There’s a reason why hairstylists and makeup artists like Marc Anthony and Robin Black are in the phonebooks of the most VIP of celebs: They’re prepared for anything, literally anything, that happens to them on the job (and, you know, each of them is a wizard with an eyeshadow palette and round brush, but besides that). And because we love a good horror story, we wanted to know just how crazy some of these jobs have gotten.
So…we asked. And poked. And pried. And, for the most part, we received very humbled, hand-over-heart, “I’m just so blessed” responses that totally skirted the question. But thankfully, not all of the industry’s top experts were secretive, and by the end, we had wrangled a handful of never-been-told stories, involving some severe allergic reactions, red-carpet emergencies, and, of course, a little bit of drug use (hey, we’re just the reporters).
So read on for nine of the most-bizarre and hella stress-inducing situations from the best of the best experts, and then promptly rejoice that you exist in whatever safe, behind-the-desk job that you do.
I spent the next 30 minutes apologizing profusely.
“I was on a photoshoot once where the talent went to the bathroom, came out, looked at me, and was like, ‘Uh, Matt? Little accident…’ Turns out, she had peed on herself. She was in this fancy garment, and she couldn’t change because of continuity issues, so I had to blow dry the piss out of her outfit. All in a day’s work, clearly.” –Matt Fugate, hairstylist
“It was the first big New York Fashion Week show that I worked, and everyone from Vogue editors to Mick Jagger were milling about backstage. The first model that sat in my chair was a huge name at the time, so I was really excited to use her to show off the look that I had created for the show. But about five minutes into working on her, her skin turned bright red—like, really, really, ripe-tomato red—and she broke out in bumps all over her face. I asked her if she was allergic to anything, and, sure enough, she had a lavender allergy. I flipped over the moisturizer I had just used, and, of course, lavender was the second ingredient. I quickly had her wash her face, but it was too late. I spent the next 30 minutes apologizing profusely and trying to cover up the rash with loads of concealer. Now I never touch a model’s face until I’ve asked if they have any allergies!” –Robin Black, makeup artist and founder of Beauty is Boring
“I was once doing the makeup for a music video that was based around weed, and the set was decorated with big bags of prop weed made from moss and oregano…or so I thought. All of a sudden, the artist’s whole crew came in and started passing around the bags, and I’m like, ‘oh, the props look so cool, right, guys?’ And they were like, ‘uh, this is real weed—the prop bags are in the other room.’ I don’t smoke, so I immediately stepped outside and told myself I’d just hold my breath while doing makeup. Turns out, there was no ventilation in the room, so I started to get secondhand high as I worked. It freaked me out to the point where I ran off set and had a meltdown in the bathroom.” –Maya René, makeup artist
I was mortified.
“One year for the Met Ball, I did the makeup for a gorgeous A-list actress as a client, which was a whole new game for me, since I came from editorial. At the last minute, she decided to wear her hair up to show off the gown’s sequined back, so we all did our final touch-ups, and she swept out the door. The next morning, I popped open my laptop and prepared to high-five myself for the awesome red-carpet photos, but instead, the first photo I saw looked a little odd. I chalked it up to lighting, but as I clicked through more photos, I realized that, to my horror, I had forgotten to apply foundation to the back of her neck after we put her hair up. So when the camera flashes hit her skin, the back of her neck looked about three shades lighter than her face. Of course, she posed with her back facing the camera to show off the dress, so there were about a million photos of her looking like there was a white stripe drawn down her skin!” –R.B.
“I was doing the makeup for one of those charity events where celebrities were the models, and the look for the day was bold lips. And whenever I do a bold lip, I always tell my models to stick their index finger into their mouths and pull it out to get excess lipstick away from their teeth. I told one of the celebrity models to do that, and I guess with all the commotion and how frazzled she was, she didn’t do it. So she ended up walking the red carpet, smiling big and getting pictures taken, and the whole time, she literally had lipstick all over her teeth. I was mortified.” –M.R.
IN THE NUDE
“In our salon, we had these really nice smocks that were about thigh-length that clients would wear to protect their clothes during appointments. One client, though, stripped down and took off her dress, and then put the smock on backwards, like you do when you see a doctor. She walked out and her back was completely bare and open for all to see. Thank god she didn’t have to walk too far to go to the shampoo area before we caught up with her! It was so uncomfortable having to go up to her and explain—she was so embarrassed.” –Marc Anthony, hairstylist
The model was crying and freaking out.
THE BIG BANG
“I was working on an edgy shoot for a magazine, where the model was holding a stick of dynamite. The photographer was like, OK, hold the lighter up to it, as if you were going to light it, but don’t.’ She didn’t hear him, though, and actually lit the stick of dynamite. The photographer was busy taking the picture, but then suddenly looked in the lens, looked at her, and was like, ‘I told you not to light it!’ He ran up to her, took the dynamite, and threw it across the room, and the stick exploded—it was a really old stick, so it was small—in the corner of the living room. The model was crying and freaking out, and became partially deaf because the explosion happened right in her ear. It was literally the worst photo shoot in the world.” –M.R.
IN A TWIST
“I was backstage getting a celebrity client ready to accept an award, and we had just spent all this time removing the curl from her hair to make it really silky and beautiful. Suddenly, she came over and said, ‘You know what? I change my mind; I want it big and curly.’ It was literally less than five minutes before she went on stage. Luckily, I had a couple extra stylists there with me, and we had three wands and curling irons in her hair up to the moment she had to go out. I was literally following her with my curling iron as they called her name to step onstage. We might have left a couple of clips in there, but it was all good!” –M.A.
SEE SPOT RUN
“I tend to be on the ‘body team’ a lot backstage during fashion week, because I’m good at hiding bruises. One time, there was a model that had to walk twice, back-to-back, down the runway, who had a speck of orange paint right on her chest that we didn’t notice until the last second. Of course, a mad-crazy frenzy broke out as we tried to somehow get it off when she had literally three seconds to get in line and walk back out again. So I was running alongside of her, trying to cover up this bright-orange spot with my fingers or a sponge, while the head makeup artist was like, ‘Oh my god—what is this?!’ Luckily, I somehow got it covered, and the model walked without any issues.” –Ashleigh Ciucci, makeup artist