How to Apply Makeup for the Stage
If you’re a make-up artist taking on your first theatre project or an avid actor looking to do your own makeup before your greatest performance, here’s how to get started.
- Wash your face
As with any makeup routine, the first step is to have a great foundation.
First, exfoliate, cleanse, and use a toner. Finally, moisturize.
Apply foundation to even out your skin tone. If you find you naturally have a red complexion, using a yellow or green undertone can help balance everything out. Alternatively, if you typically have a paler complexion, it might be worth using a warmer tone as stage lights can easily wash you out.
When applying the foundation, use a sponge or brush. Evenly blend the base into your hairline and around the jawline, so there’s no contrast lines visible. You want to make sure that your stage makeup still looks natural (unless you’re playing a specific character, of course!).
Tip: It’s best to use a foundation from a theatre makeup store. These foundations tend to be oilier; however, they are great for staying in place in the heat of stage lights.
Contouring isn’t just for the Kardashians. You need to add a little contour to your face for stage performances, as the lighting can really flatten the face.
Simple contouring on the cheekbones, jawline, and around the eyes will do the trick. Adding a darker bronzer or eyeshadow in a line from the chin to each side of the jaw up to the ear will bring back the definition you’ll need on the stage.
If you’re looking to create a wide-eyed look, it’s best to use pale, creamy shades on the eyelids and just under the eyebrow. Thin eyeliner can be added to the upper and lower lashes but add thickness to the outside of each side of the eye.
Male performers can use a light brown eyeliner to simply outline the eyes in a natural way. Just so that the stage lights don’t completely flatten your facial features.
Finally, for the eyes, you might want to use a thick mascara or invest in some reusable false lashes.
For those performers that have lighter brows, you can make these more prominent by filling them in with a matching – or darker – brow pencil. Where you can, draw in a higher arch as this can really help to frame the face for even the furthest away audience members.
A lip liner, even if you don’t want to wear lipstick, is a lifesaver. Draw a light line around the natural shape of your lips for that little definition. Depending on your character, you’ll need to find a long-lasting lip product. For dancers who don’t need a character, there’s nothing better than a striking red lip. As for men, you may want a natural pink, red, or nude.
- Set your look
Finally, you should use a transparent powder all over your face to help set your makeup into place and give you more of a matte finish. If you find yourself sweating a little under the lights, you can add a little more powder between scenes.
You could also use a setting spray or hairspray to keep your makeup in place.