Competition Judges – Behind the Clipboard

February 28th, 2024

February 28th, 2024

We are hosting several in-person makeup competitions over the next few months.  The first is at Professional Beauty London, which takes place 3-4 March at the ExCel Centre in London.   After that we are at the UMAExpo in Liverpool on 24-March and then Professional Beauty & Hair Ireland, 21-22 April in Dublin. Competition Judges Behind the Clipboard

Competition Judges Behind the Clipboard

These competitions give both student and professional MUAs an opportunity to showcase their talent and take their skills to the next level.  Entering the competition gives competitors a chance to receive valuable feedback, demonstrate their experience in a professional setting and network with inspirational professionals.


To get the most out of the experience it’s really important to prepare, and to know what the judges will be looking for in many areas, including adherence to and interpretation of the brief, behaving in a professional manner, working well with the model and exhibiting a range of technical skills.


We spoke to Emma Cammack, Tanya Noor, Armand Beasley and James Mac, all of whom will be judging at PB London next month.  We also asked regular Warpaint judge Yasmin Heinz for her input.  They all gave us their key pieces of advice for competitors.


Before the competition


Competition Judges Behind the Clipboard

Tanya – it’s really important to unpack the brief.  You can do the best makeup ever, but if it doesn’t hit the brief then it’s no good to anyone.  Students should be learning how to identify the criteria within a brief and the key elements to realise an outcome in a performance context.  Whether it’s for a competition, an assessment or an industry job, it is an important skill required to progress within the industry.


EmmaThere is always a reason for every piece of makeup we apply. Take the actual brief as though it was an actual job and research, prepare and mood board for that.  For example, the winner of the character category in a recent competition [theme – Tim Burton with a twist] had imagined there was a sequel to Edward Scissorhands and that her character had come back to life.  They researched how the character had died and made prosthetic appliances for each wound from the death scene as raised scar tissue.  Then they had new wounds created for the fresh wounds from the scene the character had just been in the imagined sequel when he encountered Edward again. This showed a more mature understanding of creating a character within the parameters set by the piece.


James – Learn your colour theory to make looks stand out more, building up layers of which makeup goes with and textures/materials to give it a fashion twist. And make sure you plan out your work that you have realistic amount of time.


Tanya – Preparation is really important. Remember that competitions are supposed to be a replication of any potential industry setting, so you must bring anything with you that you need to complete your look.  This includes mirrors, lights and high stools. An extension lead for any powered devices you may need (airbrush, hair straighteners, curlers etc) is always a good idea – you could be a long way from a plug socket.


Where can competitors lose marks?

Competition Judges Behind the Clipboard

Emma – The makeup can be brilliant but they can lose marks on adherence to the brief, research, their mood boards and look development. You may create a well-rounded and skilful makeup look with an excellent costume, but if it is just a copy of an existing character/look you may not score as highly as other competitors.  Doing full research is key – don’t assume you know where the character is from or the inspiration behind it.  Check your sources; look at what or who inspired the creation of the original, and show this on your mood board.


Tanya – We also look at health and safety and tidy workstations throughout the judging period as well as how the MUA looks after their model and interacts with the judges and those around them.


Yasmin – Hygiene and cleanliness of the working area and kit is key. Being welcoming and approachable, and listening to the model and judges as you work is important, it shows you can act professionally in a pressurised environment.


What do the judges look for?

Emma – It is important to show a variety of skills, materials and processes involved in creating a look.  While costume is a very important part in any category, costume isn’t makeup and first and foremost the makeup must fulfil the brief.  Having an elaborate costume can be amazing, but it should not be at the expense of the actual makeup creation or the research for the look.


Tanya – It’s really important to ensure that all prosthetics and any additional pieces used are of a professional standard and suitable for use on the skin. This means items that are a medical or cosmetic grade and/or created specifically for prosthetic use.  Things like gaffer tape, craft paints or glitter or materials such as fimo polymer clay are not appropriate or suitable in a performance context, and this will be reflected in the marking.


Armand – I look for MUAs who can enhance someone’s natural beauty…not mask it. I love the subtlety and delicate nature of makeup. Blending and balance is also key for me. Where is the focus? When you have bold brows, eyes, cheeks and lips …you can’t always see the person, instead you just see the makeup. I want to see the beauty of the model/client shine through with the makeup creating a spotlight on their features.


James – I’ll be looking for interpretation of the theme, what makes your approach unique and has a story behind it.  Practise saying your brief out loud, write it down. Read it out to hear how it sounds and then familiarise yourself like it’s your story to tell. That always calms the nerves to help with better delivery. Your look could be state of the art but needs to relate to the brief, that will give you more marks and help judges interpret your makeup look better.


Competition Judges Behind the Clipboard

Yasmin – To be a good beauty makeup artist, you need to be able to understand what each client wants and how to achieve that look. You also need to be able to communicate effectively with your client and understand their needs and change your design if necessary. I look for MUAs that showcase their skills in a variety of ways, including: application techniques; colour choices; originality, artistry and flair, and ensuring the design is translated into the finished look and is explained through a well-designed mood board.


Emma – For the character category we look at the entire creation from the perspective of how it would look on stage, again with the makeup look and application as well as the costume. Well thought-out designs with character development and backstory shown on the mood board will often score more highly than those that are more a straight character copy or mashup without a backstory or any additional creativity.  Try to think outside the box.


James – Foremost have FUN. You do this because it’s your passion and the main purpose of competing is to grow, learn from your efforts, trials, and errors, improving your skill set constantly and being to enjoy the process.



About the judges

Emma Cammack has been working as a bodypainter for the past 30 years. Her work has been featured in editorial, advertising, television, magazines, as fine art, on packaging, as live body art installations and more. Emma was a judge on Skin Wars and Skin Wars Fresh Paint. Emma’s recent work explores empowerment, self-love and body positivity. She is a passionate advocate of the power of bodypaint to promote self-confidence. Her work on TV shows such as Naked Beach in the UK and No Body is Perfect for German TV explore this.

Tanya Noor trained at London College of Fashion (LCF) and has been a MUA for around 30 years. She has worked in all areas of the industry including: TV, Film, Theatre and Fashion as well as teaching. She was head of the make-up department at Phantom of the Opera (the brilliant original London production) for over 20 years and was also part of the main make up team for the Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies for London 2012. She has worked on many other live events including: Fashion Rocks, The Brits, The Royal Variety Performance, Comic Relief and the Olivier Awards and Most recently for TV & film on The Crown, The Great, Mission Impossible and James Bond. Tanya is deputy course leader at LCF on the BA Hons Degree course in Hair, Make Up and Prosthetics For Performance.

Having started as an actor, Armand Beasley trained during his “resting periods” in skincare, make up and fragrance to expand his skills.  This led to him setting up a Personal Beauty Studio in conjunction with House of Fraser.  He then started appearing regularly on radio and TV as a beauty expert, including GMTV with Armand creating makeup and beauty looks for members of the public.  He has also appeared on UK and global TV and radio networks as presenter and regular guest, as well as writing and contributing to beauty columns for publications around the world.  He also has worked on editorial shoots internationally, from Greece to the Oscars in LA, to fashion shows in Delhi and society weddings in New York. Still working as an actor, you may well have seen him in BBC1s The Reckoning late last year.  However, one of his proudest moments has been co-creating the 100% natural high-shine nourishing multipurpose balm with BuzzBalm Beauty, Pro Body Glow which launched in October 2019 to rave reviews, and has become a firm favourite with MUAs, consumers and celebrities alike.

Glow Up alumnus James Mac is a freelance beauty-glamour makeup/drag artist and runner up on BBC’s Glow Up series 2. James’ focus is on hyper creative looks, fashion, editorial and drag inspired makeup.

Working at the cutting edge of beauty and fashion, from photo shoots to runway shows, music videos and advertising campaigns, Yasmin Heinz’s expertise is in demand by photographers, designers and celebrities alike.  Born in Germany she was previously based in New York – where she started her career as an assistant alongside the iconic make-up artist Linda Mason – and Paris. Her extraordinary career has led her to work with designers including Chanel, Dior, Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier and in team with Pat McGrath for Galliano and Victor & Rolf; magazines such as Elle, ID, Harper’s Bazaar, Hunger, Vanity Fair and Vogue; plus a host of A-list celebrities and photographers.  Yasmin has published a number of best-selling books on beauty, her latest Utopians: Visionary People – a collaboration with photographer Felix Lammers – features photographs of many international singular artists in Berlin and London in a unique way, across many fields.  The photos tell stories, spanning diverse communities with the hope that more voices equal better ideas.

Competition Judges Behind the Clipboard

Competition Judges Behind the Clipboard

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Competition Judges Behind the Clipboard



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By Sarah Dann

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