Defining hair stylist, hair artist, esthetic makeup artist, and fashion makeup artist

Many of us can’t tell the difference between hair stylist and hair artist, or a “Visagist” (German for esthetic makeup artist) and a makeup artist in the fashion world. Today I wanted to get some clarity, and decided to interview my friend of many years (and when I was still living in Switzerland also my favorite hair stylist) Bjoern von Rotz. He originally started his career with a classic hairdresser / hairstylist education, and then took additional trainings to become “visagist” and makeup artist. Since then, he has worked with clients like Elle, Cosmopolitan, GQ, and Vivienne Westwood, regularly does makeup and styling at fashionweeks and on tv, teaches at seminars, and leads his own hair atelier and a makeup & hair artist school for creatives who also dream of pursuing this passion.


Bjoern von Rotz at a Fashionweek


Astrid: Björn, how would you describe the key difference between the German term “Visagist” and Makeup Artist?


Björn: The “Visagist” (esthetic makeup artist) tries to conform with beauty norms of society, such as almond shaped eyes or a perfect foundation. For example like at a beauty pageant.

Typical makeups: evening makeup, wedding makeup and so forth.

The makeup artist is focused on authenticity, individuality, and recognizability. He does not have to comply with a perfect beauty norm. When doing the foundation, the pores still have to be visible.

Typical makeups: pin-up, gipsy, nude and so forth.


Astrid: In what industry or fields can these types of makeup artists work?


Björn: The “Visagist” (esthetic makeup artist) does makeup consultations, works for portrait photography or in the sale of decorative cosmetics. The makeup artist works for photography and movies in the advertising world, for editorials, catalogues, and fashion shows.


Astrid: What kind of people can they work for?


Bjoern: A “Visagist” (esthetic makeup artist) can work with cosmetic studios, hair stylists, sales and consulting of decorative cosmetics, and classic tv studios.

As makeup artist, you work independently for agencies or fashion-focused hair- and makeup ateliers.


Astrid: What’s the difference between a hair stylist / hair dresser and a hair artist?


Bjoern: For the hair stylist/hairdresser, the customer is the most important thing, and the haircut should last six to eight weeks. For the hair artist, the moment is the most important thing. The result doesn’t have to please the model, but is tailored for the photographer, designer, art director or the audience.


Astrid: As makeup and hair artist, do you have to do a classic hairdresser / hair stylist education?


Bjoern: No. You mainly style the hair without cutting, so you don’t need to have a hair stylist / hairdresser education. But you should go to a school which focuses at least 1/5th of the education time on hair.


Astrid: What are the differences between the definition “Hair and Makeup Artist” versus “Makeup and Hair Artist?”


Bjoern: The term that’s mentioned first is always the specialty or the field of bigger experience.


Astrid: You have your own academy. What kind of education do you offer there?


Bjoern: We offer a 9 month education as Makeup & Hair Artist. Each seminar day, we have a different topic (for example architecture, film, divas, music, art, and so forth) which we use as inspiration for makeup and hair creations. We call the academy “The Make-up & Hair Circus”, because a circus is a great metaphor for the kaleidoscope-like diversity of this profession and the people in it.


Thank you so much Bjoern!