Hair and Makeup

Made-up from the Start

Film makeup has come a long way from the days of using greasepaint to blank out an actor’s skin tone for black and white film. Today, makeup is a billion-dollar, worldwide industry and a common enough thing that it’s often overlooked. But, carefully made choices happen everyday on film sets regarding what hair and makeup will represent any given character. The goal is to transform an actor into another person altogether. Sometimes nothing does that better than changing the absolute basics — be it hair color, eye shapes, even face and nose shapes. All this can be achieved by careful and expert application of that colorful stuff lining shelves at the drugstores.

Even the lack of makeup or hair styling is a specific choice. Is our character a busy, career driven person unconcerned with vanity? These are all things makeup artists and hair stylists take into account when creating the looks that will help propel a film’s story forward. 

Artists at Work

Black brush makeup set
A film makeup artist’s kit.

Film hair and makeup is a specialized field for a few reasons. First, it takes a lot of experience working on film sets to be able to navigate them. And it takes time to build relationships with producers and directors who will want to work with you. When hiring hair and makeup artists, producers also expect them to bring their own kits and equipment, essentially renting those items for the shoot. A makeup artist with lots of work and experience has probably invested thousands of dollars over many years into a kit made up of skincare, brushes and makeup that can suit the wide variety of talent they encounter. 

An experienced artist has also picked up tips and tricks that make the real difference in films. They know exactly how to set liquid makeup to make it last for outdoor shoots in June. They also know how to cover up blemishes on the skin so the camera skips right past them. And they know when to boost the face contour so those crazy-high cheekbones look au-natural on camera under bright studio lighting.

ECG’s Product Recommendations

We’ve been on many a set here at ECG and nearly every one required some aspect of hair and makeup. So, needless to say, we’ve picked up on what products work and what just don’t measure up. Of course, any guru on the good ol’ “Byoutube” (the clever moniker for the ever-growing beauty community on Youtube, in case you didn’t know) can give you recs on what to spend your money on. But what works for film sets specifically? 

Batisse Dry Shampoo

If a hero product exists, we swear it is this conglomeration of superfine powders condensed into an aerosol can. A surprising number of people don’t know about this modern day miracle (ECG grip guys, I’m looking at you) but everyone absolutely should. Dry shampoo takes an oily mess of hair, perhaps last washed days ago, and turns it into something fresh and bouncy. Notice I didn’t say freshly washed hair, because that’s just not the case. Dry shampooed hair is on another level altogether. The powder combined with oil from your scalp gives your hair volume and texture so it can take on any shape a hairstylist could want to create. And, of all the dry shampoos in the world, none does it better for a better price tag than the old-school classic Batisse.

Ben Nye Neutral Set Loose Powder

Ben Nye is the household name of film makeup, and for good reason. The iconic makeup house takes its name from its founder, a veteran makeup artist of old school Hollywood. Arguably, powder is the most important of all makeup products on set. You know the old adage that the camera adds 10 pounds to any figure? How true that is we’re not sure. What is true, however, is that the camera picks up on any minor amount of sheen no matter what. A final layer of powder to knock back any shine is almost always a part of “last looks”, the phrase referring to a makeup artists last touch ups before the DP hits that record button.

Wet n’ Wild Eyebrow Kit

Here’s something all you ladies and gent’s should know: eyebrows make or break a makeup look. We swear! For something very often overlooked, well-groomed and filled in eyebrows can be all the difference between looking put together and looking broke. This simple two shadow kit from Wet n’ Wild will work for just about any hair color in a pinch. Pro tip: skip the crappy brush that comes with the kit and get a stiffer angled brush with a spoolie. The longer handle makes controlling brush strokes that much easier. And, considering this eyebrow kit only rings in at around $5, you’re far from breaking the bank either way.

ECG at Work

Reapers special effects makeup
A still from ECG production Reapers, featuring some gnarly special effects makeup.

In the decade plus that ECG has been around, we’ve built numerous relationships with total makeup pros. Our artists cover the whole scope of stage makeup from the subtle, unnoticeable renditions to the full glam process to specialized effect makeup. Our ever growing in-house makeup kit has every essential for perfected hair and makeup on smaller scale shoots. Whether your story involves a gorgeous temptress, a sweaty fighter or a bloodied car accident victim, we got you (and the talent) covered.