San Francisco Chronicle Article on Alan by Carey Sweet

Alan Friedman Makeup Artist

When a bride-to-be tells makeup artist Alan Friedman that she wants to look like a movie star on her wedding day, he doesn’t miss a beat.

“Which one?” the Sonoma Valley professional asks. Since the 1970s, Alan, who goes by his first name professionally, has crafted distinctive looks for Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hilary Swank, Diane Lane, Kirsten Dunst and Alicia Silverstone. He has also supervised the makeup for major motion pictures, television shows and stage acts, working with celebrities including Teri Hatcher, Brittany Murphy, Alyssa Milano, Calista Flockhart, Brooke Shields, Barbara Walters, Barbra Streisand, Missy Elliot and Cyndi Lauper.

A recent Sonoma bride hoped to look like a star who was from before Alan’s era, but that was no challenge, either. “She met her husband in Tuscany, and wanted an Italian-theme wedding in Calistoga,” he says. “She asked to be made into a starlet from the 1960 film ‘La Dolce Vita,’ so I gave her pale skin, pale lips and dark, double eyelashes. She was exquisite.”

Now relocated to the Wine Country, he focuses on his Bay Area clientele, though he fields requests for jobs in Beverly Hills, Hollywood and even Japan.

Wedding makeup was an easy transition from film, since clients are asking for more intensive makeup treatments as people get married at later ages, and may have more cosmetic issues to address. Grooms are also relaxing into the makeup chair, asking for help with shiny skin, blotchiness and facial contouring. That’s no trouble for Alan, who worked on the Merv Griffin and Johnny Carson shows, as well as for stars like William Holden and Jack Klugman.

Friedman, who declines to share his age, started out of junior college in paramedic makeup on referrals from plastic surgeons, since superficial fixes were necessary before plastic surgery was mainstream. He learned tricks like covering Port-wine stains and birthmarks, and became a specialist in what he calls “cosmetic illusions,” for everything from achieving perfect beauty to damage repair.

During the next three decades, his career developed into movie, television and stage, including working with the Westmore family, a legendary team of makeup artists that has dominated Hollywood since the early 1900s.

Then, in 2001, a writers’ strike was threatened, so Alan took his wife, Eileen, and their two dogs, George and Gracie, to Italy, to wait it out. Next, he went to New York, but just in time for 9/11. So the Los Angeles native loaded up his Emmy and Clio awards for makeup, and drove to Sonoma County to take a little time off from celebrity pressures. He fell in love with the Wine Country, and began teaching theater and cinema arts at Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.

He also got involved with the American Cancer Society’s Look Good … Feel Better program, which helps people improve their confidence and courage through self-help beauty sessions, and Wish Upon a Wedding, which grants dream weddings to those with terminal illnesses.

One day, a Beverly Hills agent got in touch. A bride in Napa had destroyed her face with laser treatment just a few weeks before her wedding. Could Alan help?

He did, applying acrylic airbrush makeup as he had done for “Star Trek” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – basically coating her skin in silicone-based 24-hour makeup, while keeping it looking entirely natural. The client was thrilled, and crisis averted, he reminded her of his motto: “Every wedding should have a little disaster, to keep it interesting.”

If may seem odd that a luxury makeup expert would know such things now, but there was a time that a single artist was required to maintain a full range of skills. “Today, most artists focus just on beauty, or creating creatures,” Alan says. “It used to be that one artist did it all.”

Over the years, he has adapted his craft to work with the different demands of higher speed film, digital and high-definition video.

The biggest change over the decades, Alan says, is that modern brides usually want a natural look, since they wear little makeup in real life and aren’t comfortable covered in pancake creams or hard-edged lines. Yet sometimes, they find they want more than they realized. Alan prefers to hold a pre-wedding day makeup trial to see what each client’s personality is. He starts with a gentle look, and finds that quite frequently, brides tell him to dial it up.

“There aren’t many Pamela Anderson requests these days, but more Kim Kardashians than you might think,” he said.

Hiring a private stylist is more expensive that a typical salon visit, Alan acknowledges, but he believes that wedding parties should budget up front for makeup, since he believes it’s just as important as photography and video. Ultimately, if a bride knows the look she wants, Alan encourages her to bring a photo – or whatever she feels it takes to get the message across.

“I had an attorney from Chicago once bring me a PowerPoint presentation,” Alan said. “That was a lot of specific detail.”

Alan’s top tips for brides
– Don’t overcook your skin in a tanning booth before the wedding.

– Proper application, blending and shading is key. — Use the basics of color correction. Green-tinted foundation counteracts red skin, for example.

– Light and dark shading can change face proportion, as the Greeks and Romans knew thousands of years ago when they created their classic profiles with chalk powder and ashes.

– Use top-quality makeup. The wrong lipstick for a cherry-red pout or improperly set foundation can smear all over the wedding dress.

Thank you to Shelley and Sasha for the kind words…

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This article on wedding makeup artist Alan Friedman, was reposted by permission from Carrie Sweet. You can learn more about Carrey on her website at CareySweet.com

Carey Sweet is a Bay Area freelance writer. E-mail: style@sfchronicle.com