The Power of Touch

I think that makeup artists may get a bad rap.  You know, makeup — it’s all artifice, fake.  If you could see the before and afters of the rich and infamous you would thank those of us who paint faces for a living.   As a makeup artist I touch people.  I spend plenty of time with my hands in contact with my client’s face.  Touching someone that you don’t know is pretty weird, so putting them at ease by touch is an art.  I have had clients fall asleep in my chair while I’m applying makeup.  It’s been proven that  touch has a healing effect upon people.  Receiving a massage can help release endorphins, improving mental and emotional state.  A study I read reported the following:

AT A business seminar on human relationships, the speaker told of a hospital ward filled with orphaned babies. In a long row of beds, the babies became ill and some of them died—except the baby in the last bed. It did well. The doctor was puzzled. All were fed, bathed, kept warm—no difference in their care. Yet only the baby in the last bed thrived. As months passed and new babies were brought in, the story was always the same: Only the baby in the last bed did well.


Finally the doctor concealed himself to watch. At midnight the cleaning woman came in and on hands and knees scrubbed the floor, from one end to the other. The floor finished, she stood up, stretched, rubbed her back. Then she went to the last bed, picked up the baby, walked around the room with it, cuddling it, talking to it, rocking it in her arms. She put it back in its bed and left. The doctor watched the next night, and the next. Each night the same thing happened. It was always the baby in the last bed that got picked up, cuddled, talked to, and loved. And in all the new groups of babies brought in, it was always the baby in the last bed that thrived, while the others got sick and some died.

Early in my career, I learned the power of touch in quite a sensitive situation.  You see, I took a class to learn paramedical makeup.  Para-medical makeup is for those who have scars, disfiguring abnormalities and burn survivors.  This day I was working on burn survivors.  My “client” had grafts over her entire face.  When I first saw her, my heart sank and I felt sick.  Not repulsed by her appearance as many are, but just sick to think of the pain she had endured.  The stares, the gasps, the general insensitivity of the American public.


Burn Survivor

Burn Survivor

I smiled, she smiled.  I put my hand on her shoulder and said I looked forward to doing her makeup.  At first touch, I was surprised how tough her skin was.  I wanted to pull my hand back and run — it was VERY hard to touch her skin.  I thought I was hurting her and I was seriously experiencing fight or flight syndrome.  But I kept going.  After a couple hours we were done.  She looked in the mirror and started crying.  Of course I had to tease her.  “Is it that bad?  Is my makeup that bad?”  She said no, but that she hadn’t had eyebrows in ages.  As a matter of fact, my eyebrows looked better than her originals!  She forgot what it was like to have lips and eyelashes.

Because of  my expertise as a makeup artist, I was able to give her back her appearance.  Her skin was evened out, she had features that were apppealing.  And above all, I touched her.  She couldn’t believe that I touched her.  (I couldn’t believe it either) We both had a good cry. 

I learned such a lesson that day.  First and foremost, the power of touch.  And second, I’m a darn good makeup artist.

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