I called this Cheat Sheet that ridiculous title because frankly, it often doesn’t feel as though it’s that way. It feels like glitter has been sent to ruin lives, to break us all as makeup artists… no, as human beings. Every time I work the with the damn stuff I’m in ecstasy at all the pretty sparkly things and pure agony at it’s ability to get EVERYWHERE and just generally not behave itself. But there are ways around this. And this is how, ten years in, I’ve managed to make glitter my bitch.
1. NEVER do your glitter look first.
I mean, you’d think it goes without saying, and I know it’s not always possible, but if a client asks for a glitter look as part of a shoot, try to ask in advance that it be shot last. Glitter is like some evil psycho coming back at the end of the movie to take one last swipe at the traumatised heroine. i.e; when you think it’s all over and dead and gone, it probably isn’t. Best to save it for last and save rogue sparkles ruining any other looks and taking half an hour to get off mid shoot.
2. Beware the lighting.
Sticking your nose in as a makeup artist when it comes to a photographer’s lighting is pretty much a MAHOOSIVE faux pas, so I don’t say this lightly. Obviously be polite in putting this across, but if you plan to shoot glitter in a stills shoot, suck it up and mention preferably in advance that (you’re sure they’re aware but…) glitter needs a specific lighting set up to really sparkle and look great on camera. Usually something to do with manual camera settings and direct light sources but I’m not going to pretend I know the technical side, I’m no photographer. The alternative is that otherwise that beautiful glitter creation that looks so magical in the flesh either ends up looking like a bunch of black dots or just flat as a pancake.
It’s the difference between this shot of the gorgeous Rose Byrne in what I can only imagine was an insanely dreamy sparkly creation in real life, and the disco ball of a lighting effect on the right (I’m pretty sure there’s an addition of photoshop twinkling in there for good measure but still, you see the difference). Glitter NEEDS to sparkle. And this isn’t some amateur photographer/makeup artist problem, you see this happen in top TOP magazines – folk just aren’t prepared for how that lovely shiny stuff is going to react under an otherwise gorgeous lighting set up. On the same note…
3. Glass gems only please!
I know gems aren’t glitter but they’re part of the same sparkly family so I’m counting them in. The lighting is a major factor here again, and while I know it’s tempting to save yourself some money in the art shop when buying supplies, be aware that the cheapest plastic gems will look just that on camera. Cheap, and plastic.
You don’t have to go Swarovski here but the greater the mirror effect in the flesh, the better the finished look on camera, so use glass rhinestones. They’re often the same price or similar. Acrylic gems can look fine to the naked eye but ruin a look in a stills shoot, I speak from experience!
4. How to stick the darn stuff on.
I’ve seen some right pigs’ ears of this in my time as I’m sure we all have. TIP: Don’t use lash glue! You’re just making your life difficult, it starts to dry before you have time to get anything on, and half the time it mixes with the glitter and dulls it’s shine. So just no to that.
Vaseline works, although it’s hard to be very accurate with it and it’ll crease, but good to know in a pinch. Spirit gum certainly works. Pat McGrath created the gorgeous foil-like effect on the lips on the right there at Dior back in 2013 using Spirit gum. The ultra adhesive long-lasting properties are perfect for a show with lots of changes and no time for cleaning up fall out, but not everyone’s skin can hack spirit gum and it’s not recommended near the eyes.
Glitter gel is fantastic, just a clear suspension gel for mixing your glitter into before painting it on. No fall out whatsoever! Praise be! This stuff is great but be warned you only get about an hour before it starts to crack and flake off, something I discovered much to my distress on a long music video shoot. But now, I have found the answer. Are you ready?
Peel Off Facemask. There you have it. Yes that classic skin treatment that you loved trying to peel off in your teens in one slightly creepy go? It’s the holy grail of glitter application… Clear, fast drying, stretches with the skin so doesn’t crack over time and best of all… at the end you can, you guessed it, peel it off, in one super satisfying sheet of glitter. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, I use this cheap and cheerful one from Boots. Just be careful which “flavour” of facemask you choose and test near your own eye in advance if need be, some are minty fresh and you sure as heck don’t want that near your eyeball.
5. NEVER apply with your usual brushes.
Many a brush has met it’s maker after being used to apply glitter. If pressing onto spirit gum, just use your finger or one of these snazzy silicone applicators, otherwise use a designated brush especially for the purpose as you will NEVER get that stuff out of the bristles. Or even better, if using gel just use a disposable lip brush to paint it on. Believe me once you see how neatly and easily you can paint on a gel mix of glitter with a disposable brush you’ll genuinely wonder why you ever tried to stick loose glitter onto anything, ever.
6. Get creative with your glitters!
Glitter comes in a tonne of different sizes for starters, I love the dramatic and super chunky Extra Large Glitter range from Makeup Forever. Or how about tipping a little Mac Reflects super fine glitter into the pot lid and blowing it gently onto your model for an otherworldy all over twinkle effect. Mix your glitters! Mix different shades or tones together for multi-faceted sparkle… Use fun little shaped sequins in hearts and stars and whatever else you can get your hands on. Search craft shops and party shops as well as makeup stores… There are sparkles to be had everywhere!
7. Sellotape is your buddy.
Firstly, to tape the suckers shut. I swear to God nothing is worse than a rogue glitter pot busting open in your kit bag, and after one glitter explosion too many I now keep all of mine taped firmly SHUT. And secondly… to remove any fall out. You know when you spot a random piece of glitter on someones cheek and then spend ten minutes trying to catch it with your nail to get it off? Well just tap it with a piece of tape and it’s gone immediately. Be gentle obviously, but Sellotape (other sticky tape brands are available) is a Godsend of a timesaver for neatening up after a particularly wild glitter application.
And there you have it, glitter is now your bitch. So off you go! Put sparkles on EVERYTHING!!!
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