Benefits of Makeup

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in February, 2009. Revised Sept. 19, 2016, because the product I initially recommended is no longer sold.]

Over the years, I’ve done a lot of documentary producing and shooting. The talking-head interview is something I’ve done hundreds of times.

When dealing with non-professional talent, there are three challenges I always keep in mind:

Most women are completely comfortable wearing and adjusting makeup. However, asking a guy to wear makeup is about the same as asking them to sing in front of a group of their friends. They are going to be very, very uncomfortable.

Also, most of the shoots I go on don’t have the budget for a hair and makeup person. Which means I need to do the makeup myself.

We now have the worst of all situations: a very, very nervous amateur being made up by another guy. Sigh… The things I do for my craft.

Recently, I was in the studio doing some shooting for a book I’m writing — I needed to create some video examples that I could use in screen shots. So, while I was there, I asked Andrew, one of our actors, to pose for a before and after makeup picture.


The “before” is on the left, the “after” is on the right. See the huge hot spot in the middle of his forehead? Notice how his whole face seems to be glowing, just sitting there he looks uncomfortable.

CliniqueOn the right is the same actor under the same lighting – this time wearing makeup.

I used to use “Pure Focus T-Zone Powder Gel,” made by Lancolm. But it is no longer sold. So I did some research and found this: Clinique Pore Refining Solutions. It costs about $25 and is worth every penny. You can get more expensive stuff, but this works find.

A tube provides coverage for dozens of interviews. I suggest you apply it from cheekbones up into the hairline. It is thick and a little goes a long way. Rub it in well. I used this every day when recording videos in my studio.

I’ve also learned that guys are most comfortable, when you want to put makeup on them, if you distract them with a story. Anything to keep them from thinking about wearing makeup. I tend to talk about how great they are going to look walking around the office later in the day. I may, perhaps, exaggerate the effect a bit.

Nothing makes your lighting look great like a face that doesn’t reflect it back to the camera like a mirror.

UPDATE – Feb. 3, 2009

Craig Sommerer sent in the following:

Finally, you’ve addressed something very fundamental that few people seem to understand; the talent needs to look good, regardless of what they look like.

I am a freelance video operator for live multi-camera events and my big TV cameras have a skin detail circuit, a selective de-focus, to help blur out the contours on talent.

“Pro-sumer” cameras also have a very ineffective skin detail circuit which quite honestly, shouldn’t be used, as the defocus parameters are not selectable.

Your Lancome hint is great. Now take your talent’s looks to the next level with Patrick Sheffield’s “Electronic Makeup Artist” and “Digital Coverup” filters for Final Cut Pro. The “Electronic Makeup Artist” effects are astounding, in other words, a little bit goes a long way.

Full disclosure, while I’m listed in the sidebar on the website of Sheffield Softworks, I make no financial compensation from spreading the good word. I hope you give these filters, as well as Pat’s free filters a try.

Larry replies: Thanks, Craig, for your comments. Fixing glowing skin in post is never quite as good as preventing the glow during production. However, you are recommending good tools that editors should be aware of.

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3 Responses to Benefits of Makeup

  1. John King says:


    Lancôme Pure Focus T-Zone Powder Control is apparently no longer available. What other products would you recommend?

  2. Mark Suszko says:

    Good makeup, in-artfully applied, is worse than none at all. It calls more attention to the attempt. Women practice a lot so if you tell them daytime or night time makeup, they more or less know what they’re doing.

    We had a local newsman bring his own makeup in one time, proud of his ability to apply it, and it was AWFUL. Seems that the makeup was formulated for his specific studio, which used early fluorescent light banks, at a different, greener/bluer color temperature. Under our halogen color temp lights, the makeup made him look beet red.

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