Stage Makeup


Professional Stage Makeup is an essential part of performing. Stage lighting and the distance of the audience make the dancer appear washed out, “flat” and expressionless. The purpose of stage makeup is to add colour to the skin and to exaggerate the features, making them clearly visible to the audience. Proper application will ensure that the eyes and lips are clearly visible to the audience fifty feet away. Stage makeup that could in any way pass for regular, daily makeup is unacceptable for the stage. All students will be required to supply their own make-up for performances. Students must wear foundation, eyeliner, eye shadow, blush, and lipstick colours should stay in the neutral family, including greys, browns, and plums.

Step 1: Preparation Start with a clean face and the hair pulled back. Sponges, Q-tips, makeup brushes, and tissues should be readily available. If you use a moisturizer, apply it at least one half hour before you put on your makeup.
Step 2: Foundation

To apply foundation, place 3 dots/dabs across the forehead, 3 on each cheek, 1 on the nose, and 1 on the chin. (The number of dots depends on the size and shape of your face).

Using a clean sponge carefully blend foundation to provide an even, flawless look. Carefully blend foundation into hairline and down onto the neck to avoid a “mask”. Cover-up may be applied before or after foundation to even out skin tone, cover blemishes, or fade scars. Some dancers use a very light cover-up or 2 shades darker
than foundation to contour and change face shape. Foundation must be set using a powder.

Some dancers believe you must sweat to “set” your foundation properly. After application, warm up thoroughly, then reapply powder and continue with makeup application.

Step 3:
Eye Makeup

Probably the most important and most difficult aspect of makeup application, eye makeup requires care and practice. The purpose is to exaggerate the eye and make it stand out and appear larger to the audience.

Begin by applying false eyelashes (#107) with eyelash glue. This takes practice! Toothpicks may be helpful in applying the adhesive. Be sure the outer edges are securely fastened to avoid “poking” during performance.

Cover the entire eyelid and shadow crease (the area between the eye lid and the eyebrow) with a light coloured shadow (beige or light pink). This provides a base for the other shadows to adhere to.

Black eyeliner should be applied under the eye. Begin about half a centimetre from the corner of the eye and extend just past the outer corner. Liner should enhance the natural eye shape in the middle, but the edges should fan away from the eye. Drawing the line up at the edges (an incorrect technique) closes the eye makes it look smaller. The eyeliner should get thicker towards the outside of the eye. If false eyelashes are not being used, then black eyeliner should be applied on the top lid. Eyeliner can start 1/3 of the way out from the centre and moving outwards. It should get thicker on the way out and fan away from the eye at the outside edge.

White eyeliner should be used below the black eyeliner on the bottom on the outer half of the eye.

Dark Shadow is now applied to the shadow crease only (dark brown or dark plum). Leave the eyelid with only the base colour as the highlight or lighter colour will help open up the eye. Follow the line of the shadow crease on the inside portion of the eye with darker shadow. On the outside, do not follow the bone down but rather keep the dark colour moving up and out.

Exact placement of this dark shadow is dependent on eye shape. The narrow eye may appear more open when the darker colour does not extend all the way down to the eyelid (leaving more “white” or highlight space). A small eye requires a saturation of dark shadow to exaggerate the line of the eyes. White eyeliner should be applied in a thick line right under the eyebrow to enhance the arch. You may also use a medium shade between the dark shadow and the white eyeliner. This gives the eye an extra highlight and is good for recessed or deep-set eyes.

Eye makeup requires practice and patience!

Step 4:  Blush

Blush should be applied with a brush. This dark colour should accent and highlight the cheekbones. The dark colour goes below the cheekbone and white shadow may be used on the cheekbone itself.

Blush should be applied in a triangle with the point no farther inside than the pupil of the eye. The open end of the triangle extends out toward the ear.

Blush and highlight must be carefully blended with a sponge. This step is often overlooked and is needed to keep the cheeks from overpowering the eyes and lips.

A light touching of blush may be used on the outside edges of the forehead (above the temples) and chin.

Step 5: Lipstick

Lips require a base for lipstick to adhere to. Foundation, lip liner, or a base coat of lipstick (powdered) can be used.

Many dancers find a lip brush gives a more accurate application than a lipstick tube.

Once applied, carefully following the line of your lips (or carefully adjusting their shape if you’ve practiced it), blot lipstick with a tissue. Reapply lipstick again. Lipstick should be re-applied between dances, at intermission or throughout the day. Never use gloss or Vaseline.

Using your brushes and sponges, carefully powder each area of your makeup. Fix hair and warm-up. Just prior to performance, re-check makeup for further applications of colour or powder. Reapply lipstick.