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Making Face: Makeup For Dead People

When I was in high school a quasi-friend died in a car accident. We lived down the street from each other and would talk about personal stuff in the one class we had together, but never really hung out outside of school or anything. I was pretty sad, though, because I really liked her. And, in the last class we shared together she told me that although she knew she wanted to be with her boyfriend, who’d recently started college downtown, forever and ever she was concerned she was too young for such an idea. She wanted him and space. She died driving home from his house within a day or two of that conversation, so I felt a sense of romantic tragedy about it.

I saw him at the service and he looked tragic and handsome. Pale and grief-stricken. Yes, just like Edward Cullen. My quasi-friend, on the other hand, looked bizarre. Not because she was dead. That wasn’t the weird part. The weird part was her makeup. I still can’t shake that pale pink lipstick out of my head. She never wore makeup, had her hair dyed in more ‘punkish’ hues and sported a ton of rings and bracelets every day. Definitely not the Barbie-pink lipstick type. Since then I’ve wondered how that happened.

What does go on with mortuary makeup? I dug around a little to get the low-down.

-It’s like special effects makeup and beauty makeup in one because often reconstruction needs to be done first. Even if the person didn’t die from physical trauma, an autopsy might have removed or altered bits.

-You can’t use the same products because those made for the living are designed to work with the heat from the body. For cold skin the makeup needs to be non-thermogenic.

-Mortuary makeup artists work from pictures supplied by loved ones of the deceased. I wonder which photo my husband would choose for me? Maybe it’s a good idea to set one aside along with the organ donation preference and such.

-The mortuary makeup artist will most probably also style the hair of the deceased and dress them.

-To become a mortuary makeup artist you will want to be trained in both makeup and mortuary science to some degree. I’m finding conflicting info here so I’d contact a bunch of funeral homes in your area to find out their requirements if you’re interested. Seems some require cosmetology licensees and others don’t, etc..

-How much mortuary makeup artists make seems to vary too. Starting salary is around $27,000 with the mean around $42,000 and the top around $80,000.

-Often those with other titles will also do the makeup, such as the Embalmer or Mortician. This probably plays a part with the salary range. Mo skills, mo money.

mortuary makeup

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