When you opt for a body viewing or an open casket during funeral planning, there is quite a bit of preparation that has to go in to making the body of the deceased presentable. In addition to techniques like embalming, it is the job of a funeral makeup artist to provide a serene, lifelike pallor to the deceased’s face and hands.
Most people accept funeral makeup as part of the funeral planning process, and one of the many items you’ll be asked to bring (in addition to the clothes you wish the deceased to be buried in as well as jewelry and other personal effects for display) is a photograph of the deceased that depicts her favored type of makeup. In some cases, you may even bring in the actual makeup, since it can be used to recreate the deceased’s normal appearance.
Copying the deceased’s normal look is important if you’ll be having an open casket. More makeup than the deceased normally wore could put a garish touch on the day. Too little might make him or her virtually unrecognizable. The best funeral makeup artists will merely touch up the skin tone and do their best to make your loved one as close to normal as possible.
Funeral Makeup Artist Training
Funeral makeup artistry is something that takes quite a few years of training to get right. Contrary to popular media depictions, these professionals are rarely down-on-their luck makeup artists who have to settle for work. Instead, they are highly-trained experts with formal training in cosmetology, mortuary science, or some combination of the two.
Most embalmers and other mortuary science professionals take coursework in funeral makeup as they get their degrees and prepare for licensure. That’s because the more well-rounded they are, the better their chances of finding employment at a funeral home.
This is good news for families and funeral consumers. Almost all funeral homes have someone onsite who can apply makeup on the deceased, and usually with years of training at their back.
When You Aren’t Having a Viewing
Even when you aren’t holding a body viewing, you will most likely be asked if you’d like to have the deceased embalmed and prepared with makeup and other beautifying touches. There is no right or wrong answer to this.
Some people derive comfort from knowing that even though they can’t see the dearly departed, he or she is going to the grave in top condition. Others find that the added expense and trouble isn’t worth it. Talk with your funeral director for more information, and be sure you are aware of all the associated costs before you make a final decision.