The Kryolan company produces professional makeup for theaters, film companies, and TV producers — with pigments from EMD
© Getty Images
Film and theater play with illusion. In film and theater productions, makeup and special effects are used to ensure that everything looks "real." The Berlin-based Kryolan company is one of the world's leading producers of professional makeup. It's true that Kryolan serves the arts, but at the same time it is firmly based on the results of scientific research.
One can't help hesitating for a moment before opening the cover of the transparent container marked "Artificial Vomit," whose contents are realistically sloshing around inside. "Go right ahead!" urges Dominik Langer, Managing Director of the family-owned Kryolan company in Berlin, one of the global market leaders for professional makeup.
Its product range includes not only approximately 700 colors of lipstick, eyeliners, and highlighters but also fake blood, special effects for simulating wounds, and artificial vomit. The smell coming from the just-opened container can be described as somewhere between neutral and rather pleasant. "The solid pieces are oatmeal, and if we need to we can add bread or mandarins," Langer explains. In the past, one batch was perfumed with peppermint oil at the customer's request.
The peppermint oil was specially extracted by Yousef Atapour from peppermint tea he had brewed himself. "That was the only way I could make sure the peppermint oil fulfilled all the food law requirements," he says. Atapour is the head chemist of the Research and Development department at Kryolan. He is the living embodiment of the company's motto "Makeup is a science" and the enthusiasm with which the company's 160 employees regard the human body as a canvas to restyle for film and theater performances.
The company's products are also used in many other areas, ranging from fashion shows to photo shoots and special orders — such as the one that was placed when "an older lady's favorite shade of a skin cream disappeared from the company's product range, and we had to re-create it," Atapour recalls. The head chemist's work always begins with a specific task. Sometimes he defines the task himself, but often it comes from professional makeup artists.
These masters of illusion send their heroes through fire and water and breathtaking adventures, make actors bleed to death on the stage evening after evening, and provide detective thrillers with drowned corpses that horrify even the pathologists. In Atapour's head and in his laboratory, these images take on concrete shape.
The creation of the finished product often begins with a type of cream based on oil or water to which pigments and other ingredients are added. EMD is one of the companies that provides Kryolan with pigments ("EMD products are especially long-lasting and kind to the skin," says Atapour). Between 25 and 50 percent of the finished makeup consists of these creams. Atapour begins the production process by using a spatula to stir together the ingredients of his composition.
Often there are more than ten ingredients. He then adds these ingredients to the melted white basic cream, checks the result, and feeds it into a roller mill. The mill looks like a noodle machine and fulfills the same purpose: It homogenizes all of the materials in this mass. Atapour, who has worked at Kryolan for 25 years, recalls an order that required him to fill a 120-liter aquarium with a gel that looked like a block of ice.
"The customer then filled the aquarium with fake fish," he explains. For another order, which came from a television show for children, he had to develop four real-looking artificial pancakes. Another director wanted an actor to first eat a piece of apple pie and drink a Coca-Cola, then realistically vomit — a task that was child's play for Atapour.
The rolling mill has now homogenized the mixture. The smell of beeswax rises from a cream that looks somewhat like fried chicken; when it's spread on the skin, it creates the look of a deep tan. In addition, the cream is "micronized" — in other words, the milling has reduced the pigments' particle size from between ten and 15 micrometers to between five and eight micrometers. Now the particles' diameter is about one tenth of the diameter of a human hair. "We need micronized pigments for the high-resolution film and television cameras. Otherwise it would be possible to see the pigments' structure," Atapour says.
Buyers of Kryolan products include the Hollywood and Bollywood "dream factories" and almost every theater in the world
|A "gold medal" for Kryolan|
|This family-owned company was founded by Arnold Langer in Berlin in 1945. Today Arnold Langer still works half days in the office at the age of 93.
He develops all kinds of makeup products for film and theater productions, Carnival, and Halloween. In 2012 the company was chosen as the main supplier for the opening and closing events of the Olympic Games in London.
Kryolan has approximately 160 employees in Berlin and another 100 employees all over the world, including production sites in Poland, India, and the USA.