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“Hi! I’m Laura Sky Herman (@lauraskyherman)—yes, Laura Sky, first name, two words. It’s weird, but my mom was a hippie. Feel free to call me Laura or, as my fifth grade bully so cleverly coined, Laura Ground. I’m originally from Miami but currently live… all over the place, because I’m on the Broadway national tour of Hello, Dolly!. It’s truly my dream job. The first musical my mom ever took me to see was the national tour of The Sound Of Music—I was five, and I remember saying, ‘I want to do that.’ Nearly every Monday we travel to a new city. The crew rebuilds our massive set just in time for a Tuesday evening show, we perform eight shows total, and then move on and repeat the process when Monday comes back around. We're on the road for nine months, and the company supplies each actor with a 50-pound trunk and makeup box that travel with the set. We’re also allowed to bring two checked bags each. Sounds like a lot of room, right? Don't worry, I still run out of space.
Right before I went on tour, I got bangs. I figured that if I hated them, hey! I’d be in a wig every night anyway. But I went to Jay at Spoke and Weal, and he did a great job. Now I will not shut up about my bangs. When they look bad I will tell you, and when they look good, I will also tell you. They’re a good example of how I’m always trying to balance embracing my individuality and transforming into someone else. It’s not uncommon for me to audition to play a 30-year-old in the morning, spend the afternoon as my 22-year-old self, and then perform as a 14-year-old at night. I’m always looking for ways to be more me within that. Here’s another example: I found an awesome nail salon in Oklahoma City that hand-painted little white stars over a nude base. I loved it, and it was still subtle enough that an audience wouldn’t notice. (The show is set in 1885, which I think is just before the nail art trend really hit.)
I learned how to put on stage makeup before regular makeup, because while TV and film sets usually get a makeup artist, theater actors are expected to do it themselves. During rehearsals, the actors are given a makeup look designed by the show’s creative team and taught how to do it. After that, you’re on your own! I’ve gotten pretty good—I once played a man and had to draw on a full beard and mustache every night. In Hello, Dolly! I play Ermengarde, a 17-year-old—the goal is to look very natural without getting washed out under strong stage lights. But the most important thing is that my makeup lasts through sweat, quick-changes, and sometimes two shows a day.
I start with Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer, which is great for sensitive skin like mine. That keeps everything in place. Then I use MAC Pro Longwear Concealer where I need extra coverage, and apply Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation on top. Next up is eyes. I start with Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eye Liner in Intense Black along the top lash line, and then go in with my favorite Naked2 Basics eyeshadow palette. I use Stark on the lid, Cover in the crease, and Skimp beneath the brow. For a little glimmer, I take the Born To Run palette and finish with a dot of Blaze on the lid and Stranded on the inner corner of the eye.
Then comes my least favorite part of the day, falsies. They don’t like me and I don’t like them. I’ve found a few tricks that are helpful: I always cut them to the exact length of my eye, use a bobby pin to spread the glue, and wait 30 seconds for the glue to set before putting the lashes on. I cover any (inevitable) mistakes with more Stila liner and heavily pencil in my brows with Benefit’s Ultra-Fine Brow Defining Pencil in 3. I brush away any powder fallout with Bareminerals Well-Rested Under Eye Brightener. For some color on my cheeks, I use Hourglass bronzer in Nude Bronze Light, Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Blushing Bride (best blush, worst name), and Becca Pressed Highlighter in Opal. Then I sweep Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder over everything. For stage kisses (and real life kisses!) it’s great on top of lipstick, too—it doesn’t smudge or transfer. With practice, I’ve gotten this routine down to 30 minutes.
In an attempt to keep my skin clean through all the makeup, I had been using Neutrogena makeup wipes four times a day: in the morning, before a performance, after a performance, and then again at night. But my skin was super bumpy and it felt like I was going through a second puberty. After meeting with a few dermatologists who basically said ‘tough luck,’ I found one who suggested an allergy test. Turns out I am allergic to decyl glucoside, a chemical found in many beauty products—including the wipes! Now I cleanse with my dermatologist’s cleanser in the morning and at night, and use Simple Micellar Water between shows instead of the wipes. I also got prescriptions for: a low dose of the antibiotic Bactrim to be taken orally for one month, tretinoin applied topically every other night, and clindamycin applied topically every morning. And even though these products can be quite drying, my dermatologist told me that sometimes the wetness of moisturizers could cause bacteria to grow, and that I’d be better without it. Now that my skin is clearer I’ve stopped taking the Bactrim and only use the tretinoin and clindamycin when I break out. I’ve also started to incorporate the Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask into my nightly routine, and when I fly, to keep my skin hydrated.
Two or three times a week I also use this BrandMD Clarifying Mint Mask. Not only does it smell amazing and leave my skin glowing, but it also gives me a reason to pretend I’m Elphaba from Wicked. Since being on tour, one of the strangest things to get used to is daytime self-care. I’ve always associated relaxation with nighttime, but now that I start work at 7PM I’ve found myself masking midday.
When I’m not performing, I try to let my skin rest. It allows me to just... be me. If I do wear makeup, I like to use Intellishade Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 45—it really is magic. It somehow matches every skin tone and also covers up red areas. After that, I use Marc Jacobs Accomplice Concealer in Light 26 under my eyes, and use either the Benefit pencil or Glossier Boy Brow on my brows. My favorite mascara is Bobbi Brown’s Smokey Eye Mascara. It never flakes and makes me look like I have eyelash extensions (even though I am too scared to get them). Last, I dab Glossier Futuredew on my cheekbones and brow bone, and Mad Hippie Cheek Tint in Poppy on my cheeks. I finish it off with a Pastille lip from Bite. In real life, I want to look natural, effortless, and somehow also like I’m making a convincing case for wearing an outfit completely made of velvet.
Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten is go two-percent slower. I am a person who is always doing too many things—I have no qualms about leaving the house without makeup on in order to get it all done. But, when I really think about it, I know applying moisturizer isn’t actually going to affect my schedule. Why not go two-percent slower and feel great the whole day?”
—as told to ITG
Watch Laura Sky's transformation:
Photos via the author