Keeping Proper Set Etiquette

Ok, this is for my professional stylists out there (I’m sure my beauty enthusiasts will agree, so feel free to read on and give me an Amen in the comments)…let’s talk about on-set etiquette, shall we?

ON LOCATION IN DOWNTOWN LA

Obviously, professionalism is key for any client in your makeup or hairstyling chair. But extra precautions should be taken, especially if your client happens to be a celebrity, dignitary, socialite, etc (henceforth known as VIPs for the sake of this piece).

Here are some definite things to keep in mind while on-set or in the chair backstage:

1. Do NOT try to be the VIP’s BFF.
This will vary from client to client. Some VIPs are friendlier or more talkative. Others will straight-up ignore you, pretend you do not exist, and only communicate through their personal assistants (who will be standing a couple feet away from the VIP at all times). Or you will get a myriad of responses from one spectrum to another.

2. This is a no-brainer, but about taking photos or autographs…DON’T do it!
Unless you have been told specifically by the producer/director, know the VIP personally, or happen to possess an intuition that assures you the VIP is comfortable with it…stay away!


Sensitivity in your actions is key while in the middle of a photo or video shoot.”

3. Be aware – to the point of obsession – of your surroundings.
It is highly frustrating to many a hairstylist or makeup artist when you stand idly by while they do every bit of work. If the hairstylist or makeup artist has his/her hands full, stand by and be ready to pick up whatever tool is needed for the next step. Whether you are assisting or touching-up in the middle of a session, sensitivity in your actions is key while in the middle of a photo or video shoot. Will the oil sheen spray that I spray onto the actor’s chest or the hairspray that I throw onto the model’s hair mid-shoot, mess up the camera lenses?

4. Be on time – as in 15 minutes before your call time!
It goes without saying, but you would be surprised as to how many beauty professionals are late to their shoot feigning ignorance, faulty call sheet, or horrific traffic. Know that everyone is watching you from the time you show up to the wrap of the shoot, and it could mean you being re-hired or being blacklisted with that particular director, producer, photographer, stylist, etc.

ON SET FOR AN ESQUIRE MAGAZINE SHOOT.

5. Never jump departments.
Regardless of how terrible the other department may be, do not helpfully “advise” the other department. It is not your place. Even though it may be painful to watch. There are very slight exceptions to the rule depending on certain shoots and projects, but in general… stay in your lane. If you are a makeup artist, do makeup. If a hairstylist, do the hair. A stylist? Style the clothes. You get the idea.

6. Do your “homework” at least the night before.
Research the VIPs that you will be styling. (i.e. what their past accomplishments have been, conversation topics to steer away from while in the chair). Really pore over the call sheet and get to know the key point people in your shoot and try to remember their names: the director, producer, photographer, makeup artist, hairstylist, etc.

7. Be prepared.
Make SURE you have your set kit on you with all of your essentials for the shoot, but feel free to bring other “things” just in case (i.e. tissues, extra towels, brushes, eyelashes, clothes pins, etc). Pack and organize your kit the night before. The last thing you want to do is be rummaging through kit clutter an hour before you are due on set…STRESSFUL!

This is just a small piece of how you should handle yourselves as a beauty or styling professional on-set. Many of these are learned by experience over the years, and you will pick up other tricks and tools in this industry. What other advice or interesting stories would you like to share with us in traversing through the Hollywood industry? Be sure to leave a comment.

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