What Is Funeral Cosmetology?

Funeral cosmetology is much more than putting makeup on the deceased. If you want to practice funeral cosmetology, you'll need to study the techniques necessary to make a body look as it did in life. Read on to see if your interest in restorative arts and sciences makes you a good fit for performing funeral cosmetology procedures. Schools offering Funeral Service Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Field Overview

Typically, funeral homes don't hire outside cosmetologists to work on the makeup of the dead. Instead, the funeral director or embalmer will dress the body and apply makeup to the face as part of a long process of preparing the body for an open-casket service. Typically, you won't study only funeral cosmetology procedures in a degree program, but you can learn them while pursuing a mortuary science degree. Associate's and bachelor's programs in mortuary science are offered at various schools throughout the United States.

Important Facts About Funeral Cosmetology

Median Salary (2018) $52,650 (for all morticians, undertakers and funeral directors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 5% growth (for all morticians, undertakers and funeral directors)
Entry-level Education Associate's degree
Licensure All embalmers and funeral service directors must be licensed in every state except Colorado

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Embalming Procedures

Either the funeral director or embalmer performs embalming procedures on the deceased. Embalming procedures are designed to position the body in a life-like way and preserve it for a funeral. You'll need to drain the blood and replace it with embalming fluid to keep the body looking fresh. You'll also remove blood and waste matter from the deceased's internal organs. In addition, you'll sew the lips closed in a precise manner that isn't visible to attendees of the funeral.

Cosmetic Procedures

Again, either the funeral director or embalmer typically performs the cosmetic procedures necessary for the presentation of a body. Depending on the cause of death and whether an autopsy has been performed, you may need to shape or reconstruct parts of the deceased's body. These procedures are usually done using substances necessary for molding, like wax, cotton, clay, or plaster of Paris. You'll also need to dress the deceased in the manner decided upon by the family.

Next, you'll apply makeup to the deceased's face. This application has few similarities to the way that you'd apply makeup to a living person. Cosmetic applications on a deceased person include stitching parts of the face that may be disfigured or administering hypodermic injections to parts of the face that look deflated. Heavier cosmetics may be needed to hide abrasions or discolorations that have occurred in the deceased's face during sickness or after death.

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