Makeup work is awesome. Let’s not deny it. You and I get to be part of super cool movies and tv shows, meet really interesting people, and work in really unusual, exotic and exciting places that we might not have the chance to travel to otherwise.
But of course, there has to be a downside. Nothing in life is perfect, and as such, the toughest challenges for me, and I’m sure you, are the hours.
As the years of my work in makeup go by, it seems to get tougher and tougher to not only wake up at hideously early hours, but to keep up the stamina to get through those days on your feet; eating healthy, and getting good rest.
So I decided to throw together a list of all the things that I have learned and am currently doing my darndest to put into practice to get stronger and fitter. So I can increase my stamina and feel as good as possible on set – and hopefully, you can too! (Might I add that as I write this, I’m in midst of working 14 days straight and 100 hour weeks on set….aargh! Still trying though!)
This way, we can do our best work and be as cool as a cucumber to the folks we get to work with. (that’s the plan, anyway!)
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The Most Important Thing
One of the biggest, actually, I would say the biggest game changers I have introduced recently is the idea of scheduling.
And I’m not talking about your shooting schedule. I’m talking about YOUR schedule.
If you can schedule your working week, including time for exercise and meal prep, this is the first step towards actually coming through and doing these things.
Because they are written down, you have taken the first step towards committing to these tasks.
So start writing things down.
I just take it a week at a time, but by planning ahead, you are part of the way there because you have acknowledged these tasks that you can refer back to. Writing things down is part way there to committing to them.
I have started using this incredible planner called the Full Focus Planner.
This year I have the small-sized planner, but I think for the next one, I might go up to the desk planner.
And the reason I love, love, love this planner is it breaks your days and weeks down very simply by giving you your three most important tasks to achieve each day, and then you follow that with less vital goals and tasks.
I just like the ease of use and convenience of quickly tracking your day and being accountable.
The Full Focus Planner helps you show up and get the job done, so I highly recommend it if you need a little jumpstart or motivation.
Find the Full Focus Planner here.
While this isn’t literally tied to staying active, I believe it’s vital to help keep your stamina up each day on set. Stretching also helps your joints get through the day and stave off the inevitable back, neck, and knee pain that can come when you’re standing up for 12 plus hours each day, 5 or 6 days each week.
Stretching has helped me in a massive way this year.
When Do I Stretch?
Obviously, I’m not a medical professional, and I don’t claim to be, but I do work these long hours as you do. So I say stretch as much as you need to, as often as you can.
I like to stretch first thing in the morning and then, at the very least, at lunchtime or after lunch. Then I can sneak in another stretching session at some point before we wrap for the day. And then again, once at home.
More if possible, but most of the time, it’s not.
Now, the hard part is finding a clean, quiet, private place to stretch.
On some jobs, this is far more challenging than others. You may be filming out in a rock quarry, or a dirt old studio, an abandoned warehouse, or somewhere not very clean.
So, bring a towel or blanket and make space to store it so you can stretch even in your makeup trailer if and when the time is right.
I love these Mexican Blankets as they are lightweight and fold or roll up nice and small, and there are so many bright colors to choose from. They make it fun and something to look forward to, as well.
Not all stretching involves lying on the floor – although a lot of my go-to stretches do.
You might find that doing neck and arm stretches are all you need on any given day.
Well, the good news is that you can do these stretches in your chair during the day or whilst waiting for your actor to come into the trailer for their makeup.
Most importantly, just remember to stretch.
It’s a game changer for your stamina and aches throughout the day.
Find the Benevolence LA Authentic Mexican Blanket here.
Drink More Water
Easier said than done, I know.
Drinking water as a makeup artist working on a movie or tv set is something of a double-edged sword.
If you drink a lot, you have to go to the bathroom a lot. And none of us can leave set that often, right?
However, don’t drink enough, and dehydration will follow.
I worked in Qatar many years ago. It was my first time working somewhere truly in the desert. Most days, it was around 40-50 degrees Celsius. That’s over 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
It was interesting as the health and safety team had placed massive posters on the backs of toilet doors that were essentially urine color charts.
These posters definitely made the message of dehydration ring true. Ever since that experience, I always think about those urine colors and the importance of drinking water at every opportunity.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, drinking enough water each day is crucial for your health for many reasons. Proper organ function, to help prevent infection, help to keep your joints lubricated, to help keep your body temperature regulated are all vital reasons to drink more water.
They also say that good hydration also goes a long way toward improving your sleep, mood, and cognition. That is to say – it will help you work better!!
So don’t forget to drink more water.
The Harvard School of Public Health recommends 11 cups of water for the average woman and 16 cups of water for the average man.
I love the Arc Bottle with gentle time reminders on the side. Made from BPA-free frosted plastic, these bottles also look really nice.
This is your body – your only body, and being on set every second of the day is far less important than being amply hydrated and stepping off set each hour – hey – you can even use that time to get a 5-minute walk in each hour.
And that’s massive.
Find the Arc Bottle here.
Wear A Fitness Monitor and Use It
Getting a fitness monitor with reminders is a great way to be given an external alarm to remind you to get up and move in some sort of routine – even when you’re at work all day.
This is an invaluable feature to have on your device when you’re on set.
You’ve done your makeup, you get to set, and then what do you do?
You sit in your chair and wait, right?
The good news is that if you wear a fitness monitor, or an Apple Watch, or even just set (a silent!) alarm on your phone – it can be like your very own personal trainer – nagging you to get up and move each hour, or even better – half hour.
I love the Fitbit Charge 4 Tracker, and while I’m no Olympic athlete, this is definitely something I’m focusing on paying attention and committing to.
Find the Fitbit Charge 4 Tracker here.
Try To Create An Achievable Routine
I know, also easier said than done. But if you can stick to just a few basic exercises each day – let’s say even a 5-minute walk three times during the day. And then work up from there – just sticking to something is a great start.
Smaller goals are more achievable.
And once you get your Full Focus Planner or some kind of book to write things down into, committing and seeing through routines can become way more achievable.
Okay, so we all know the dreaded craft services visit.
Picture this. You’ve had 4 hours of sleep, and you’re back on set the next day. You’re tired, and hungry (and you’re hungry because you’re tired) and they won’t let you check your cast on set, so you do a crafty run.
Trouble is that 90% of the food options are packaged, sugar-filled garbage.
Crafty is the bane of my on-set existence. Is it yours too?
But do your best to stick to fruits, nuts, and any whole foods they may (hopefully) offer.
These are great portable containers that you can pack yogurt and granola, or dried fruit and nuts in to graze on at work throughout the day.
Find the Crystalia Breakfast Cups here.
Also easier said than done. But if you can stick to one or two cups of coffee per day, it will actually benefit you.
Try replacing that afternoon coffee urge with herbal tea or a much need glass of iced water.
I have to share my absolute favorite tea brand, T2 (it’s Australian too!) I have about 3 of these fantastic flasks that stay hot all day, and you can just pop your favorite herbal tea mix in the little strainer section at the top, and fill it with boiling water.
They also make beautiful iced drinks for a refreshing afternoon drink in the heat. Check out the complete T2 Store on Amazon here.
Find the T2 Steel Flask here.
Plan Your Food
Right up there with wreaking havoc with your eating and dietary needs, is Catering.
Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the caterers on every job. They have to provide a LOT of food to a very large number of people all at the same time.
But this tends to lead to digestive disaster for many of us.
If you can spare a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon, why not try prepping your own food and bringing it to work each day?
Most trailers have fridges and microwaves to store and reheat your food, and a little side salad can be thrown together really quickly as well.
You can do what I like to call batch-prepping.
That is – prep a large amount of two different dishes – and then you can prep two lunch meals out of each dish.
So with two different dishes and four meals, you can have a rest day on Friday and eat veggies and protein from the caterers.
That minimizes eating food that you don’t know how it’s cooked. And gives you home-cooked meals for 4 out of your 5 work days each week.
Once you get into a routine with this prep, you can work out what works best and make a couple of yummy and healthy, easy meals to get you through 80% of your week knowing exactly what you will be eating for lunch.
This is my fave lunchbox set up for lunch on the go. The Premium Bento Box has loads of room for a salad, a hot dish, and a fruit area. All with separate, divided sections over two levels. Plus, they look so cool, and are available in 6 different color combinations.
Find the Premium Bento Box here.
Walk When You’re On The Phone
If you are on set, and you have to take a phonecall, leave set. The walk as you talk. Even if it’s only 1 or 2 minutes. All movement counts, and these little windows of opportunity for movement can all add up very quickly.
Plan Dedicated Weekend Exercise
I know – your weekend is your sacred time.
But you will feel like a million bucks if you can find a Saturday morning class to commit to or a Sunday morning Yoga group. Just be sure to pick something that you enjoy – once it’s fun, committing to it is easy.
Doing the bulk of your exercise on the weekends can make up for the lack of exercise opportunities during the working week. Think of it as really recharging your batteries.
Take Advantage of Those Rare Early Wrap Days
You know those days? The surprise “we’re wrapping at 3.00 pm this afternoon” or “would you like to go home after the makeups are done today?”
Take advantage of it.
Don’t go home and sleep all day. Push yourself to go out for an hour-long hike, or get to the gym mid-week.
You’ll feel more energized afterward, and your body will thank you!!
10-Minute Morning Workout
Now, although I haven’t mastered this myself yet, I’m trying.
Try getting up 10 minutes earlier. Walking or doing push-ups and situps, and stretching for 10 minutes the very first thing after getting out of bed is a great way to nip some exercise in the bud, even before your day begins.
Plus, you’ll go to work feeling fantastic!
And most importantly…..
Try your best to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night.
Rest is absolutely vital for your body and mind.
And getting pure, uninterrupted sleep will mean you’ll work better and feel better too.
If you’re just starting out as a makeup artist, these struggles may not have happened for you just yet. But they will. And there’s no better time than right now to start looking after yourself. I promise you, it will only help you in the long run.
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Do you have a secret method for getting in exercise mid-week or prepping your own food to help keep the unknown catered food factor to a minimum? Leave a comment and let me know. And don’t forget to share this with your friends that you know struggle with this as well!
Harvard School of Public Health
Featured Image by Christian Joudrey