How to Apply Stage Makeup for Theater?

Unless you are in a big professional production you will either have to apply your own stage makeup or you may be the makeup artist for your production.Either way, understanding the basics of how to skillfully apply stage makeup is something every actor should know how to do. It’s also important to use real, professional stage makeup created for the purpose. Keeping in mind that every production and role is different, following are the general steps to properly applying stage makeup with some tips.

(1) Face Prep

Wash your face thoroughly taking extra care to exfoliate. It is important to apply a skin moisturizer before beginning any makeup application in order to help protect your skin and help the makeup last longer.Be sure to apply it over your entire face and neck and use a colorless balm on the lips. Many actors utilize a skin toner or primer instead or in addition to moisturizer, especially if they are prone to oily skin.If you utilize a moisturizer, be sure to let it sit for about a half hour to ensure that the makeup will apply more easily.

(2) Add foundation

It often works best to use a foundation that is a relative match for your skin tone but is one or two shades darker to ensure that you don’t look pale on stage while still making it look even. If the character you’re playing is meant to look pale or ghostly stick with cold, pale tones.

Cream foundations often last longer than powder and may be easier to make it look even.You can use a sponge or foundation brush for application of foundation. If you use a sponge, dab it into the cream and use the same technique to apply it to your face, making sure it is evenly spread across the face and neck.Take extra care at the hairline toblend it in evenly. The same goes for blending foundation from the jawline to the neck.

The heaviness of the foundation will depend on the character and the size of the venue. Generally, the larger the theater (and farther away the audience), the slightly heavier the foundation, and the opposite holds true for small theaters and close audiences.

(3) Apply blush

Blush works to provide more defined contours to the face on stage.While men are best served by a terra cotta color, younger boys can utilize pink or red. Women and girls can both use pink or red blush. For best application, smile wide and apply the blush to the apples (the hollow) of your check with a gentle upward sweeping motion with the brush.

(4) Eye Shadow

Natural tones such as browns, tans and nude pinks work best for eye shadow unless a different color is needed for a specific character. Many productions will utilize brighter colors on the eyes of the girls. Start with a light skin tone and gently cover the area of skin below your brow. Then, put a medium shade of brown on the eyelid and sweep it up and out. Next, line your crease with a darker brown and your tear duct with a white color.

(5) Apply eyeliner

The character will define the color with lighter colors for both men and women and darker colors reserved for dramatic characters. While you can use a pencil liner, a liquid liner often provides a more prominent line that can be seen from a distance.

Males should use brown eyeliner while women can use brown or black. A white eyeliner can be used to make eyes look bigger and brighter. Apply eyeliner by carefully extending it up and outward beyond the edge of your eye to subtly merge it with the line of your lashes for a more open look.

(6) Applying lip liner and lipstick

You should start with the lip liner before applying the lipstick. When lining the mouth with a lip liner, subtle is better at enhancing the natural contours of the individual’s mouth. While men should stick with natural or nude lipstick shades, women have a full palette depending on character, time period, and mood of the piece.It is most common to have the lipstick match the eyeliner and lip liner.

(7) Set the stage makeup

The process of “setting” the makeup is needed to make it last longer and prevent running or smudging when the actor sweats. There are powders as well as sprays made for this step. With translucent powders, use a plump brush to lightly sweep a thin coating of powder across the face being sure to do the same with the eyes, nose, moth and neck. Remove any excess powder by tapping the brush on a paper towel before applying the powder to the face and neck.

(8) Apply Mascara

It’s best to use mascara the same color as the eyeliner. A number of experts suggest applying mascara after you set the makeup to avoid a snowflake effect. It can help to use the opposite hand to lift the eyelid slightly from the position of the eyebrow. Using the other hand, apply the mascara using an upward sweeping motion to the eyelash being careful not to let the lashes clump together.

(9) Cleanup and review

After washing your hands, take a minute to review your makeup to be sure that no parts are over- or under-emphasized in keeping with the character, the period, the mood, and the distance from the audience. Once you check your costume, your set for another performance.