What’s it like to be a movie makeup artist? One woman shares her experience

Natalie Hayes said she got into the makeup profession the same way many get into their jobs — completely by accident.
Published: Oct. 18, 2023 at 2:19 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - While the movie magic comes alive on the soundstages, some may argue the real magic happens well before the director yells “Action!” thanks to media makeup artists who see the stars before they shine.

“It’s like a new adventure every time I wake up and go to work,” makeup artist Natalie Hayes said.

Hayes said she got into the makeup profession the same way many get into their jobs — completely by accident. She realized she had a knack for detail and creativity and ran with it.

Hayes takes a massive bag of makeup with her to every job to account for every skin type and skin color, complete with what she calls the “unforgiving light.” The bright light highlights flaws so she can cover them. It also allows her to add bruises and age actors by years.

“I will be able to see anything and everything,” Hayes joked.

Makeup is not as easy as it looks — especially because the artists start over every day of filming.

“Then sometimes they’ve got situations where there’s a wound plus aging, plus this plus that, you know,” Hayes said. “So they’re also having to keep track of continuity, because you always shoot out of sequence.”

In her 13-year career, Hayes has worked with big names like Jeff Foxworthy, T-Pain, Ric Flair and even the cast of The Walking Dead. She said there’s never a dull moment.

“I would love to go to lunch, because a zombie would sit right across from me, like, looking completely dead, but have like a knife or something through their skull and they’d be like, eating a salad and talking on the cell phone to his girlfriend,” Hayes said.

One client in particular still amazes her to this day.

“I did makeup for President Carter,” Hayes said. “It was just like the realization of like: This man has been president of the country, you know, and I’m just in here, me and him kicking it.”

She said the feeling of working with someone she grew up watching is like none other.

“Just like a cool full-circle kind of thing that I never would have imagined,” Hayes said.