In modelling, your skin can be your greatest asset. A great skin not only makes you eminently bookable when it comes to castings, but it can transform your career prospects. A skin that can handle the most demanding close-ups will always be needed by every facet of the industry, from fitness to commercial and high-fashion. Selling a product successfully often requires that one-to-one connection with the consumer and a model with a naturally glowing, healthy skin will appeal across the board.
Even with hi-tech solutions like airbrushing and post-production enhancements, the chief responsibility of the model is to be that perfect blank canvas. If you are a newer or less established model, don’t expect the post-production team to have your back – these tricks of the trade are often highly expensive and clients can be reluctant to shell out extra money on getting a model’s skin up to code. Minor blemishes can be erased with a click of the mouse, but long-term maintenance lies ultimately with the model.
Most people only think of good skin in terms of having a blemish-free appearance, but there are really 3 components for photo-ready skin: clarity, radiance and hydration. A skin that is well-balanced and hydrated will have that sought-after, lit-from-within glow. Likewise, a beautifully hydrated skin will have very low levels of toxins lurking in its pores, so will have a very low hit-rate when it comes to blemishes.
These 3 components rely on each other to get the best possible results, but what’s reassuring is that having a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ skin is not hereditary: you’re not stuck with a skin that could be better. There are things you can do yourself that will make a visible difference. The golden rule in getting good skin is to keep it simple.
The first trick has become a bit of a modelling cliché, but it’s stuck around because it works. Drinking lots of water really does help. If you suffer from occasional breakouts or patches of dry skin, water can do a terrific job in flushing out toxins that can cause problems and help soothe and regulate your skin. The occasional blemish is forgivable even in the modelling world, but a skin that flares up and changes from day to day can become a more serious issue.
Sensitivity, whether it’s a reaction or a breakout, should be treated the same way. A sensitive skin is treated gently with specialised products, and treating spot-prone skin should ideally be tackled by the same approach. If you do get breakouts that are more regular than occasional, it’s time to bring in the experts.
Resist the temptation to blast your skin into submission with harsh, chemical-laden products. These products may help in the short-term, but their ingredients have a tendency to strip the skin of its natural oils. An oil-free skin sounds like a good thing, but what then happens is your glands work overtime to replace the oil that has been lost and you end up with even more spots. Definitely not a good thing!
You can break this circle by going to professional products. If you know you have a skin that breaks out regularly, spending a little extra on salon-tested brands that specialise in treating in skin problems is worth the expense. Dermalogica, Alpha-H and Elemis are just a few examples. A good-quality product can make all the difference, and what you will notice about the pricier brands over those from a high-street chemist, is that their ranges for blemished skin concentrate on soothing the symptoms to create a skin that’s balanced, not stripped.
If your skin is not your red-button issue, a basic regime will work well for you. A decent cleanser is essential – studio make-up tends to be heavier than normal formulations, and getting off every scrap at the end of the day is essential. Find a cleanser targeted to your skin type, but a mild rinse-off gel cleanser is a good purchase for any skin. Also keep an eye out for professional make-up brands, such as MAC and Shu Uemura, as they have their own ranges of cleanser especially designed for removing make-up.
Spending big bucks on a moisturiser isn’t necessary: a mid-priced hydrating moisturiser with an SPF is more than adequate. If you’re drinking enough water throughout the day, your skin shouldn’t need that much help in the hydration department.
Another skincare must-have is a face scrub. Good for promoting fresh, young skin cells to the surface, regular use of a scrub prevents your skin from getting that grey, lived-in look – particularly handy if you’ve been working (or playing) too hard.
Pick a scrub that’s suitable for your skin type, but whatever you do, don’t work the product in too hard. Let the scrub do the work, and gently massage it onto a wet skin. It may seem like an optional extra, but a scrub can make a surprising difference when it comes to that most coveted of model attributes: luminosity.
If you want to take your skincare up a notch, you can also look into using a face mask. Ideal to use on a newly-scrubbed face, there is a mask out there for every skincare concern. If you’re using a mask designed to draw out impurities, don’t use it just before a shoot. The mask’s job is to pull toxins to the surface and you may end up with some very badly-timed blemishes. If possible, use this type of mask two or three times a month as a ‘deep-cleanse’ treatment. If your skin’s getting exposed to harsh studio lighting and long hours – a mask that revives tired skin is perfect. If dryness is your problem, a lightly moisturising mask is always a good standby.
The key to using products intelligently is to assess your skin to see what it really needs. If its feeling (and looking) sensitised, treat accordingly, and it’s worth bearing in mind that your skin’s needs can change from week to week, season to season. Don’t get stuck into thinking that you have one specific skin type all year round: your skin reacts to its environment. Adapt your routine to what’s happening in your life and watch your complexion flourish.
The investment in products may seem like an unnecessary expense, but the lot of a working model is such that spending on grooming is an unavoidable expenditure, and definitely something to be factored into earnings. Think of it this way: if your skin’s in peak condition, your earning potential is maximised too. Suddenly shelling out for a tube of moisturiser doesn’t sound so bad.
The final note about skincare is an obvious one, but does need stating. If you smoke, expect the success of these products to be limited. Your skin cells will be starved of oxygen, and will affect the way your skin looks both in person and on camera. A smoker’s skin tends to be easily recognisable by its grey-ish tinge: no matter how dedicated you may be to a skincare routine, even drinking plenty of water and eating well, nothing will do your skin a bigger favour than cutting out (or even cutting down) on cigarettes.
If that doesn’t sell you on whipping out the nicotine patches, think about where you want your career to be in 5 years’ time. If you smoke heavily, prepare for your modelling career to be cut short. The physical action of smoking creates tension lines around your eyes and mouth, which will rapidly turn into permanent lines because your skin’s support system won’t be up to the job of battling premature ageing.
If you plan to be in modelling for a few years, not smoking may be a sacrifice worth making. Your skin is an instant tell-all. It reveals everything you’re doing right in terms of health, and exposes anything that could stand to be improved. A lack of sleep, a dip in nutrition all show up on your face, and if your face is your fortune, that’s bad news.
The good news however is that skin responds quickly to changes, and a good diet (most of the time!), plenty of sleep and a smoke-free environment can make a huge difference to the way you look – not to mention the way you feel.
Think of skincare as being holistic: an inclusive approach will make for the best results. Taking care of yourself doesn’t require that much effort if done regularly and the pay-offs in modelling can be phenomenal.