We spent a day with the porn industry's most controversial makeup artist

Melissa murphy porn makeup artist 1667Melia Robinson/Tech InsiderMelissa Murphy applies red lipstick to actress Nicole Aniston’s lips.

As a makeup artist in the adult film industry, Melissa Murphy has transformed hundreds of men and women into sex goods and bombshells.

She chronicles their remarkable transformations on Instagram, where she has over 109,000 followers.

Murphy describes her work as “liquid confidence.” We prefer “cosmetic sorcery.”

Over the summer, we spent the day with Murphy on set of a porn shoot in Calabasas, California, to see what it takes to get these actresses camera-ready and feeling their best.

On a cloudless morning in Porn Valley, a sundrenched region of southern California where an estimated 90% of American sex films are made, workers file into a white stucco ranch house on a hill.

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Source: USA Today

I figure I'm in the right place based on the boxes of burned candles by the door ...

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... and the room of mattresses and bed frames I pass through.

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It's quiet in the house, save for the playful grunts of dogs wrestling and the footsteps of makeup artist Melissa Murphy as she ferries supplies from her car.

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She brought the whole kit and caboodle -- about $10,000 of lipsticks, foundation, mascara wands, and brushes accumulated over the years.

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Murphy rarely knows what to expect when she arrives on set. Today's call sheet includes a girl-on-girl scene inspired by 'Thelma & Louise' and a 'gothic princess solo,' whatever that means.

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At 10 a.m. sharp, the first actress arrives. Nicole Aniston is as friendly as she is beautiful.

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With permission, Murphy whips out her phone to snap a 'before' photo of Aniston for her Instagram, where she showcases her makeup work.

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A few years ago, Murphy's Instagram got her nearly blacklisted from the adult industry when actresses' before-and-after photos went viral on Reddit and hit the media circuit.

You may have seen it.

New York Daily News

At the time, adult actresses accused Murphy of selling the story to the press, and photographers no longer welcomed her on set. She swears she's never reached out for coverage. She has also never been paid for her photos.

Still, Murphy continues to post the before-and-after photos with actresses' permission. She hopes to change the stigma attached to makeup.

Instagram/xmelissamakeupx

It's not a crutch for those who lack in natural beauty, but a tool of empowerment, she believes.

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'If the makeup is done well, when you get in front of the camera, you're going to feel fierce,' Murphy says, gliding primer over Aniston's eyelids. 'It's liquid confidence.'

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Fortunately, actresses as beautiful as Aniston make Murphy's job easy. 'With her, you just get to paint,' Murphy says.

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She draws cat eyes with a pencil-liner to help Aniston achieve a pin-up look.

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Red velvet lips top it off. 'It looks amazing!' Aniston gushes as she checks out her reflection in the mirror.

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Murphy snaps a quick 'after' photo on her phone and shows it to Aniston for approval.

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The wardrobe designer slips Aniston into a willow-pattern romper and the director arrives to whisk the actress off to set.

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Nearly two whole hours have passed since Aniston's arrival. Still, Murphy's day is far from over.

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Next up is Ariana Marie, a dark-haired beauty in her early 20s. She's the star of the day.

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Twistys, the client who commissioned this shoot, just named Ariana Marie its 2015 'Treat of the Year.' Her photos and movies will receive special promotion on the site.

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To get started, Murphy applies a foundation that is compatible with ultra-high definition video production, to even out Ariana Marie's skin tone.

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'It shouldn't look like a mask on your face,' Murphy explains. When the directors shoot in 4K, the viewer sees every little detail.

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As Murphy works her magic wand over Ariana Marie, the pair get to chatting about their boyfriends.

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Later, I ask Murphy if she still watches porn despite working in the industry.

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'I build relationships in the chair. We talk about our love lives, our problems. I can't go watch you have sex after this,' Murphy says of the actresses she works with.

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And voilà. Arianna Marie is ready for her 'after' shot.

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She'll have to wait a bit before going to work, though. The director's assistant returns to the house with take-out for lunch.

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The actresses and crew line up to indulge in the buffet of falafel, chicken shawarma, pita bread, and salad.

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As we eat, Murphy searches on Google Images for photos of Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis in 'Thelma & Louise.' She wants to get Aniston and Arianna Marie's looks just right before their shoot together.

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Since Murphy became Instagram-famous, she's extra careful to nail every gig. 'The whole world is looking,' she says.

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Ariana Marie gets an extra spritz of hair spray before we all head over to set.

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We climb the hillside to a driveway overlooking the ranch house and the Calabasas mountains. I expect to find a bed dressed in sheets of white, Egyptian cotton ...

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But instead, there's a cherry red, vintage Mustang convertible parked atop the hill.

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One of the actresses tells me it's a 'lucky day' when the shoot takes place in a bed. It's more comfortable, she explains.

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Holly Randall, the director, poses the women in front of the car and spends over a half hour taking still photos -- in various stages of undress.

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The crew mills about, adjusting the lighting and setting up sound equipment.

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Meanwhile, Murphy sprints across set taking behind-the-scenes photos on the director's phone. Randall will later share them with the client and to social media.

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Of course, her makeup touch-up kit is never far. And once they begin filming, I can see why it's a necessity.

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Kissing is a messy business. Murphy gets called over several times to fix one of the actresses' lipstick while the other cleans red-velvet stains off her body with a wet wipe.

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Hair becomes untucked amidst such physical activity, and Murphy jumps in to fix it.

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'Melissa is really dedicated to her job,' Randall later tells me in an email. 'She's a perfectionist like me.'

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As the sun sets on the horizon and the actresses' fake orgasmic cries ring out in the valley, Murphy excuses herself to join other crew members off set.

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Once inside, Aniston washes her face and -- unable to find a towel -- uses a pair of denim cut-offs to dry off. Though Murphy insists her makeup is so resilient, 'you could sleep in it.'

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Murphy's last task for the day is making over Ariana Marie into an Elvira-inspired gothic princess, which proves to be a greater challenge than she anticipated.

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She goes back and forth deciding whether the dark lipstick and dark eye shadow will overwhelm Ariana Marie's fragile features.

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Ultimately, she goes for it. And Ariana Marie pulls the look off with ease.

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Sometimes, Murphy explains, makeup is 'about having the confidence to go all the way through with it.' Giving up on an eye shadow mid-lid means never knowing what could've been.

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And besides, real beauty comes from within, she says.

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