Setiquette DOs and DONTs part 2

This one is so basic, yet everyone gets it wrong at some point.  If you do get it wrong, make sure it’s not a crucial moment because you won’t live it down easily.  It’s really simple, when the AD calls ‘quiet on set!’ it doesn’t mean keep your voice down, whisper quietly, but basically continue your conversation.  Watch closely and you’ll see the sound dept inwardly screaming ‘For the love of God, NO!’.

DO make sure your phone is silent.  DON'T let Marky Mark accidently ruin your take

DO make sure your phone is silent. DON’T let Marky Mark accidently ruin your take

When the cast are rehearsing, getting direction, talking through the scene, etc. DON’T be chatting on about last night’s telly, or the latest instalment of that super-hero franchise you just can’t wait to see.  Nobody cares, they just want you to shut up.  ‘Quiet on set please!’ means ‘Everybody silent, NOW!  Or else!’ DO respect that.

I’ve been in the situation before on set where they have called for quiet, and another crew member has continued their conversation with me.  I have blatantly ignored them until they have called ‘cut!’  I have also had to go and ask gangs of production assistants to shut up because they weren’t aware that walking 10 metres away from set wasn’t far enough to deaden their noise.

If you want to get it very badly wrong, then DO exactly what I did on a film earlier this year.  Thinking I was being discreet, I was playing a game on my phone to pass the time, whilst a poignant scene was being filmed.  There was very little action in the scene being filmed in the next room (door open inbetween) so I knew no touch ups would be required, hence the phone game.  I don’t quite understand what happened next, but suddenly Marky Mark Wahlberg was loudly introducing himself and chatting to me from my phone.  Obviously it was just an advert but the loud American accent didn’t quite fit the tone of the scene.  I badly messed up that time – had to buy the sound dept a packet of custard creams to say sorry.

DO carry biscuits with you at all times on a film set.

YUM! photo by Skittledog

photo by Skittledog

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Setiquette Dos and DON’Ts part 1

I’ve had quite a few students come along with me on film shoots over the years.  I’ve also been on many film sets for work experience myself, both in make up and art depts.  I don’t claim to be any sort of expert, but there have been a few occasions where I have found myself silently screaming ‘For the love of God, NO!’.  Similarly, I have inwardly punched the air in triumph at other students actions.

It may surprise you to know that none of these reactions have been provoked by actual make up application.  It’s only really half the job.  Film sets have certain etiquette about them, or ‘setiquette’, if you will.  It is important to fit into this in order to succeed.  Here are a few tips (more to follow at a later date) in no particular order:

DO make yourself useful.  Despite the fact that you are working for free, you’re not actually doing the film crew any favours.  It’s the other way around in fact.  The film crew can probably manage just fine without you and would probably save themselves time and money (transport, insurance, catering, expenses etc) by not having you there.  No matter how long the hours may be, don’t moan, do join in, volunteer for little tasks and be proactive.

how not to be asked back

how not to be asked back

I had one assistant complain about being asked to do touch ups.  She felt her talents were being wasted.  I didn’t ask her back.  I had another refuse to stay at base to mind expensive pieces of kit whilst we went to set.  Apparently it was too boring.  I didn’t ask her back either.  I had another student ignore my emails and text messages about the next days filming.  It was the last time I asked her.  DON’T act like you don’t want to be there.  If you don’t want to be there, don’t be there.  It’s that simple.

I know I may sound like an unsympathetic grump who has forgotten what it’s like to be a student, but honestly I haven’t.  I had another student, pretty recently in fact, phone me up on her days off to ask whether or not I needed her to come in.  Although I didn’t need her in, it actually cost the production nothing for her to come in that day (she was in the area anyway) and so she came in.  It was a quiet, easy days filming and so I was able to explain things to her in greater detail, she got to know the crew better and was asked back for several extra days.  Everyone’s a winner!

DO make yourself useful.  Show willing and you will be given more responsibility.  DO make sure people remember you for the right reasons (more to follow on this!) because the grapevine can make or break careers.

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Archibald McIndoe

Archibald McIndoe.  A true hero.  He inspired me to use make up to help people.

Sir Archibald McIndoe. A true hero. He inspired me to use make up to help people.  After learning about him I joined Look Good Feel Better.

I’ve decided to create a new category on here, of people who inspire me as a make up artist.  When I decided to begin training as a make up artist, I was slightly concerned that it would be seen as a frivolous, vain career.  Firstly, I wrong, nobody has ever thought that thankfully.  Secondly, after learning about Archibald McIndoe I realised how important appearance can be to a person’s well-being.

McIndoe was born in New Zealand but moved to the UK before the outbreak of WW2.  He founded a centre for plastic surgery in East Grinstead at The Queen Victoria Hospital.  At this stage, reconstructive surgery was in it’s infancy.  During WW1 most soldiers who were badly burned would die.  During WW2, advances in medicine meant the survival rate greatly increased.  Unfortunately these RAF soldiers were now maimed and burned beyond recognition.

An example of the 'walking-stalk skin graft' pioneered by McIndoe

An example of the ‘walking-stalk skin graft’ pioneered by McIndoe

In order to improve their chances of recovery, McIndoe pioneered a new technique.  For example, if a soldier has lost his nose and suffered scar tissue across his upper body, McIndoe would take a slice of skin from the patient leg, leaving it attached at one end.  The loose end would be formed into a tube, which would be attached further up the body.  Because it was still attached to the body, blood could flow through and the skin would be kept alive until it had a chance to ‘take’ at the other end.  This process would be repeated until the skin was on the face ready to build a nose.

Members of The Guinea Pig Club during WW2

Members of The Guinea Pig Club during WW2

This technique, though effective, was time consuming and meant that patients were left with these tubes around their body for months on end.  Complimenting their medical treatment was the emotional support offered by McIndoe.  He realised that the men were at risk of being seen as ‘freaks’ and so he encouraged them to mingle with their wider community in East Grinstead.  Trips to the pub were arranged as were tea dances, where many patients met their future wives.  Patients were encouraged to wear their own clothes or military uniform if they preferred, rather than hospital gowns and locals in East Grinstead were encouraged to invite the soldiers into their homes.  Through this reintegration the soldiers were psychologically boosted and became a normal sight around East Grinstead, which came to be known as “the town that did not stare”.

A drinking club was formed between the soldiers.   They called themselves the Guinea Pig Club in reference to their pioneering treatment and continued to meet annually in a pub in East Grinstead.  By the end of the war there were 649 members, all helped by McIndoe, medically, emotionally and, in some cases, financially.

Surviving members meet annually for drinks.

Surviving members meet annually for drinks.

McIndoe was knighted in 1947 and died in 1960, leaving behind a legacy of care.  McIndoe understood that appearance was important to confidence and through his original techniques he treated the person, not just the wound.

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Cholombianos of Monterrey

A typical Cholmbiano hairstyle

A Cholmbiano

I think it was whilst training as a barber that I first became aware of the Cholombianos of Monterrey, Mexico.  Like most youth sub-cultures, the Cholombianos are heavily influenced by music.  In this case, specifically Colombian music, called cumbia or vallenato which has a chilled out, mellow vibe.

In recent years Monterrey has suffered extreme violence at the hands of warring drug cartels.  It is also generally viewed to be the most Americanised city in Mexico.

typical fashion of the Cholombianos

Cholombiano fashion

Perhaps as a backlash against this, the Cholombianos have embraced peace and more Latino chilled out vibes rather than Americanised gangsta-rap, popular throughout the rest of Mexico.  The Cholombianos are a peace-loving non-violent culture, often mocked by society for the way they style themselves (well, it is rather outlandish!)

shaves at the back, short on top and long at the sides - typical Cholombiano hair

shaved at the back, short on top and long at the sides – typical Cholombiano hairstyles

Yet these are just young people trying to find their own style, that should surely be embraced.  Fashions include baggy pants and plaid shirts (so far so normal – teens across the world wear similar clothes), but uniquely they also wear hand made signs around their necks bearing their name, their neighbourhood and their favourite radio station.  I especially like the radio station bit, it’s like declaring that your musical taste is as integral to your identity as your own name.

The Cholombianos often wear hand made signs around their necks, stating their names, neighbourhoods and favourite radio stations

The Cholombianos often wear hand made signs around their necks, stating their names, neighbourhoods and favourite radio stations

Then there’s the hair.  Oh, the hair.  I have honestly never seen anything like it.  How good in this day and age to come up with a fashion that is truly unique.  I’m not saying it’s to my particular taste, but I’m glad that the style exists.

Plenty of gel to keep the sides in place.  I'm digging the little flicks at the end!

Plenty of gel to keep the sides in place. I’m digging the little flicks at the end!

The general idea is to keep hair relatively short at the back and on top, but have long, gelled side pieces, often appearing glued to their faces.  Yes, it’s easy to mock this style, especially when they all look so serious about it, but in reality these are non-violent peace-promoting kids who just want to listen to music and have a good time.  Who cares how they look when they have the right attitude to life?

* most of the pictures here are taken by Stefan Ruiz.  He made a cool video about photographing them.  You can watch it here.  See the Cholombianos from about halfway in.

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Beneath The Waters Of Llyn Coch

A beautiful location to film in

A beautiful location to film in

Beneath The Waters Of Llyn Coch is a fantasy story based on an old Welsh myth of The Fairy-Bride.  It was filmed as part of a new series, Legends Of Old which will retell traditional myths and legends from around these fair isles.

We filmed in the beautiful Welsh countryside near to Beddgelert in April 2013.  Despite it being well into springtime, it was mighty cold!  Apparently on the recce the lake was so calm and peaceful, unfortunately for us, when we came to film it, the wind was howling and the sky threatening.  Ok, so it put back our schedule a little, but call-sheets will always be changed and there’s nothing anyone can do about the weather.  In my opinion, it just made the lake seem a lot more atmospheric.

trying to keep warm - some of the crew from Beneath the Waters Of Llyn Coch

trying to keep warm – some of the crew from Beneath the Waters Of Llyn Coch

discussing the days filming ahead

discussing the days filming ahead

My biggest challenge on this film was definitely the underwater make up.  Having never done this before, I did some research and tested a few products on myself way before the shoot so I knew I had the right stuff in my kit.  Particularly useful was Illamasqua’s Liquid Metal palette, but we were also given a great selection of make up from MAC which proved very useful.  Thankfully we had a great actress who managed to last several hours in the water without once rubbing her eyes.  This made my job a whole lot easier.

A lovely shot - particularly useful for the continuity of her hair

A lovely shot – particularly useful for the continuity of her hair

Nevertheless, the same make up had to be repeated time and time again, with weeks inbetween sometimes.  It is for this reason I drum it into my students – take lots of pictures! They don’t have to be top quality, they don’t have to be beautifully framed, but they do need to show the details of the hair and make up.

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Kosovar Bride

A beautiful Kosovar bride

A beautiful Kosovar bride

I’ve found quite a few pictures online of these beautiful Kosovar brides, yet there’s surprisingly little information available as to how and why the tradition started, what products they use and the specific designs used.  For this reason, it’s hard to find too much to say.  If you have any further information, please let me know!


What is known is that this tradition is from the mountain town of Donje Ljubinje, situated in Kosovo, near to the Macedonian and Albanian borders.  The people there are ethnically Terbesh/Torbesh Muslims (there are various spellings).

It is unknown when the practise began or the specific reason behind it, but the bride’s face is intricately painted, matching her costume, to give her a doll-like appearance in order to ward off the “evil eye, and discourages gossip and speculation.”

A beautiful Trebesh / Torbesh bride

A beautiful Terbesh / Torbesh bride

The tradition is viewed with great pride by all the towns residents as it symbolizes their unique identity but sadly it seems this practise is dying out, being replaced by more ‘western’ traditions.  This is the problem with globalisation, individuality is dying out.

A more colourful variation

A more colourful variation

the 'living doll' make up is designed to ward off the evil eye.

the ‘living doll’ make up is designed to ward off the evil eye.

There’s a beautiful video I found online, which can be viewed here, showing the tradition.  Apparently the make up artist looks so sad because she is the only one who still practises this art and is worried that the tradition will die.  It will be a real tragedy if it does.

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Illamasqua Liquid Metal Palette

Illamasqua Liquid Metal palette, from top left: stoic, superior, resolute

Illamasqua Liquid Metal palette, from top left: stoic, solstice, superior, resolute

In January I went a bit overboard in the Illamasqua sale.  It’s hard not to really, their sales are always pretty generous and there’s some real gems to be found.  One of the things I was most excited about was a Liquid Metal Palette* containing 4 creams: stoic (green), solstice (gold), superior (blue) and resolute (red).

I’m not generally a fan of cream eyeshadows, I’ve yet to be convinced that they’re as good as powders, however the pigments are so strong and beautiful in Illamasqua’s products and the price was so reasonable that it was too difficult to not buy it.  I’d read other reviews whilst waiting for delivery and most of them said they found the creams pretty difficult to work with.  Within minutes of application they crease in the eye socket and all your hard work blending and softening is ruined.

How the colours look on skin - beautiful!

How the colours look on skin – beautiful!

How the colours look layered with powder eyeshadow.  l-r: stoic with Mac Steamy, superior with Mac Seedy Pearl Frost, ...with Mac Electrs, resolute with Mac Sumptuous Olive

How the colours look layered with powder eyeshadow. l-r: stoic with Mac Steamy, solstice with Mac Seedy Pearl Frost, superior with Mac Electrs, resolute with Mac Sumptuous Olive

I have to confess I had exactly the same troubles myself.  And this is the crux of the matter.  As pigmented, smooth and beautiful as these cream pigments are, they should not really be used alone on the eyes.  Just as you would set a foundation with powder, these should also be set, with powder eyeshadow.  This has 2 benefits.  Firstly, the powder sets the cream minimising creasing and, secondly, the creams illuminate the powder, giving it a more 3-dimensional look.  That’s not just sales patter there – it really does.  Go on, try layering different coloured eyeshadows over different creams.  See?

Much as I wanted to love this palette, I found myself putting it at the bottom of my kit and forgetting about it until….

I was asked to do an underwater photoshoot!

After several hours underwater Liquid Metal still holds up. (I just had to remind the actress not to rub her eyes!)

After several hours underwater Liquid Metal still holds up. (I just had to remind the actress not to rub her eyes!)

‘Excellent’ I thought, ‘another first for me.’  Second thoughts were, ‘Eeeek!  How am I going to do green fairy make up for underwater, that will last, be able to be replicated for future continuity (the shoot was part of a short film) and will also look good once the green fairy exits the water?’  And this is when my attention turned back to Liquid Metal.  It’s great for underwater, stays in place, holds it’s pigment when all powders have washed away.  I’d have been hard pushed to complete this film without it and for that alone, it was worth the investment.

*Although the palette is now discontinued, individual Liquid Metal colours are still available.

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James Read Bronzing Products

Tanning the safe way.  Yes, that is me with a tan.  About as tanned as I get!

Tanning the safe way. Yes, that is me with a tan. About as tanned as I get anyway!

My complexion is very much ‘English Rose’.  At least, that’s how I like to think of it, it sounds better than ‘pale and pastey’.  I humbly admit that, yes I did, twice in my life, visit the sunbeds, but that’s just not for me.  Why run the risk of such nasty diseases when it’s so easy to fake it?

I’ve spent the last few years trying out different tanning products.  Most of the one’s I’ve tried are really good, but sometimes there’s a bit of a smell to then which lets everyone know you’re faking it.  As we all know, the whole idea is for people to believe you effortlessly look that glamorous and so I personally prefer ones without an odour.

This summer I’ve been trying James Read’s Bronzing Mousse Instant and James Read’s Bronzing Spray Instant.  There’s very little odour with these both, which is a plus, but each one has it’s own separate benefits also.

James Read Instant Bronzing Spray and James Read Instant Bronzing Mousse.  Or is that the other way round?

James Read Instant Bronzing Spray and James Read Instant Bronzing Mousse. Or is that the other way round?

Firstly, the bronzing mousse has an amazingly soft texture.  It feels like clouds on your skin, seriously!  Once applied, you leave it for several hours before showering (I left it overnight).  The colour is instant, so great if you’re in a rush before a night out, or in my case, a wedding.  However, once you have showered, the colour calms down leaving a very natural looking tan.  Of course, you can build up more layers as desired, but I like to still look natural.

The downside to this is you need to be quite fast in application as the mousse is instant.  If, like me, you place a dollop on your legs and then spread out from this dollop, you will be left with a dollop shaped tan line.  A few applications later and I’ve mastered it.  It’s just a case of practise.  Also, you will need a tanning mitt with this one as otherwise you’ll end up with tanned palms.  Never a good look!

The bronzing spray, similarly is instant.  This would help newbies to the self-tanning world no end as you can see instantly where you have covered and how deep your tan will be.  As it’s a spray, there’s no mitt required, but the downside would be that you need to protect your floor against the spray.  Not really downside enough to put me off buying a product, but that’s about as negative as I can be about this.  For me personally, I found the spray more difficult to use, perhaps again this is just lack of practise, I’ve never used a spray tan on myself before.  For this reason, I used this product in advance of any occasion, so I had time to correct any mistakes I might make.

Overall, I think when buying again I’d opt for the mousse.  It’s just personal choice really, but I just love the feel of it on my skin.

For more advice and information on safe tanning, check out The Look To Die For

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A Day At Wella

Wella's Illumina Range

Wella’s Illumina Range

Earlier this year I travelled to Manchester to spend a day at the Wella studios, taking in a colour master class with Laura and Dan.  I’ve been a fan of Wella shampoos and conditioners for a long time – the smell they leave on your hair feels like you’ve just been to the hairdressers and their product range is pretty extensive too.  Chances are, if you get your hair coloured in a salon they either use Wella or L’Oreal but these professional colours aren’t readily available on the high street so most people know little about them.  This is what I learned:

Perfecton is their temporary range – completely washes out after 1 shampoo.  Great for a little extra vibrancy for a special occasion.

Colour Fresh is semi-permanent, usually lasting about 8-10 washes.  This contains keratin, the protein required for healthy hair and so can actually improve the condition of your hair.

Colour Touch is what they call quasi-permanent (lasts about 20 washes).  Great for when you fancy a change but would rather it fade out than be left with massive roots.

Koleston Perfect is their permanent range, meaning it grows out rather than fading.

Illumina is more sheer kind of permanent colour and, as the name suggests, is very light reflecting.

Beachball Colour Technique

Beachball Colour Technique

It was Illumina that was being used for the demonstrations today, with two models having their blonde hair coloured.  Whilst colouring her models hair, Laura used a technique I hadn’t seen before.  It’s called the ‘beach ball technique’ and means that the hair is sectioned, like a beachball and a selection  of complimentary colours are used alternately on each section.  This helps to create a more 3D multi-tonal colour effect which I’m afraid I don’t think my photographs do justice to (sorry Wella!)

Shimmering, Sparkling Hair

Shimmering, Sparkling Hair

Now, as much as I would love to claim that my hair is natural, in fact I’ve been colouring it since I was about 15.  I recently decided I wanted to go lighter, but hated the idea of peroxide as my hair is pretty tangled already without further chemical treatments thank you very much.  However, thanks to the Koleston Perfect range, I now have lighter hair that’s in a good state, hurrah for Wella.  My colour of choice for the foreseeable future.

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Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Protect

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Protect.... Yummy!

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Protect…. Yummy!  And at £28 for 50ml it won’t break the bank, hurrah!

It’s only really in the last couple of years that I’ve become really aware of the benefits of a good primer.  To date my primer-of-choice has always been Smashbox Photo Finish, but now it has a rival for my affections in Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Protect.

Admittedly I don’t really know much about Laura Mercier other than she is a celebrity make up artist renowned for her ‘flawless faces’ who subsequently launched her own cosmetics and skincare range.  That’s enough for me really, as soon as I hear ‘flawless face’  I’m sold.  It’s that simple!

Whereas I described Smashbox as feeling like velvet, I’d say this primer feels like silk.  It’s light and creamy without being greasy at all.  It feels light to wear and reflects the light beautifully (clearly, light features heavily in this review!)  It doesn’t even out skin texture like Smashbox’s but it gives a gorgeous dewy complexion that everybody wants in summer.



That brings me on to the added benefit of this primer.  It’s got a SPF factor 30 against UVA and UVB rays.  Even better for summer I hear you cry!  Well, yes you’d be right.  As it feels so light you can wear it with or without foundation and other skin products and it won’t feel too ‘cloggy’.  Personally I hate feeling like I’ve got a lot of make up on, which is why I only wear really light foundations and then, only occasionally.  This is a great product for me then, somehow it feels slightly cold when you apply it, not in a ‘brrr-chilly’ kind of way, more like ‘aaah-fresh’.  It’s the sort of thing I actually enjoy applying.

Although it does have SPF protection it’s always best to be cautious in summer.  Yet, sometimes in winter it’s sunny and, with the best will in the world, I never remember to wear sun cream then.  Let’s be honest, who does?  Well, now I don’t have to and I won’t feel guilty about it either.  The soft creaminess of this primer will help moisturise and protect my skin whilst faking a soft natural glow.  What more could you want?

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