Like many other labour-intensive jobs, makeup artistry/hair styling can take a toll on your body. Many go through their career with poor posture habits and end up with severe back problems in the future. This is so detrimental to our future careers. The industry now has changed more than ever, more and more artists are emerging with a thirst for knowledge.
This is something that includes wisdom from a lot of mentors in my life, many of who are thriving in their careers and have experienced the health pitfalls of this career.
I hope this is useful to budding makeup artists/hairstylists out there, or even those who have been in the industry a long time. This is not just for us but for all creatives out there. Take care of your body now, so your body can take care of you in the future.
Be level with the client
Constantly bending over a client who is sitting lower than you, can really take a toll on your lower back, neck, shoulders etc. It's like doing a wall sit for far too long and in the wrong position. Your body doesn't know how to hold that tension, so it tenses even more, resulting in tight muscles and sore backs.
Invest in high chairs you can travel with or sit directly across from the client. I know some MUAs don't like sitting during their apps, but it makes a world of difference in the future.
HAIR STYLISTS: pump down the chair so your arms aren't so high when you are working. Your biceps and shoulders will thank you later.
Try to use backpacks
This is really key for when you have to carry around heavy kits. It's not worth it having a heavy load on one shoulder. It creates an imbalance over time and your posture will be off in a matter of weeks. This can result in muscle pains, headaches, dizziness (in extreme cases), etc.
The same is true for set bags. If you have a shoulder strap set bag (which is bloody heavy), try to alternate shoulders or place it on the floor as much as possible.
Backpacks are a lifesaver if you get the right ones. The straps should be thick, there should be some sort of back padding and the bag should sit nice and flush to your back (higher = better).
Look the client straight on.
We love to turn our heads to see all the angles of the perfect wing we just performed. Unless your art is being upside down/sideways though, there's no point in looking at the client's face side on. An artist told me that looking at the person straight on, allows you to really see if the face is even/the eyeliner is symmetrical etc. Our job as artists is to make things seem almost symmetrical, that is the real art of beauty on the face.
This also helps with neck issues as you aren't leaning a heavy weight (i.e. Your head) on weird angles. It causes unnecessary strain.
Get some comfy shoes!
We are standing on our feet all day! We need to care for our feet, they are holding all the weight of the world in their little toes.
Boots are great for going out, not 14hrs of standing and holding heavy gear. Get some good runners or comfy flats that will support you throughout your day.
Is your shoulder unnecessarily high while curling that client's hair? Can you straighten your back while perfecting that wing? An awareness of how we hold ourselves actually corrects our posture by a lot. Finding new techniques on how to hold our tools so we don't have to strain our bodies is an excellent way to start!
My mentor would even say, 'back straight!' every time she saw me hunch over my client. It was a great way for me to learn what was bad and what was good.
Build the muscles that you tend to use the most. Photographers require a lot of flexibility to squat and move into different angles. Hair dressers require a lot of strength in their arms, as they are generally holding something heavy/always moving. Makeup artists need back and arm work because we may need to bend down to moisturise someone's legs or are always holding brushes.
Yoga/pilates is a great way to build up your core and back. It's a great all-rounder if you want to start being more aware of your body.
Deadlifts are a perfect way for strengthening the lower back. I also found balancing our the muscular structure with some ab work goes a long way.
Not a physio. A chiropractor. These guys are in charge of your spine which ultimately is the centre for everything posture related. If you've got really sore traps (the area near your neck and shoulders) then you most likely have an incorrect posture where your head is too far forward. I highly recommend going, just for a posture check-up. I've learnt that a lot of the muscle aches we endure (hips, lower back, legs) actually come from bad posture, so it's worth a try.
One of my good friends using a posture strap, where you can wear it after a long day and it pulls your shoulders back.
There are many posture aids out there! I'd say, find one that helps you the most and stick to it. My favourite methods are foam rolling, doing a bridge before sleeping and hand stands.
I know there are moments where we can't follow the right posture, and we do have to adapt to small spaces. That's just how this job goes - and yes I kind of love it. I also want to take care of my body as best I can while I can.
Let me know your best tips for self-care!