Do Models Really Get Tortured Backstage? Pros Confess

Photo by: Harper's BazaarPhoto by: Harper's BazaarPros respond to accusations that they're hurting runway models.

By Carly Cardellino

"You think cotton pads are soft, right? They're not," said a model who quit walking runway shows during fashion week because of the painful hair and makeup routine. "During the day it's a lot of putting on - and wiping off - makeup with cotton pads. And there's nothing gentle about that process, especially when you get your makeup changed about five plus times a day," she continued. "A Q-tip ends up feeling like a tiny knife after it's used to straighten eye liner and get rid of smudges for the one hundredth time (a lot of the shows call for a smoky eye)."

So, do the hairstylists, makeup artists, and manicurists working on hectic fashion shows even know they're hurting the models? Do they try to avoid it, at least? A top hairstylist, makeup artist, and manicurist explain their end of things.

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"I don't care," laughed Guido, the lead hairstylist at Rag & Bone. "I think the girls realize you're frantic, because unlike the studio where it's a lot more relaxed, here there is a time constraint and a lot of girls to work on. I don't know that we're ever that rough, but it also depends on the look-if there is tight braiding or something, we might tug and pull a bit more. It's not that we're out to hurt the girls or anything, but there definitely is an understanding that there is sort of a drama to it all. During New York Fashion Week, most of the girls sit there quietly, especially because they just got off of holiday. But when the girls get to Paris, that's when the complaints and cries start, because at that point they're tired of being tugged and pulled. They're just done."

Makeup artist Gucci Westman (pictured above), key makeup team member at Rag & Bone, prefers the gentle route, "I'm not rough when I apply makeup," she says. "I've never been a jammer when it comes to using my makeup brushes, I've always been aware of my hand. I think it depends on your personality though. I always try to be sensitive to being in someone's face, especially when everyone is rushing. You have to have some place of calm."

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Yeonjae Yuk, the head nail pro at Vivienne Tam, adds, "As a manicurist, I have to get a job done and sometimes that requires cutting the models' nails when they don't want them cut or putting on tips, which can harm the nail if they're not removed properly. And then there's the occasional nip with the cuticle nippers. So you can imagine that they're not always happy with me, but I try to be as gentle as possible while I'm working on them. A lot of times the girls will have sensitive cuticles and nail beds, so if I'm rough with my tools, they'll definitely let me know. It's hard though because I have to be quick-there are a lot of girls to do in a very little time period, but I try to make it painless."

So soulless they aren't, but busy they are.

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