A Beginner’s Guide to Makeup for Film

Photo Credit by:  Alex Holyoake  on  Unsplash

Photo Credit by: Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

By: Jennifer Redington

DO a little more than an everyday look.

When applying makeup on an actor or actress, you should always try to play it up a little. Add a bit more blush than usual and don’t be afraid of bronzer; the lights will wash some of it away and if it isn’t a horror film, we don’t need any ghosts on screen. That being said…

DON’T do as much as an on-stage performance.

Yes, you should do more than an everyday look, but you have to be careful, or else it will be a film starring a clown. While the lighting does wash out some color, keep in mind that the camera will be up close and personal with the actors; unlike in theater when faces need to be distinguishable from a distance.


Blend, blend, blend! Cameras are up close and personal; any harsh lines will be immediately picked up. I cannot stress enough: B L E N D!

START with a good base.

A good base is so important when it comes to keeping makeup in tact for those long days on set. You should always start with a moisturizer. Create a layer between the skin and the makeup, this will keep the skin hydrated. You should then use a primer. Many people will skip this step, but it DOES make a difference on how the makeup sits on the face and how long it stays in place!

KNOW colors that will compliment the face.

It is so important to understand the differences between cool, warm, and neutral skin tones, as that will dictate what shades you should be using on the actor’s face. If you use a shade that contrasts the natural tone of the actor’s skin, it will be obvious and the camera will know it. Color is also essential to the eyes. Bringing out the eyes of an actor comes down to using the correct shadows; for example: for green/hazel eyes, pinks are your best friend.

LIMIT the amount of shimmer.

Shimmer is all fun and games until the lights hit and the camera starts rolling and the actor looks like an oily mess. Mattes are truly your best friend on screen because the lights will bring out the natural highlights of the face. That being said, minimal highlighter can be helpful but you should keep tabs on the shimmer.