10 Facts About Movie Makeup Artists That Prove Their Job Is Way Harder Than It Seems

In the world of filmmaking, the makeup department is as important as any other team because, thanks to them, you can reflect the right identity of any character. Professionals of this branch perform quite detailed work and even apply new techniques, if necessary, to make the characters as real as possible.

Bright Side dug into what it’s like to work as a Hollywood makeup artist and wants to share with you 10 facts that prove their job goes far beyond powdering your favorite actor’s face.

1. They carry out lots of research.

Makeup in a film depends on the plot and period in which the production takes place. When the characteristics of these characters are already defined, there is usually an arduous research process that follows. Professionals spend many hours obtaining details to reach the necessary historical accuracy.

The character of Queen Elizabeth I, played by Margot Robbie for the movie, Mary Queen of Scots, had smallpox scars on her skin, a disease that the monarch suffered from when she was 20 years old. Makeup artist Jenny Shircore did not overlook this detail and drew them meticulously, just so Robbie would be aware that they were there.

2. They try everything until they find the ideal makeup combo.

Although most of the time they already have how they are going to proceed in mind, what they envision from the beginning does not always work. Because of that, they have to do as many tests as needed to get the right approach and, most importantly, the best result.

Professional makeup artist Gigi Williams said that for the black-and-white production of the movie, Mank, they tested around 300 red lipsticks until they found the shade they needed.

3. They work side by side with directors of photography.

A cinematographer is in charge of both the lighting equipment used in production and the composition of the image. He or she is also responsible for the artistic and technical decisions related to the creation of the scenes. This is why it is essential that both teams, photography, and makeup, go hand in hand since, together, they make up a whole that will influence the final result of the work.

4. They create special bonds with most actors.

Rondi Scott is a professional makeup artist who has worked on productions such as Sex and the City and Synecdoche, New York. Scott said in an interview that actors and makeup artists develop an extremely personal relationship.

“The best moments are when you’re really helping to develop the character, incorporating the actor’s ideas and your own ideas. You have to figure out who this person is, how they present themselves, and how they take care of themselves,” shared Rondi, highlighting the importance of having a good rapport with celebrities.

5. They work as many hours as necessary.

Former makeup artist Rebecca Perkins worked for popular TV shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and 30 Rock. She shared in an interview that once, for Law & Order, the makeup team had a rough time filming what was supposed to be a winter scene when it was actually the middle of summer. They worked 14 hours on set and had to carry cold clothes for the actors; however, they worked their magic and made the characters look cold despite the high temperatures.

6. They develop makeup techniques for specific scenes.

Some scenes have certain characteristics that determine which products should be used. It’s up to each makeup artist how to apply those little tricks so that they meet the required demands.

  • Tattoo makeup: In the movie, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1, makeup artist Ve Neill made a temporary tattoo for actress Natalie Dormer, which was created by a company called Alchemy Studios.
  • For crying scenes, Rondi Scott used menthol sticks.
  • To treat red eyes, Gina Bettelli recommended swiping a skin-toned pencil across the waterline. She also revealed an old TV trick: use a navy blue eye pencil instead of black to make the eyes look whiter.
  • Kissing scenes: “Matte reds are by far the longest-lasting lipstick colors,” Perkins revealed.
  • As a makeup remover, Perkins also recommended using shaving cream, as it can remove fake blood stains and red lipstick transfers.

7. They place themselves in the shoes of the character they have to make up.

Daniel Parker was the professional makeup artist for Netflix’s Queen’s Gambit. He said that it took months of research flipping through photographs and watching old movies to recreate the perfect look for the lead character. “First of all, I read the script. When I read a script, I have a picture in my mind. You get a pretty clear idea of what you want,” Parker said.

Iconic 1960s singer Mariska Veres was Parker’s inspiration for the main character’s episode 6 makeup.

8. They’re experts at making the actor look as old as necessary.

Sometimes shooting does not follow the order of events in the movie. That’s when the makeup artist really has to adapt, like, for example, in case a specific character grows older throughout the movie.

Makeup artist Daniel Parker said that on Queen’s Gambit he used various makeup techniques to suit the changing age of the main character. “She had to look like when she was younger she didn’t wear makeup. But to create that, sometimes you have to use makeup. You’re dealing with the story, the makeup is there to help tell the facts,” Parker said.

9. They succeed at creating looks that they thought would be impossible to come up with.

Tsuji Kazuhiro is a professional makeup artist in Hollywood, and he was hired for Looper. Kazuhiro was on the verge of quitting because he found the job he was hired to do impossible. However, he accepted the challenge and managed to do what he was being asked to do in the first place.

“When I heard the details, I said it was something impossible. The proportions of the 2 people’s faces are too different, and yet they have a face-to-face scene. I think this film became an admirable work,” Kazuhiro said.

10. They aren’t afraid of breaking conventional makeup rules.

British artist Nadia Stacey is known for her outstanding work as a professional makeup artist in the movie, Cruella. During an interview, she revealed the secret hack she used that made her famous: “If you want to break the rules, you have to know what they are to break them, so I researched that a lot.”

In which movie do you think they did the most impressive makeup? If you had the opportunity to play a fantasy character, who would you want to be transformed into?

Psst! Bright Side has real quizzes now. We publish new ones daily. Go check them out.

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