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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Swigart


One thing you should check is whether it's the makeup that's irritating the boy's skin, or

something else. He could also be allergic to cold cream, or just be using a soap that's too

harsh, or mistreating his skin in some other way. You'll also want to find out whether the

irritation is oily skin reacting by breaking out due to even more oil being applied, dry

skin that dries out even further, or an allergic reaction of some kind. Knowing what

causes the problematic reaction will help you figure out what to do about it.

It might be a specific ingredient in Ben Nye that's causing the problem, or it may be the

oil-based formulation of cream makeup in general. One thing that you could try is using

water-based pancake instead of the cream makeup. Pancake is a bit harder to get used to

using; you would need to spend some time practicing with it. It also doesn't blend (think

acrylic vs. oil paint), so you've got to do your contouring with powders, which also takes

some practice. If you aren't familiar with it, ask the shop where you buy it to give you a

demonstration. Or I can give you some instructions. This change could help you if it's the

oil-based formula that's troubling your student.

If you continue with the cream makeup, have your student follow this routine to help

protect his skin:

1. Before putting on makeup, wash face and neck thoroughly. (Purpose soap is a good

one to get--cheap, but easy on the skin.)

2. Use an astringent all over face and neck. Choose an astringent that's marked for

sensitive skin.

3. Apply a moisturizer all over face and neck. Use enough to get good coverage, but not

so much that the skin can't absorb it all. (A really good one is Oil of Olay's sensitive skin

basic moisturizer. Most of the store-brand versions of the same thing are equally good,

and cheaper.)

4. Take some cold cream--again, a sensitive skin formula would be good--and spread a

very thin layer all over the skin. If you use too much, the makeup will just slide off the

skin. But a thin layer will help protect the skin from the makeup.

5. When you're ready to remove the makeup, use cold cream and tissues to remove it.

Then repeat the wash/astringent/moisturizer process (steps one through three) exactly.

If you have to change makeup repeatedly during the show, this could get time consuming.

But it may help protect your actor's skin. This is actually a great process for helping ALL

of the kids keep their skin from breaking out too badly. That oil-based cream makeup is

what causes the breakouts for most kids. Just leave out step #4 for anyone who's not

having trouble. Also, if you decide to use the pancake, you won't want to use any cold

cream at all; it washes off with soap and water since it's water-based. You still want to

keep up the rest of the skin-care routine, though.

If you're purchasing your makeup in person from a good theatrical supply house (not

from a catalog), there should be someone on staff who can intellegently discuss makeup

brands and formulas with you and help you pick the best thing for your situation. If you

have to order from a catalog, try calling Ben Nye and Mehron and asking one of their

representatives for help with your problem.

If worst comes to worst, you can get a brand of street makeup that the boy is OK with,

apply it very heavily, and contour using lighter and darker shades of powder. You're

limited, of course, by having only flesh colors to work with. Plus, I always think it looks

better if everyone in the show is using the same type of makeup and similar techniques;

that gives the show a nice consistency and polish.


I have extremely sensitive skin. I use a light cleanser by Physicians Formula before and

after using Ben Nye, and have never had problems with it. Also, holding a cold wash rag

over the face before applying make-up helps, then let skin air dry. If this doesn't work,

Physicians Formula does make some good hypo-allergenic street make up, but it doesn't

blend well, and doesn't last really well under lights.


Try having him use a light layer of Cetaphil (lotion you can buy at most drugstores)

under the makeup. Works very well for my daughter who has eczema and is very

sensitive to stage makeup (and everything else!)


On the heels of this good advice I would add - use cotton pads as opposed to tissue,

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