Well, now that you have been introduced to the different genres of modelling (please see previous links to posts) – and if you are still prepared to give it your all – the next key aspect to focus on is appearance.
There is a very well versed quote, ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’. It is arguable as to whom this quote can be attributed to, whether Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain, but the fact remains that whoever qualifies, they certainly raised an excellent point.
In the same way that we might attend a regular job interview, we would naturally be expected to prepare for that interview as best we can. There is positively no exception where modelling is concerned. Admittedly, there are times when we might be expected to attend our first casting call of the day, having been told specifically to dress casually or to look sporty. This might be immediately followed by a mad dash across to the other side of town, where a client might require you to look smart, sophisticated or business-like – with heels… or a suit!
This is where our versatility skills would come into play and so also would a certain degree of canniness. But we shall leave the subject of versatility for a later episode in the ‘Becoming a Model’ series.
Let’s get back to first impressions. We are aiming to make an impact and hopefully, a lasting impression on the client, so we have to do everything we can to stand out from the crowd at the cattle call, in order to get the job – modelling is, as with all lines of work, a competitive world. If we really want to make a success of our modelling career, it is important to take in and listen carefully to what the client’s brief is asking of us.
If a client is seeking his or her ideal male or female model to promote a hair product, it would be futile turning up with unwashed, scraped back hair, tucked under a hat or bandana, so that the client cannot make an accurate judgment as to whether the model would be ideal candidate to promote said hair product. Believe it or not, I have seen the odd model do just that, expecting the client to get an idea of the model’s abilities just by looking at their portfolio.
Well, I can tell you right now, that is not only a waste of the client and the model’s own time, energy and money: the agency might as well have just sent over images of that model via email, or forwarded a link to its website! The point of a model turning up in person is for the client to see just that – how the model appears in the flesh, as pictures – particularly edited ones – can hide a multitude of flaws. In a similar way, for a beauty product casting, the client would not want to see a model either caked in makeup or staggering in, unprofessionally, looking as though he or she has been up all night, partying until 6am that very morning.
(The same would go for turning up for a modelling job, but again, that comes under yet another episode in this series, that relates to maintaining good standards and a good name – for yourself and for your agency.)
There are a myriad ways to maintain your hair, skin and nails (yes, clients do ask to see your hands and nails, too, so keep them scrubbed, well manicured, clean and neat!) and it is really all just a case of finding which regime or technique suits you (and your wallet) best.
A good approach upon joining an agency would be to investigate how to become a house model at a reputable hair salon. If you are unsure, ask your booker for advice. Many model agencies send their models to a few respectable hair salons they are in contact with to maintain their hair for their work, particularly if the model’s hair looks like it could be quite a good selling point and quite a few models do become house models for some of those salons. This would mean that in return for getting your locks primped, trimmed and pampered, you might have to take part in some of their hair shows or do some photo shoots to promote their salon. This is a win-win situation, because you get exposure and practice on the runway and photo shoot as well as acquire a new look and pictures for your portfolio, whilst the salon gets their chosen model to work with for a fraction of the price.
If you can’t find a salon with which to become a house model, aside from getting a basic trim at your local hairdresser or barber, there are plenty of effective over-the-counter products on the market, as well as natural home remedies to treat the condition of your hair and scalp.
Finding a good shampoo and conditioner for your hair type should be standard procedure, whether your hair is thick, fine and flyaway or has a tendency to frizz. You are the one who knows and understands your hair’s behaviour the best and your hairstylist – should you be fortunate enough to find one who can bring out the best in your hair, with deep conditioning treatments, colour and toning expertise – would also be able to advise you on effective ways to manage your style with minimal fuss.
On the other hand, some salons can charge an awful lot of money for a cut and colour and when you’re just starting out as a model, maintaining regular visits and upkeep can therefore become problematic. The solution to this would be to keep things as simple as possible. It’s certainly not the end of the world if things are a bit of a financial struggle; most of us have already been there. Keep your hair clean and well conditioned, with a regular weekly deep conditioning hair pack (guys too), which you can purchase from your local chemist or supermarket.
Walking through the supermarket’s personal care and hygiene section is akin to walking into Aladdin’s Cave of toiletries. Today, we are so spoiled for choice when it comes to products to help maintain and treat our hair. Find the product that is right for your hair type. It can be a case of trial and error, but in the end, when you find that product that is not too greasy for your flyaway hair, or that manages to tame your frizzy locks, it is worth the investment, especially if money is tight to begin with and you cannot make it to a salon. You never know when that all-important hair casting might pop up out of the blue, so always be prepared. As a popular teacher I know often says, ‘being prepared is half the battle’!
But by the same token, try not to get too carried away with the over use of one particular type of styling product for too long, or you might have really have a battle on your hands. Many hairdressers will tell you that over use of styling products can cause what they call ‘product residue build up’ and result in your hair looking dull or losing its shine.
If you have access to a local gym or sports centre, then after your work out, swim or exercise class, just dollop some of your favourite conditioner through your hair, cover it with a shower cap or towel and sit in the steam room for 15-20 minutes. Not only will your hair will thank you by producing optimum shine and a bouncy, healthy looking condition, but your skin will too, as you would have also just removed the city’s grime and given yourself a glowing facial, unblocking the pores that become clogged up by oily sebum and pollution, the excess of which can lead to blocked follicles and unwanted spots and blackheads.
For those of you that can’t make it to the steam room, there are quick and cheap home remedies to bring back the lustre and moisture to your hair – simple food products from your fridge will do the job just as efficiently. Raw eggs are wonderful for your hair and have been used as a treatment for many, many years. But whilst egg whites are great for treating oily hair, containing enzymes that consume any bacteria and excess oils, egg yolks are good for nourishing and moisturising dry, brittle and thirsty hair. Just apply a mixture to clean, damp hair and leave on for about 20 minutes. Use cool (not hot) water to rinse off and then give it a shampoo and light conditioning. Use the yolks once a month and the whites once a fortnight.
Simple plain yoghurt will bring back the hair’s natural shine that has been dulled from city pollution and excess hair styling products. Massage a healthy dollop (about half a cupful) of yoghurt into damp hair, leave on for 20 minutes and rinse off with cool water, then shampoo as normal. Repeating this once a fortnight can save you a lot of money on expensive hair treatments.
For an itchy, dry or flaky scalp, mix together 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of water. Massage this solution into damp hair, leave on for 20 minutes, rinse out and shampoo. Do this every two weeks.
For dehydrated or sun-damaged hair, massage half a cup of honey into your hair, leave for 20 minutes and then rinse out with warm water. If the honey is too sticky for you, you can add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the mixture, to help it spread more easily.
Instead of paying a fortune on a keratin treatment to tame frizzy hair, purchase a more affordable version from your chemist or supermarket, or simply smear fresh avocado all over your hair, then rinse and shampoo as usual. The protein bonds that have been damaged by the sun and heat can also be restored with this inexpensive home remedy.
To get rid of product residue build up, every two weeks, mix a couple of tablespoons of simple baking soda (the very same product that sits in your kitchen cupboard and with which you can also clean your teeth!) with enough water to form a thick paste. Massage this into your damp hair, leave for 15 minutes, then rinse and shampoo.
Finally, it is always important to remember that the hairstyle and image that you choose to go with and take your new portfolio photographs with, must be one that you will be happy and comfortable with, as well as being a style that you will be sticking with for a while. There is nothing more confusing and frustrating for a client who wants to book you for a job specifically because of your long hair, only to find out that you have decided to go for an elfin crop instead! Think carefully about the style you choose. Make sure it is one that still has versatility and enough scope and movement to create a few different styles, because having versatility will be an important element that marks the difference between getting the job or not.
In this industry, it would not be uncommon to come across the term, ‘your face is your fortune’. As long as we recognise this and do all we can to maintain our looks for as long as possible, there is no reason why a model cannot remain a working model for many decades to come.
It is equally important to maintain a healthy internal system as well as an outward one. When we are constantly told that we are what we eat, we really are. What we take inwards will consequently reflect outwards, and that does not just mean what we ingest by way of food and drink, it is also what we take and hold by way of feelings, emotions and tension. Sooner or later, signs of stress or poor diet will eventually manifest itself in our skin, eyes and nails as well as on the surface of our tongues.
How many times have you taken the subway or walked around the streets of the city during the day, come home, blown your nose and been shocked at what you find in the tissue? The city grime you see has become ingrained into our skin as well as pollution having been ingested via our lungs. Furthermore, free radicals and over exposure to the elements – particularly the sun and wind – also cause skin cell damage. How we counter those effects seems to require more and more time and effort and in extreme cases, going under the knife.
Today, general skin care is no longer just about the so-called holy trinity of regimes we would once religiously perform last thing before bed and first thing in the morning – cleanse, tone, moisturize, or as Clarins would have it, cleanse, tone, clarify, moisturize. It is about applying lotions, potions and scrubs, eliminating dead cells and free radicals, regenerating new growth, countering UVA, UVB rays and pollutants, raising SPFs, AHAs, retinol A… you would be forgiven for mistakenly thinking you are undertaking some sort of covert secret service operation!
The key here is not to get caught up by the excessive marketing techniques used by some advertisers. Now this may seem ironic, seeing as we are operating in the very business of looks, fashion, beauty and their respective products. Marketing rule number one is this: a beauty marketing company will find an inadequacy in us, or make us feel like we have one. Uneven skin tone, lines, wrinkles, spots, greasy skin, dry skin, pale skin, patchy skin, open pores, the list goes on. It will then produce a ‘solution’, claiming that this miracle product will solve all your problems – but if you listen very closely to their carefully selected words, you will hear phrases like, ‘this product will give you the appearance of glowing skin, even tones, visible blur, closed pores’, etc. Many will be careful never to claim that their creams can make your skin younger or give you a facelift, only the appearance as such. This is where it is important to know and understand the industry you are getting into.
This is also where you need to get smart and make sure that you take care of yourself as much as you can by eating healthily, drinking plenty of water and doing the right things to maintain good, clear, healthy skin. Getting enough sleep – roughly 8-10 hours per night, dependant on whether you are a teenager, in which case, it’s closer to 10, but generally, even doctors will tell you that 8 hours is a good amount of hours in which to be fully rested and refreshed by morning. Drinking plenty of fresh water – 1.5 to 2 litres per day. Not all in one go, naturally… just as and when.
Starting your day (as soon as you have swished your mouth and cleaned your teeth and tongue) by drinking a cool, fresh glass of water on an empty stomach will help rehydrate you after 8 hours of fasting in your sleep and thus dehydrating yourself. Another great way to start your day is to drink a cup of tepid water mixed with the juice of half a lemon. This is ideal, as this solution alkalises your system, eliminating acidity, which ultimately is said to prevent cancer. Not only does this miracle solution do all of this, but it also cleanses your kidneys and liver, kick-starts your immune system into action mode for the day and eventually leaves you with beautifully flawless and glowing skin. (It is generally recommended after drinking water on an empty stomach to wait for half an hour to an hour before eating)
Along side keeping our skin clean, exfoliated and moisturised – and this does not mean just starting at the forehead and stopping at the chin – we need to pay special attention to moisturising what beauty experts refer to as the décolletage. This refers the neck and upper chest area – which also ages sooner, especially when perfumes (alcohol based) are perpetually sprayed on this point or if it is not taken proper care of by moisturising on a daily basis. Add to these areas your elbows and knees (which are usually the first body parts said to lose elasticity over time) and particularly hands and feet – parts that are frequently exposed to the camera, client’s inspection and also to the lovely audience sitting at eye level to the catwalk, as you walk it.
There are plenty of reasonably priced clay, moisturising, deep cleansing and even anti-ageing face packs and further natural products that are available from your local chemist, supermarket or health food store. Alternatively, you can make your own face packs from vegetable or fruit pulp (scraping just beneath the skin is best and is where the fruit contains the most nutrients).
Whilst you are making your morning smoothie or green smoothie for breakfast, what is stopping you from taking a couple of strawberries and literally squishing and smearing them all over your face? You think I’m kidding? My friend swore by this and I laughed when she told me all about it over the telephone, but I wasn’t laughing anymore when I next saw her in person. Her skin looked like she had just come back from an expensive spa break!
There are plenty of age-old skin treatment methods and remedies for smoother skin, exfoliation, cleansing and lifting and tightening the skin, by using simple food products such as oatmeal, honey, lemon juice and fruit and vegetable pulp. Don’t forget one of the most versatile products of all – coconut oil. Pure coconut oil is not only delicious to add to cooking, it is wonderful for the condition of your hair, skin and for what is known as oil pulling. Oil pulling is a technique used to pull and remove plaque and particles from our teeth, as well as whitening them. It is done by swishing oil in the mouth for around 20 minutes and then spitting it out. (If you are environmentally conscious, you might want to spit it into a tissue and flush it, rather than clogging up your drain). There will be more on oil pulling in a later episode on health.
Fruit and vegetables contain vital enzymes that nourish the skin, as well as taking off dead surface layers to promote new growth or produce polished spa-looking skin, all for a miniscule fraction of the price of a weekend away.
In conclusion, how we look after ourselves determines what we eventually become. We can eat properly to nourish, not just fill ourselves; we can keep well hydrated. We should get plenty of sleep – at least 8 hours per night. Take regular exercise and keep moving frequently, undertaking powerwalks or activities such as yoga or swimming. All of these activities and more utilise deep breathing techniques, promote energy by oxygenating our blood stream that ultimately feed our skin and cells. As you breathe in, you generate energy, or what is known in Yoga as prana. As you breathe out, you push out all the toxins. Yoga and meditation are also great ways to remain stress-free and therefore healthier, both inside and out. These are also topics that we will explore in more detail later in the series, so that you can find and develop a practice that fits into your day and suits you best.
With all of these simple and affordable techniques and regimes, we really cannot go far wrong. In return, our body will repay us by staying younger longer, because we are giving it a fighting chance to regenerate itself. That is what we are built to do. Regenerate. We just need to recognise this and be kinder to ourselves.
Written by Brucella Newman