London Muse Make-Up School
So, who likes make-up?
Everyone? Excellent, good to know. I’ve always liked make-up, ever
since my mother begrudgingly allowed me to start wearing eyeshadow
when I was 12 years old because MELINDA’S MOM LETS HER WEAR PINK
EYESHADOW AND I’M NOT A BABY ANYMORE *exits stage left slamming
door, sobs are heard from offstage for next three hours*.
Like many women my age,
I’ve been adorning my face on a near-daily basis for over twenty
years. I read about make-up in magazines, talk to other women about
it on the Internet and even blog about it. I like make-up pretty
well. Or so I thought. Last Monday, for a variety of personal reasons
and no reasons whatsoever, I took myself off to the foundation course
at London MUSE Make-Up School near Leicester Square.
My main considerations
when searching for a course earlier this year were as follows:
Will I have time to
do this? I work six days a week, so getting time off to do a
month-long course or an entire term was not an option.
Can I afford it? I
had been advised that I should expect to pay at least £1,000 for a
week of training.
Is it a good school?
This should have been my first consideration, but honestly, if I
didn’t have the time and couldn’t afford it, it wasn’t
The main courses at
London Muse are run as week-long courses, although you can do the
Foundation and Advanced certificates in make-up in two weeks
back-to-back. I decided to do the Foundation course on its own
because I knew I could get a week’s holiday and because I could
afford it. The six day foundation course costs £1,200, although
there is a 10% discount if you pay the full course fee up front, or
you can pay in instalments. Finally (should have been “firstly”),
several of the posters on the Sali Hughes Beauty Forum recommended
the school, but our very own Luke sealed the deal when he told me
that as a working make-up artist, he’s always impressed by the
quality of work he sees from graduates of London Muse, even the ones
who have only been on short courses. I paid my money, I took my
Before arriving, I knew
very little about Nicci Jackson, aside from the fact that she was a
make-up artist herself, and she runs the school. I think I assumed
that training sessions would be run by course tutors, and we might
see Nicci once or twice. I was very wrong about this. Aside from our
very last day, Nicci taught every syllabus herself and spent the
afternoon sessions monitoring and mentoring our practical sessions
with the help of her lovely and kind assistant Josie.
There were six of us on
the course initially, five women and two men. We were a more diverse
bunch than I expected, from a young South London hairdresser to a
youth worker and mother-of-three from West London. We were joined on
the Thursday by a woman who’d flown over from Egypt to attend the
school. Only one of us had any previous make-up training, and we all
had different ideas about how we’d use our knowledge when we’d
finished. I thought perhaps I was a bit old to be on the course at
thirty-five, but not only was one of my fellow students the same age,
but Nicci assured me that she’d had plenty of more mature students
on her courses in the past.
|My third attempt at smoky eyes. I got told off for my “dolly cheeks”, which I slapped on at the last minute before time ran out. It is better to have no blusher than a sloppy application|
Each day had the same
structure: in the morning, Nicci took us through theory of a
particular topic, demonstrating on Josie or one of us, and after
lunch we were let loose to practice on each other, with Nicci and
Josie watching and correcting. The six day syllabus touches on
everything from facial geometry and contouring to kit hygiene and
safe working practices to eyeliner effects, but the topics we spent
the most time practising were base application and colour correction
and smoky eye effects. As it turned out, everything I’d ever
learned about “cool” and “warm” skin tones was completely
incorrect, and it took me a couple of days to wrap my head around the
correct colour terminologies and how to apply it to various skin
tones. We also spent two days working on smoky eyes because as it
turned out, not one of us could get it right on the first try.
|Above: Nicci’s lip
correction demonstration on me.
I’m not telling you
much you couldn’t get from reading the syllabus on the website, so
if you’re still unsure, here are a few things they don’t tell
Nicci Jackson does not bullshit or mollycoddle her students. When
you get it wrong, she tells you, immediately. And then she very
patiently shows you your mistake and makes you do it again. She
absolutely gives praise where it is due, but if you want someone to
stroke your ego and coo over the bizarre red and orange colour
scheme you chose to deliver for your smoky eye brief because you
liked the idea of an “urban acid sunset”, go elsewhere. This is
a place to abandon everything you thought you knew and start from
the ground up. It’s frustrating at times, but it’s also
On that note,
whatever you’ve seen on YouTube is not a substitute for proper
instruction from a working professional if you want to call yourself
a make-up artist. The best way to learn is from true professionals
who practice their craft every day.
The course does not
finish after six days unless you want it to. Students are always
welcome to come back and re-sit any day if they feel they need more
instruction or practice. Free of charge. On the day that we all
failed to deliver smoky eyes, we were invited to stay on for the
evening foundation course and try again. We all did, and we nailed
it the next day. Several of the students on my course are planning
to go back this Wednesday evening for additional instruction. Free
The course runs from
10:30 to 5:30 each day, which doesn’t sound like too much of a
stretch if you work regular hours, but you will be exhausted at the
end of each day. If you can, don’t plan to go out in the evening
while you’re on the course. Go home, have something to eat and go
to bed. You will need all your energy and mental reserves for class.
By the time I got home on Wednesday night, I was so tired that I
forgot how to operate a perfume bottle.
The studio is on the
fourth floor of a building with no lift, so you will have nice
thighs by the end of the week.
If you thought
make-up was a doddle, or had any doubts that it is a serious art and
a highly technical craft, you will think differently by the end of
the course. I have more respect for true make-up artists now than
Get used to working
under pressure. Your practical sessions will be timed from Day 1. I
found this frustrating and stressful at times, but this is how real
artists have to work in a professional environment.
If you don’t know,
ASK. Help is always available during practical sessions, and I
learned the best lessons by being told what I was doing was
completely wrong and being shown the correct way.
You will want to own
ALL the Illamasqua and MAC by Day 3.
You will want to go
back. Three of the students from my group had already signed up for
the next course when they started, and the rest of us spent the last
few days discussing when and how we could get onto the advanced
|Above: My final
application on my lovely fellow student Krisztina
All in all, it was a
brilliant, exhausting, maddening and completely exhilarating week and
I’ve never been more in love with make-up artistry than I am at
this moment. Do it. You won’t regret it.
The fine print: Laurin Attended Muse at her own expense – this is not a sponsored post.