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Laura Millar's Blog

Laura Millar's Blog

These blogs are about Total Look Styling (hair, make-up, face & body art, costume design). They contain hints and tips for creative students and industry professionals. Online mentoring (CPD, Enrichment, Portfolio Building advice) is available via SKYPE, Zoom, etc. so do get in touch if you'd like to expand on any subject/skill shown here... or anything new that I may have answers for... Laura Millar x

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Instructions on how to easily make a coif (historical cap)

Posted on 15 July, 2021 at 14:15 Comments comments (1984)


When I saw some ivory coloured damask arm chair arm covers at a car boot fayre - I just couldn't resist getting them to adapt into coifs. I love finding old items and converting them into costume pieces... The arm cover below has a contemporary pattern (far too modern!) - but mine were a lovely damask, ideal for 15th/16th/17th Century period coifs.

Here's how:

1. Turn under the long semi-cylinder top so that you have a bonnet shape with the curved section at the back of the head. Stich in place.
2. Cut a half metre length of ribbon to thread through the holes of the lace. Start at the centre back - go out to the sides (meeting the seams).
3. Gather and tie back under at the middle.
4. Place the coif/cap on your head and fold back the front for a Vermeer style Amsterdam/Holland/Dutch look.

Diversity Face Chart Templates

Posted on 9 June, 2020 at 19:45 Comments comments (2378)

As an open-minded make-up ‘artist’ I find it strange that the majority of face charts represent only one type of face shape/features/skin tone: the female Caucasian. I have therefore produced a diverse range of Exclusively Themed ‘race’ face charts as a truer representation of the myriad of indigenous peoples around the globe. They also include unisex/transgender features. In my eyes, the ‘unhelpful’ terms ‘white’ and ‘black’ actually ‘divide’ and do not give a clear picture of millions of blended differences/mixed races. Most people will find that their DNA contains a blend of several, more ‘colourful’ origins.

The anthropological and geographical terms for ethnic peoples are given as: Caucasoid (mainly pale pink/beige European Aryans through to olive/light brown skinned Mediterranean Semitic and Hamitic Near Middle Eastern people), Mongoloids (beige to yellow toned Far East Asians, Native Alaskans/Canadians and olive to brown skinned Central Asians, Native First Nations of The Americas), dark brown skinned Negroids (ethnic groups originally from Sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, South Asia and Southeast Asia), Khoisanoids or Capoids (indigenous South Africans) and dark brown skinned ethnic Pacific races (Australian aborigines, Polynesians, Melanesians, Micronesians, Indonesians). These descriptions are purely a guideline, as there are exceptions such as those with unusual skin conditions (e.g. albinism, vitiligo).

List of Anthropological Terms for different Global Ethnic Races:







African Negro






North Mongol

Chinese & Indochinese

Korean & Japanese

Tibetan & Burmese





Eskimo & Inuit

American Indian

I am giving away copies of my unique diversity face chart templates to my MUA followers... so do get in touch if you're interested in using some... Laura


Split Palette Bird of Paradise

Posted on 10 May, 2020 at 10:15 Comments comments (214)

Now that we can hear the birdsong more clearly here are a few inspirational one stroke/split palette pics for Bird of Paradise theme body art. I did this look for a freshers week uni party... They wanted a bird of paradise body painted model for selfie ops... High quality Diamond FX is a must for black/white but I made my own Snazaroo large round split palettes for this gig - which worked a treat... You can then use a wide 1.5-2cm flat brush for application... I learnt my split palette/one stroke techniques online years ago... I am now offering virtual learning to students... You really don't have to be in a studio face to face...

Below are some lycra/feather cirque trapaze artist Bird of Paradise costumes that I designed for a big VIP gig in Central London at a top hotel... Amazing what goes on in a ballroom! I had the four-way stretch leotards made up to my specification (I enjoyed picking out the amazing fabric) - then I added all the cut/feathered fabric to the arms (wings) and mixed feather boas to the back (tails). I made the collars separately, from haberdashery feathers stitched onto bias binding tape. I face painted the performers before putting on their bespoke masks and head-dresses.


Eyelashes for Practice Model Doll Heads

Posted on 23 April, 2020 at 8:25 Comments comments (744)

When making binder visors for local care homes I needed a model to show off my creations. My fun practice doll heads worked a treat and to make them even more life-like I added some basic make-up and false eye lashes with strong glue. Check out how pretty and realistic they look now...



Decorative C19 Binder Visors

Posted on 23 April, 2020 at 8:10 Comments comments (486)

As my C19 Binder Visors are mainly for care homes and private clients (who care for someone at home) I wanted to make some face shields that are more 'fun and friendly' rather than clinical and severe. 

They have beed decorated with craft stickers and jewels. The visors are re-usable and washable when sprayed with IPA/surgical spirit.

Go to:

C19 Binder Visor Invention

Posted on 18 April, 2020 at 0:15 Comments comments (1484)

I know everyone's going to get sick of me banging on about covering your face up during lock-down whilst treating 'suspected covid-19' patients - but due to the deaths of so many wonderful care home staff - I just can't help myself...

As a costume designer (often working to a strict budget) I always like to challenge my creativity. When I was hunting around my stationary cupboard (during early lock-down) for some acetate (to give me inspiration) to come up with a face shield design - I found an A4 piece of acetate attached to a plastic comb/spine binder from a document cover. BINGO! I am sharing this design with step-by-step instructions on YouTube for anyone who has a document binder, spines and elastic. It's very basic and my machine was broken (!!) but I obviously had to get it up in a hurry... and couldn't fuss...

Go to and check out my invention. I'm making these for local care homes and home carers. In order to post them further afield, I'll be offering some from my ebay selling name: Exclusively Themed. STAY SAFE! LX

Historical, Fantasy & Avant Garde - Big Hair Up

Posted on 31 January, 2020 at 14:30 Comments comments (1166)

I recently facilitated some BIG HAIR demonstrations for the Production Arts students at Fareham College Hair & Beauty Academy. Power point presentations showed traditional, historical looks that can be adapted for inspired fantasy or avant garde designs. Do get in touch if you would be interested in these topics as CPD, Enrichment or Industry Day lectures/demos/workshops.

  • Traditional & East Meets West Oriental Chinese & Japanese Court Hair Up
  • 18th Century Court Powdered Hair Up
  • Avant Garde/Fantasy Wig Cage Hair Up (Metal Lampshade Spectacular!)

Many thanks to the models...

Vintage 1940s Hair

Posted on 17 December, 2019 at 14:45 Comments comments (565)

Check out how to quickly these styles without using hot tools by visiting

Mermaid Total Look Styling

Posted on 16 August, 2019 at 13:55 Comments comments (870)

My students for VTCT Level 2 & Level 3 love to design mermaids for their Total Look for Competition and Face & Body Art units. I encourage them to do photo montage mood boards and face and body charts (embelished with jewels/sequins for texture). 

Below are some of my own hair, make-up, body art and costume designs (for mermaid serving staff that I sent to VIP parties in the south of France!). I run head-dress and accessory workshops and love to use glittering, bendy, christmas decorations for under-water seaweed/foliage!

I have mermaid and water-nymph costumes for sale - so do get in touch if you'd like to purchase any... [email protected]




Costume Design Hints & Tips

Posted on 16 August, 2019 at 10:55 Comments comments (905)

From the Costume Design Course for Performance at Saint Martin's (University Arts College) in London I thought I'd share my hints and tips for swift costume designs. My samples below are based on the comedic play, THE IMPORTANCE of BEING EARNEST by OSCAR WILDE.

If you're not super-confident or quick at drawing figures, tracing paper is the key. Lay it over period pictures and trace the outlines with a pencil or fine felt tip pen (making sure your felt pen does not go through the paper and ruin a library book!!). I did these with an 04-08 size with a trusty STABILO. Enhance the sleeves, alter the length of dresses or change details whilst copying. Make it your own. Glue the tracing paper to thicker paper or card and colour in with good quality pencils/graphic felt pens. Save water colours for thicker paper. Add texture using haberdashery/craft ribbons/flowers/gems/pearls and staple/stick on fabric samples.

For the make-up/hair/wigs/hats/jewellery/collar/cravat/tie details I can hand draw portraits in an instant without tracing anything - but if you need some help just download a template from the internet, print it out and use that. Below is a freestyle face that I doodled whilst waiting to get into the studio...

This paper and net 'cut-out' collage technique reminded me of the flat block colours used by Toulouse Lautrec - which is in keeping with the 1895 date of the play.

I love the natural plant swirls from the Art Nouveau period - which inspired me for the detail in this late Victorian corset. Again - trace over a basic shape and do your own twirls and swirls on top...

You can get in touch via the website for mobile costume workshops and nationally accredited ARTS AWARD certificates. [email protected]

Feel free to ask about anything to do with this blog... I'd be delighted to hear about your projects...

Laura x

Container Quandary

Posted on 12 February, 2018 at 13:35 Comments comments (1663)

So... You're on a make-up job in Central London and you need to leave in rush hour. (Hell!) You have to walk to an overground station, take a train (no seats!) to a central station - get off - walk down long, packed tunnels and up stairs - catch a tube after waiting aaaaages (still no seats!) - get off - walk down more long tunnels - change lines again - up stairs - out to a busy street - walking miles to the venue (because you want to save on the cab fare!)... Sound familiar to anyone?! You've done all this lifting and dragging a HUGE, HEAVY make-up bag (or two!).

You're desparate to ditch some kit and rescue your tired, strained arms and shoulders... Let's focus on pressed powder palletes (eyes/cheeks) versus singles...


High Quality Plastic Multi-Pressed Powder Palettes - They look smart and professional, quick to open/close... but wait... why on earth do you need a weighty mirror on some of those top brands? I can't stand it when half the colours in a palette are wonderful and you use them all the time - but the other half are 'pants'! Grrr! What a waste of space... (mind you - I do love all the shades in this Kryolan palette above - and the order in which they've arranged them!). It can also drive you mad when one or two crack and disintergrate - contaminating the others with powder! You'll just have to re-fill with the same brand if you can.


Z-Palettes for Powder Singles - They're lightweight - with no mirror. But I guess more vulnerable... I really like to choose my own palette mixes as I have plenty of 'single' shadow favourites from a wide variety of brands... But without 'gaps' between the colours, they easily get 'blurred' into one another and you end up swiping a neighbouring colour by mistake... One false move and it's disaster! They can also look a bit of a mess and 'hap-hazard' if not all the same size. They're magnetic - so you can create your own gaps like the bright pink sample above.

Plastic Case Powder Singles in Transparent Bags/Boxes - You may always choose to put in a few stand-out colours in your kit alongside those palettes - but do they really weigh more than your palettes - shadow for shadow? I actually like to keep them neatly and safely wrapped up in their own packaging... I buy lots of transparent bags/containers (Wilko/Asda pencil cases, Range flat plastic boxes or Superdrug bag trios - ALL SEE-THRU so you can clearly see every product at a glance). I like all my zips matching in black too - for a professional image. Put all your matching 'shades' together and even separate 'pearls' and 'matts' - so they look super slick and thoroughly organised. Anything that also saves you time on a job - so you're not constantly rummaging in opaque containers - is a must.

Bespoke Empty Palettes for a mix of Shadows of your choice (with gaps!) - Now I'm really interested! I'm so fussy about my colours and what order they go in - I just want to make up my own palette! (I'm a complete make-up geek!!!! I know!!!).


I actually weighed Kryolan palettes (with mirrors that I never use on the inside lids) and found out the following:


15 medium shadow palette 375g

5 small shadow palette 75g

3 medium shadow palette 75g


15 medium shadow singles 250g

5 small shadow singles 50g

3 medium shadow singles 75g

These weights are all approximate (as the contents are not exactly the same - but you get the idea...). If the mirrors were taken out of the multi-shadow palettes then maybe they would be the same weight as the singles...

While we're on the subject of palettes... You can really save a ton of weight by decanting your favourite lipstick shades into a false nail or engineering parts segmented box. Get a top branded one (Kryolan, Mac, etc.) if you don't mind splashing the cash...

H&S Tip: Put date stickers on the base, underneath each shade, so that you know each colour's expiry date...

Split Palette One Stroke Workshop

Posted on 26 January, 2018 at 14:00 Comments comments (438)

I have done many split palette/one stroke workshops. To take your face or body painting to the next level this technique is a MUST!

There are many small spilt/one stroke stripe products on the market. Or for a less expensive option you can put two or three Snazaroo face paints (one light, one medium, one dark) in the fridge to harden a bit (not too hard or they'll break!). Get a knife and cut into thirds. Scoop them out of the plastic container and mix them up - grading the colours from light to dark.

Great for flowers and leaves... Get that twisting brush going!

For texture, add glitter and body jewels for an oooh! ahhh! reaction...

Use double-dipped cornrow and bud strokes with dots... Outline for a stronger 'cartoon' effect.

VTCT Level 3 Make-up Artistry for Adults

Posted on 30 December, 2017 at 15:05 Comments comments (4272)

September 2017 - I started teaching a (part-time) 20 week VTCT Make-up Artistry course for adults at Fareham College, Hampshire. Wonderful college with great facilities and extremely helpful staff. It ends late February but may start again if enough students sign up. Loans are available. The units consist of:

  • Make-up Application & Instruction
  • Airbrushing
  • Media Make-up/Special FX/Casualty/Theatrical
  • Fashion Photographic
  • Face & Body Art/Temp Tattoos
The best students - that are talented, motivated, dedicated and enthusiastic - get work experience (paid) with the agency.

60s Iconic Makeup Styles

Posted on 1 March, 2017 at 19:55 Comments comments (4568)

As a guest lecturer I was asked to teach 1960s makeup.

Think of the first modern super-models, Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, the style of Mary Quant with either strong colours or going purely monotone for eyes - with pale lips. Opaque, wavy lines, long, false lashes for doll eyes, OTT and WAY OUT THERE! Or super sexy Barbarella, Brigit Bardot and Sophia Loren with doe eyes using black, flicked, liquid eye liner. Not forgetting the ultra sophisticated Tippy Hedren sleek, smart, secretary look with peachy-coral lipstick!


Posted on 20 January, 2017 at 20:00 Comments comments (381)

I recently showed students from Fareham College how to produce quick, freestyle body art swirls for tribal tattoo styles (Polynesian, Maori, Indian, etc.) in aqua face/body paints. This 'press and release' technique needs to obviously be practiced a lot in order to produce swift, perfectly curved shapes... For a realistic tattoo look - add loose talcum powder over the top to set the image, bringing the shine down.

Below are some of my own designs produced for clients at parties and festivals...

Small white dots and highlights look great added to these for a more feminine, intricate, detailed look...

1920s & 30s Total Look Styling - Hair & Makeup plus Costume

Posted on 20 January, 2017 at 19:05 Comments comments (850)

I have done total look styling for performers and staff at many 1920s/30s theme nights at top venues in central London and around the UK. As a Hair & Media Makeup lecturer, I was recently asked to show some students at Fareham College pin curling and finger waving. Also typical makeup from this era which included eyebrow blocking for higher, thinner, pencilled-in brows.

  A simplified 1920s look that I did for a long line of serving staff at Claridges. Big smokey eyes and cupid bow lips are a must. Blusher only on the apples of the cheeks. No time for pin-curls or eye brow blocking here! You have to be quick, quick, quick!

I styled these lovely models who were hostesses for a Claridges Hotel Awards Ceremony in Mayfair. I supplied the costumes by pulling together black flapper dresses, long beads, black bob wigs and feathered head bands. I made a huge black ostrich feather fan which was used when ushering up the celebrity winners on stage.

Classic magazine article from the era - promoting the Hollywood Starlet look... love the finger waving and pin-curls! My trials and demos are below on practice doll heads:

  Perfect Clara Bow lips... this colour and darker...

Above and below: Dark, smokey and sultry modern take on the Art Deco look - chosen by Galliano for Dior. No bronzer here! I love the silver touch in the centre of the top lip to enhance the cupid bow shape. Lovely highlight on the eyes too...



Posted on 20 January, 2017 at 15:55 Comments comments (650)

As a guest lecturer I was asked to teach this workshop for Fareham College Level 3 Production Arts Students. It is very hard to find information on this so I've decided to share the workshop with you... Some of the students used single wire taped and twined together... I have only photographed the sample I made which used chicken wire. The college didn't have any smooth weft hair strips to cover the cage to make it re-usable so I just encorporated the cage within the practice doll's own hair. I call her 'the model' in the instructions...

You'll need:

Either a live model or practice doll head with long hair. You can of course use any long wig (attached to a block) or weft faux hair if you want to create a permanent hair covered wig cage.


Hair pins and grips.

Lots of hairspray!

Chicken wire/wire cutters/safety glasses.

Matted faux hair and a stitched line of smooth faux hair (for rolls and extra cage coverage).

Ultra fine hair net (matching hair colour).

Optional extra hair pieces.

Hair coloured or neutral netting.

Large curved needle and strong thread (matching colour).

Decorative hair pieces. Pearls, flowers, jeweled combs, etc.


1. Make your cage. Careful with the edges! Turn them over to avoid sticking in sharply to the head!

2. Cover with large holed netting - taking care to fold over all raw edges. Fold and twist the top like a 'cracker'. Sew to secure edges and top.

3. Brush the model's hair forward from the crown, falling in front of the eyes.

4. Secure the cage to the hair crown with hair pins. For a 'moving' model secure pins into cornrows/plaits/spirals (front/back/sides).

5. Comb up section by section sprayed with hairspray. Hide/smooth all joins. Fix to cage with criss-crossed hair/kirby grips.

6. Add a matching colour faux hair piece (this one is too light but I didn't have a darker sample to use) to cover top if messy or just use several faux hair rolls (see next step no. 7 to make them). You can of course cover with decorative items too which will hide joins/clips.

7. Use two fingers and wrap a flat, matted, hair sprayed, rough, faux hair piece neatly into a tight roll. Fix with two hair grips. Spray again. (Cover with an ultrs fine net if you wish). Cover this with a smooth line of faux hair. Cut enough strip to stick approx 2cm into the end holes. Use the ends of the grips to steady your piece of hair whilst winding it around the matted faux hair roll. Spray. Add grips again for secirity. Do finger pin-curls at the ends and poke into the holes to disguise the matted base roll. Steady with a couple of pins. Spray again. Cover with an ultra fine hair net (cutting off the elastic) and poke into the end holes. Remove the pins unless ultra fine and invisible. I have left my 'rough' matted rolls uncovered on my model (they should obviously be covered). At the join - use two more hair grips along length of the roll to secure the shape.

8. Add rolls (with grips hidden at the back) to sides and back with hair pins and place decorations (whichever way round is best for your design).


Check out old master paintings and historical Georgian/18th Century style film clips for inspiration... 


Posted on 19 September, 2016 at 15:00 Comments comments (7174)

This is one of my favourite themes... combining a Midsummer Nights Dream with Celtic/Pagan earthiness; a colour mix of gold/bronze, browns and greens.

I love the images of satyrs and numphs so this was a good reason to bring them to life! My wonderful client (whom I have worked with for many years) wanted a 'hunting' aspect to the dancers' and human statues' hair, makeup, body art and costumes as well.

As I knew that Artemis/Diana was a Greco-Roman Goddess of Hunting I could use my stock gold hand made body armour (usually used for human statue gladiators or Roman legionaries) together with my leather and fur stole-skirts and micro-tops. I had made the leather bikini style tops for an African gig - so they worked perfectly. I also had some Bond golden bikinis which came in handy - and added to the 'goddess' look. I had picked up some lovely bias/tissue cut draped brown tops which always look etherial. Together with a couple of other see through skirts and a flowing real silk number - I could see that my nymphs would work!

My stock of 'armour' came in handy - along with newly spray painted bows and vintage hunting horns (found at a car boot sale!). I'm constantly on the look out for accessories such as the fabulous leather and antique bronze belts that were in a few years back... People discard these after the fashion has passed - so I just collect them up again as timeless/historical costume pieces! Result!

Deer & Stag Human Statue Accessories

If you can't get hold of a pair of very expensive Beats Antique style antlers for your performers - here's how to make your own:

I'm giving all my secrets away here - but hey... Pick up a pair of bendy, furry reindeer antlers on a head band. Cut holes in a wig, Poke the horns through and sew back up and sew the band to the wig too. Wrap thick duct tape around the horns, glue on witchiepoo faux finger tips (for spooky/spiky ends) and fully wind with brass picture wire. Spray gold and add some old necklaces or chains for shimmering interest. Voila! I had an old dark brown Amy Winehouse (GRHS) wig knocking around so for the female deer I placed that underneath for a long hair effect... Masks from The Works added the final touch of mystery... Christmas (or rather - late December) is always a great time for me to collect all my sparkly stuff! To be more precise - glittering Xmas decs! Superb for head-dresses and ivy nipple covers!

I (meaning my wonderful backstage team and I!) used Kryolan gold body liquid paint and brown face paints for the legs.

Airbrush Designs

Posted on 15 June, 2016 at 20:15 Comments comments (355)

I long resisted using an airbrush for body painting, temporary tattoos and T-shirt/tote bag creations. Why? Carrying around a large/heavy compressor and regularly having to clean out blocked airguns for a start. However - I have now (at last!) taken up this challenging artistic technology thanks to client demand. At parties and festivals my colleagues and I can swiftly write freehand 'names' or 'stencil' images. Designs can also be pre-done before the event. This creative service is massive in the States so I thought it was about time to offer it in the UK...

Small compressors are fine for small jobs - but if working solid for several hours - get a big one! To quickly change multiple colours you really need several airguns ('double action' Iwatas are recommended) with special 'quick-release' parts. Bottom feed with Createx/Wicked siphon bottles for large fabric/body work or top/cup feed for smaller jobs. A stack of stencils are required too. This is a considerable outlay and the detailed cleaning needed for your tools/kit would impress any surgeon or military officer! (take note family members!)

For T-shirt work - an assistant for each artist is a MUST. Needed to take orders, quickly change Ts on boards, hang them up, clean regularly used stencils/airbrushes and sort out tools/kit.

H&S: Maybe use a wrist support for long usage. Always spray cleaner through your airgun into an enclosed bottle - or wear a mask/have ventilation. It can be backbreaking and exhausting... (like face painting - believe it or not). Yes - that's right! You wouldn't think so, would you? If you work continuously for hours without a break you can get the usual creative 'brain-warp' from concentration and intense focus.

Contact me if you'd like to join our party airbrushing crew... Laura x

Mask Making for Different Theme Looks

Posted on 4 March, 2016 at 19:55 Comments comments (268)

I have made many different full face masks for our Mystique Masquerade meet and greet characters; here are a few...  I spray painted plain, papier mache, mask bases and added the features and embelishments on top. You can get so many theme looks from the same mask - by just adding different wigs, head-dresses, costumes and accessories. These are all for sale along with their costumes. Workshops are available too.




North African/Middle Eastern

Eighteenth Century


Fire Carnival

Ice Maiden

Poinsettia Ladies