Makeup is often used in films to make actors and models their most beautiful; it can also be used to do the exact opposite! Special effects makeup artists have the unique ability to make a perfectly healthy person look bashed, bruised and bloody or even dead! Blush Central's very own talented special effects makeup artist Alexandra Saunders was kind enough to take a few moments to inspire us with her story and how she got into such a fascinating industry. 

How long have you been in the makeup industry?

I've been in the industry for probably around a year and a half or so now, so it hasn't been an incredibly long time compared to some other people out there, I've just been lucky enough to have been given some opportunities that have allowed me to really get my foot in the door. 

Have you always had an interest in makeup? Particularly the SFX side?

Actually, I wasn't interested at all in makeup until I was around 15, before then I was a self-proclaimed tomboy really. But then something clicked really and I became really interested in eye makeup in particular. I'd constantly wear eyeliner and go to school with weird designs on my eyes that at the time I'm sure I thought was cool. But the SFX side of things really wasn't even apparent to me until around the end of year 12. From then on I've focused a lot on making people look gross or injured, which is not typically what you want a makeup artist to say! 

What inspired you to get into the SFX side of makeup?

I got into the SFX side of things during a huge procrastination session during year 12 and as a way to cope with the stress. I always find that I learn new things while I'm meant to be studying for something else, it's quite the skill. But I saw a lot of cool SFX things on youtube and google images, and started wondering if I could do that too. I began without any special products though, just mucking around with eyeshadow and shading, and making my own blood in the kitchen, there are heaps of recipes online for that stuff. I actually fully began with face and body paint, one of the first things I did was a cat using cheap paints from the $2 store and a lot of eyeshadow. Every few days I would emerge from the bathroom as a weird human/animal hybrid, after a while my mum didn't even look twice, it just became normal.

What training did you do?​

In terms of training I actually haven't done much, I'm mostly self and youtube taught. But really with FX, a lot of what you learn comes through practical experience because then you really get to learn about your materials and what works best for you. I read quite a few FX books, the ones by Todd Debreceni are really good, but there's also so much information on the internet which I went to with questions a lot. I find that it's important though to not just solely learn off youtube, because there are a lot of safety things that you have to know that, generally, tutorials won't teach you, and with some of the materials in SFX, if you don't use them safely or hygienically, it can cause huge problems, so always do your own research. 

Do you also do occasion makeup for weddings etc?

I definitely do occasion makeup. I've done quite a few formal/deb makeups, and I haven't done a wedding yet but I'm itching to get into that side of the business because bridal makeup is utterly gorgeous. 

What advice would you give to new makeup artists?

Some advice for new makeup artists; I'd definitely go back to what I said before about doing your own research, because that's super important! But another big thing I'd say is to not go into the industry if you don't absolutely love it, because that's what has to drive you. This, unfortunately, isn't a hugely profitable business field, especially to start off with, so you have to really want to do it because you love it. Also, get as much practice as you can - practice on your family and friends. I've turned my sister into more gross creatures than she'd probably like, but all practice is important. If no one will let you paint them up, use your face, it's a canvas that you constantly have available! Then, when you feel confident enough, start doing some TFP stuff to build up a portfolio, because that's one of the most important things you'll have. Once you do start charging though, don't undercut yourself. Look up some average prices around your area and try to stick to that, because if you charge too little, it undervalues your work and all of the time you put into learning it. You need people to realise this is an art-form, not just a hobby. 

Tell us your 3 favourite products in your kit?

My 3 favourite products, that's actually a lot harder than it should be! In terms of SFX, my top 3 have got to be my Skin Illustrator Palettes (FX and Light Tones), my 3rd Degree Silicone and one of my bloods (probably the Ben Nye dark blood, love that colour). I find I use those in just about all of my FX work. 

What kinds of shoots and projects do you usually work on?

I usually do just normal photo shoots, or ones that have a theme that I find super interesting. I also do makeup for short films and web-series which are always fun, it's such a different atmosphere than photo shoots because everything's so go go go. 

What has been your favourite project to work on so far?

My favourite project in terms of shoots has been the Creepy Disney Princess series that I did with Amy from LR Photographic Studios, she has a facebook page and website if you want to check her out. I loved all of those images and the vibe was also just fun. I mean who doesn't want to ruin childhoods by destroying Disney Heroines?

Of course you must be a big fan of Halloween?

I love Halloween, because I can walk out into the streets all gored up and people don't look at me weirdly, apparently it's unusual to do that on other days of the year! 

Thank you Alexandra Saunders for chatting to us here at Blush Central! You can check out Alexandra's Blush Central profile, here, to see more of her work and get in touch. If you're also a makeup artists, don't forget to register with Blush Central, here, or if you're already a member check out the jobs avialable for you, here