- OnStage St. Louis Columnist
I am not a dermatologist, nor do I claim to be an expert on skin care by any stretch of the imagination. However, there are some things I truly cringe at the thought of my actors and students applying to their skin.
These may seem obvious or perplexing, however, I have seen these three items used before, and I only seek to educate, if I cause one less pimple or lesion in my life, then my job is done. Ask your dermatologist for more help on keeping your skin healthy. Here are the three things I never want my cast to put on their skin.
Dirt, Ash, or Mud
There are many incredibly dedicated actors who think nothing of smearing a little mud on their costumes and skin. While it might be tempting to achieve authenticity by running outside and grabbing a handful of dirt, it can cause irritation and breakouts. There are much safer alternatives available commercially. Many companies have faux dirt that is safe for skin. I caught a bit of ash in my throat during a college production, and I coughed and choked my way through almost the entire performance. That experience isn't something I would recommend.
Craft or Acrylic Paint
This may seem obvious, but I have noticed that more and more entertainers branching out into different kinds of expression. One of those is face and body paint.
Acrylic paint is meant to go on surfaces like canvas, paper, and wood. Those harsh chemicals can cause damage. Even non-toxic paints are not something to put on your precious skin. Make sure to buy body paint and makeup specially designed to be safe on your skin.
Rigid Collodion is a Scarring Liquid effect. It is a clear solution created to create the effects of scarring skin. Rigid Collodion liquid is applied onto a small area of the skin, and as it dries, it wrinkles the skin. When used safely and properly it can create some very realistic sunken scaring effects. While an option for some situations, I have found it isn’t always the best option for the stage. It doesn't always read from the audience or under lights, and with multiple performances requiring multiple applications, it isn't the best option for live theatre.
As an actor, your body is your instrument and your tool. You only get one so you must take care of it.