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. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is one of the companies that provides Kryolan with pigments ("Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany 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.