Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Mortuary Cosmetologists

It’s a fact of life that at some point in time, everyone will need the services of a funeral home. Of all the jobs common in today’s society, the job of a mortuary cosmetologist is somewhat shrouded in mystery. While most people have a general idea of what they do, there are things that the average person isn’t aware of. The most common misconception about the cosmetologist’s job is that they just give the deceased a light coat of makeup. Nothing could be further from the truth. The “seedy” side of preparation includes stuffing the throat and nose with cotton and suturing the mouth shut. Small spiked cups are also inserted under the eyelids to keep them closed and to prevent the eyes from caving in. Although the formaldehyde embalmers use does contain a rosy dye to restore color to graying, lifeless flesh, it’s not always sufficient. Makeup doesn’t apply the same to the skin of a deceased person as it does to the living. Embalming makes the skin very firm and it’s hard to blend the makeup into the skin like you would normally. Instead, makeup is airbrushed onto the face to give it a more natural look. When it comes to styling hair, the mortuary cosmetologist typically shampoos, conditions, dries, and styles the hair. Because the deceased is lying down, that's even more challenging. Last, but not least, the nails are almost always painted a natural shade. After death, the nails can appear gray and cold, so this is typically done to both men and women. Above all, the family is always consulted about how they want their loved one to look, and providing a photo of the deceased is crucial. Just in case you’re curious, mortuary cosmetologist isn’t a money-making job. The average cosmetologist makes under $50,000 a year.