15 Makeup Tips for the Working Actor

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Jill Harth of Jill Harth Beauty is a top-rated makeup artist based in New York City. Known for giving actors, brides, and beyond a natural, glamorous look for photo shoots, auditions, and film productions, Harth spoke with Backstage about her makeup dos and don’ts for the working actor.

What’s Jill Harth Beauty all about?
I do makeup for all kinds of occasions such as photo shoots and headshots for actors, television makeup at CBS Broadcast Center, private makeovers, and private makeup lessons. I also run an online store that sells my extensive line of skincare and professional cosmetics.

You work with actors! What’s your experience been like?
I’ve worked with many, actually—actors that have been very famous and talented, and very young budding child actors doing television commercials and movies. I like that actors are very self-aware. If they are very experienced actors they know what they want and they have no problem telling you what they want. The young actor is open and trusting to seeing what makeup can do for them to boost confidence and help in their performance.

What role do you think an actor’s makeup plays in an audition?
It helps with an actor’s confidence, for sure, [and] it’s easier to get into character when you look the part.

To quote your website, you specialize in a soft, glamorous, natural look. Why do you think it’s important for auditioning actors to maintain a clean, natural look rather than something a little louder?
When I am doing makeup for actors’ headshots, photographers always tell me to keep makeup minimal so the actor can look young, fresh, and as they would look when they go on auditions. If a casting person looks at their headshot and looks at the actor in front of him and they look nothing alike, they will give negative feedback to the photographers to keep it clean. It’s a standard in the industry.

Should the role you’re auditioning for change your makeup routine?
Absolutely, yes.

What advice do you have for men who are makeup newbies?
Concealer to cover up a blemish or under eye circles or discoloration is always a good idea as long as it matches the skin and its blended well. Eyebrows are very important for a man, too. Men emote using their eyebrows. It sets the frame for their eyes and bone structure. A fuller, darker, and more pronounced eyebrow is a signal of strength, character, and prowess for a man. I always fill in men’s eyebrows if needed to make sparse or invisible lashes read better for the camera. The key is to make it look real. No harsh lines or unblended color. A swipe of bronzer works well, too.

Of course, it’s the full face that matters in the end, but is there any one secret to nailing this natural look? What ties it all together?
I like to end a natural makeup look by warming up the face just a bit with a full swipes of bronzer across the cheekbones, on the neck area, and on the temples. It always balances the face and defines the bone structure. Concealer to take down any major skin eruption is important, too.

When it comes to foundation and concealer, what’s the best way to choose your tone?
Picking the right foundation is very tricky for most people. If you don’t have a good color yourself, I suggest you go to a makeup professional to help you select the perfect color for you. The best way to look at it is in daylight. Make sure the foundation matches your neck. Always blend into the hairline, too. I always notice when the foundation is wrong. It’s helpful to know your undertone, whether you are olive, more pink, or yellow. Also, have several colors in case you get paler or tanner, if necessary.

What’s your go-to style advice in choosing the right lipstick or eye shadow? Do you base it on what you’re wearing?
I choose and recommend lipsticks based on the colors of your eyes, skin tone, and lip tone without anything on it. Some people have a very red pigment, naturally. For these lucky types I always recommend using a lip balm or a clear gloss and not adding additional color. I tend to use the features as color cues and what attracts you. Usually people are attracted to colors that suit them. Pinky browns, berries, and red lips suit every complexion; it’s just a matter of trying a few different tones on your lips to see which tone and shade livens up your face. With eye shadow, the most basic is a warm brown that that has a slight golden undertone. It is the most universally flattering to the eye. A taupe nude matte shadow is also an eye shadow classic. It always looks right, especially paired with black or dark brown eyeliner and mascara. To create a really pulled together look, your wardrobe colors and makeup design palette should coordinate and not clash.

Do you have any advice for working actors on how to maintain healthy skin?
The best thing you can do for your skin other than the basics is to wear a good moisturizer—every day and every night. If you are going outside, wear one with some UV protection from the sun. Nighttime is when the body rests and heals. It’s important to keep it hydrated. Skin destroyers are lack of sleep, poor diet (especially too much sugar or alcohol), and of course, unprotected sun exposure. Drinking water as much as you can instead of anything else will keep your skin healthy and young looking. It keeps your skin plumped up, which makes it look healthier.

For more information on Jill Harth and Jill Harth Beauty, visit jillharth.com.

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