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On Location Etiquette

Be extra prepared


Always ask ahead of time about the space you’ll be working in. The most important factors for applying makeup: lighting, a table for your workspace, and a tall chair. You might want to invest in a folding director’s chair so you don’t hurt your back applying makeup on someone sitting in a low chair. If you’re working on set in a studio, they might have lights you can use or a space that has lighting that’s ideal for makeup application. However, if you’re going to someone’s home it’s more difficult to predict what the lighting situation will be. I always bring a ring light just in case. I also keep small garbage bags and tape in my kit. I tape a garbage bag at the edge of my station for convenient disposal. Most places have a garbage, but you don’t know if you’ll be able to keep it near your station. Garbage piled up on your station while you’re working is not a good look.


Give yourself plenty of time


As a makeup artist, if you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. Makeup artists need to arrive on location at least 15 minutes before they’re expected to start working. You need time to set up so you can start on time. If you’re traveling, leave extra early in case of transportation problems. Your clients will most likely ask you how long you need for the makeup application. Always overestimate! If you can do the makeup in 30 minutes, tell them 45 minutes. You need to give yourself extra time in case you need it. It’s so much better to finish early than late.


Leave the space cleaner than you found it


More often than not, the space you’re expected to work in is not as clean as you need it to be. I always wipe down the area with 99% alcohol before laying down paper towels for my workspace. When the job is done, get rid of all your garbage and wipe down the space again. A messy makeup artist who doesn’t clean up after themselves is much less likely to get hired again no matter how great their work is.


Keep conversations light and happy


Nobody likes a grumpy makeup artist! People will want to work with you again if you maintain positive energy. Especially when working on a film set, negativity can spread like wildfire. You’ll leave an excellent impression if you’re a ray of sunshine who brings joy to others. Steer conversations away from controversial topics such as politics and religion. Even if you’re sure they share your beliefs, it’s safer and more professional to avoid such topics all together.


Stay organized


Organization is so important to do your job in a timely manner. You will waste so much time looking for things if all of your stuff is haphazardly thrown into one large bag. Invest in small bags so everything can have its place. Take the time to put things back in their place while you’re working. A messy work station will slow you down.



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