Rehearsing my lines. Scene blocking. Practicing my songs with the musicians.
Then the night of the production arrives and I realized…I gotta do my own stage makeup.
It was the one thing I hadn’t prepared for. (I don’t know what I was thinking.)
Where do I start?
I brought every piece of makeup I had stashed in my bathroom. Mistake #1.
I didn’t need all that stuff. For theatrical makeup, you only really need a few essentials.
Whether you’re trying to enhance an actor’s natural features or create a character in makeup, theatrical makeup follows one main idea.
If I knew this one thing about stage makeup I could’ve saved myself a lot of trouble.
And left my bathroom at home.
Stage makeup is TOTALLY different than television or photography.
With stage makeup, the audience sees the makeup differently.
Details of the makeup are lost, the lights can change the color of your makeup, it’s really a whole new world.
I learned this the hard way.
Here is what I know from experience with stage makeup, that I KNOW will help you out.
Exaggerate, exaggerate, exaggerate.
The further away you are from the stage the less you see of the actors face.
That’s why stage makeup has to exaggerate facial features; it has to be seen from way in the back.
Take a look at the photo in this post of the woman from Cirque du Soleil. It’s a great example of what stage makeup should look like.
This is what makes stage makeup pop:
- Eyebrows – Pencil them in, line them, darken them, emphasize the arch
- Lips – Line them, color them, reshape them if necessary
- Cheekbones – Contour the face making sure cheeks and facial structure can be seen.
- Eyes – Use bold eyeliner, use bright, intense colors; enlarge the eyes
- Highlight – Use a bright highlighter around the eyes. Our example photo blended an almost white color.
- Shadow – Using a color that is several shades darker than the actor’s skin tone, contour as you would normally.
Foundation used in stage makeup is also different. Here are some tips:
- Because stage lights tend to wash out faces, use a foundation a shade or two darker than your actual skin tone.
- A cream foundation works well, one that gives an opaque, high coverage. I personally use Ben Nye’s cream foundations.
- A good powdering is necessary to reduce the shine from sweating.
Stage Makeup vs. Television Makeup
From what I gather, these are the most prominent differences between doing stage makeup and doing makeup for television or print.
- Uses more makeup, over accentuating more features.
- Stage makeup is more dramatic looking and wouldn’t normally be worn everyday.
- Colors should be intense and heavy.
- Has a more natural look when close up including character makeups.
- Flaws in makeup application are easily noticeable especially when in High Definition.
- Intense, heavy makeup will make you look like a clown.
What other differences or theatrical makeup tips do you know of? Leave them in the contents.
These are the sites that helped me create this post: