August 30 2014

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Mirror, Mirror: Reflecting On The Makeup In Snow White And The Huntsman


The best fairy tales often expose our darkest fears, and if there ever was a cautionary tale against being obsessed with youth, beauty, and staring in the mirror a bit too much, Snow White would be it. The classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale about the fairest of them has been given an update with Snow White and the Huntsman, which opens this weekend and features a few new twists and turns along the way: the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) dispatches a swarthy hunter (Chris Hemsworth) to capture Snow White (Kristen Stewart). But instead of axing the young girl, the hunter becomes her mentor, teaching her to wield swords and shields to vanquish the queen—all the while maintaining ethereal, dewy skin and red lips in the dark forest. Some of the most envy-inspiring looks were supplied with products from Benefit, which released a limited-edition Rare Beauty makeup kit containing the same primers and stains head makeup artist Sharon Martin used on set. Here, caught up with Martin to talk about innocent complexions, wickedly evil dark eyes, and adding just enough grit to the classic narrative.

How did you research the makeup for the film?

I started my research after reading the script. I consulted old fairy-tale illustrations, and at the time, there was an exhibition on the “Cult of Beauty” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which was also very interesting. I was inspired by the fact that we wanted to make a dark, gritty fairy tale.

You worked with over 50 makeup artists to execute the looks for hundreds of cast members. What was a typical day like on set?

A typical day would start at 5 a.m. with the background being made to look right for the particular scenes we were shooting. The makeup might be applying broken veins or dirt under nails, coloring in teeth or applying facial hair, so that the characters looked as if they belonged to the world we were creating.

Ew. There were fair maidens too, though, of course…

Yes. At the same time, we also created pretty maidens with beautiful, glowing skin, which is where Benefit products came in handy. I wanted a very soft beauty that would appear to come from within.

What was your trick for executing that look?

We primed the skin with POREfessional, and Benetint was also invaluable for keeping our actresses looking peachy with a long-lasting glow, which did not look like makeup. POREfessional also gives a great base for the stains. In some of the scenes where Kristen had to do a lot of running, these products stayed on, as there was little time to do constant on-set checks. We knew we could trust [it] to perform under such conditions and still maintain the clean, clear innocent Snow White look.

Let’s talk evil. How did you use the makeup to convey that theme?

I used the Badgal eye pencils to create the dark, ground-in kohl looks for the scarred, beautiful tribeswomen, and to represent the darkness of the queen. We shot on 35mm film so we had the luxury of using the right shades for the particular coloring of the actress without any restrictions.

Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures



  1. leeDrillmanOrlian says:

    Ive seen the movie and how the mkee up was done was really impressive. Im a pro make up artist from Chicago and I say this is one of the best works Ive seen by far. Thanks for this post!

    Beauty in Colors Makeup Artistry
    Lee Orlian

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