having been away from the interwebs for a long time due to working on a play, I thought it would be interesting to show you what little treasures I carry with me on my stage makeup case.
yes, I do my makeup myself, because lack of budget and higiene issues ;) of course some things can vary depending on what are the specific needs for that character, but most theatre basic makeup staples stay the same.
I take my skincare very seriously, and I wouldn’t use anything that would remotely endanger my skin – if you have to wear makeup daily for work, especially thick layers of it, sweating profusely, it is not the time to save money without being sure that that specific product won’t throw your skin into a temper tantrum that will take weeks to heal and will make the makeup application hard, blotchy and sometimes painful. I pay special attention to everything that is in direct contact with my face – foundations, etc. – and run double tests on any new eye products beforehand.
Bioderma (or any micellar water that does the trick for you), is perfect to remove longwearing lipstick and eyeliner without staining my muslin cloth beyond oblivion, but also to clean my face before I start applying my makeup. I usually decant some to a small travel bottle.
The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter is another classic “go on and rave about it” product, and it is my go-to makeup remover at the end of the show. It just melts everything off with a small massage, I take it off with a damp muslin cloth and I’m out the door before everyone else – they’re still dwelling with cotton pads and makeup remover lotions and (God forbids) baby wipes. The butter version is perfect to take on the go, because it eliminates the chances of spilling,
Tooth brush and tooth paste because of course.
I take my own face towel, thank you very much.
I can’t start my makeup without making sure my skin is hydrated. I use some The Body Shop products because they feel really nice, don’t break me out, nor leave me bankrupted. The Vitamin E range is very agreeable with my skin, so I use the Moisturising Serum and the Eyes Cubes (see what they did there?). Over it, I apply a bit of First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream – this is a must-have for me, it moisturises and softens, without adding a bit of yucky shine. Perfect.
For the lips, I use Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream (the non-scented version). If I’m having a rough lip day, it take a bit on a cotton bud and rub it gently on the pucker: it doubles as a soft exfoliant.
Theses little ones also make up for my after-play-routine. If it’s a special evening and I don’t want to leave bare faced, I use a bit of my Erborian BB Cream just to even out my skin tone before I go upstairs and meet the peeps.
MAKEUP – FACE
Stage makeup is quite different from your everyday makeup: you have to take into account the distance from the audience (and take advantage of it, because you can cake more on if you need to), the lights that will eat the colour off of your skin, the heat that will make your beautiful face into a Van Gogh-esque puddle of mud…
I use mostly mattes because I am supposed to look chiseled and defined from afar, but as if I was wearing nothing or barely anything – apart from some strategic areas.
You should think of layering creams and powders for longevity, and layering similar colours to create depth.
Also, think of controlling every step from about 1-2 ft. away from the mirror. You always have to check by stepping away, instead of the opposite, as you would do in real life.
So, for a generic stage makeup, you need to start off with a primer and a good coverage matte foundation – you can add the shine later, and only on specific areas. Because, as I’ve said, it all melts.
I’ve relied on Make Up For Ever products on stage for as long as I’ve been able to afford them. The HD range is just impeccable: flawless finish, matte, long lasting. Now that the Beauty Blender is in my possession, it is even more flawless. After a thin layer of the foundation, I go over the problem areas with concealer: Sisley Eye Concealer is a salmon creamy concealer a couple of shades lighter than my skin tone that corrects my under eye bags and starts the highlighting process in one (it is so, so expensive: you can find cheaper versions like Benefit Erase Paste, or Bobbi Brown Corrector. yes, these are actually *cheaper* than the Sisley. Don’t ask…).
Mac Studio Finish Concealer is one of my go-to concealers for blemishes and redness.
You can strobe it away, because you’re on stage. And, amazingly, ELF has (or had, their UK/Europe website is down) a beautiful product for that: the Shimmer Palette. It is not shimmery: it has four shades of a perfect pearlescent cream that makes your cheeks pop a mile away.
I blend EVERYTHING with the beauty blender and also use it to apply the first layer of powder: the Make Up For Ever HD powder makes my skin look poreless, it sets concealer without settling into the fine lines and is a beautiful all-rounder for everyone who isn’t flash-selfying all the time.
Next comes the powder products, and I start with contour: I use one of the cool-toned brown shades of my KIKO eyeshadow palette to apply it in a way that almost creates a stark line, and I blend it until it looks realistic
Then, I go over with the bronzer in my Urban Decay Naked Flushed palette, just to even out the shadows.
Next, blusher: I realised that a combination of two shades made it perfect – first the Lancôme Blusher/Highlighter, in a more diffused area, then a pop of the Flushed Palette’s blush in Native on the apples of the cheeks.
The powder highlighter from the same palette comes next, to put over where I had the cream and lock it into place.
Done. Now all I have to do is to keep my MAC Studio Fix Powder nearby for quick touchups. It is a powder foundation, it has a lot of coverage, and it drinks up every bit of oil from the face – but it can, because of that, promote more oil production, so I keep it only for smal applications throughout the show.
For this specific look, I didn’t have to do much, just add definition that could be seen from afar, and make my eyes look a bit bigger because of the lighting. I picked 9 shades for my travel-friendly KIKO palette, and because they’re pretty affordable but also incredibly good quality (the mattes are amazing), I’m all for hitting pan with no regrets.
So I started off with a wash of a neutral colour all over the lid, then I take a deeper brown (usually what I used for contour) on the crease, and apply a stark white from crease to lash line and also to the brow bone. I blend everything with a clean fluffy brush and reapply where the lines I need may have faded.
Then I apply black eyeliner – no cat eye, just a rounded shape to make my eyes look bigger – and I chose a liquid pen for precision. To lock it in place and prevent any shine, I go over it with some black eyeshadow on a thin angle brush. I also thinly line my lower lash line. I look crazy up close, but it makes a big difference on stage.
To add to that effect, I apply some beige kohl pencil on my waterline. It contributes to the illusion.
Lastly, lashings and lashings of mascara on both top and bottom lashes. I find this L’Oréal Million Lashes pretty cool: it creates volume and definition without clumping.
I had some fun with the brows: I was able to define them more, and make them a bit thicker and longer with just some dark brown eyeshadow.
My director insisted on a bold dark red lip, blood-like and all… and I smiled because I had just the thing: Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet in Grand Cru is just THE shade. It is matte, long lasting, doesn’t smudge, looks amazing, applies easily… For extra longevity and making sure I had the perfect shape, I just applied it after I had lined and filled my lips in with the Make Up For Ever Aqua Lips lip liner in 8C.
The basic products to have in your kit: tons of hair pins, brush (I love the mini Tangle Teezer), large and small hair clips to secure your hair away from your face, a dry shampoo (adds grip if you need to make a hair do, and is especially great to absorb oil if you’re wearing a hat) – mine is from Klorane, but if you can get it, use the Colab instead, it’s far cheaper – and, of course, a travel size hairspray for fly-aways. You can add some hair oil and heat protectant, if you’re going to style your hair, but this time I was able to get away from that torture.
I used several Sephora brushes that have been discontinued/replaced, but you can get the gist: a buffing brush for foundation (like the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush), then I used my fingers and the Beauty Blender for most of the cream products. I also applied loose powder with the Beauty Blender, and saved the Mineral Powder brush (Sephora, excellent tool and the only one still available) for touch-ups with the compact powder.
For contour/blusher/highlighter, I used the same small soft blusher brush (this one is so old I can’t remember where it is from). I squeezed it to apply a more defined line of contour, use it to blend and after cleaning it on a tissue, I could use it for blusher and highlighter.
For pin-point concealing the Real Techniques Pixel Point Eyeliner Brush came really handy.
Most of the other brushes were used for the eyes: the RT Deluxe Crease Brush for all-over shadow application, a Sephora smaller crease brush to apply the crease colour, a RT Base Shadow Brush for the stark white on the lid, and a fluffier crease/blending brush from Sephora Pro to blend everything. To top up the eyeliner, I used the Sephora slanted eyeliner brush (a thin angled brush). To fill in and define the brows I used the Brow Brush by RT, and the same angled brush with what was left on the bristles to elongate the tail.
Finally, the lips: if I ever needed some extra control (those days when nothing comes out right, you know), I used the RT Accent Brush.
BITS AND BOBS
I always carry with me some random essentials and some “just in case” stuff. Like a nail file and nail polish remover pads (KIKO), cotton pads and cotton buds, a tweezer, deodorant (Lycia Talk smells delicious and handles the profuse sweating onto some weird fabrics), and finally a brush cleaner spray (mine is from Sephora) for spot cleaning, and a glycerin soap to thoroughly wash my muslin cloth and beauty blender. It is so effective, and yet quite soft on those materials. It is also what I use to wash my brushes… Which I have to go and do now… Sigh… Not everything is glitz and glamour, eh?
EXTRA TIP: I know I have a pretty comprehensive kit, but… if you’re a guy or you just can’t be bothered with contour and whatnot, but you still need some stage makeup, this is what you need:
mineral foundation (Bare Minerals) and a good brush to apply it,
some concealer if you have very dark under eye circles or blemishes (Mac Studio Finish does it all),
setting powder for touchups (Bourjois Healthy Mix pressed powder or Mac Studio Fix),
a clear mascara to clean your brows and lashes from powder build up,
the best makeup removal duo in town: The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter and a Muslin Cloth,
and some moisturiser that doesn’t leave you like a grease ball, may I suggest the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream?
you can always build up from there!