Sarah brushes off the competition to take top prize

Local undergraduate, Sarah Davies, is celebrating after winning one of the beauty industry’s most prestigious make up competitions.

Battle of the Brushes is part of the world’s largest celebration of make up artistry, the International Make Up Artist Trade Show (IMATS), and Hugh Baird University Centre undergraduate, Sarah, outshone the competition to take first place at this year’s spectacular final.

Each year, Battle of the Brushes brings together students from recognised make up schools, and those who graduated within the last 12 months, to compete for the chance of international exposure for their work, as well as some amazing prizes.

Sarah is in her final year of the Foundation Degree (FdA) in Creative Make up Design and Practice at the Hugh Baird University Centre, which is validated by the University of Central Lancashire. Along with hundreds of entrants from across the globe, she submitted ten images for the first stage of Battle of the Brushes and was one of just eight finalists selected to compete in the Beauty/Fantasy category at IMATS in London.

Explaining how she came to enter the competition, she said:

“During the second year of the Foundation Degree, my tutor suggested using a particular module as a focus to build a portfolio worthy of entering into the competition. It consisted of five commercial/editorial images and five creative/sfx concepts. It was a motivational goal to have and meant that the images I submitted for the first stage of Battle of the Brushes were the culmination of two years of work.”

The theme for the beauty/fantasy category for 2018 was Wildwood Warrior, described as alluring and epic, with a touch of mystical, vibrant playfulness. Finalists had to present the judges with ‘before’ photos of their models, a mood board and a brief description of their artistic inspirations. They then had two hours to complete their looks in full view at the exhibition visitors before an on-stage presentation and judging.

Sarah said:

“Making it to the final was an amazing achievement in itself and I was excited to take part. My tutors really helped me prepare for the competition with lots of research and advice. They supported me all the way and the University Centre contributed towards the costs too. Winning first place felt surreal, it was like a dream.”

As well as a cheque for £4,000 and beauty products worth around £600, the prize includes a feature in internationally published Make Up Artist Magazine. Sarah’s work will be showcased in the magazine and featured in IMATS advertising campaigns and show graphics. It has already been seen not only by industry leaders attending the show but also by thousands of social media users who follow the event.

Diane Flanagan is Programme Lead for the FdA and BA (Hons) Top up in Creative Make up Design and Practice at the Hugh Baird University Centre. Speaking after Sarah’s incredible win, she said:

“IMATS is the biggest trade show for the make up industry and a must-see for professionals and students alike. We took eighteen students to the event this year, ranging from those just starting off at Foundation Entry level to those about to progress to the BA (Hons) Top up. For them, the event is an opportunity to see the very latest trends and products, network with the top names in the industry and get an insight into the professional standards expected of them by the time they graduate. This was the first time any of our undergraduates has entered Battle of the Brushes so for Sarah to not only reach the final but to be overall winner is absolutely huge. We couldn’t be more proud of her. Her win doesn’t just enhance her own career prospects but also inspires our current and future undergraduates and raises the profile of the degree programme offer we offer in Creative Make up Design and Practice at the Hugh Baird University Centre.”

If you’re interested in a career in the creative industries, or to find out more about any of the degree programmes at the Hugh Baird University Centre, visit You can view more of Sarah’s work at or on her Instagram page at


load more hold SHIFT key to load all load all