Tips to help Makeup Artists work more consciously in Film + TV​

Working in the film and TV industry can be difficult from an ecological standpoint – but here are some of our top tips and tricks to help you reduce your impact.

For reasons of hygiene, efficiency, and professionalism, we often have to use many disposables as well as many alcohol based products creating a lot of waste and having a negative effect on the environment. Although this is often the case, there are some products and practices we can adopt to minimise this impact.

A common myth is that you need to apply a lot of thick makeup when working in film, which is no longer true, as digital cameras are continually updated and filming processes refined to create beautiful images with true to life lighting and skin finishes. Therefore the makeup you use for your character needs to be appropriate for the lighting situation that person will be in.

The only place you still need a heavier makeup is for TV studio makeup, like news shows or big entertainment shows, where flawless finishes are often required and very very harsh bright lighting is the norm. 

For more natural lighting, you simply need to make the makeup look good to the eye, for stronger lighting, a heavier finish may be required, but is totally possible using conscious beauty brands and products.

3 Tips for more sustainable practices

As much as possible, ditch the disposables and opt for washable, reusable or biodegradable items instead. 


Tools of the Trade

Try using brushes over disposable sponges and washable sponges if possible. Beware of reusing sponges however, as the pores in makeup sponges can harbour bacteria, so perhaps one washable sponge per artist if possible, or use brushes that can be more easily disinfected if you need to work on many people.​

New Generation Washable Blender sponges are made much more consciously, reducing waste and carbon footprint like the ones from The Beauty Archive or Eco Tools.


Opt for Reusables


Replace cotton pads and makeup wipes with washable cloths or makeup remover pads/rounds. These come in a variety of fabrics from cotton and hemp to polyester microfiber. 


There is a big push for Microfiber pads that only require water to remove makeup. These are perfect for those with sensitive skin, but be sure to wash them with a microfiber catcher like a guppyfriend bag or cora ball so the microplastics do not go down the drain.


If washable pads are not usable as in the case of nail varnish remover, try to opt for fairtrade or organic cotton rounds as these are produced in a more sustainable way.



Even Cotton Buds (Q-Tips) also come in a non-disposable washable variety now! If you do choose this option, perhaps having a few to hand to use on various clients, and then ensure you wash each one with antibacterial soap and disinfect with Isopropyl alcohol.

if opting for disposable swabs, try to buy buy consciously made ones with bamboo, hemp or paper middles and with organic or at least fair-trade cotton ends.

Washable powder puffs are also more sustainable their disposable counterparts and are readily available from most makeup suppliers. Washing these with your fabric wipes and rounds one a cotton mesh bag is a great way to keep them together in the washing machine

If disposable wipes are needed, many brands offer more sustainable options:they can be biodegradable, made from sustainable fibers or both.


Most makeup for film and TV can be created using conscious beauty brands with the large exception of SFX/ Prosthetics – as many of the products and practices used to create these looks effectively and efficiently require by their very nature solvents, disposables, plastics and more. So unfortunately, that area of makeup would require a lot more research at this moment.

That being said, it is absolutely possible to create a very wide variety of beautiful makeup looks, from period makeup to character makeup, dirt, beauty makeup and so on, using brands that create their products in a way that is sustainable and ethical. 


Sustainable Skincare

Sustainable skincare is readily available at a variety of price points and to fill a variety of needs. This is one of the simplest and easiest things you can switch out in your kits.


Good for Grooming

Mineral foundations are very popular and are particularly well suited for male cast for a skin like finish. Mineral Powder is versatile and when buffed into skin prepped with moisturiser or primer, can give a beautiful natural “second skin” finish and comes in a wide array of colours.

Mineral makeup is also very well suited for “no makeup” looks, period pieces, or when time is short.

Be mindful of the following when opting for mineral makeup:

1. Many brands have a satin or soft matte finish, that can occasionally read as shine in stronger light, so have some pure matte powder or anti-shine to hand – and preferably do a camera test.

2. Many of the popular brands have Bismuth Oxychloride on their ingredient list – we would recommend steering clear of this ingredient as it can be very irritating to skin.


Matte Pigments

In the same vein, finding pure matte powders that do not contain mica can be a little challenging, as the fashion and trends of the moment tend to be for a softer or more radiant finish.

However, it is possible to find both loose and pressed mica-free matte powder, just check the ingredient list.



Apply powder with a washable puff for the most matte results. Cruelty Free anti-shine or magnifier is also available should shine be an issue.


Layer, for Best Results

Shoot days tend to be long and a makeup that lasts is key. Some of the more natural products tend to have less lasting power if there are not a lot of pigment in the product ( the same can be said for many standard makeup brands as well if they are more inexpensive and do not have strong pigments).

In this case thin layers and primers are key, as well as properly buffing the makeup into the skin at each level and blending out if combining cream and powder products (for example a cream blush topped by a powder blush) for a longer lasting makeup.


Cruelty Free, A Bare Minimum

If buying more standard brands is necessary to ensure longevity of the makeup look, remember to look for brands that may have refillable or palette options, look into potential recycling of the packaging and are at minimum – are cruelty free.

In Conclusion

The key to having a conscious makeup kit and way of working is to think about your kit as a whole and change your way of working one step at a time.

One key element is to only buy what you need so as not to create waste, and perhaps opt to give a junior or assistant items that are usable but no longer of use to you so they may begin their own journey to a professional career in makeup.

Share this: