Grooming is such an important part of our industry and has increased in demand by 50% in last 5 years. More companies and photographers know the value of hiring a groomer for their set but not all artists know what grooming consists of.

If you are self-taught or a certified makeup artist my recommendations may not apply to you depending of the Board of Regulations for sanitation in your state but for a licensed Cosmetologist, Grooming is all about the Hair, skin prep, makeup and hands too. The male actor, artist or model is the main focus and as a groomer, it is our job to keep him looking fresh with perfect hair, even skin and manicured hands for the shoot. On some sets a Hairstylist, a Makeup Artist and a Manicurist are hired to prep the client. On other sets you may be on your own. In this case I recommend taking care (as much as you can) of all three positions.

Here’s a shoot I worked on for American Crew where we had one person assigned for each department. Having a person on set for each position helped me focus and perfect my responsibility which was cutting and styling the hair.


Photography by David Raccuglia and Model Mason Cutler


Have you ever found yourself zooming in on all the things that should’ve been taken care of when watching a movie, video, or looking at photos?

Becoming aware is not the main problem, what’s worse is the distraction it causes and in my case I often find myself no longer able to focus on the rest of the film or photography. I wonder how many people react the same way I do?

If you look at any form of advertising hands play a huge role and add stylistic value. Sometimes the person you’re working on maintains himself personally groomed. But if our Model/Actor has an active outdoor life, his skin, hair and hands may not be camera ready and lets face it, if he’s not prepped you will lose the audience’s focus on what’s really important, the product. You may ask yourself “shouldn’t the production company hiring the crew already know this?” They may not know or they may think hands are not important for that particular project. In my personal and professional opinion it is always important to be groomed head to toe and for this reason I have made it a goal to prepare and have tools available for anything that need care in all three departments when on set.


Photographer Brett V. King and Model Chazz Nittolo


I keep the preparation simple. I am a hairstylist and makeup artist so I keep my tools and products clean and organized in separate cases. For manicuring I have added a 3 way buffer, nail oil and hand lotion to both of my kits. With such a simple and inexpensive addition to your kit you’ll be able to handle and add stylistic value to any project and gain some star points from the people who hired you.



The men’s grooming industry is expanding all across the globe and is estimated to bring in $21 billion in revenue in 2016.

It has become increasingly noticeable that companies who market products for men have given their ads the “Tom Ford” appeal. Whether its selling shoes, apparel, fitness or simple toiletries, men’s grooming has become top priority when hiring a crew. This is why it’s important to improve your grooming skills and perform the ultimate care. Attention to detail should be applied in photo shoots as well. They way actors and models appear in head shots and their portfolios allow them to market themselves to companies.

This was a fun lifestyle photo shoot I worked where I applied my skills in all three departments. Photographer Hilla Hirtinstein and Model Daniel Josef

Daniel session-1.jpg

I have had the pleasure to work on sets where there’s a person assigned for each service (hairstylist, makeup artist, manicurist, wardrobe) and on sets where it’s just a wardrobe stylist and me. Either type of setting is great. I enjoy collaborating with multiple people and going solo. But solo means more work and time, so if you’re hired to do multiple services make sure to let the photographer/director know how much time you will spend on the client. Communication is key and learning how to time yourself per service will help you stay on track.



 If you’re a licensed Cosmetologist I recommend you pack a few extra things. If you are not licensed but are a perfectionist, like me, you can add a manicuring kit as well. The only thing I would not recommend is adding nail clippers, scissors (shears) as some state regulations are strict about using sharp tools without the proper training and license.


Here’s a behind the scenes photo from a Vevo Stylized interview with Artist G Eazy I worked on. I was hired just for skin prep and makeup application but once I noticed we did not have a manicurist on the team I stepped in and worked my magic on his hands as well.



Director Georgie Greville

Music Artist G Eazy

Production LegsMedia

Groomer Reba Vera



I’ve had several makeup interns ask me, “What is natural makeup?” If you look up the Instagram hash tag for natural makeup you will find a variety of makeup looks, including neutral smoky eye and bright lips. This hash tag alone can confuse anyone starting out in the industry.

So What Is Natural Makeup?

It all depends on whom you ask. An artist at a cosmetics counter who deals mainly with consumers may suggest a similar description natural makeup to that of Instagram but an artist working with agency models would best describe the look as minimal makeup. I recommend asking for a mood board if one is not provided and looking up the photographer’s previous work to see what their style of photography is. That will not always insure exactly what you’ll need to do but it will help you ask the right questions. Here’s a photo shoot I worked on where I was asked to apply minimal makeup.

Photographer Emma Holley and Model Katherine Neff


I’ve heard countless times from several photographers that they have explained what they’re looking for and still received over the top contoured faces with winged eyeliner. As a makeup artist is important when working with a photographer to create their vision for the shoot. The last thing you want to do, as an artist is waste product so communication and understanding is key on these types of shoots. In doing so you gain the photographer’s trust and build solid relationships that will help you get more work in the future. And remember, when you’re asked to do minimal makeup it still makeup and its the most widely used when working with agency models.

Here’s another minimal makeup look from a shoot with Photographer Emma Holley and Model Arianna Luckenbacher




Beauty makeup ranges from simple glam to special effects considering some of these current-contouring techniques now shown. There are a variety of specialties in Makeup Artistry and although it is very important to be a well-rounded professional, you do not have to master them all.

Here are some of the pro’s when working on minimal makeup shoots;

master matching skin tones
learn how to compliment eye color
enhance your eyebrow shaping
hone application of mascara

Here’s a minimal makeup shoot where studio and natural lighting were used with Photographer Brett V King and Model Abby Champion



Skin care is also a big part of minimal makeup. The skin must be in an almost flawless condition before you apply the makeup to get the best results on camera. The model’s skin must be gently cleansed, exfoliated and hydrated. During this procedure I use this time to analyze the model’s features. Face shape, eye color and decide what feature I want to accentuate. Not all models have piercing blue eyes or Angelina Jolie lips so it’s our job as a makeup artist to find their best feature and enhance them in minimal makeup photo shoots.

Here’s a photo shoot I worked on where I wanted to enhance the model’s gorgeous brown eyes. Photographer Brett V King and Model Isabella Sarnoff

Isabella by bvk 9-15-7



Words of wisdom from Calvin Klein:

“The best thing is to look natural, but it takes makeup to look natural.”

Modeling agencies know the potential of what makeup artists can do with vibrant colors and they know the potential their models have as well. But for models looking to book fashion designers like Calvin Klein they do not need elaborate hairstyles, makeup or clothes in their portfolios. Designers look for specific facial features (natural not contoured), height and size etc. when hiring models. Which is why it is very important to enhance their natural beauty so their features become the main focus. Also, when a photographer books you, [they ask for natural makeup] it is important to research their style of photography as well as their personal taste.



Photograph by Brett V King

Model Holly Horne

Agency Two Management

Makeup Reba Vera

For this and more beauty tips follow my blog



The perfect scenario: you book a dream editorial with an amazing photographer whose work you know and love and get the creative freedom to do whatever you want and you quickly realize the pressure is on. Not only do you feel the pressure to produce your best work for the editorial but also to impress and build a long lasting relationship that’ll create future work.

So where do you begin to get inspiration?

When it comes to drawing inspiration for a hairstylist there are many popular media sites to help inspire you. Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Google Images are a great start, but overall the best guidance is paying close attention to the style of the editorial. This includes the roles of the entire creative team (model, wardrobe stylist, makeup artist, and photographer).

The most technical and creative person on the team is the photographer. All photographers have a specific image, or series of images, in their mind that they are trying to achieve, and while some are better than others at communicating what they want, it’s the job of the creative team to make it come to life. As a hairstylist it is important to know if the hairstyle will be in focus or if the main part of the hairstyling is just to smooth and tuck the hair away. Here is a photo shoot I worked on with Photographer Pierro Javechi and Model Miranda Assalley where the hair did not have a central focus and was smoothed and tucked away for the shoot.



Mood boards play an important role in bringing a creative team together. By providing examples of poses, wardrobe, hairstyles, and makeup, they allow the creative team to not only think about their respective roles, but also the role each team member will play in creating the desired “mood” of the shoot. Here is an example of a mood board created by Photographer Ella Dedegkaeva for our circus inspired editorial.



Another important thing to factor in is whether the shoot will be indoors or outdoors. Lighting plays an important role not only for photography and makeup but also for reflecting tones in the model’s hair. Textured hairstyles (wavy/curly, updos with overlapping designs, etc.) need to be able to reflect light and show dimension in order for the hairstyle to stand out. This is why I recommend having different colored hair wefts in your kit. The extra hair is not only great for fullness and adding length but dimension as well. Depending on the model’s hair color, whether dark or a single tone, you can add hair in small sections to highlight/lowlight and add dimension to your hairstyles. Here is an image shot by Ella Dedegkaeva for another editorial we worked on together. In this picture you can see that even in black and white, multiple tones in the hair plays a key role when bringing your hairstyle to life.

Promo_Magazine_Glamour_Issue_27-page-067 2



As much as you plan, prepare and even practice your elaborate hairstyles before the shoot, it is important to keep in mind that nothing ever goes 100% as planned. Maintaining a flexible attitude will not only help you be a better team player but also allow you to “roll with the punches”.

Coming back to our Circus inspired shoot, the first surprise was wardrobe. I was imagining a sleeker and more reveling style, like most of the examples in the mood board, but our selected wardrobe was more vibrant and elaborate with a vintage twist. The outfits were beautiful and immediately made me rethink my approach. The second surprise was when meeting the models. We had a couple of new faces due to last minute cancellations. This turned out to be a great surprise when the new models had longer hair. I always prefer working with natural hair versus adding hair for length. Both are fine but I like the consistency in texture you get when working with natural hair.



The last surprise came when discussing makeup options. I always enjoy talking to the other creative people on the team, discussing our individual ideas and their plan of execution so we’re all on the same page. Communication is key when combining efforts to bring an “inspired” photo shoot to life. Key information to get from your makeup artist is what colors and style of makeup application they’re using (beauty, face painting, etc.). Here is one of my favorite images from this collaboration.



One thing I love to do after I add product and create the desired texture to the hair, but before creating the style, is to look at what the makeup artist is doing. By stepping back for a moment and seeing how the makeup is turning out not only helps reassure me about the way I had planned to proceed with the style but also gives me time to change anything, if needed, based on where the style of the makeup is going. As I mentioned before, nothing goes 100% as planned and you should learn to be flexible and work with all key elements at play here to achieve a great collaboration. After paying close attention to the wardrobe and seeing the way the makeup was going I started to think about the personality this woman would have living in this circus environment. It sounds a bit silly, but the more I thought about her personality, there more my creative juices began to flow. This type of woman would not have perfect hair, I thought. One of my all time favorite movies, Moulin Rogue, popped into my head and I finally had a clear vision for this shoot.



I wanted to create messy Victorian hairstyles. Hair that not only gave the impression of natural texture but also looked like she styled it herself. Maybe she brushed it or maybe she didn’t. The results were amazing. I had an incredible time collaborating with this team. This is still one of my favorite shoots.


By giving myself that time in the beginning and by observing everyone else’s work I was able to rethink my approach and anticipate multiple hairstyles to mirror both the stylist’s and makeup artist’s work. This new mindset allowed me to change the model’s hairstyles very quickly which saves everyone time and helps a photographer like Ella to get all the images she wants while working with natural light.




Fashion magazines, hair/makeup tutorials, mentors and various media sites are only the beginning of what can inspire us as Hairstylists. Through a collaboration, inspiration comes from everyone involved and as a team, in order to succeed, being flexible and supportive of each other will ultimately produce your best work.


WHERE TIME STOOD STILL editorial published in Elegant Magazine

Photography by Ella Dedegkaeva

Model Rayna Rebrovic

Fashion Designer Tatiana Andrade

Makeup Artist Vanessa Talamantes

Hairstylist Reba Vera

For this and more follow my blog RedLipClassicMane

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