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Best salon winner 1

Make-up award winner highlights University Centre as 'best possible environment for learning'

Media Make-up, Special Effects and Hair Design graduate Tracy Hogg has hailed York College University Centre for helping her pick up a prestigious prize at the Scottish Make-Up Awards.

Tracy, 45, won the Best Make-up Salon in Edinburgh category and credited her BA (Hons) top-up degree with helping transform her from “a Beauty Therapist that does make-up to a Make-up artist that does beauty”.

Describing our University Centre as the “best possible environment for learning”, the skills Tracy acquired on the course she completed in 2022 have enabled her to expand the services she provides at her award-winning, home-based business Velvet Mascara.

New clients have included Bollywood filmmakers, an Edinburgh Festival Fringe performer and a first-aid security company in need of bleeding prosthetic arms!

Despite the two-and-a-half hour commute by train from her home in Scotland’s capital city, Tracy also decided to return to Sim Balk Lane to enrol on a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) degree this academic year, where she teaches students on her old course, including four she helped recruit who now make the same journey in from Edinburgh!

Nominations for the Scottish Make-up Awards were made by clients with a board of judges then deciding shortlists for the final ceremony at the Double Tree by Hilton Glasgow Central Hotel, as well as the eventual winners.

On her success and the role York College University Centre played in securing the impressive accolade, Tracy said: “Last year, I came second and was Highly Commended in the Freelance of the Year category so I thought, if anything, I might get that one. I wasn’t expecting to get the Make-up Salon award so, when they said my name, it was a huge shock but a very pleasant surprise.

“Being at York College has helped my confidence a lot, though. It’s led to me doing a lot of prosthetics work from the salon, including for a client based in London, who has hired me two years running for shows he’s done at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“I’ve made him fake noses and cheekbones, as well as doing his hair and make-up, so it was a mixture of prosthetics and beauty and, to be rehired for a second year, makes you think, ‘Actually, I’m pretty good at what I do’.

“The College tutors Sharon (Barrington) and Emma (Dobson) have made me believe in myself too and I wouldn’t have had the knowledge or confidence to do that work without doing the course. I got a 2:1 and was one point away from getting a First and my ability grew so much during the year I was on the course, which was all down to the support from Sharon and Emma, as well as the resources and knowledge that came from being here.

“I did my first Beauty Therapy course when I was 16 and have been a Beauty Therapist for 29 years but, whilst I still enjoy doing a massage every now and then and still have some wax clients who come to the salon, instead of being a Beauty Therapist that does make-up, I’m now set up as a Make-Up Artist that does beauty.

“If I could wind the clock back and I’d known about York College from the beginning, I’d have done my Level 4 here too, even though it’s two-and-a-half hours from home because, in terms of an environment for learning, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Krista wedding

Tracy’s current commute to North Yorkshire for her PGCE begins on a Sunday night when she leaves Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station and takes the opportunity to catch up on any work en route.

She then has a theory class on Monday and spends the next two days on teaching practice before returning north of the border on a Wednesday evening when her focus switches back to family life and Velvet Mascara.

“I stay in a really nice hostel while I’m up here,” Tracy explained. “There are quite a few people there who are regularly travelling for work or studying like myself.

“So, while I leave my 15-year-old daughter and the family at home, I’ve almost got a second family here, which is lovely. I even gave a fellow guest a make-up lesson for a Friday night date recently!”

Having spotted a Facebook advert in 2019 appealing for somebody to apply special effects make-up in Dundee, Tracy accepted the job and realised that she had a desire to explore that line of work and expand her skills.

She subsequently enrolled on a HND course in Scotland but felt a little disappointed by the level of support students received there and the resources available, deciding to cast the net wider as she looked to take her next educational steps after completing the course.

Tracy’s experiences on our Media Make-up, Special Effects and Hair Design degree then persuaded her to return for her PGCE despite opportunities to gain the qualification closer to home.

Having previously enjoyed overseeing work placements with college students at Velvet Mascara and delivering a council-funded project demonstrating every-day make-up and basic prosthetic skills to children, including making up cuts and bruises on themselves, Tracy was encouraged to consider teaching by Sharon, who had spotted her potential.

Now, Tracy admits she would “happily” continue her long commute and balancing of her make-up business commitments if the chance arose to secure a teaching post at College.


“Media Make-Up has always interested me,” she pointed out. “When I left school at 16, I did my HNC in Beauty Therapy at Dundee College.

“That included a make-up element, and we did a six-week Special Effects course that I absolutely loved but, at the time, my Mum was saying, ‘Is that going to pay the bills or is the beauty part going to pay the bills?’ Fast forward 25 years and I’d become a bit disillusioned with the beauty side of things, so I decided to return to education.

“It wasn’t really about changing careers – it was more about enhancing and transferring skills that I already had. When I finished my HND in Scotland and was looking at what to do next, there was a course that I could have done in London that was five days a week, so I would have had to relocate.

“There was also one in Bolton that I could have done over two years but, when I did my research, I found out that I could do this course in York over two days, even though it was full-time, so it was the best pick for me and I’ve never looked back!

“Two of us from the same college in Scotland came down to York. There was going to be three, but the other person deferred for a year to have a baby before graduating the following year. There are now more cohorts from Edinburgh that commute here every week, like I did, and there are four students that have come here this year.

“I am with them in class on a Wednesday and have written a little dossier for them on places to stay and the buses they need to get when they come by train.”

On the contrast between her HND studies and what she experienced here, Tracy added: “I found the support and encouragement we got from Sharon and Emma, as teachers, was like chalk and cheese compared to what I’d experienced during my HND. There was so much enthusiasm, genuine interest and excitement when something went well.

“The general resources that are available to use were also on a different scale. I found everything in the top-up course useful and enjoyable - everything has a reason for doing it.

“If you want to specialise in fashion photography make-up, prosthetics or straight make-up, they will give you the knowledge, tool kit and skill set to be able to do that, whether that be in a home salon, on a film set or for a fashion shoot in Paris. They give you a fantastic starting point and I want to be that kind of teacher, too, who gets you to the point of knowing what you need to.

“So, when it then came to doing my PGCE, I could have done it where I studied in Scotland, but just didn’t have the confidence in them to teach me to the best of my ability. Here, I know with the PGCE tutors’ guidance and, with Sharon and Emma in my corner, the hope is that, by the time I graduate, I will be the best version of a new teacher that I can be.

“They don’t put limitations on myself or hold back either. They can be brutally honest, but I see that as necessary and a good thing.

“If I’m not doing something right, I’d rather be told why, because you always need to be reflecting as a teacher. I’m still learning from them about make-up now, even though I’ve been in the industry for 29 years and we swap skills and techniques.

“They are a good mix for me in my education as a teacher, because Sharon is so passionate and knowledgeable about straight make-up, like theatre make-up and wigs, and Emma is the same about prosthetics, so I’d happily take a job here if it was offered to me.

“Ideally, I’d like to do a bit more location film and TV work first so I can pass on that experience when I’m teaching but, if I had to combine the two, I would do, because the PGCE course is very intense and I’m still managing to do make-up work back home.

“I love it here so much that I would rather travel two-and-a-half hours and teach here than somewhere closer to home. I’m passionate about my course because of the tutors who taught me it, but I also see the resources and support that’s available for students across the board and in other departments.”

Meaghan wedding 1

The skills Tracy acquired as a student under Sharon and Emma, meanwhile, continue to enhance the services she provides at her award-winning salon.

While still taking on bridal and occasion make-up jobs, she now gets Halloween work for people wanting zombie bites on their neck and cut throats.

She also works regularly on shoots with a photographer for alternative fashion magazine Femme Rebelle and, perhaps most excitingly, landed a commission for a Bollywood film.

“I was Make-up Designer for a Bollywood film called Manmauji, which was half filmed in India and half in Edinburgh, which was where I came in,” she explained. “It was pretty terrifying.

“It was my first experience of film work and the brief I had been given was to just do three days of office make-up – something very light and neutral, but I turned up and ended up spending 10 days doing all sorts of bright, lovely colours and curling hair. I was doing the female lead but, then, was asked to do the male lead who was India’s equivalent to Peter Kay and 13 extras as well, so it was long hours but I enjoyed every minute of it.”

To learn more about our BA (Hons) Media Make-up, Special Effects and Hair Design (Top-up) degree course, please click here

For more details on our Teacher Training PGCE/CertEd courses, please click here

You can also discuss the courses with tutors at our next Open Event on Tuesday, March 19th. To register a place, click here