How To: Stage Makeup

Knowing how to apply stage makeup is essential for all dancers. Without it,
it is difficult to see a dancer’s facial features while on stage. It is important that performers of ALL ages wear stage makeup! Of course, we do keep stage makeup appropriate to the dancer’s age group.

As we know, wearing makeup on stage is not about improving your looks, it is about being seen under the bright lights from a far distance. Stage lights are very bright and without makeup it would wash out any and all facial features.

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What you need:

  1. Basic makeup brush set
  2. Cosmetic wedges or some type of makeup sponge
  3. Foundation (usually slightly darker than your natural complexion or same color)
  4. Face powder
  5. Eye shadow palette with at least 3 complimentary colors
  6. Liquid eyeliner (black)
  7. Pencil eyeliner (black)
  8. False eyelashes and adhesive (for older dancers)
  9. Mascara (black)
  10. Blush
  11. Red Lipstick and Lip Liner, or Lip stain (for younger dancers)
  12. Makeup bag or case
  13. Makeup remover

First, we start with your makeup brush set. It is important to have a good brush set so that makeup application to the face is blended better than the brushes that come with the makeup itself. Be sure to also have an eyelash/eyebrow comb.

Second, apply foundation to a clean face. It is helpful to use the cosmetic wedges or sponges to blend the foundation into the skin. For the most natural and appealing look, be sure to also blend a little foundation to the bottom of the chin and top of the neck. After this, apply powder for the final polished effect.

Third, we apply our eye shadow. Begin by applying the lightest color to just under the eyebrow and to the eyelid. Then, apply the next lightest color in between where you put the lightest color and blend it in well. Lastly, apply the darkest color to the crease of the eye only and blend it in well. Usually it’s preferred to use browns and a white/cream color for the first application of eye shadow. Please don’t use blue!

Next, applying eyeliner. Apply liquid eyeliner to the top of the eye, as close to the eyelashes as possible. Then apply a very thin layer of pencil or crayon eyeliner to the bottom of the eye. Be careful not to apply too much causing the bottom of the eye to be too thick. This actually makes the eye look less open on stage. For a more dramatic effect, older dancers can wing tip their eyeliner and use some shading for their eyebrows. Usually this is a eyebrow shadow like the Anastasia brand.

Now would be the time to apply the false eyelashes using adhesive, if you are using them! It is not mandatory for the younger dancers to use false eyelashes.

Then, we apply mascara to eyelashes. Make sure to focus more on the top lashes and apply a little amount to the bottom. Use the eyelash comb to help separate and extend the eyelashes after applying the mascara.

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A good example of makeup for younger dancers – simple with mascara, eyeshadow, blush, and lip stain. 

Next, we apply blush. Starting from the middle of the cheekbone, use a brush to blend the blush into the cheeks. Using a large blush brush as opposed to the small one that comes with the set will help to blend the blush into the skin and make it look more natural.

Lastly, apply lipstick or lip stain depending on age. Beginning with the younger performers, apply lip stain (to avoid lipstick rubbing on costumes). Be sure to stay within the natural lines of the lips for the most natural effect. For the older performers, apply lipstick to the inside of the lips making sure to get the entire top and bottom completely. To finish, apply lip liner and slightly blend into lipstick. It is recommended to use a brand like ‘Colorstay’ that will stay on best when dancer drinks water, changes costume, and sweats!

As a reminder, it is always important to have a cosmetic bag or case for all makeup materials just so everything is organized, especially when dancers have multiple pieces they are performing in.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 2.29.18 PMNow we are all ready to hit the stage with our beautiful stage makeup! I hope this was a helpful read. Please feel free to comment below with any questions or concerns! Merde dancers!

Author Bio: Melissa Briggs is one of Dance & Company’s resident instructors; she teaches Ballet I Youth on Monday’s 6:30-7:30pm, as well as a sub for all ballet levels. She also works the front desk on Monday’s and Saturday’s, so be sure to say hello if you are in at any of those times!



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