For most of us, makeup is that stuff we put on our face five minutes before jumping on the train to work. But for Deidre Decker, lead makeup artist for Days of Our Lives, makeup is the only thing standing between her actors and the viciously accurate eye known as High Definition Television.
In case you're not up to speed on the 48-season, 12,219-episode show that's been running since 1965, it centers about the dramatic antics of several suburban families, most notably the Hortons, the Bradys, and the DiMeras. Days of Our Lives is famous for for love triangles, feuds, and the supernatural plot lines which were introduced in the '90s. For a show that's older than you are, it sure knows how to look good.
Lately, that's primarily thanks to Decker, who works mainly with Alison Sweeney, Kate Mansi, and Kristian Alfonso. I chatted with Decker about behind-the-scenes makeup tricks and how she does what she does best, which can be summed up in three iconic words: keeping it real.
BUSTLE: Is the makeup for TV very different than makeup in real life?
DEIDRE DECKER: Right now, we're shooting in high definition, so you see everything on the face as though you were looking at someone in real life. We try to do the makeup as minimally as possible, but with the most coverage. Unlike real life, we have to think about the lighting. We have to make sure the actors are highlighted under the eyes so that they don't get shadowed, so they don't look like they have dark circles. We contour their cheekbones, we highlight to work with various lighting and sets.
So how does the makeup application process work exactly? Do you stick to the same look for each character, or do you experiment a bit?
I like to try different things for different scenes: changing the colors around, changing the shape of the eye. It really depends on the scenes that they're in. If there's a nighttime club scene, it's going to be a little more dressed up and dramatic. But sometimes they're upset and crying and they want to keep it really minimal, so I might just do a really simply pretty clean look. It wouldn't make sense for them to enter the room looking like they're going to a wedding.
Do runway makeup trends affect how you do the show's makeup?
I like to look at magazines to get see what's fresh and happening, but runway is like the polar opposite of what we do. Often times it's so abstract and out there and not good for daytime television.
What do the actors do while you're applying their makeup?
It takes about 30 minutes to do one of our actresses. Most of them are reading their scrips, memorizing lines. Sometimes they're rehearsing lines with whoever's in the scene with them, often times they might be tweeting or texting, checking emails. Sometimes it's nice when they're just relaxed, closing their eyes, and enjoying the time in my chair.
What's the most stressful part about behind-the-scenes beauty?
There's a lot of running around. The pace is at lightening speed now so we have to know exactly what's going to be happening because there are stunts, sights, bruises, makeup changes, hair changes, things like that. It's pretty nonstop.
A long time ago, Alison Sweeney's character got pushed by Tony DiMera (played by actor Thaao Penghlis) through French glass doors, and she had to have a gash on her neck, as though it was an open wound. So I had to put a piece on her neck that looked like it was fleshy and open. We have a very short amount of time to do these kinds of things. We had to put this piece on and bloody it up in about five minutes.
What are your go-to brands of makeup on set?
I use Armani foundation for the base; another great one for HD-TV is Koh Gen Do, which provides good coverage but is still fresh and natural looking. Mainly I use Mac eyeshadows, and I love to do a fresh light shimmer or sheen on the lid — Nylon or Naked Lunch are really pretty and make the eye pop, and then I'll use a light taupe color in the crease under the eye. And then just a nice dark line on top to keep it simple is a look I'm really into lately.
Any tricks for real life people who need to put on makeup in a hurry?
In every day makeup, I think the most important things for me are covering under the eye, a little YSL Touche Eclat, a little blush on the apples of the cheek, curl the lashes.
Has being a TV makeup artist affected your own personal beauty routine?
Yes, definitely. I do a lot of the same things that I do at work. I try to keep it natural, keep it clean under the eye, curled the lashes. We're surrounded by mirrors in our makeup room so it's hard to go into work with no makeup on! I do my makeup before I leave the house and then I don't feel as bad arriving on set.
It's actually all quotes from the actors, their own personal regimen.
Note: I snagged a few of the actors' makeup tips from their publicist:
"Wear only a small amount of makeup on your downtime." -- Camila Banus
"For shaping and enhancing the eyebrows, choose two colors of brow pencil for texture. Choose one color that matches your eyebrow and then go lighter or darker with the other color." —Lauren Koslow
Can you give Bustle readers some professional tips for looking like a HD version of themselves? (Or maybe soft focus is better, ha.)
On the younger end, moisturizing is imperative. I am constantly reminding people to wear sunscreen. That's the most important thing. Just get a moisturizer with SPF in it, one that's tinted is always ideal, and then you're good for the day. I bring it down my neck and onto my chest.
One of my big makeup secrets would be when curling the eyelashes, don't just do the one squeeze to get the bend in the lashes, because it creates a hard line. I press slowly, squeezing multiple times from the lash line out to the ends, to create a natural curl.
I try not to overdo it, for myself and for my actors. I try to make them look as real as possible. The story lines and the acting as of late have been so amazing that I feel like too much makeup can be too distracting. So adding that subtle touch, that's my goal.
Images: Photos of Deidre Decker and Alison Sweeney/JPI Studios. Photos of Camila Banus and Lauren Koslow/Corday Productions.