Originally written for Backstage
Makeup Artists are an important friendship for actors on set. They are the ones getting in your face, sometimes a little too close for comfort and magicking you into something fantastic.
It’s wise to form a healthy friendship with them, not because that’s what you should do, but because of all the amazing things they do for you. They’re working their hardest to make you look perfect for the role.
One way to cultivate this relationship is to show up early. Not just on time. Especially if it’s a complicated makeup job, like aging which can take several hours to create.
This may seem obvious but do your best to sit still when you’re in their chair. I’ve been on several sets where the makeup department had only a short window of time to change an actor’s makeup, but instead of being able to just get the job done, they had to wait for the actor to stop snacking or joking around. While it’s important to have fun on set, make sure you’re still honouring the makeup artist’s time. Remember, they want you to look the best you can.
At all costs avoid touching your face between shots. Don’t scratch the itch or wipe sweat away. I know it’s so easy to do this absentmindedly, but it can ruin part of your makeup and it’s annoying for the makeup department. If you do scratch that itch, it’s ok, just go straight to your team and have them check to see if you’ve done any damage.
Go the extra mile — buy them a coffee, or their favorite tea. Get on your social media platforms and showcase their work. Mandy Moore does an excellent job of this on her Instagram Story. She’s constantly posting and tagging her makeup/hair team for the amazing work they do for her character on This Is Us.
One of my good friends, Jennifer Holt of JB Just Beautiful, has worked on several film projects with me. I asked her, “What’s the best thing an actor can do to help the makeup artist out?”
To which she replied, “Actors must trust us with the hair and makeup as we are instructed by directors or head of department how they want the look to be for that scene. Unfortunately it’s not always glamourous for the actors.”
I love this answer! So many times I see actors fiddling with their hair or dabbing at their face after the makeup/hair team have finished with them. It may not always look how you want, but trusting the team around you is the best thing you can do to develop a beautiful friendship.
When all else fails, think outside the box, how can you make them smile? Do what you can to brighten their day. Even just saying “thank you” can go a long way. Doing this will help to build a great community on any film set.