Interview With Arielle Toelke | Professional Movie and TV Makeup Artist

Meet professional makeup and special effects artist Arielle Toelke.  She has worked on major film and tv shows such as The Black List, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Drop and with musician Lady Gaga.


Arielle Toelke

How did you get into makeup and how long have you been a professional makeup artist?

I’ve been a makeup artist for over a decade. I graduated with a BFA in painting and knew that I wanted to work in a creative field. My parents are self employed, and I have an aunt who is a makeup artist. Both greatly influenced my decision to try a career as a freelance makeup artist.

When I first moved to New York I wanted to work in fashion (more on this later!), but after some amateur special effects gore makeup for a tiny student film, I was hooked on special effects makeup and working in the movies. Long story short, my career has evolved in many ways, and
I currently work primarily as a makeup department head for television shows.


Can you share some movies/tv shows or actor's names that you have worked with? Any fun gossip?

Ha! I love this question. I've worked on so many great shows with so many great people. I ran the department on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt all four seasons, and yes Ellie Kemper is even nicer in person then you would imagine.

I worked with Tom Hardy on the movie The Drop. He wanted a little scar above his eye as part of his character. Of course, happy to oblige, I sculpted up a tiny little scar that we would apply every day. Half way through the shoot, he would forget to come back to the makeup trailer at
night to take it off! The next morning I would have to clean off the now lint covered scar before applying the fresh one.

For a few years I had a special effects shop. One of my favorite projects was sculpting Lady Gaga’s likeness as alien heads for the Born This Way video. She loved them so much that she wore one in her wig and brought them to the Grammys with her that year.


Ellie Kemper


Lady Gaga Alien head


How do you feel about the green beauty movement and why? Do you prefer green beauty brands over traditional make up? 

I am one hundred percent on board with the green beauty movement. On a personal level, I prefer clean green skin care and makeup products. If I care about what I eat and what I wear, why would I choose to put chemicals in me, on me, and around me.

I love that green beauty cares not just about what’s in the products but how each product is being packaged as well. Less plastic, minimal and recyclable packaging.

In my profession, I will always recommend a green/ organic skin care product over a chemical filled one. At work I try to use cleaner and greener products (where applicable) over brands that contain unpronounceable ingredients.


What green makeup brands do you love?

Apoterra Skincare! And I promise I’m not just saying this. They work, and I feel good about using it on my actors and myself.  Herbivore is a new brand. I’m addicted to their face oils.  Baiser beauty makes a gorgeous roll on for under eyes that smells amazing and contains a beautiful crystal, infusing the oil.


Any makeup tips you can share with us for a natural glow?

Moisture moisture moisture! And lots of water. If you are internally hydrated your skin will glow.

Moisturizing everyday doesn’t hurt either. Mixing a little foundation in with a serum or light moisturizer and tapping that onto the skin at the high points of the face will give a nice glow.

A little bronzer will warm up the face. Current makeup trends that cover the face with lots of foundation and contour hide too much skin. How can you “glow” under that much cover.



Do you use skincare products on your actors? If yes, can you tell use what you use and why?

I use Apoterra on many of my actors. The neroli toner sits at my station and is a great way to wake up the skin with a little spritz before moisturizer and makeup, (or after lunch).

I used the rose serum every day on Ellie Kemper and she uses the rose night balm every night.  This regime definitely helped her skin stay healthy through long shooting days and every kind of northeast weather.

I’m currently on a show called Instinct for CBS and make up actor Alan Cumming. I use a combination of Kiehl’s and Mario Badescu skin care products and a few times a week incorporate facial rejuvenation massage with gua sha. This is truly amazing.


Arielle Toelky professional makeup artist


Do certain types of skincare products work better (natural, not, etc). If yes, why?

Every actor, every human, has different skin, so finding the right combination of products (natural or not) is always individual. For example, on one actor I was using a serum type product and it didn’t work well with the moisturizer and makeup I was using. After omitting it from the
morning skin care routine, my actors makeup stayed all day.


Any skincare tips you would like to share?

Again, I think this is really individual. If someone has really dry skin, I might suggest not washing with a harsh cleanser ever day. If someone is really oily and is skipping moisturizer, I might suggest a serum or light moisturizer to balance the skin.


What are your must have items in your personal makeup bag?

The Apoterra Rose Serum is a total must have. I probably use too much at a time and slather it on my face and neck morning and night.

Sunscreen, lots of sunscreen. I use a few different brands, Dermatologica solar booster spf 50 on my face and sun bum for the rest of my body.  Sun bum is organic and i love that.

Organic coconut oil is amazing. I use it as body moisturizer in the winter, makeup remover and sometimes I put just a little in the ends of my hair.

I’m also a huge fan of It Cosmetics products. The CC cream has a perfect buildable coverage when I want to wear a little foundation and the no tug eyeliner actually stays on all night.

Ill usually just grab whatever lipstick I have (MAKE, Tarte, Kat Von D) and use that as a cream blush. As a traveler, this is a great trick to pack less, and no powder blush to break during journeys.


Rose Serum




What is your skincare + makeup routine?

Face oil and sunscreen. That’s it, everyday. A few times a week ill use the apoterra hibiscus face scrub. I rinse my face with water nightly but don’t use face wash. For my body, Castile soap, or any bar soap that is organic and awesome (apoterra, Schmidt’s naturals) and Mario
Badescu AHA body wash on a scrubby wash cloth.


Hibiscus Exfoliating Mud



Any makeup removal tips?

Coconut oil! This magic oil will take any makeup off and its good for your skin.


What's a day on a movie set like?

Every day is different. That’s what keeps my job so interesting. One day we might be on location at a beach, or in a mansion, or on a sound stage in a set. Actors will come in at different times during the day depending on what scene or scenes they are in. The makeup and hair departments usually come to work before the rest of the crew, to get the cast is ready. When the crew starts work, the cast is already through hair and makeup and
ready to start rehearsing the scenes for the day. We keep an eye on our actors and touch them up throughout the day. Making sure everyone is
always camera ready.



Alan Cumming and Arielle Toelke


I know that the sustainability movement is dear to your heart - can you tell us more about that?

Many television sets are making an effort to go more green. Encouraging the use of refillable water bottles and having separate bins for recycling. But seeing all of this trash everyday, has been eye opening for me on a personal level. We produce so much garbage every day.
Everything is single use, from coffee cups to makeup sponges.
This really got me thinking, ‘what can I do?’. To start, I have always brought my own water bottle, but now make sure that anything hot goes in my to go coffee mug and I bring my own lunch and breakfast in reusable containers and use my trusty titanium spork at every meal. I never use a straw, except my stainless steel one, and try to minimize my trash production on

But what else can I do, how can I encourage others to do the same. Bring my water bottle wasn’t enough. Ive always loved fashion (I started doing makeup in the fashion industry) and I love making art, and thought, how can I mesh these two things and make a positive impact on the environment.
This manifested itself into a conscious travel clothing brand.

I started Four Rabbit, a sustainable clothing line, last year.
Not only did I have a drive to create something, I saw a need for sustainable, functional, well designed clothes. Fashion is is a great tool for awareness and education and I want to change the way we think about fashion. Where it's from, how it's made, and the impact those choices
have socially, environmentally and ethically.  I don’t plan on leaving my career in the makeup industry any time soon. But Four Rabbit has
turned into my passion project one piece of clothing at a time.


Four Rabbit


With Halloween around the corner - any tips for theatrical makeup looks that you'd like to share?

There is nothing funnier then a little kid dressed like a really old person. In the last season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, we did a school production of Beauty and the Beast. Dressing our child actors as the older characters was so fun. We used brown eye liner to draw “wrinkles” on
the forehead and crows feet around the eyes. We also painted a mustache on one of the kids for the Guston character, it was hilarious.

Eye lash glue is a really safe and easy way to glue things on (keep out of the actual eyes, though). Anything from gems, to sequins to googley eyes.

Lastly. Mashed bananas mixed with fake blood make for some very convincing “guts”.

 Old person makeup




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