stage shows to last me a lifetime. I learnt from them and worked with them for years. The head makeup artist get the credit while the gofers behind the scenes do 20 faces and get the talent ready for the next still or episode.
You get your day rates and you endeavour to make everyone look amazing for the camera. Then the digital world changed everything. Makeup artist needed to buy airbrush equipment and foundations and invest in stencils for continuity to make sure the talent looked the same in each still or reel.
Work experience is vital in moving forward and it needs to happened to grown and master your craft. Its like models testing with up and coming photographers. No one is going to touch you until you have a portfolio worth while or you have something quirky thats worthwhile.

"...it sucks BUT it's been going on for..." - is exactly my point. Tradition does not make something right. Also it's fair to say that work experience is vital in moving forward, but that is what I mean by shadowing. Shadow if it's for free, or pay them a trainee wage if they're not. An apprentice gets paid very little as they are still learning, but they absolutely must be paid minimum wage at least by law, thus they are still paid because a client is being charged.

Working on a commercial shoot is not the same as building up a portfolio. I am all for working TF where there is mutual benefit, I myself have done countless unpaid shoots that were for mine and the rest of the teams portfolio. But an event with 100+ girls is not going to benefit anyone other than the models and the event organisers, most certainly not the MUA's, as the article above refers to.